June 18th, 2009
08:41 AM ET

Dear President Obama #150: The drums of change

Reporter's Note: Each day I write a letter to President Barack Obama. I’ve done it, without fail, since the inauguration.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Just as I predicted, you may have noticed that the Iranians…or rather I should say “some” Iranians…are blaming us for the troubles over there. No surprise, I suppose. I know that we have not always had the best foreign policy, I know that we have made mistakes, but I also know the United States has often been the favorite scapegoat of political leaders elsewhere who get themselves into trouble.

I can’t even pretend to understand all the cross currents at work over there right now. An Iranian acquaintance was trying to explain a lot of it to me, but it was filled with so many alliances, and hidden alliances, and old grudges, and on and on, that I had a hard time keeping up. The main message, however, I got: Iranians themselves think this could be something big. Something bigger than just an election. Something more like the winds of revolution.

I suspect that kind of talk makes leaders all over the world at least a little uneasy, even if they support any given cause that leads to revolution anywhere. Because revolutions, our own American one included, can be messy, violent, and unpredictable affairs.

When I’ve read histories of these earth shaking changes, whether here, or in Russia, or in Cuba, or in China, I am struck by the huge role of sheer “chance” in such matters. The right leader in the right place at the right time. Or the wrong leader in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or a million permutations of everything in between. All can wind up producing a government, a society, and a nation that no one fully imagined or expected.

What does all this mean for you? Only this: Just like your economic plans during the campaign have been largely turned upside down by the realities of our economy since the election, I suspect you and your team will have to do some serious retrenching on your foreign policy goals too. It’s not just Iran. North Korea. Iraq. Afghanistan. Cuba. China. Europe. You ran on the idea of change, but frankly I think change was coming to the whole world anyway in a manner of speaking, and now we all have to hold on tight, adapt quickly to whatever comes, and hope we react properly.

I’m not so sure the marching in the streets of Iran is anywhere near over; and I’m wondering now where and when other streets in other places will fill with unrest.

Like they used to say on an old cop show, “Be careful out there.” And call when you can.


Find more of the Foreman Letters, here.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Geez

    It's a commentary for Pete's sake. I thought it was a great piece and filled with thought provoking views. It's a look at the forrest, not just the trees. Tom is right. Change is going on everywhere and not just in Iran, China, Cuba, or any one particular country. The worldwide economic and social crisis is gaining steam, even in this country. The world view is changing and we ALL have to adapt. The world of the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's is a thing of the past. I think Tom's point is we have to focus on what it's going to look like in the future instead of running around trying to put out fires. It's critical we know when to step back and when to take action. Now is our chance to influence the direction change takes us, but we have to choose our course wisely.

    June 19, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  2. Fed Up

    The Iranians are blaming us!!! Oh no, Obama better hurry up and apologize, give em a couple hundred million or so, then maybe they will like us.

    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  3. Sandra

    Tom, I love your letters. Good job. 🙂

    June 18, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  4. cheree

    Very Exciting.! We have to change: if we don't evolve and form a more peaceful, productive world then I fear the opposite for our children.

    June 18, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  5. Anthony Swartz

    Dear Obama sir,

    I am a patience on medical mariiuna we need help in montana

    June 18, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  6. Liz

    I wonder what you expect Obama (or any politician) to do with that type of letter. If you want to blog, blog. But give direct guidance, or I say, leave him be. I'm sure he has to triage what he reads from beginning to end simply due to time, and I would be concerned if he spent time on that because there's nothing directly useful there. You make good points, but it's not actionable. Perhaps you could adjust your approach.

    June 18, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  7. Travis

    Spot on story, I also believe the winds of change is coming from all directions. Up to and including all nations of the world and Mother Nature. Good Luck and hope all is best for the world when all is done.

    June 18, 2009 at 9:24 am |