Daily Letters

A selection of letters received.

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June 29, 2004

International community

Dear George:

On September 11, 2001, I sat in a classroom on my first day of graduate study in Amsterdam (as your geography knowledge seems to be a bit wanting, Amsterdam in located in the Netherlands). My Dutch mentor called me by cell phone to alert me of the terrorist attacks in New York. My academic colleagues and I gathered after class to watch as the events unfolded on television, thousands of miles away, yet affecting us very profoundly. My colleagues came from countries throughout the world to study in the Netherlands and on September 11th each of them showed such great support and sympathy towards me and my country. Indeed, on the Friday following the attacks, the bustling country of the Netherlands came to an absolute standstill as the entire country mourned in a moment of silence for the victims of the attacks. As I silently stood with my bike in Dam square, meeting eyes with the stopped passengers on the trams, the other cyclists, the taxi drivers and the tourists, I shared my pain and sadness with the world.

The reason I tell you this is to make you aware that at one time during your presidency the people of the world were with us and they supported us, but our policies following September 11th have done nothing but alienate ourselves from the rest of the world. On September 11th I felt safe because I knew the outpouring of support from the international community meant that other countries would help us solve the terrorism problem. Mr. President, we had such an opportunity to embrace that international support and work together with our foreign friends to eradicate terrorism. Yet your administration chose not to seize that opportunity, and took us down a path that would eventually force even our long-term allies to withdraw their support. Even on a personal level as I spent 15 more months in Amsterdam after the attacks, the previous support from my international friends waned and died and was replaced by an outrage and disbelief at our country's actions. It was deeply disturbing to see the opportunity that was lost.

One can argue that America is such a powerful country that it does not need friends. Yet, can a country fight an international war on terror without the support of its' foreign friends? It cannot. And can the War on Terror fight senseless violence with more senseless violence? It cannot. The War on Terror should examine why terrorists are targeting the U.S. I think a comprehensive examination will find that the truth is much more complex than “They hate us because of our freedom” I challenge you to look at the history of US policy in the middle east. I challenge you to face up to the hypocrisies in our foreign policy. I challenge you to research why people turn to terrorism and further, to research how to stop people from turning to terrorism. Violence will not solve this issue.

Mr. President, on September 11th I felt that our future was safe as my international friends put their arms around me to comfort me in accents from around the world. Americans do not have this anymore and the future is surely much more bleak because of it.

Regards,

Jenny
Age 24
Crystal Lake, IL

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