“There were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.”
"In an age without surrender ceremonies, we must earn victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation. Every American who serves joins an unbroken line of heroes that stretches from Lexington to Gettysburg; from Iwo Jima to Inchon; from Khe Sanh to Kandahar -- Americans who have fought to see that the lives of our children are better than our own. Our troops are the steel in our ship of state. And though our nation may be travelling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true, and that beyond the pre-dawn darkness, better days lie ahead."
President Barack Obama 8/31/2010
Dear Mr. President,
I thought your speech tonight struck an appropriate and difficult tone. With talks between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu coming up, I've read several articles praising your ambitious foreign policy goals, even as dismaying violence and hateful rhetoric keep cynics confident in their doubt. After so many years of being sold violent and short-sighted mistakes as the only way to protect ourselves, I can see why there is a reluctance to accept your words on face value. Is the war in Iraq really over? Did it just get a new name? Are the Israel/Palestine talks in good faith, or just more show? I don't feel confident enough to say for sure. Even your reference to American soldiers in the wars of our history, wars which you claim were fought "to see that the lives of our children are better than our own" unsettled me. How did the Vietnam war improve the lives of the next generation of American children? How will the war in Iraq?
There are unjust wars and our country has been involved in several. While I understand the nobility of the soldiers who fight for us, I grow tired of the men who send them to fight lying to them and to us about why they are fighting. The Iraq war is one of the most obvious modern examples of this. The hundreds of thousands dead in this war did not die so that their children would lead better lives; they died because men with enough power were blindly and violently desperate for more. While I respect that the world you inherited and the complex nature of your job requires that you see this conflict differently than I do, I wish that you had not been so quick to link waging of war to our survival as a nation.
I may never have children. If I do, I cannot accept that their wold will be improved through war. That more killing and violence and suffering and lies will make them safer or happier or more fulfilled. I want to believe that the goals you've laid out in Iraq and in Palestine are alternatives to the violence of previous Presidents. I want to believe that you have more than words of praise for the soldiers sent out to do the dirty work of empire. That instead of trying to convince us the death and ruin was for a nobel cause, you will first see that our soldiers are not sent out to kill and to die in vain. This is how I believe our country and the rest of the world will be best served by your Presidency. I don't yet know if I can trust you to this end, but I still have hope.