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John Rash's excellent column on China in Saturday's Star Tribune raises the question of how we could use China's ambitions to gain its support in ending the Russia/Ukraine conflict ("China's unexpected diplomatic coup changes the Mideast puzzle"). As Rash points out, China recently achieved a huge diplomatic win with its role in the Iran and Saudi Arabia negotiations. Resolving the Ukraine conflict would be an even bigger win for China. It is already trying to play such a role but currently in a way that favors Russia.

But make no mistake about it, Chinese President Xi Jinping would abandon the Russians in a heartbeat for the right deal. The Chinese have no strategic motivation in assisting the Russians other than to oppose us. What if we set aside our Sinophobia and explore how we could negotiate with the Chinese to support a fair and equitable peace in Ukraine? For example: What, short of handing it Taiwan, could we offer? For starters, we could de-escalate current tensions with changes to our trade policies. We could cancel the recent nuclear submarine project with Australia. Perhaps Japan would be willing to negotiate disputed islands in the East China Sea. And, finally, the ultimate prize, perhaps the Taiwanese would be willing to consider some form of accommodation favorable to China in the interest of saving hundreds of thousands of lives, including potentially their own.

Steven Pine, Hopkins


A March 15 letter ("Time for the hard questions") correctly emphasizes the need to question our escalating involvement in the war in Ukraine. The Star Tribune Editorial Board's call for a show of unity in promoting a military solution to the Russian invasion ignores what the rest of the world has noticed ("Ukraine support should be bipartisan," March 13). Lies were told and promises made as our nation invaded Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. After massive senseless acts of violence, pollution lasting intergenerationally and trillions wasted, the U.S. abandoned those who'd assisted us. And isn't it interesting how friendly we are today with Vietnam even though we lost? Now is the time to question if not stop more pointless violence.

The real peril is so much worse today. We have just a few years to mitigate climate change. Yet everything about the Ukraine war — pressure to expand drilling for fossil fuels, the arms race diversion of public funds and massive emissions from war-making, including methane from the Nord Stream sabotage — hastens our destruction. Even worse is how decisionmakers are willing to gamble with planetary annihilation since nuclear weapons are among the options on the table. Yes, we citizens must be asking questions.

Amy Blumenshine, Minneapolis


Thank you for the facts contained in "Jimmy Carter's biggest mistake" (Opinion Exchange, March 17). This dark scenario should serve as a cautionary tale. U.S. foreign policy elites are likely repeating a similar mistake, choosing NATO's escalation of the war in Ukraine over diplomacy to keep Russia in a protracted quagmire to weaken it. Proxy wars always turn out terrible for the proxy nation, leaving these countries in terrible states of ruination.

Carter and the CIA (which continued the policy under Ronald Reagan) need to answer for their despicable role in overthrowing a progressive political movement in Afghanistan that ensured women's rights and tried to keep religion and state separate. In pursuing this covert policy, they unleashed the monster of extremism that led to 9/11 and the disastrous U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. That is a lot to answer for. Like millions of Americans, I respect the humanitarian work of Carter, but the record still needs to show this grave error in judgment so it may never be repeated.

Kristina Gronquist, Minneapolis


Lift this burden off seniors

I am retired and have been for 31 years. Virtually all my income is from my retirement annuity, which has not increased during my retirement, and my Social Security, which over the years has not kept up with inflation.

About two-thirds of my annual budget is spent on monthly rent for the senior residence where I reside.

From end of December 2021 to March 1, 2023, a period of 14 months, my rent has increased by 21.4%. It might be that I will be forced to move to lower-cost housing. I have been here over eight years and have many good friends and staff here who would be heart-rending to leave.

My annual income is only about three-quarters of the local median income, so I am using savings to cover the budget shortfall.

Eighty-five percent of my Social Security income is taxed by the state of Minnesota. For me this is a big burden.

I believe that Minnesota legislators Reps. Dave Pinto, Esther Agbaje, Steve Elkins and Michael Howard are very incorrect in their assessment "Why tax-free Social Security doesn't make sense" (Opinion Exchange) as stated in Tuesday's Star Tribune.

James Smeal, Bloomington


Keep the leak in perspective

Regarding the recent article about the tritium leak at the Monticello nuclear plant, it's crucial to maintain perspective ("Xcel plant had radioactive water leak," March 17). The situation is akin to noticing a small spot on your driveway after pulling away in your car. You'd certainly investigate, but you wouldn't immediately call the hazmat squad.

Drinking a cup of the affected water would be comparable to consuming eight bananas, which are naturally radioactive. Put another way, you'd have to drink eight gallons right from the source of the leak to match the radiation dose you receive from a chest X-ray. While vigilance is essential, let's not lose sight of nuclear energy's role as Minnesota's largest source of clean power since the early 1980s. In fact, NASA research indicates that nuclear power has saved approximately 2 million lives by preventing air pollution. It's also powered North America's greatest greenhouse-gas reduction for our neighbors in Ontario, allowing them to shutter their last coal plant. And it has tremendous potential to bring our state to a reliable and affordable 100% clean energy future.

Let's trust the experts to assess and address the situation without jumping to extreme conclusions, and remember the bigger picture of nuclear energy's benefits.

Eric Meyer, Falcon Heights

The writer is executive director of Generation Atomic, a grassroots pro-nuclear organization.


Huh? Illinois wants to capture and dump its carbon dioxide in other states, including Minnesota ("Fight in Illinois over carbon dioxide ramps up," March 12). I have an idea: Minnesota will swap you some CO2 storage space for garbage to keep it out of our landfills, and we will throw in 400,000 gallons of radioactive tritium water for free.

Wait, I have another idea. How about we all just solve our own problems in each state instead of passing the buck or, in this case, trying to "capture" billions of dollars in federal funding?

Greg Jacobson, Ramsey


As a Monticello resident, living about a mile from the nuclear power plant, reading about the radioactive water spill is disconcerting. I do believe the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Xcel when they issue statements that there is no threat to drinking water. But I think in interest of greater transparency and community trust, a statement at the time of the spill would have better served us. Hearing about a nuclear accident months after the event smacks of coverup. Monticello citizens deserve better.

Joan Breslin Larson, Monticello