How have we been made safer from war by the assassination of the No. 2 member of the Iranian government — a legitimate, independent country with whom we are not presently in a declared war? ("No tears for general, but risks are great," editorial, Jan. 5.) I guess it's the same reasoning we were told we would be made safer by abandoning the Iranian nuclear agreement ("Iran: Nuclear deal over," front page, Jan. 6).

It is worth noting the numerous falsehoods shared about this issue by our Republican administration. First, at the time we left the nuclear agreement, it was working. From the moment the agreement was under negotiation, throughout the period we were a part of it, not one American was killed, nor any American assets attacked by Iran or one of its proxies. Further, at every agreed-upon marker Iran was found to be in compliance. Trouble did not begin with U.S. interests until President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. Now Trump alone owns the decision to abandon the agreement and by extension everything that has occurred afterward. This includes the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, which is a brazen escalation by Trump that has now become a calamitously bad decision.

Further, Trump's choice to make this decision alone is patently illegal, and he did not inform Congress, or at the very least congressional leadership, before such actions took place.

One historical note to consider: Former presidents Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush both lied to the American public in order to take us to war, and tens of thousands died in two needless wars. But they faced the American public ahead of time and, though they were lying, explained their decisions and accepted the consequences. Both decisions rank among the worst in American history, if not world history, and impact their and our legacies today. Trump has now earned the same ignominious fate, and we Americans will be the ones to pay the price in treasure and blood.

Frank Sachs, Apple Valley
• • •

Trump has chosen 52 targets in Iran, including cultural sites, because of the number of hostages taken by Iranian students 40 years ago ("Trump: U.S. has 52 Iranian targets," Jan. 5). Seems about as rational as any of his other capricious policies. But why stop there? Why not 63 targets for the easternmost longitude of Iran? Or 4,300 for the total number of miles of coastline on the Caspian Sea (and there could be even more if he used kilometers, but I'm sure he won't go there). Or he could choose 1501 for the date that the Safavid dynasty in Iran came to power — the possibilities are endless when your policies are based on trivia.

Jim Cotner, St. Paul
• • •

I do not pretend to know whether Trump's decision to strike Iran is right or wrong, but I would feel better if the opinions of those in Congress were based on something other than party affiliation.

Donn Satrom, Roseville
• • •

Without consulting Congress, Trump has just assassinated an important and revered Iranian leader. Whatever kind of person Gen. Qassem Soleimani was, I have little doubt that our president arranged this in order to distract from his impeachment and to reinforce his image as a strong and indispensable leader. A "war president," as former President George W. Bush described himself.

And since the Iranian government is as vindictive as Trump, the world is now a more dangerous place, and life is more uncertain, not just in the Middle East but right here in the United States.

Jane E. Thomson, St. Paul
• • •

In the wake of Trump's altogether proper decision to send the world's foremost terrorist to the hell he deserved, many on the left are issuing the all-too-typical challenges that our president is marching the nation closer to war. Nonsense. This president had the courage to do what no other president, since the ignominious seizure of our embassy in Tehran 40 years ago, has mustered. Ever since that debacle, and former President Jimmy Carter's disastrous response in 1979, this country's leaders have failed time after time to recognize the serial threat Iran poses ("Death to America, death to Israel") to Western civilization. Their barbarous mullahs are on the verge of obtaining nuclear war powers, thanks to former President Barack Obama's feckless administration.

Finally, an American president has dealt the Iranian regime with a twofold blow: crippling economic sanctions and the killing of the regime's second most powerful figure. It is a given that the mullahs will respond with murderous vengeance. They would not have had the capability had earlier administrations, both Republican and Democratic, confronted the inevitable. The annals of history are replete with the sad endings of decent people and nations when they have failed to deal early on with pure evil, as Iran certainly is.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
• • •

Trump orders the assassination of the de facto leader of a hostile country, flaunts it, and then says he's trying to stop a war. Incredible. No matter what, countries don't just sit still when a top leader is assassinated. They have to retaliate, and that will be seen here as an escalation, because American lives are presumed to be infinitely more valuable than those of people elsewhere.

Trump doesn't get it. No surprise. He doesn't get the deep-seated emotions of opposing people, or the nationalism in other countries — just in our own. Maybe he was able to cheat other businesses and us taxpayers during his days in the private sector, but this series of events plays out in the great big violent world. He will soon see that he doesn't have control. And he's not playing with dollars anymore. He's dealing with countless lives.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

U.S. is not the worst these days

A letter writer today alleges that our record-breaking stock market "has caused our carbon emissions to keep breaking records." Had the writer conducted some basic inquiry, he would have discovered that U.S. carbon emissions have almost steadily been decreasing or flat for the past 15 years, though global emissions hit an all-time high last year.

Brad Johnson, St. Paul

It's still the 2010s. Count with me.

I hate to be a killjoy, but reality compels me. Let's review this when-does-the-decade-begin thing once more. Because there was no year zero in our calendar, the decades have always started with the year one. Now get out your fingers and count upward from there. You will get to 10 with your last finger (assuming you have them all). So when did the first decade end? After — that's after — the year 10. Now count by tens up to 2020. Voilà! This year is the last year of the decade.

Our usual logical and reliable decimal thinking struggles with the fact that we are still in the tens because, well, the year ends in a 20. But it's true. The next decade will begin (assuming we're all still here by then) at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2021, and that is when this current decade will end. Remember this, please. My math skills are already weak and I'm getting older every decade. I might not be around or able to help out 10 years from now. Happy new year! (But — sorry once again — not happy new decade.)

Mark Storry, Monticello, Minn.

We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.