Dear President Obama,
My 8th grade special topics class posed the question of whether or not we should invade Iraq, back when the subject was up for debate before the actual invasion. Being that I was in 8th grade, my knowledge of the intricacies of war and politics was minimal at best. However, somehow I knew it was wrong to go to war with Iraq. This was when I learned what the word “imminent” meant. Brian Williams used the word “imminent” when describing the likelihood of invading Iraq. I asked my mother what that word meant. With a concerned look on her face she replied, “it means soon, happening soon … It means we are going to war.”
You ran a very successful campaign in 2008, and again in 2012. One of the primary vehicles behind 2008 was the ideal spread across the country that there would be “hope” and “change” with an Obama White House. One of the biggest reasons I voted for you was because I felt like you would be the polar-opposite of George W. Bush. Where Bush created problems, you would create solutions. Where Bush created war, you would create peace.
Peace in the Middle East was something that many optimistic people thought might get addressed by your administration. I was instilled with hope after your election because I thought you could restore integrity and respect to the office of President, and to the United States. I actually thought it was possible, in a sense, to bring some peace to the Middle East. A military strike with Syria would put the final nail in the coffin to this already dying dream.
When you were a candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois in 2002, you spoke very openly about the war in Iraq:
“I don’t oppose all wars…[w]hat I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war….[w]hat I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income.”
If you thought Iraq was rash, maybe you should take a look at your response to Syria. Within literally days of confirming that Syria used chemical weapons, you mentioned intentions of a military strike.
I know its been a long time since 2002, but maybe a more recent statement will draw your memory. Your DNC acceptance speech in 2008 was very eloquent, and included this statement:
I will restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.
What happened? Where did we go between 2008 and now? Have we just tossed out the notion of having a moral standing? Is a moral standing really accomplished by invading other countries who have not posed an immediate threat to the United States? Why has collateral damage become an issue on the back-burner? I get that a lot has happened in 5 years, but you haven’t exactly been a very dove-like President. In fact, you have adopted more of a hawkish attitude with the authorization of drone strikes.
The American people long to live lives of peace, and peace means at home AND abroad. I am 23 years old. We have been at war for the majority of my life. I long to one day know what it feels like to live in a country where we are not bombing, invading, or re-building another country.
Mr. President, I have cousins that live in Syria. Cousins that I have never met before. I don’t even know their names. All I have been told is that we have distant cousins that live there. Maybe they have since moved away. But I want to meet them one day. I hope I can. Please don’t bomb their home. I understand your concerns with Syria’s oppressive regime, but lets act like adults and not children. Because the Syrian people need some adult leadership, and the U.S. does too.
Originally published on Centerleft.org