President’s stand on Afghanistan well-intentioned, but wrong

December 4, 2009
By

The following was sent in response to a Thanksgiving greeting from President Barack Obama.

Happy holidays to you, Mr. President, and your family!

These are tough times for you, and I’m not certain you’re taking the right course with Afghanistan. I know yours is not an impulsive, ill-informed or self-aggrandizing decision like that of your predecessor. It is no exaggeration to think of Afghanistan as our next Vietnam. If we would focus more on cleaning up our own messes at home—getting a serious and meaningful health plan passed, for one—the world could see how democracy can actually work.

We have so much corruption and greed in this country from Wall Street on down that our attempt to spread freedom and “protect our interests” in these far distant lands is looked on as intimidating, foolhardy and no more than an act of hubris.

To think that we could succeed in changing the conditions in Afghanistan when the Russians and, before them, the British (over the centuries) failed is yet another self-deluding US attitude that will result in only further widening the gap between us and developing nations that currently distrust our motives.

I know you are not an arrogant man, and I also know you’re smart and compassionate, so I pray that you will eventually make the right decision. Bring our troops home, have them always at the ready, but—for the immediate future—have them focus on domestic security. If need be, have them involved when and where there is no other interest than to help protect innocent people from oppression.

I know there are no clear-cut answers, and I trust that you, more than most anyone I can imagine in that office in these perilous times, will do your best.

One more thing, Mr. President: While I understand it’s presidential to end a speech with “and God bless the United States of America,” if God needs to be invoked at all, might you ask God to bless the world and not just the United States of America? Blame it on my sense of political correctness, but one could easily interpret that invocation as calling for more good fortune for the US while the rest of the world will have to manage on its own.

Michel L. Spitzer
Jamaica Plain

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