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Mr. President, Charity Starts at Home. Rebuild America. Don’t start another war

Dear Mr. President,

As a true friend of the US, its people and its noble tradition of democracy, and as a friend who wishes to see America become, once again, a beacon of hope, I wrote an Open Letter to you under the heading of “A Plea for Wisdom and the Common Good”. The letter was written in February 2010, at the time of your announcement concerning your plans for Afghanistan.

Once again I find myself in the same position as 2010, awaiting your decision about another Muslim and Middle Eastern country, this time Syria.

Mr. President, when you were first elected, I, along millions and millions of people around the world, were full of joy and happiness. We all thought that the world will be a much better, fairer and happier place with you at the White House. I am sure you will agree that sadly this is no longer the case.

I so desperately wish to rekindle the admiration I had for you and which I expressed in my letter of 2010 to you, namely that you are a President who cares deeply about international law, who cares deeply about multilateral action, who cares deeply about the United States being a good global citizen in the international community, and who cares deeply about the common good.

Mr. President, please allow me to recall some passages from my 2010 letter, its words and sentiments as valid today as they were in 2010:

“Dear President Obama,

In your speech to the United Nations General Assembly this Autumn, you eloquently stated one of your core beliefs, that while too often peace remains a distant dream: "We can either accept that outcome as inevitable, and tolerate constant and crippling conflict, or we can recognize that the yearning for peace is universal, and reassert our resolve to end conflicts around the world ... For the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the hope of human beings - the belief that the future belongs to those who would build and not destroy; the confidence that conflicts can end and a new day can begin.

“We share that belief, and urge you to make it your guiding principle in Afghanistan, Iraq and everywhere else that the US is currently militarily involved. We believe that after eight years or more of war we need a whole new approach to conflict resolution and peace building. And we respectfully and prayerfully suggest to you a different strategy that promotes Wisdom and the Common Good by initiating a surge in expenditures in areas such Education, Social Services, Science, Culture and Knowledge, promoting massive humanitarian assistance and sustainable development.

“This sort of investment is not only needed in the US itself to reverse many years of neglect and decline with subsequent loss of global competitiveness, but it is desperately needed in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere else. By doing so, you will make the US again a beacon of hope to many, the US as the peace maker and not the US as the war monger. The world is looking to you, so that one day soon we can all say: Yes We Did, Yes We Did, and made the world a better place with you in the White House.”

This now seems history, but once again history is repeating itself.

Mr. President, entering yet another war against a Muslim nation in the Middle East is bound to create more enemies for America. The surest way to encourage future terrorists is to join other nations' conflicts and kill other nations' peoples. The US is still fighting a traditional war in Afghanistan and "drone wars" in Pakistan and Yemen. The U.S. should avoid adding another conflict to the mix. A war of dropping bombs from thousands of feet above with “No Boots on the Ground”, does not project your country as noble or brave. I fear for America. I fear for the world.

Now Mr. President, I am sure you will agree with me that indeed charity starts at home. Last night I watched a BBC documentry “Requiem for Detroit?”. Mr. President, nobody with an eye on justice, humanity and the common good, can watch this documentary without shedding tears for the plight of so many millions in the US. Shattered lives and dreams of so many Americans in Detroit and indeed many other “Detroits” across America is nothing short of tragic and catastrophic. Nobody with a shred of conscience can remain silent.

Mr. President, Watching this documentary has made it crystal clear to me that after so many wars of destruction, death and inhumanity in the Middle East and North Africa, that have not made the US and the world more secure and at peace, it would be futile to waste again the American tax-payers money on the “limited” aerial bombing of Syria. What can this do that your other bombing missions have not?

Mr. President, at this important historical moment, the children in the US, their parents and grand parents need your help more than those in all other countries where the US is at war currently. As I said in my 2010 letter and still hold to today, if you want to tackle a crisis,  why not the unemployment crises in the US and globally? Why not look nearer home and tackle healthcare, education, housing, crumpling infrastructure? Let’s become engines of hope and construction. Let’s buils a world fit for the common good.

Mr. President Syria is a tragedy. But it is not America's tragedy. It’s a tragedy for the Syrian people. Your desire to bomb them from above would not mittigate their paiful suffering. Have the bomings in Iraq and Afghanistan mittigated their suffering and pain? Have your drone strikes in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere eased their suffering and pain?

As a just man, I am sure you will agree with me that the answer is a profound NO. Thus, why the rush to do the same in Syria? And if you bomb Syria, will this be your last bombing, or do you have further plans? Iran, perhaps? And then what?

Mr. President, the use of chemical weapons in Syria, whoever it was, is a crime against humanity and international law. The perpetrators must be identified and tried at international courts, assigned to deal with these issues. Unilateral, limited military action and aerial bombardment are not the solution.

So, what is to be done? May I humbly offer a suggestion?

I am a member of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilisations (WPFDC). On 6 September 2013, at our gathering in Vienna, we issued the following resolution concerning the Syrian crisis, which I would like to share with you:

At its meeting in Vienna on 6 September, 2013, the members of the International Coordinating Committee of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations" adopted the following resolution:

“The entire World is deeply concerned about the recent developments in the Syrian crisis. We – members of the global family of WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” – condemn very firmly the use of chemical weapons by any party involved in this conflict. Their use is prohibited under international law and international conventions adopted following the horrors of the First World War.

“At the same time we oppose equally firmly any unilateral military intervention in Syria in violation of international law and the UN charter.

“The first and most noble task of the international community is to help end the suffering of the Syrian population through diplomatic efforts and political dialogue. To this end we propose an international peace conference on Syria to be convened at the earliest possible time. Such a conference must involve all regional states and actors as well as the members of the UN Security Council. To avoid any further deterioration and to mitigate human suffering, a total arms embargo should be imposed immediately on all sides in the Syrian conflict.

International Coordinating Committee of the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations”,
Vienna, 6 September, 2013

Mr. President, there you have it. I hope and pray that in the interest of your own legacy, the real needs of the citizens of your own country, and the long-term interest of the US globally, you will act with consideration for the common good.

Prof. Kamran Mofid

Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)

Please see:

A Plea for Wisdom and the Common Good


Requiem for Detroit: BBC iplayer-


(Available until 1:14AM Wed, 18 Sep 2013)

To see this video outside of the UK:


Are you interested to learn how to make a documentary? How to tell your story?

Then, see the excellent article by Jean Miller below:

How to Make a Documentary: A Detailed Guide for Visual Creatives and Storytellers