Monday, June 20, 2011

Letter to President Obama: End the Afghanistan War now

June 20, 2011

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you as one of your 2008 national convention delegates, but more importantly as a fellow father, to urge you to bring a rapid end to the war in Afghanistan.

Far too many young children and their families have already been killed in this war. Every child killed by misguided bombs, drone strikes or night raids is a heart-breaking tragedy. Afghani parents, after all, love their children just as I love my daughter, just as you love your daughters. Every child killed creates untold suffering, generates thousands of new enemies, fuels the cycle of violence and undermines the stated purposes of this war.

I was on a phone call yesterday, Father’s Day, with several Afghan teenagers who are part of an organization called the “Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.” They have lived with the terror of this war most of their lives, and have all been personally affected. One boy lost his only brother to the war. His lost his parents when he was younger, so the killing of his brother left him with no immediate family. More than anything, all the Afghan youth said they are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted by this war, and they want it to end now.

I circulated to other parents a petition asking you to end this war and to order an immediate end to the bombing campaign that regularly results in children and other innocent people being killed. One father, Jon Kurtz of MA, added these comments to the petition:

“I have worked with humanitarian organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I can personally attest to the negative impacts of the military strategy on the lives of ordinary Afghan children and families. What they seek and need is more stability. Unfortunately, the current US military strategy is undermining, rather than improving stability.”

Another father, James Seligman of California, has this to say:

“Killing children with missiles, drones, helicopters and bombs is terrorism. How many more were injured and crippled for life? It is now time to stop the murdering and start rebuilding and healing. It is the only humane thing to do and we are already long overdue.”

I worked hard for your election in 2008. My volunteer efforts contributed to my being elected as one of your national convention delegates. I was inspired by your opposition to the Iraq War, and by statements you made about peace on the campaign trail, including this pledge in a fall, 2007 foreign policy speech:

“I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America so that together we can do the hard work to seek a new dawn of peace and prosperity for our children, and for the children of the world.”

I used that line in an op-ed piece I wrote in favor of your candidacy, which was published just before the Iowa caucus in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. In my letter I said that your opposition to the Iraq War, and sentiments like the one quoted above “give this father hope and inspiration. Imagine the message you and other Iowans can send to the world on January 3rd by caucusing for a man of peace to replace the men of war, at last.”

Now, 2 ½ years into your Presidency, as I read story after story of the unending carnage and suffering inflicted upon the people of Afghanistan (and Pakistan, etc.) under your Administration, I am disheartened. I’m not the only one.

It’s clear that the people of our country, just like the people of Afghanistan, no longer support the war in Afghanistan. In addition to the enormous human toll, the cost of this war robs resources from needs at home at a time when we can least afford it. That is why the US Conference of Mayors today passed a resolution urging Congress to bring war dollars home to “meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.” This is the first time such a resolution has been adopted by the Mayors since the Vietnam War.

Mr. President, we can’t afford the war in Afghanistan anymore, morally or financially. Please do everything in your power as President, Commander in Chief and as a Father to end the war and bring the troops home. That would be change we could truly believe in.


John Friedrich

South Lake Tahoe, CA

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