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Web Letter

Oh, if it was so simple as to vote a withdrawal from Afghanistan. First, can we readily admit that neither war was started by Barack Obama? He was dealt a lame hand, just as he was dealt a lame hand on the economy. Come to think of it, he was dealt a lame hand on pretty much everything. So is it surprising that he is having a hard time extricating us from these entanglements whilst trying to pursue as progressive an agenda the Congress will allow?

Obama is clearly walking away from Iraq as prudently as Bush was reckless in going in. As with the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region. (It is one region and one problem) In a nutshell, it’s complicated and does not lend itself to sloganeering, whether from the left or the right. Sure “Peace Now” sounds good, but reality is more complex than that. Secrecy about Pakistan you say, Tom? Transparency and open government is a good thing, but sometimes situations are so sensitive that secrecy is necessary. And please, do not confuse secrecy as an operational need with secrecy designed to cover up misdeeds. Two completely different animals.

That part of the world is very complex and complicated. Alliances are tenuous at best and tricky to maintain. And even though Dick Cheney is a professional paranoid, even paranoids have real enemies. Just because Cheney is in favor of something does not make it automatically wrong. Sure he is wrong about most things like torture, and he is surely wrong about Obama not caring about defending his country, but he is right about one thing: there are real people trying to hurt innocent Americans and they don’t care if you’re a tea partier or a progressive. Tom Hayden and Dick Cheney are equal in their eyes.

One of the saddest things about our politics is that we enthusiastically voted for a decent, intelligent man for president, and the minute he got elected we all started to nit pick him to death. OK, the right never liked him so it makes sense they would try and obstruct everything he does, but the left is killing him with their thousand paper cuts.

It all boils down to trust.

We just don’t trust Obama, do we? I understand why Limbaugh and Beck don’t trust him. Heck, they probably don’t trust their own mothers. But why do so many progressives not trust him?

I do.

I trust Obama to do the right thing. He has access to information we would all dream to know about. He has looked at these problems from every which way, listened to every side, and charted a course that includes variables that most of us have not even contemplated. Dennis Kucinich has his heart in the right place, but he is sounding more and more like a pathetic Don Quixote, promoting propositions he knows will go nowhere. Like Ralph Nader, Dennis has the luxury of being pure, since he doesn’t have a chance to prevail. All Nader’s purity got us was George W., who in his mind was no worse than the imperfect Al Gore.

There is nothing wrong with having ideals, but let’s not confuse our ideals with the real task of running a mega-country like the United States with all of its diversity, conflicting interests and prominent position in the world.

I think it is a good thing to encourage Obama to rely less and less on the military to provide solutions, but if you are going to criticize his foreign policy then you must be prepared to come up with some pretty savvy solutions that resolve the various conflicts around the world that promote and perpetuate violence. Cute slogans and taking mostly symbolic actions aren’t good enough. The world needs real solutions to real problems, and we should all welcome ideas that just might work. Everything else is just hot air.

Peter Calvet

Bristol, RI

Mar 11 2010 - 5:30pm

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