If I were to write to President Biden.
Dear President Biden:
You have taken on a job with many tough responsibilities. I admire you for your ambition and forthrightness in attempting to set this nation on a better path towards democracy and regulated capitalism, with the intent to help the “great” David,” the underdog, in attempting to deal with the giant Goliath. It is not an easy job, but you appear to be up to the task.
When Donald Trump announced a timetable for departing Afghanistan, I felt uneasy about it. But to notice the many years we have been there – what, from George W. Bush forward/ – , prior to you taking office, and noticing that the Afghan government is so corrupt, it has a tough time gathering people to its side. Originally, I thought it absurd to go into Iraq when the real culprit was Afghanistan. It seems the president who concentrated on iraq had a beef with Hussein, due to his father, George H.W. Bush. Therefore, we lessened the involvement in Afghanistan at a time when we should have been the strongest there. It took the Obama Administration to apprehend the leader of the 9/11 crisis from wherever his bases were and that was NOT Iraq, as it turned out. The whole effort was mis-managed from the get-go and the Democratic Party administration had to pick up the pieces.
People seek peace. Donald Trump appeared to be more interested in a Nobel Peace prize than about being an effective leader. An effective leader in dealing with Afghanistan would have been, as Stacey Abrams of Georgia says, “we cannot have peace without justice.” The justice part of Afghanistan was set aside, so therefore, there will be no peace.
Then , y President Biden, took office. You assumed the timetable set forth by Donald Trump and simply went forward with it, recognizing the failure of some 20 years in Afghanistan. It must have been a tough decision, so I respect you for dealing with this situation.
There are those who can bloviate all they wish to do about whether the decision was a correct one or whether the departure was handled correctly. Bottom line. There will never be peace without justice. America still has people who believe the 19th-century American civil war was only a battle settled at Appomattox Court House, not the end of a war. They believe they are victims because their status as white folks superior to black folks has been removed. Even after that war ended in 1865 (according to an 1865 article in the New York Times), there were those from Dixie who launched a limited attack, in 1865, against New York City buildings, almost in the same manner as the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. The plot was uncovered and the perpetrators fled up the Hudson River to Canada.
The plot was uncovered. Why was there a capability to uncover the plot in 1865, but not in 2001? What has happened?
As I have read a book by former Florida Governor and Senator, Robert Graham, I have noticed his discussion about the need for intelligence. I am not talking about mere human intelligence, although that is very necessary. I am talking, as Graham did in his book, about U.S. government intelligence. Perhaps you served with Senator Graham when he headed the Senate Intelligence Committee? I have had a chance to speak with the former senator and governor myself, as he visited our college in Florida and spoke to students in a political science classroom. He actually does believe in human intelligence, too, as he discussed the topic of another book he wrote, about how we have allowed public education to degrade to the point of not teaching civics lessons which help our young people learn about democracy and how it works. I agree with the former senator and governor, but wonder how much is being done on that front, too? Since Dr. Jill Biden also teaches at the type of college where I taught in Florida, perhaps she has some ideas?
It just so happens that former governor and senator, Bob Graham, belongs to the same denomination to which Barack Obama belongs. The same religious denomination to which I have been born, baptized, and raised in America. I am not trying to sell this denomination or proselytize with it. I merely say this because the United Church of Christ (UCC) has a Peace and Justice group. More than that, in South Florida and in the same county where Donald Trump maintains his residency, I was involved in an ecumenical group, both Protestants and Roman Catholics, called Peace & Justice Ministries. Thus, I feel the importance of peace and justice, not only in America, but in Afghanistan and other parts of the world where they care more about their own selfishness, greed, corruption, and culture and religion only, while the rest of the world, in the eyes of such people, should be damned. Women who speak out under Taliban rule, are hung. Men whose beards don’t measure up are beheaded. But does not some of these things also happen, though not to such extremes, in Saudi Arabia, where there is more money to help them keep such atrocities silent? The spoof on Hitler’s regime, written by a gay man, is the song, “Money Makes the World Go Around,” in the Broadway musical, Cabaret. Love of money is an injustice, but are the American people too willing to accept it as a norm and not work to change it? Does that explain why, after 20 years, we allowed the corruption by the wealthy in Afghanistan to rule the government there?
