Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Dear President Obama

Dear President Obama,

Did you happen to get the gift I sent? I know it’s not very polite to ask and my mother, God rest her soul, is even now fuming up in heaven at my lack of manners.

It’s actually a double whammy – The Quiet American written by Graham Greene, along with a DVD of the movie inspired by the book.

I sent both because I think Michelle might like the movie; it contains “a bit of auld romance,” as they used to say in Ireland, coupled with an important message for you.

What with Wikileaks, though, I’m afraid you’ll discover that I sent the exact same present to President Bush some years back. However, some things never change.

I still think you’re doing a hell of a job on the home front - saving both the car industry and the financial system, along with making sure we can all get health insurance.

Now I don’t know whether you’ve ever read this column but I was very opposed to the war in Iraq. To tell you the truth, I’ve come to feel much the same way about the conflict in Afghanistan? I’d like to know if you honestly think that there’s a prayer of winning in this “graveyard of empire?”

What is “winning” anyway? Keeping in power a government that stole over a million votes in the last presidential elections - whose officials daily loot the treasury and are in cahoots with heroin dealers in the second most corrupt country in the world?

Many of us voted for you on strength of your commitment that troops would be drawn down in 2011 and although there are still murmurings on that score, we now find that for all intents and purposes this goalpost has been arbitrarily shifted to 2014.

Amazingly this ten-year war didn’t even raise a feather during the recent mid-term elections. Since Fox TV didn’t deem it worthy to be an issue politicians of both your party and the party of No followed suit. The tail continues to wag the dog!

And I’m more than aware that “it’s the economy, stupid!” But bad as things are, no one is getting killed over the economy. While in Afghanistan our young men and women are sacrificing their lives over meaningless piles of rubble. We are once again enmeshed in a hostile country fighting with few achievable goals.

I know you’re in a tricky situation and don’t want to be labeled “the man who lost Afghanistan.” Your upcoming presidential rivals would lambast you; but what’s a little shellacking when measured against the lives you could save?

Besides, we’ll be leaving Afghanistan as soon as it has drained us of our blood, money and idealism. Not to mention that instead of making the US safer, we’re actually doing the opposite by allowing our troops to become target practice in another civil war long after Qaeda has shifted its operations to more hospitable countries.

My final breaking point with this war came when Ahmed Zia Massoud, former Vice- President of Afghanistan and brother of Ahmed Shah Massoud, assassinated leader of the Northern Alliance, was discovered with $52 million in his possession while visiting the United Arab Emirates.

That says it all to me - there will be no Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban this time round, far better leave that unprofitable task to the innocent Yanks.

I wish you the best, Mr. President. I think you’re a decent man doing a credible job jump-starting a troubled US economy at a terrible time. But you’re dead wrong in pursuing this hopeless war in Afghanistan and those of us who railed against President Bush in Iraq make hypocrites of ourselves by turning a blind eye to your folly.

Graham Greene warned against this kind of involvement in The Quiet American. Take a read and, for God’s sake, leave a copy of the book or DVD for your successor so we can eventually break this unnecessary cycle of wars and return this country to its rightful position as the shining city on the hill.

Yours in protest, happy Christmas and all the best to you, the Missus and the girls!

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