The authors of “To get ahead of terrorism, put carrot before stick” (Feb. 24) are not wrong, but they are only half-right. First, the “not wrong” part. It may jolt us out of our hoary, self-defeating policy to look back and imagine something different. What if the United States had taken one-tenth of what it spent on fighting Iraqis, Afghanis, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and spent it instead on building schools and hospitals in those regions? As these authors suggest, it’s not too late to start.

And now, the “only half-right” point. When we are threatened by a powerful vision like ISIL’s — and to some young people, it is indeed powerful — we cannot combat it with bullets or tangible gifts alone; those are precisely what they reject, our consumerism and the power of our defense. Instead, we might offer a more appealing vision, such as the unlimited paybacks of education, the ability of our system to offer health and comfort, etc. Won’t they need to build the capacity to solve their own real-world problems? What good is a religious belief that lacks the capacity to treat TB, opposes practical education, can’t supply clean water? What about the children? If ISIL wins, what then?

Mary McLeod, St. Paul

NETANYAHU’S VISIT

He can be heard, just not in that setting

Yes, all members of Congress should hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak (Joseph Lieberman commentary, Feb. 24) — but not in a joint session of Congress. Hire a hall! Fill a large synagogue! Invite whom you wish — congressmen and -women, members of the executive and judicial branches, leaders of public opinion. But don’t snub our president by following through on an invitation that was given in a diplomatically questionable way.

Possibly Netanyahu has something important to say. If so, and if he wants his message heard, he should be astute enough to know that this dust-up about appearing before Congress without respecting our chief executive will make the story not about what he says but about how he got here. So I can only guess that this appearance is about U.S. politics — Republicans vs. the president — and Israeli politics — that country’s March 17 general election — rather than a true exchange of information.

Netanyahu is no friend of President Obama, and vice versa. OK, world leaders don’t have to be friends. But by accepting a dubious invitation, Netanyahu shows himself to be no friend of the United States. And that’s a bad posture for an Israeli prime minister.

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis

• • •

Lieberman’s “go because” article stresses America’s alliance with Israel, an alliance that has cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in higher gas prices and airport security.

Regarding Iran’s prospective nuclear capabilities: Historically, nations with atomic weapons are reluctant to use them because it would be suicidal to do so.

Netanyahu should not bypass our president.

Robert Loscheider, Grand Rapids, Minn.

• • •

When Netanyahu speaks to a joint session of the U.S. Congress next week, I hope U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar will not be in the audience. Their absence will send the message that foreign leaders should not play “wag the dog” by attempting to dictate U.S. policy.

Netanyahu and his ambassador to the United States engineered this cheesy stunt with House Speaker John Boehner. It is an in-your-face display of contempt for America’s elected president. That is why I was sorry to see the Star Tribune print Lieberman’s commentary urging our elected officials to attend the Netanyahu speech. The former senator has long done more to advocate what he (wrongly) perceives to be the interests of Israel than those of America.

I hope our senators continue to put America first. Al and Amy, please don’t go to Bibi’s tail-­wagging show.

Mary Christine Bader, Wayzata

 

TEACHERS

We must stop seeing seniority as either/or

A Feb. 24 letter writer says:

“You can’t have it both ways. Either the worst, least experienced teachers are trapped in high-poverty, high-children-of-color schools by seniority laws that allow senior, more proficient teachers to choose schools that are mostly white in middle-class neighborhoods, or more senior teachers are deadwood that can’t be eliminated because of seniority laws, leaving talented less experienced teachers to be laid off.

Which is it?”

As I see it, this framing masks the problem. I believe that it is entirely possible for both conditions to prevail — that teachers with the least seniority have the least power in getting preferred assignments and that there are teachers with lower seniority who have more skill at teaching.

We hamstring the use of professional judgment by insisting on a one-size-fits-all policy. Let’s have the teachers’ contract protect due process. Let’s also have it focus on protecting the profession of teaching rather than on protecting individual teachers.

Let’s make doing what’s right for the kids the higher priority.

Michael Ayers, Minneapolis

 

LIGHT POLLUTION

Controlling it doesn’t reduce public safety

The author of a Feb. 23 letter expressing concern about outdoor light pollution measures reducing safety is just wrong. Directing light downward instead of into the sky puts the light exactly where it is needed for public safety.

The problem we have had with the Minnesota law (Minnesota Statutes 16B.328) is lack of enforcement and the failure to draw up a model ordinance to make it easier for local governments to control this form of pollution.

Besides conserving energy, minimizing outdoor light pollution reduces oppressive glare from lighting and helps preserve the night environment. Despite our law, Minnesota has not ranked well on any list of states combating this problem.

State. Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis

 

MINNEAPOLIS IMAGERY

‘If it ain’t broke’ — but what if it is?

Regarding a Feb. 23 letter about the proposed change to the Minneapolis logo: Not to belabor the point, but beauty has always been in the eye of the beholder. The current “City of Lakes” logo looks like it’s from, maybe, 1969? Fifty-nine? The “sailboats” look like strange kites or hang gliders; the city’s name is too small in comparison. The matching shapes look sharp and sterile, and I swear they throw my eyes to the left! I’m sure it would not win if the citizens of Minneapolis took a vote.

The new logo? Way easier on the eyes of this beholder.

Kristi Hans, Chanhassen