Monday, October 19, 2009

Another letter to the President

Dear Mr. President,

As you consider how to proceed in Afghanistan, I have a few thoughts that I hope you will consider. We are trying to support the idea of free and fair elections in Afghanistan, in the hopes of building a democracy there. That seems like a noble idea, but I believe it is unrealistic. As results have shown, there is massive "fraud" in the elective process there.

I believe that this kind of "fraud" and "corruption" is inevitable, and is a sign that Afghanistan is not at the point in its development to be suited to our concept of democracy. Democracy depends on an educated citizenry, while Afghanistan's literacy rate is very low. Democracy also depends on a concept of human society that sees each person as an independent actor, able and willing to make choices that differ from his or her friends, family, and neighbors. But not everyone thinks that way. In a tribal society, the needs of the tribe outweigh one's own personal opinions. The idea of standing up for one's own ideas and opinions is not something that is reasonable to everyone on this planet.

I think we should accept Afghanistan for what it is--a country that consists of tribal groups, with local strongmen as leaders, and work within that framework. Perhaps a king would make more sense than an elected president. It is possible to have a king, and still respect the rights of the people.

The more we push for fair elections in Afganistan, the more we play into the hands of the Taliban, who are naturally more in touch with the realities of life in Afghanistan. Look at those pictures of women in burkas, casting their votes. Do you really think that each person is free to vote her own conscience? Even in the city of Chicago, union leaders and ward bosses influence people's votes. What can we expect in Afghanistan?

Your responsibility as president is to protect our borders, to prevent terrorists from penetrating our country. It doesn't matter what some radicals in Afghanistan think of us, as long as they are not capable of getting into the United States and attacking us.

I am not willing to expend another dollar or another American life to support a questionable democracy in the distant country of Afghanistan. The only thing Afghanistan ever did to us was to allow terrorists to live there. Well terrorists also lived in Germany and Great Britain and Florida. This is not our country and not our responsibility.

Of course the generals want more soldiers and more time, When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When all you have is military force, everything looks like it needs more military force. It's not up to the generals! It's up to civilian leadership, and that means you.

Act like a man of peace, and end the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. When the people of Afghanistan are ready for representative democracy, they will fight for it themselves. All this training is a joke--soldiers who believe in what they are fighting for can be trained to do so in a very short time, as the Taliban shows. The national army can't be trained because they don't want to be trained.

If you escalate the war in Afghanistan, it will show beyonf a shadow of a doubt that you are in thrall to the military-industrial complex of constant war. Be a man of peace. Bring the troops home.


Evelyn Uyemura

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Letter I sent to the President

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on being chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize. I agree with your assessment that the intent of this prize is to spur action. And I am happy to hear that you intend to donate the prize money.

May I make a suggestion: use this money, and your prestige, and whatever political power you have, to bring peace to your old neighborhood, the south side of Chicago.

We have all heard the story of Emmett Till, and how his death at the hands of white racists in Mississippi in 1955 and his funeral in Chicago touched the hearts of a nation and began the progress towards civil rights.

But look where we are today: black youths beating each other to death in that same city. Children, like your daughter, and like my daughter, a student at the University of Chicago, fearing for their lives when they walk to and from school.

How can we have any hope of bringing peace in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Israel and Palestine, if we cannot even bring peace in a great American city like Chicago? If the money and attention and care that goes into fighting wars half a world away were focused on our own inner city, maybe we could have a hope of saving these young people who fall victim to random violence.

You are in a unique position, and the eyes of the world have twice been turned in your direction, and in the direction of Chicago. What better use could you make of this prize money, and of this opportunity, than to try to bring peace to Chicago. Please don't let this moment pass.

Incidently, the passwords to send a message to the president are most weird. The first one was "shoplift 000," and then there was an error, and the second one was "spooks Tazzer." wtf? That random word generator thing has racist tendencies!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize?

Seriously? I actually didn't believe it when I saw the headline in my email this morning. Had to get 2 sources before I could believe that it is true.

Now, I love Obama as much as anybody. I think he is the right man to be president at this time, and I try not to worry too much about him being ineffective. (healthcare reform, anyone?)

But I think this is a ridiculous choice by the Nobel committee, and I think it devalues the meaning of the Peace prize. It was given mainly as a slap in the face to Bush.

Obama is the commander in chief of a military that is currently occupying two foreign countries, and he's considering expanding the presence in one of those countries. Guantanamo still isn't closed. Detainees are still imprisoned at Bagram Airforce base, and apparently are being sent there from countries outside of Afghanistan.

7 or 8 years from now, if Obama has turned the US into a peace-loving country that pays more attention ot the well-being of its citizens than it's "interests" abroad, he will deserve a Peace Prize.

Now? Well, you don't give prizes to people to encourage them to do something. You give the prize after they've done it.

I think this is silly and embarrassing, and possibly even manipulative. Bad call, Nobel Committee.