Barack Obama Doesn't Understand the United States

An open letter from a military veteran shows why President Barack Obama doesn't understand our great country nor the people who elected him.

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Daniel Gallington is the senior policy and program adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute in Arlington, Va. He served in senior national security policy positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Justice, and as general counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Last month, I attended a reunion of people I served overseas with—43 years ago. The same great folks swept up in the largest military mobilization since the Second World War—these are people you never forget.

One of them gave me an "open letter" he wrote to President Barack Obama in 2009—occasioned by the president's often called "apology tour." The letter explains—vividly—why Obama so quickly lost credibility with millions of Americans who voted for him in good faith. And, how his lack of a world leadership vision for America continues to erode his presidency and seriously questions his re-election. My friend submitted his letter to the media—but (big surprise) got no positive response. Sad, because had President Obama actually read the letter, he might have corrected his fundamentally flawed understanding of: 1) this great country, and 2) the great people who elected him. The letter:

[ Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

President Obama:

You are trotting all over the world…and badmouthing the United States at every stop. Blaming past Presidents and Administrations for being dismissive, arrogant and disrespectful of other nations and allies is not Presidential. Inferring these positions and attitudes of the past are responsible for the present global economic and political turmoil is downright outrageous. 

But, as the new man on the block you promise to right these wrongs and put our foreign relations and economy on an even keel and blaze the way to the bright and promising future. Being a pragmatic and a student of history and human nature, I am skeptical about your rosy forecast.

Remember this great Republic did extremely well for over two hundred years without your help. Also, have some humility since Americans elected you knowing full well you had no executive experience with or the knowledge of the job you craved so much for. To put it bluntly, you did not have even the experience of running a corner drug store. Your grandiose plans for healthcare, auto industry, banks, global worming, financial regulations, spending and…tax policy leave one breathless.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

The reason for this grand scale enterprise or illusion is the unlimited appetite for power—big government, high taxes, and stifling regulations. Under your declared preference for the European style socialism the government will be ever more present and omnipotent or the nanny state.

We have not witnessed such an attempted grab for power since [Roosevelt]. The majority of Americans did not vote for you to dismantle our capitalistic system for a socialistic paradise. You did not win the election by a landslide. Your stealth 'change' campaign never disclosed what changes you had in mind. To be honest, you pulled a fast one on the electorate. Had the Americans been enlightened about your change plans, your election to the Oval Office would have been dashed before it hatched.

 Most Americans believe freedom and competition create an environment in which individual creative juices flourish driven by rewards of success and self-satisfaction. You and your cohorts are obviously at work to destroy that setting which let this great republic to prosper and grow for over two hundred years. Winning the election does not give you the power and exclusive right to change society and control its activities. That's not the American way!

[ Read the U.S. News Debate: Can Mitt Romney Best Barack Obama on Foreign Policy?]

Your massive agenda of social and economic engineering with associated staggering costs have been tried before without success. Learn from history and listen to the voices of reason—don't be seduced by your own propaganda. Why mortgage future generations with over 10 [now 16] trillion-dollars in a new effort to implement the failed and misguided political philosophy? It's time to forget about Karl Marx and leave him where he belongs—the dustbin of history.

With your first class education one could reasonably expect you to be well versed in American history and its economic system that made this country what it is. However, a close look at your ... trek across the global landscape does not justify such a conclusion. You obviously do not view America as a special place or a shining beacon on the hill worth emulating. Otherwise, you would not be repeatedly apologizing for this great nation on your global ventures. Americans expect their President, especially when he is in a foreign country, to be the First Salesman of the United States and its people: Their character, virtues and deeds. It is time to quit these mea culpa trips and pronouncements.

No country in the annals of history can match American charity and generosity in support and defense of freedom and liberty around the globe. If you do not know that or ignore the fact we are in real trouble! To be mum about it and instead blame the past Presidents for some historical missteps is disgraceful and downright unforgivable. When it comes to foreign policy, this is not the way to improve our image and advance American interests abroad.

[ See photos from The 2012 Presidential Campaign Trail.]

You need to take a long breath, relax, and reflect on people and events to gain some sense of history and government. If you continue in campaign mode at breakneck speed you will remain inadequately prepared and continue to make misinformed policy decisions the country cannot afford. Rush to judgment is seldom a good option as haste makes waste.

You are no longer a candidate, but the President of the United States. You must act and behave befitting the leader of this Republic and not the poster child of the radical left of the Democratic Party. You should practice what you preach—heed your own advice—be less arrogant and dismissive and more civil and accommodating. A response 'I won' is not a convincing or legitimate argument for rejecting a good faith oppositions counter proposals. Do not try to be or act as the Greek oracle; you are not! The fact that you can deliver a flawless speech from a teleprompter does not make you a genius or a jack-of-all-trades. Remember, being doctrinaire is not a virtue and reasonable compromise not a sin. This great Republic sprung to life from compromise.

Col R.R. Semeta, USAF (Ret)

[ Read the U.S. News Debate: Has Obama Properly Handled the Arab Spring?]

"R.R. Semeta" is my good friend Ramutis "Ray" Semeta, who as a kid came to America from a "displaced person" camp after World War II to escape the Russian occupation of Lithuania. He settled with family in Cleveland, and they made their way raking leaves. Ray learned English, became a U.S. citizen, excelled in school and college—and had a distinguished 30-year military career.

For my money, Ray's deeply personal understanding of what the heart of America stands for—both here and around the world—is far preferable to our president's approach to apologize and blame others. In fact, Ray Semeta can serve as inspiration for us all.