To the editor:
In his recent letter to the editor, Andrew Tarr (the Times, Friday, May 18) asked why more liberals aren't outraged over certain aspects of President Obama's agenda, particularly in regards to foreign and military policy.
It's a valid question and one that defies easy answers.
I think many liberals have remained silent in the face of the reality that Barack Obama has turned out to be, in many ways, every bit as much a militarist as George W. Bush because they feel they have no alternative in terms of the presidency; a President Mitt Romney deeply indebted to the most extreme, right-wing, religious extremist elements of the GOP is a far more disturbing prospect than Obama's hard line on the war on terror and Islamic extremism.
But that doesn't mean liberals should remain silent about their concerns regarding the administration's military and foreign policies, whether it be in relation to events in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, or closer to home in Latin America.
Now, I don't agree with or support some of the measures the president has taken in the military and foreign policy arenas, but I realize he inherited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as he inherited an economy brought to its knees by almost 30 years of uninterrupted, right-wing, supply-side economics.
It is hard for me to feel outrage at this president as he attempts to clean up the multiple messes he was left, but I do think it is important — even vital — that liberals speak out in the context of the campaign about their concerns regarding foreign and military policy because it is only through doing so that we have any hope of getting those concerns heard and perhaps even help bring about a change of direction and tactics.
And, politically speaking, doing so on our part is unlikely to hurt the president because of the simple reality that accusations by Mitt Romney and other members of the New American Right that Obama is somehow soft on terrorism and defense are proven false every time one looks at the hard-line, and sometimes troubling, actions he has taken in the fight against terrorism and Islamic extremism. He has, in point of fact, taken the fight to the terrorists and extremists in ways and to places that G.W. Bush lacked the will and the courage to do.
That said, the president and his advisers need to hear that many, many people who support him on a host of other issues do have serious questions and misgivings about what appears to be a growing tendency on the part of the administration to seek a military solution to problems and issues that are crying out for other solutions and, as I've said before, no where is that more true than in relation to the direction the administration seems to be headed in Latin America.