Regarding the threat of Russia invading Ukraine ("Bring back the 'free world,'" Opinion Exchange, Jan. 27), Russian President Vladimir Putin has already succeeded with the first step while demonstrating to the world that the West is weakened by its divisiveness. The United States, along with other Western democracies, has been victimized by infighting. Our own warring of words and hatred toward each other has Putin gleefully rubbing his hands together as he observes the discord in our politics and society. While belligerent and argumentative Democrats, independents and Republicans feud, our vulnerability is exposed.

Outrageous and inappropriate behavior within democracies is catnip for authoritarian regimes. It's high time we take stock, look around and appreciate one another because we are one nation under God! Let's stop being suckers!

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover


D.J. Tice, in a refreshing overview, recognizes that messing around in Ukraine may be terminally stupid for "peace-loving" Americans ("We couldn't lick the Taliban, so let's be cautious," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 28).

Oddly, Tice calls Putin an imperialistic thug, while the gallonage of innocent civilian blood dripping from the hands of just the last four American presidents is several orders of magnitude greater than any spilled by Putin's Russia.

Perhaps America will again be saved from imperial hubris by those sensible Germans, who refused last week to join other NATO members in providing weapons to Ukraine. In 2016, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Bild am Sontag newspaper: "What we shouldn't do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmongering." A day later General Petr Pavel, chairman of NATO's military committee, opined: "It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing."

As for "the paranoid, history-soaked Russian point of view," when a country suffers over 50 times as many war-dead as America did to win World War II, paranoia comes easy. Had America sacrificed lives proportionally, odds are that neither Tice nor I would have ever been born.

William Beyer, St. Louis Park


To the letter writer from St. Paul who wrote on the issue of Ukraine on Jan. 28, I have a few comments.

Irrespective of his pacifism, he cited "war hawks" and "rabid hawks" in his piece. I have been following this story intensely and have not heard anything from elected officials or media pundits that remotely resembles that rhetoric.

His statement that Russia is surrounded by a "bellicose power" (NATO) and it is pointing missiles at Russia is without merit. Missiles can be used for offensive and defensive purposes. Further, what aggressive statements have been made by any of the 30 NATO countries? Germany is trying to walk the tightrope between sanctions and losing its natural gas supply from Russia. In large part, Putin controls European energy and has already decreased the natural gas supply flowing through Ukraine to Europe by 50%.

What opponents of President Joe Biden's policy are saying is that U.S. sanctions should already be in place. They should be used as a deterrent to invasion rather than a punishment once the invasion begins.

With respect to NATO membership, the group has a charter that governs the process as to how new countries can be accepted. The United States cannot unilaterally promise Putin anything about future NATO membership.

We should recall a time in history that may shed some light on the merits of negotiating by appeasement. In September of 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned to England after negotiating with German officials and proclaimed they could have "peace for our time." In September of 1939, Chamberlain declared war on Germany after Hitler reneged on their agreement and invaded Poland. Putin is a product of the Cold War and wants to reconstitute lost territory.

This brings to bear the axiom that if you don't learn the lessons of history you are doomed to repeat them.

Joe Polunc, Waconia


As a military veteran, I am deeply disappointed in Tice's commentary advising America to back down from supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia and the threats made by Putin. This is a democracy we are talking about, not some oil-rich country we have biased interests in. If we can't stand up to fascism in other democracies, it's probably because of the conservative viewpoint that we shouldn't fight for democracy in our own nation. Next, Tice will probably advise us against supporting Taiwan, another democracy of millions of people wanting to be free from dictatorships. Shame on Tice for goose-stepping with Tucker Carlson and Fox News appeasement.

Jeffrey Gigler, Minneapolis


Mind your sources

A reader responding to reports of the tragic deaths of smuggled migrants on our northern border encourages the press to "do their job of providing citizens with facts." Ironically, the reader cites data from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in claiming that a deep investigation of immigration is necessary. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the Center for Immigration Studies thusly: "While CIS and its position within the Tanton network has been on the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) radar for years, what precipitated listing CIS as an anti-immigrant hate group for 2016 was its repeated circulation of white nationalist and antisemitic writers in its weekly newsletter and the commissioning of a policy analyst who had previously been pushed out of the conservative Heritage Foundation for his embrace of racist pseudoscience." If journalists are to broaden their reporting of immigration issues, they may wish to seek a more objective, trustworthy source than the CIS.

Karen Barstad, Minneapolis


Please finally reopen bike trails

So the Southwest light-rail line will be postponed until 2027 — another four years — because of conditions "unforeseen" by the Metropolitan Council, a body that has already spent untold millions planning this boondoggle ("Southwest LRT delayed to 2027," front page, Jan. 27, and "SWLRT 'disaster' prompts audit call," front page, Jan. 28). My question is, when are the bike trails ripped apart for the light rail going to be reopened? Thousands of bikers used these trails every day until 2019, when they were closed. I myself rode several times a week on the trail in St. Louis Park, often taking my special-needs daughter in a bike trailer behind me. Maggie loved those rides. We haven't been able to ride together since 2019 — I won't take a chance on road traffic with her. Almost all of the line is substantially finished, minus rail stop platforms and the bike trails. Please finish off the bike trails now so we bikers can once again enjoy them.

Bob Waligora, St. Louis Park


​Gov. Tim Walz: Simply put, nearly $3 billion would buy thousands of buses that can turn right and left, stop on a dime and reroute to other roads. And the maintenance and drivers are already in place! The emperor has no clothes. Just do it.

Bruce Harten, Apple Valley

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