March 1st, 2009
11:44 AM ET

Dear President Obama #41: Leaving Babylon

Reporter's Note: Presidents don’t ask regular Americans to give them advice on how the run the country every day, but Barack Obama has, so I’m doing just that, with a letter to the White House…every day.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Every Sunday at our church we pray for members of our country’s military. It is a part of the service I always notice; unlike the sermon which often finds me drifting. I grew up in a military family, believing that there is no public service more praiseworthy than that of the person who is willing to place his or her life on the line to serve our nation.

So I was glad to hear your specific plans for our withdrawal from Iraq. I know President Bush struck the deal for the pull out, but your commitment to a specific schedule matters. Not because I am either for or against the war or its intentions; I’ll leave that debate to others; but because I think our servicemen and women deserve to know what their Commander in Chief has in mind.

For too long during the campaign, I fear our troops did not know what Washington was thinking, or what might come next. When all the candidates thought the race would be decided on the issue of Iraq, they were talking up their positions in every café and on every street corner. Then when the course of the war shifted, and neither Democrats not Republicans knew quite how to capitalize on it politically, suddenly all the chatter stopped. The rise of our economic troubles made it even easier to avoid the war.

Our troops have never had that luxury. There have been worse times and better times; progress and setbacks; but not for one minute have they been out of harm’s way. Facing danger is a soldier’s job, and the vast majority of the troops I’ve talked to since the war began do not ask for even a hint of sympathy. Instead, almost to a soul they have been brave, unassuming, dedicated Americans who simply want to serve their country as their country sees fit. And if you see fit to bring them home now, I suspect the vast majority will follow that order with the same professionalism, discipline and sense of duty with which they went to battle.

Whether any given war is necessary or not is up to others to decide. Troops, by their very nature, must trust in political leaders to choose their battles carefully; to know when to advance, when to retreat, and when to hold a position.

But this should be a credo for every elected official in the land: You should never send people off to get shot at in your name, and then forget about them. The troops, their families, their friends, and our country deserve better.

Hope your weekend is going well. Call if you get a moment.



For more of the Foreman Letters, click here.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. colford

    I'm a young growing boy in 8th grade, who lives on the East Coast in Philadelphia. I want to get to california though. So couldn't you Barack Obama use some of the money from the stimulus package to make a railroad service. Look, it can go from East to West, and from North to South. They would all meet in Kansas, and it would create over a billion jobs.

    March 1, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  2. Rodney San Jose, Costa Rica

    Hey Tom,

    Its good that your church and its members pray our country's military and all churches in America should do this...

    However I must disagree on the president telling the whole world about the exact date for the withdrawal.

    I know that our servicemen and women deserve to know what their Commander in Chief has in mind however I do not think that Al Queda or Osama Bin Laden or Iran or anyone else who might find this information useful need to know when the US is leaving Iraq. Its a matter of National security and should be HUSH HUSH .

    March 1, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  3. Padmaja mouli

    Dear Mr President
    We are so proud of your work.You did more in one month than the previous adminstration did in one year. We are all behind you. Please do some thing about health care. we need more attention to preventive care
    and healthy life style . Please help the primary care physicians in achieving thi goal.
    Thank you
    Padmaja Mouli M.D.

    March 1, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  4. Amanda Walton Fort Erie, Ontario

    Great letter Tom, all soilders fighting for freedom and democracy need to be kept on the forefront of everyone's minds and prayers and one way to do that is to continually remind those who forget so easily. That would be those of who benefit and enjoy the freedoms and saftey we have everyday we drive thru to pick up our morning coffees, or as the nice weather approaches the beer and bbq's with friends and do this all without fear of driving or stepping on an IED or the comrade we thought was, has a bomb strapped to them.

    They all deserve the highest honours and to never be forgotten, not now, not ever.

    March 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  5. James

    I am inspired by the call to leadership in this letter. This spirit would serve many people well in numerous scenarios. Those in positions of power, no matter what their office may be, have a duty to inform and explain – it is the reason that they were empowered.

    March 1, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  6. KatchProFILMS

    (Thanks for the article.)

    March 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  7. Rachel

    Good Morning Tom

    Church service was good here in my home too. I watch the service on TV because its snowing in ATLANTA.

    But I pray everyday for our nations solders and our leaders and the people in the world including the animals. The reason is where I come from originally people do not volunteer to serve the leaders or the political leader force them to do so. Since I came here in USA in 1992 I watch everything in contrast to what I was taught to do. And the more I knew about the more I have respect. I travel a lot and I see a whole lot of soldiers coming and going and I always say Thank You.

    So Thank You for all who are serving so I could be who I am today in the greatest country in the world. Full of oportunities, full of freedom, and full of joy despite whats going on currently. I would not want to live anywhere but USA.

    Atlanta, GA

    March 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm |