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Show Strength by Preventing Deadly Conflict

December 2, 2009

Like many of you, I was saddened by President Obama’s announcement last night that he has decided to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. It was the first time that I watched a speech by this President and rolled my eyes at empty patriotic rhetoric that obfuscates the nuances of history and current events. When watching Barack Obama’s campaign speeches, his inauguration speech, and many of his speeches since taking office I have been continually moved by his thoughtfulness, intelligence, and oratory style. And yet last night, at West Point, I heard President Obama’s tone and message to be uncomfortably similar to war speeches from the previous Administration.

Yet even as my disappointment caught in my throat, Obama uttered a sentence that caused Bridget Moix to jump up and do a little dance: “America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict.” That is the first time in a long time, if ever, that a President has made such a direct statement about our responsibility to prevent deadly conflict instead of waging war. There were other inspiring nuggets buried within this speech, but they were few and hard to cling to when the overall message was so saddening.

I was lucky to listen to this speech after three hours of donor thank you calls. While this may not seem like the most fun activity, in many ways it was inspiring. I spoke with many people who hope the nation can be patient with Obama as he tackles difficult issues on all fronts, as well as people who reaffirmed their commitment to the “War is Not the Answer” campaign in the face of this new troop announcement. I also found myself discussing all the great opportunities for change that still exist in Washington and even around the war in Afghanistan. There are many voices in Congress raised against this troop increase in both parties, and a disgruntled American public unwilling to remain at war indefinitely. I find strength from these conversations with ordinary Americans who know that war is not the answer and that peace is possible. Ironically, President Obama’s speech was meant to reassure the country about his decision to send more troops, but it was conversations with those in the FCNL community that reassured me about the good in this world.

Check out this NY Times photo of protesters outside West Point last night.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 3, 2009 1:59 am

    Thank you Katrina. It was so very disheartening to hear last night's speech. I've heard from several friends who shared that during the President's speech they had to turn away from the tv. They continued to listen but could not bear to watch. I am going to send them what you have shared. We weren't fortunate enough to be watching with Bridget and perhaps focused on the wrong words. That is one of the gifts you all (FCNL staff) have to offer us – the ability to look for the openings, the possiblities, the opportunities as well as the will to move and make change happen. FCNL was working for change way before Obama was born and will continue long after he has gone. Hearing from you helps us remember that. Please keep writing!!!

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