September 26th, 2009
07:55 AM ET

Dear President Obama #250: Broken engagement?

Reporter's Note: President Obama talked even back during the election about the need to engage America’s enemies in dialogue. But we’ve seen few engagement rings so far.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

After listening to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech this week at the United Nations, you must be having some doubts about your notions that we can talk with these folks. The principle concern has to be his starting place.

Let’s see if I have this right: He thinks Israel should be at worst annihilated, at best sawed off and floated out into the Mediterranean to sink. He thinks the Holocaust never happened. He fancies himself the very model of magnanimous man extending love, democracy, fairness and even-handed justice everywhere he turns. (Uh…about those riots…yeah, have to get back to you on that…) He thinks it imminently unreasonable that the world should question Iran’s nuclear program, and oh btw, other big nations have no business interfering in the Middle East, because after all, if they get into that game, what will the Iranian leaders do for fun? On top of which I think he pretty much sided with Kanye in that whole mess at the video awards.

See what I mean? How do you start a conversation with this guy about peace, or foreign relations, or anything else? He’s like the person who shows up when you are selling your house and offers you a hundred dollars. If you even start negotiating with him, you’ve already lost.

Trust me, I’m a big believer in talking over problems, and I’m often at a bit of a loss when I have disagreements with people who do not want to talk. But before he gets to the table, it seems to me he has to pay the price of admission. (You could call it passing the sanity test, but I suspect he might find that a tad insulting…)

1) He has to say categorically, clearly, and publically that Israel has the same right to exist as any other nation. He has every right to complain about Israel’s attitude, vis-à-vis the Palestinians, but that’s different.

2) He has to acknowledge the Holocaust really happened and was really awful. It’s history that matters.

3) He has to completely open up on this nuclear issue.

If he will agree to all that, then I suspect talks can go somewhere. As it is, I fear any talks you have will swirl endlessly around the edges of those issues, while he angles furiously for aid, lifting of sanctions, and building even more credibility for his regime… which he himself seems to discredit on a regular basis.

Give me a call if you want to chat it over. On a college hunting trip with the elder daughter, so use my cell. Cost of tuition? Yikes!



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Tennille Washington

    Anderson, excellent letter. You are 100% correct, I don't think any amount of talking is going to get through to this guy. I find it extremely sad but he is who he is.

    Have fun on your hunting trip!

    September 26, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  2. Ken

    I agree with Vivien and Tom. But I also think everyone should have the right to voice their opinion but in a civil manner. As far as Israel is concern, I know they can take care of themself's. If I were Iran I wouldn't mess with them. It was quite the clown show.

    September 26, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  3. Mike Armstrong TX.

    This man is set in his ways he sees Israel as an intruder and America as an instagater for placing Israel in this territory after the muslim people gaind control of the land they will fight untill either Iran gains control of Israel or else Israel wins in a war against Iran a conflict can not be avoided.

    September 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  4. Vivien Wolsk, NYC

    Great letter as usual. I disagreed with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he said these insane leaders should not be allowed to speak at the UN. The good thing about allowing them to speak so publicly is that it shows the world what the Israelis are up against and why they are so angry and wary of a peaceful solution. Where are the sane intelligent leaders in the Middle East? Why don't they speak up?

    September 26, 2009 at 11:50 am |