Dear President Obama:
First and foremost, please allow me to say how delighted I am to be able to address you as "President Obama." You have a stalwart admirer in me.
That said, one can readily glean from your speeches, and some of your more controversial administration picks, that you're not looking for blind loyalty, or fealty, so please allow me to address a huge concern of mine, and others who share my vision for disarmament, a world without nuclear weapons, or cluster bombs.
If, as it's said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, we're halfway there. For a leader, and an administration, that claims it wishes only to look forward, and not politicize decisions made by a previous administration, it's fair to ask why this concept of looking ahead, not back, applies only to prosecuting those whose misadventures, and illicit activities, got us to where we are today.
Yes, you may say that you inherited the war in Iraq, and I'm no math major, but it seems to me that leaving 50,000 troops in that country is no way to withdraw. When even Iraq's government wants us to leave, how can your administration justify staying? We need Big Brothers in America, not the Middle East.
Moreover, no one needs to tell you about the quagmire that is Afghanistan. You're absolutely right to say that we were fighting the wrong war. We should have been on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the first place, but that was six years ago. Has nothing changed?
Mr. President, you are now commander-in-chief not George W. Bush. You may say, with some justification, that you were handed the economic collapse, as well as a war, but by requesting another $97 billion for combat in Iraq, and Afghanistan, you'd have a hard time convincing any reasonable person that your objective is peace.
On the campaign stump, you argued that your predecessor spent $10 billion a month on Iraq, and that we could do better things with that money. You've already proposed cutbacks in some lower case social programs, but the point is---how is this $97 billion any different from the foreign policy of your predecessor?
And, as senator from Illinois you voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, yet you're endorsing military tribunals and immunity from prosecution for those who have spearheaded so-called alternative interrogation methods -- torture. You have it within your means to issue an executive order to overturn the MCA, and those of us who want accountability urge you to do so.
You're quite right -- we need to continue the preemptive fight, but we must wage a preemptive war on war because the planet now has the power to destroy itself many times over, and many of the major players on the battlefield, as you know, possess nuclear weapons including Pakistan, and India, Israel, Russia, and the biggest nuclear stockpiler of all -- the United States of America.
Yet again, we hear of a request for more funds to fight a war, in Afghanistan this time, where there is no clear exit strategy. If, as you said at the D.C. Hilton this weekend, you and Congress serve at "the pleasure of the American people," then you must bring our troops home. That is the people's desire, and that must be our elected leaders' objective.
You, sir, have the potential to be one of this country's greatest presidents. All you need do is stand by your convictions and stand behind your pledge to restore trust in government.
Follow Jayne Lyn Stahl on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaynelynstahl