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LETTER: World remains an often-hostile, always-challenging place


GRAND FORKS -- Ever more problems and no good solutions.

A cursory view of the world shows an increasing number of nations involved in bitter civil wars. Tunis, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Israeli-Palestine deadlock, Afghanistan, Venezuela and even Thailand all are involved at some level of national violence.

The tragedy is there are no ready solutions, as the problems are domestic and mostly self-inflicted.

We tried to make Iraq the center of Arab democracy and failed miserably. Iraq’s civil war is blending into Syria’s civil war, and we cannot do anything but watch. That is truly depressing after all the blood and money we poured into Iraq.

Now, we are facing the problem of Russia invading Ukraine. How far will Russian Preisdent Vladimir Putin go? Will he take just Crimea, just the eastern half of Ukraine or all of Ukraine? We don’t know. Can we do anything to stop him? I doubt it.

Military force is a very bad option, and moral suasion never holds water with dictators such as Putin.

If Putin achieves significant success in Ukraine, that will open up another huge problem: China. China has been battling its neighbors over control of a number of mostly barren, unpopulated islands scattered across the western Pacific. These islands became important because of their strategic location, which could offer control of the oil and other resources that may surround them. China desperately needs oil.

Given our inability to block Putin’s moves, how will we react if China were to plant its flag on these islands and set up big signs saying, “Keep Out”?

Edward Halas