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September 12th, 2012
08:01 PM ET

Letters to the President #1332: 'The attacks overseas'

Reporter's Note: Each day I write to President Obama, even on days like this when I know he has other matters on his mind.

Dear Mr. President,

Like many Americans, you must have been dismayed by the news of those assaults on our diplomats overseas in Egypt and Libya. Sure, you put on a strong face and came out to condemn of the attackers, as any president must; but I wonder if you didn’t find yourself privately saying, “Here we go again.”

Here is something that former presidents had over any chief executive these days: Back in the Cold War days and before, our enemies were largely definable. We knew who they were. We knew where they resided. And we at least had some idea what they wanted. For example, the Russians wanted Sarah Palin to stop watching them from her house, or something like that.

These days, whenever extremists strike out against America I am reminded of what some clever person noted some time back: The problem with these terrorists is that we couldn’t appease them even if we wanted to. Their terms for peace are seemingly that we, and all of our allies, should simply cease to exist, and that is pretty much a
non-starter.

So I don’t envy you the job of dealing with them. When they strike with violence as they just did, I fear that there is no answer except more violence rained down upon them by our forces. I wish it were not that way. I wish we could at least have meaningful discussions with them about whatever it is that they want. I suspect, however, that what they want is simply so far beyond reasonable consideration; such an affront to freedom, self-determination, and the rights of all mankind; that such talks would lead nowhere.

Perhaps that is why they strike like criminals in the night. Because they know the people of the planet thinks their cause is wrong. And rather than accept that, they will visit their viciousness upon the world time and again.

So all I can do is wish the best to all our leaders, our diplomats, and our troops around the globe as they wrangle with these thorny problems. It is not easy work, but good, peace loving people everywhere are counting on you.

Regards,
Tom

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