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So, after almost 20 years in Afghanistan, with billions of dollars spent, thousands and thousands of lives lost, plus thousands and thousands more maimed and wounded, where do we stand?

Exactly in the same place as 20 years ago. The Taliban is reclaiming the country by leaps and bounds, the Afghan military is readily ceding territory or fleeing the country, and the civilian population is living in fear of what is to come their way when the Taliban takeover is complete ("Afghan soldiers flee to Tajikistan," July 6).

All that time, treasure and lives spent for naught — what an absolute and utter waste. There must be steadier hands at the wheel, with much, much more thought and wide-ranging discussion if another endeavor like this is ever again contemplated.

Ron Bender, Richfield

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So our top commander in Afghanistan has deep concern that Afghanistan could slide into civil war ("U.S. commander warns of Afghan civil war," June 30). Well, duh!

Where was this concern from our military leaders in 2001, when we invaded the country? Where was this concern when we abandoned our original mission in favor of ... hmm, still trying to figure that one out?

We ignored Russian and British failures to pacify Afghanistan and plunged into the longest war in U.S. history.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis

POLICING

Inject some nuance, please

The letter "Finally, a win for common sense" (July 5) is well written and seemingly persuasive. Unfortunately, it appears to me to be constructed in the wrong framework. Altogether too often in the policing debate, the arguments have been articulated in absolute terms that fail to acknowledge that there is, in fact, "right" on both sides. The question should not be whether or not the police department should be defunded and/or radically reformed. (There will almost certainly be a need for police.) Instead, the question should be both-and; that is to say, "How can we both maintain an adequate, effective police department and start to deal effectively with the underlying problems (poverty, homelessness, drug and substance abuse, access to appropriate mental health care, racism and a host of other social ills) that make the need for such policing so large?"

Until the argument is framed in a manner that admits to the complexities of our situation, I fear that little real progress will be made toward improving the lives of all of us.

John D. Tobin Jr., St. Paul

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During the past year, the Minnesota Legislature has passed laws that will substantially reduce the chances that criminal suspects will be subject to excessive force during arrests. Banning the use of chokeholds and imposing a legal duty on officers to intervene if they believe their colleagues are abusing suspects makes good sense. Improved coordination between police and mental health professionals will also help avoid tragic or criminal incidents of police violence. Such policing changes are long overdue.

However, the radical activists who are dominating the current police reform debate don't want to stop with reasonable reforms. Instead, they are pushing changes that greatly inhibit the ability of police to proactively reduce crime. The new limits on no-knock warrants and the use of informants will make it much harder to break up organized criminal activity. And additional "reforms" would take away important tools police have to stop violent crime before it happens.

Criminal suspects have the right to be treated fairly and protected from police violence. And we should make every effort to minimize racial bias during all police interactions with citizens. But as evidenced by the explosion of deadly violence in Minneapolis the past year, when police are demonized by the political leaders in their communities, the consequences are devastating. We need a balanced approach to reform that recognizes that excessive limits on policing will cost rather than save innocent lives.

Jerry Anderson, Eagan

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Ifpolice think that suing the state will gain the public's respect, they are badly mistaken ("Police groups sue over law change," July 3). I am 72 and was raised to respect police officers. Over the past few decades, I have seen the corruption and violence inside the profession escalate to unreasonable levels. People like me are tired of hearing of "a few bad apples." If the profession is filled with honorable peace officers, why have they not tried to stop the deterioration of their profession? When three officers stand by while a fourth officer murders a man, handcuffed, on the ground, with witnesses, that's a message none of us can ignore. When you work inside a broken system, it is easy to become broken yourself.

Honorable police personnel and their overzealous unions need to lead with permanent changes to their profession. If they don't, we — the voting public — will impose our rules, which will also bring monetary implications to the profession. It's not a pro-police or anti-police stance, as Trump supporters would like you to believe. It's a "let's make this a profession that attracts the best candidates who strongly believe they do not have to kill with guns so often" stance.

Nancy Lanthier Carroll, Roseville

OLYMPICS

So potential winnersdeserve special treatment?

Jim Souhan's column in the July 5 Star Tribune regarding sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson was yet another attempt by a member of the media to promote the "rules don't matter" agenda continually being pushed by the left ("Pot suspension on eve of Olympics is cruel and senseless"). Souhan decries the inhumanity of enforcing the "no pot" rule on an athlete for the simple reason that she had a very good chance of winning Olympic gold for the United States until she broke the rules and got busted, just like any ordinary athlete who never had any chance of bringing home the gold. Souhan's assumption is that because Richardson is a potential winner, the rules shouldn't apply to her. Potential winners should be allowed to break rules that lesser competitors may not. What kind of twisted, contorted reasoning is that?

Russ Prince, Apple Valley

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Souhan is correct when he writes that Americans will look back on the one-month suspension of Sha'Carri Richardson as "daft, anachronistic and wrongheaded." In my opinion, it will go down in history with others who have been victimized by the arbitrary and discriminatory decisions made by the International Olympic Committee over the years. History remembers, as it should, the names Sam Stoller (sprinter and long jumper) and Marty Glickman (sprinter), U.S. runners replaced in the 1936 Olympics likely because they were Jewish, and Margaret Bergmann Lambert (high jumper), excluded from the German team because she was Jewish. Or the decision to strip Jim Thorpe, a Native American, of his gold medals awarded in the 1912 games, because he violated amateur rules by accepting small sums to play minor league baseball. The Richardson decision should go down in history alongside these earlier travesties.

Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley

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