Letters to the Editor

September 12, 2013

Letters to the editor on Pompeo’s Syria stand, Gandhi, zoo’s elephants, suicide

Whom is Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, “representing” when he supports using our military against Syria? It is not the American people.

Pompeo needs to represent us

Whom is Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, “representing” when he supports using our military against Syria? It is not the American people.

A recent CNN poll found 70 percent of Americans believe a strike would not achieve significant goals, even though 80 percent think Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for the use of chemical weapons. Imagine the lack of support if the United Nations concludes, as an Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic member said in a Washington Times article, that there are “strong, concrete suspicions” the rebels utilized the weapons.

Pompeo does not represent the people of Syria. According to a 2013 NATO poll, 70 percent of Syrians back Assad. Pompeo also does not represent the vast majority of Syria’s neighbors. A Pew Research Center poll of people from 12 countries, including Israel, revealed widespread opposition to the U.S. arming or assisting Syrian rebels. So whom is Pompeo actually representing?

He needs to let his constituents know whom he represents. We know whom he is not representing, and they are the very constituents he was elected to represent.



Proud of Pompeo

I am proud of Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and the leadership he has exhibited in recent weeks by publicly supporting a military response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons. As a former Army officer, he understands the gravity of such a response. More important, he understands the real risks and repercussions to our national interests inherent in not responding.

After the past decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, many Americans are understandably war-weary. Many have expressed a desire for a more isolationist foreign policy, and they believe that our national interests are not at stake in Syria. I disagree. Not responding sets a dangerous precedent that egregious violations of international law and human rights will go unpunished. With Iran, North Korea and the rest of the world anxiously waiting to see if “red lines” actually exist anymore, not responding will irreparably harm our credibility and our national security interests.

No one wants boots on the ground in Syria, and regime change should not be our goal. However, a military response is warranted and needed. I stand with Pompeo in authorizing a response to the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children with sarin gas.



Why not Gandhi?

As I enjoyed listening to speeches and celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a dormant question in me erupted one more time: Why was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi not given the Nobel Peace Prize?

Gandhi was nominated five times. He was the father of the nonviolence movement. He was responsible for freeing India from the British in a peaceful manner. He was indirectly responsible for the freedom of many countries in the erstwhile British colonies. Three Noble laureates – the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama – adopted Gandhi’s nonviolence movement.

It seems that some of the people on the committee that selected the peace prize winners used the partition of India and subsequent Hindu/Muslim riots as an excuse to oppose Gandhi’s nomination. Who did the partition? The British, who followed their doctrine of “separate and rule.”

To its credit, the Norwegian Nobel Committee considered giving the peace prize to Gandhi posthumously. But excuses such as that he was not a real politician or a proponent of international law were cited to deprive him of the honor.

Gandhi was a victim of international politics. But, after all, he was a “Mahatma,” or “Great Soul.”



Keep elephants

The elephant exhibit has been an integral part of the Sedgwick County Zoo since the 1970s, and it continues to be a big draw for guests. Work has already begun on prepping areas for the new exhibit.

I’m glad that the Sedgwick County Commission passed a five-year budget plan so we can keep our elephant exhibit and the zoo can continue its reputation of providing excellent entertainment for guests and care for animals.



Suicide problem

Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers and communities, as well as on our military personnel and veterans. This week is Suicide Prevention Week, so it is a perfect time to debunk the myths about suicide.

Since my son’s death by suicide 16 months ago, I have learned a lot about myself and have come to recognize that some of the things I believed before are not true. For example, I used to believe that those who attempted suicide were attention seekers. I thought they were narcissists who had run out of ways to get others to pay attention to them.

This dangerous opinion allows us to ignore the underlying causes of suicide, and discourages those contemplating suicide from seeking help. Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of those who died by suicide suffered from at least one treatable mental illness.

By questioning our beliefs and educating ourselves on the underlying causes, we may be able to recognize when a loved one is considering suicide. Encouraging him or her to seek help may save a life.



Related content



Editor's Choice Videos