December 11th, 2009
11:30 AM ET

Dear President Obama #326: A brilliant speech

Reporter's Note: President Obama gave a big speech about war and peace (the subjects, not the novel) as he accepted his Nobel Prize. I have not been given any medals but have some thoughts on the matter anyway in my daily letter to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/10/art.bonobel1210.gi.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

That was a crackerjack speech, I must say! You know that I don’t just mindlessly applaud all you do, and lately, I’ve thought that you were kind of losing your touch, what with those rather pedestrian addresses about health care reform and all, but this one was spot on the money. Presidential, well-thought out, easy to dance to…I’ll give it a ten, Dick!

But seriously, I really thought it was marvelous, not only for the beautifully chosen words and phrases, but for the depth of the thoughts as well. Acknowledging the controversy over the Nobel Prize being awarded to you right from the get go was a masterstroke. It not only robbed your naysayers of the right to criticize so sharply, but in a strange way formed an alliance with them, by making it clear that you too have doubts about your worthiness so early in your presidency. Speaking freely too about the international eyebrow raising that, in some quarters, surrounds any military action by the United States was also a fine approach.

But most importantly, I was impressed by your ready and forthright statement that military power is not something that is inherently bad or to be damned as antithetical to peace. I have always told my daughters to respect others, avoid conflict whenever and wherever they can, and yet I say, “When somebody punches you in the nose, you are in a fight whether you want to be or not.”

You are right: There are evil forces in the world with which we sometimes simply can not negotiate. The philosophical problem with groups like Al Qaeda is that their terms for peace do not include our existence. We could not surrender to them if we wanted to without marching ourselves wholesale into the sea. I have spent many hours listening to the radical rants of terror leaders and they make it abundantly clear that their dream of the world is not merely one in which they live their way and we live ours; too many of them truly want everyone wiped off of the planet who does not cleave to their ideology. They speak only the language of force, and they will take Armageddon over compromise. If that sounds crazy, frankly, I think it is. They are. And just as the insane gunman who decides to shoot up a school must ultimately be shot down himself, there is ultimately no answer to such folks as these but war.

I wish it were not true. I pray for the day when war ceases to be. And I have great respect for people who believe that war can never be the instrument of peace. But I believe history has proven them wrong. War is terrible. War is inhuman. War is to be avoided as much as possible. But as long as people are greedy, violent, power-hungry and willing to kill for what they want on a grand scale, war is also inevitable.

You said it beautifully. That was a speech to be remembered.

Get some sleep. The travel must be tiring. Call when you can.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Norma Labno


    Dear Tom:

    I sure agree w/you regarding the President's Nobel Speech; the
    words flowed flawlessly.

    I agree there are times (as you said – when one is punched in the
    nose, one has to punch back!)

    The key is to react in a forceful manner – when there is no other
    viable action available. In my lifetime, World War ll was a
    definitive call for force – following Pearl Harbor. World War ll,
    was our finest hour!

    And yes,The President's speech was brilliant.

    My mind, nonetheless, was not changed!

    I'm out of sync w/human behavior, but I believe in War only when
    when we are directly attacked. Then – swift, massive retaliation
    against the PRECISE attackers IS called for! And, tragically, the
    War may go on for sometime as did World War ll. Thank God we
    and our Allies won!

    norma from nv

    (It goes without saying, the present situation is GLOBAL in nature,
    far more complex, and, I believe, calls for a GLOBAL response!)

    December 11, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  2. Conserve' for USA

    Maybe the president really means what he says, but I doubt it. It is a good thing he has hie teleprompter, he wouldn't be able to say a thing without it.
    It's a good thing his ratings are back up to 50%, at least the dems still believe him.

    December 11, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  3. Judy

    Well done

    December 11, 2009 at 9:41 am |
  4. Jonathan Sisson

    Well said.

    I am frustrated by those who refuse to acknowledge this simple truth, and adhere to the tired cliche of "Violence doesn't solve anything!". Wonder what Hitler would say to that. Most likely nothing, because he's dead.

    Yes there is evil in the world and it must be destroyed. I am so proud that we finally have a man in office that understands that, but also understands that the use of military force is a grave undertaking and must only be used in the most extreme situations.

    Thank you Mr. President for understanding this and not be afraid to talk about it. And thank you Mr. Foreman for taking the time to write this letter and posting on this site. All to often, I feel that major news organizations feel it is there job to attack whoever sits in the Oval Office, no matter what they are doing. I have to say that with reporters like you, who are willing to hold our leaders accountable when they are wrong and praise them when they do good, CNN may soon become one of my go to destinations for world news again. Thank you for that

    Jonathan J Sisson
    College student and father, and finally once more, a proud American citizen.

    December 11, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  5. Ms. Moretti

    Dear ztom,

    Thanks for writing this. Your perspective is important to me because as a Buddhist, of course, war is never a tool of peace. But the way you explained it makes these wars we're in, somewhat more sensible. That's pretty crazy to me; but I say, THANKS...

    December 11, 2009 at 9:06 am |