We look to leaders to fix this. We should not expect perfection, but for good leaders with excellent efforts to succeed, to do a good job, and do so for the good of all the people, not just for the greed of one narcissist himself. We have put hope in your ability to be that leader to succeed in overcoming the obstacles we face. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
One final thought. In his 2007 book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, Lee Iacocca, a very good leader himself, offers some practical information, but we should not wrap our arms around only one person or one thing. That is the beauty of living in a democracy. Too many people have lost sight of that. But Iacocca himself comments about his visit to Saudi Arabia and the strict dictatorial reign which exists there. Add to this the Ken Burns documentary about the Roosevelts, we have a discussion about how we lost leaders like Teddy Roosevelt when we began to use ritalin and other medications prolifically and it caused so many of our young people to pursue business other than something involved in leadership. Through the Leadership Development Program (LDP) created by a university in North Carolina and its Center for Creative Leadership, many of us (including John Edwards of North Carolina and others) were trained in the program. But where are those who were trained in the LDP?
I believe first in God my Creator. I believe in America. I believe in American democracy and the institutions, as imperfect as they may be (as Frank Sinatra said in 1974). I believe in regulated capitalism, as does Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s Morning Joe (see 2005 Fortune Magazine article Mr. Scarborough wrote; same year my only academic article in International Journal of Learning was published).
The Roosevelts, both Teddy and FDR, were wealthy and had the forces to destroy bring down the corruption and the KKK influences in New York state. They took on the Boss Tweeds of the world. The claim is always made about FDR that he was “too far left” or “liberal” or even a “socialist’ or “communist.” Borrowing the word of a former high school English teacher, I say that kind of stuff is all “balderdash!” Or, she would say, “that’s “bloody bad.” FDR, too, looked for justice before there could be peace. But he was constantly at odds with Republicans over the practicality of doing so. Then again, there were many powerful Republicans who supported Hitler and the fascists. With fascism looking down at us, we cannot have peace without justice because fascism will destroy the means to achieve justice: democracy and regulated capitalism.
Mary Trump recently wrote that the Democratic Party is the one mechanism which exists to uphold democracy and the values associated with being a democratic nation. Next time I hear someone proclaim that “Democrats and Republicans are all bad,” I am going to throw Mary Trump’s comments in their face. Then again, there are still some good Republicans, but I have to ask the question, “where have all the leaders [of the Republican Party] gone?” Certainly, with the Republican movement for destroying voting rights, we seem to have a leadership in that party named Jim Crow.
Justice and peace. For America. For Afghanistan. For the world.
P.S. We also need wealthy people like 19th Century tycoon, Andrew Carnegie, who purportedly once said, “wealth is created by society and people, not by individuals.”
Professor Douglas Willet Cornwell (Retired)
Newark Valley, NY
———————————“Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “The problems of the world are not that some people love in a different way. The problems are that so many people don’t know how to love at all (CGA, 1970).” A Puritan is someone in fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time. “Liberty and justice for all [not priorities on individual and selfish rights].” “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union [and overall wealth of American society]…”
Benjamin Franklin: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are affected.” Stacey Abrams: “Compromise about actions, but not about values.” Oscar Wilde: “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Whoopi Goldberg: “To handle this COVID-19 pandemic effectively, we all need to get on the same page.” Note: To be clear, I do not like being patronized. I do not express my disdain over what happens to my fellow humans just for my own sake and to pursue favors and handouts. I do it in order to gain R – E – S – P – E – C – T for me and for millions of other Americans of any race, ethnicity, religious belief, or sex and sexual identity who try to walk in integrity as they attempt to achieve, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. PERIOD. One nation under God [our Creator] with liberty and justice for all.