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I have great news for Stephen B. Young (“Where are the worldly concerns?” Sept. 8). Though the Democratic contenders in the 2020 presidential race remain primarily focused on domestic policy, there are candidates with a clear foreign-policy vision outside of a plane trip to Brussels to tell our allies “We’re back!” Bernie Sanders led the charge in the Senate to end our support for the terrorist-backing, Yemen-bombing regime in Riyadh and has promised “a foreign policy which focuses on democracy, human rights, diplomacy and peace, and economic fairness.” While Tulsi Gabbard has yet to make the next tier of debates, she has generated an energetic following by focusing on the issue of peace, namely ending cavalier interventionism and preventing nuclear war. These seem like excellent causes for celebration for the party that led the opposition to the disastrous and dishonest war in Iraq, but I’m not sure if Mr. Young would be joining the festivities. Someone who calls the escalation of the Vietnam War “a noble step” may have slightly skewed priorities for not clearly remembering the campaign to support the massively corrupt and repressive South Vietnamese government that extended across Southeast Asia, killed millions (including tens of thousands of our own), and failed to dislodge communism from any part of former French Indochina. The only thing that could be more concerning is if that person doesn’t care.

Paul Villerius, Minneapolis

• • •

There may be interesting news ahead for Young and others who despair of “the Blob” — the epithet applied to America’s sleepwalking, ineptly hawkish foreign-policy establishment.

Billionaires George Soros and Charles Koch (bogeymen of the tribal right and left, respectively) have joined forces to challenge the status quo via their new Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI).

This Soros/Koch-funded think tank will promote “ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace” in defiance of current policy that’s “detached from any defensible conception of U.S. interests and from a decent respect for the rights and dignity of humankind.” Amen, brother.

QI was inspired by John Quincy Adams’ plea for an America that “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy” lest we become “the dictatress of the world.” QI’s founders include noted authors Andrew Bacevich (colonel, U.S. Army, retired; currently professor emeritus at Boston University) and Stephen Wertheim (historian at Columbia University).

Washington’s think tanks may come and go, but the funding, integrity and hunger for the Quincy Institute bodes well.

America is now seen internationally as the biggest threat to peace (WIN/Gallup International, 2013; Pew, 2017). Our post-9/11 wars have killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions and cost trillions while making the world less safe. It’s time for a change.

Blob, beware. Godspeed, Charles and George.

Drew Hamre, Golden Valley

• • •

The title of Young’s commentary — “Where are the worldly concerns?” — was printed over a portion of a map that showed parts of northern Africa and much of the Middle East. The iStock map, however, is out of date. As we wonder about our place in the world, it would be helpful to show the world as it really is. The map showed the country of Sudan as it was before the world’s newest country, South Sudan, came into existence July 9, 2011. Sudan gained its independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956, but differing cultural, religions and ethnic backgrounds in the northern and southern parts of the country led to civil war that lasted almost continuously until 2005, when a comprehensive peace agreement was reached. Under this agreement, the southern part of Sudan gained some autonomy and was allowed to eventually hold an election to determine whether to separate from Sudan. The vote was overwhelmingly to separate.

Civil war again broke out in South Sudan in 2013, and there is currently a shaky peace between the warring parties. Let’s recognize this new country as the U.S. works to solidify a stable, unified government for South Sudan.

Doug Mitchell, Minneapolis

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES

All must prove their worth

I’m a 75-year-old white Democratic voter but Joe Biden is not on my list of people I support for the Democratic presidential nomination. He is too middle-of-the-road when most people in this country need and want solutions to our deep-rooted problems that go to those deep roots. Also, he is another white man. Except for President Barack Obama, that’s all we’ve had as president for over 200 years. Time for a woman president and/or a person of color.

Julian Castro is on my list, after Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. I deplore the outcry against him for questioning Biden’s health care plan in Thursday’s debate. Is Biden to be protected from challenges on the debate stage, which are little compared to the challenges he would face as president? Let him answer Castro’s challenge and demonstrate that he’s prepared to face the tougher challenges of being the first post-Trump president.

Helen Hunter, St. Paul

• • •

So on Thursday President Donald Trump blamed his orangeness on high-efficiency light bulbs, Bernie Sanders got all red in the face trying to lead a party he only supports when it suits him, and Joe Biden rambled that the way to atone for slavery is for black parents to play their record players to their kids.

With male leaders like this, it’s time to move on — to the sharp and principled women who won last night’s debate. Elizabeth Warren once again spoke about her plans, Kamala Harris showed quick wit and strength, and Amy Klobuchar offered a moderate alternative.

Women will be the driving force for Democrats in 2020. We have three great options who can restore competence and dignity in the White House. Let’s pick one.

Pamela J. Snopl, Minneapolis

MENTAL HEALTH

U’s focus on growing need for services is quite welcome

The Sept. 8 editorial about the increasing emphasis on mental health services at the University of Minnesota is so welcome, for so many reasons! First, it likely means that the stigma of mental health issues is waning, due in part to the years of work on this by MakeItOK, an organization largely funded and staffed by HealthPartners. Making it OK to have a mental health issue, to talk about mental illness and to seek medical help has been their intense focus. (Check out the website — makeitok.org — and numerous ads.)

Second, the editorial highlights an area that the university must explore, to learn all of the reasons for this increase. Perhaps there is too much stress on students from peers, professors and parents, but maybe not. Perhaps students are putting excessive pressure on themselves. And perhaps the university can do something to diminish the frequency of these illnesses. Thankfully, the regents have continued to fully fund these services.

But finally, President Joan Gabel’s realization that this must be a priority will ensure quick help (“early intervention”) for students suffering from an initial psychotic break, and we know now that this can have a huge effect on the later severity of the illness, with complete or near-complete recovery a possibility.

Since the major mental illnesses most often surface between ages 16 and 24, many will occur among university students. How great is it that the university will be ready to deliver the help they need?

Mary McLeod, St. Paul