The right thing to do?

obama2This story got a huge reaction from listeners to the BBC’s Newshour. President Obama flew to Delaware to pay his respects to 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan. This month has been the dealiest in Afghanistan since US forces began operations in 2001. It’s the first time he’s done this, and President Bush visited the families of dead troops but never received the bodies at the base. Was he right to do this? Or does he risk being accused of making political gain, and of undermining national support for the operation?

35 Responses to “The right thing to do?”

  1. 1 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
    October 29, 2009 at 17:34

    Good lord, yes, it’s the right thing to do!

    It is to the shame of George W. Bush’s Presidency that the Commander in Chief would not publicly honour the deaths of the men and women whom he sent to war, and that his Administration clamped down on media coverage of their return to American soil.

    By being there to pay his respects to his dead soldiers, President Obama has just taken ownership of the conflict in Afghanistan. No matter who started it, it’s his war now.

  2. 2 steve
    October 29, 2009 at 17:37

    He’s a politician, so he’s doing it for political reasons, but honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Ted Kennedy used to show up for soldiers’ funerals unnannounced.

  3. 5 Jens
    October 29, 2009 at 17:45

    i was actualy disgusted by both Bush’s and Cliton, not to acknowelage publicly the ultimate sacrifice for the country by saluting the bodies returning.

  4. 6 Tom K in Mpls
    October 29, 2009 at 17:48

    Ceremony means a lot to some people, very little to me. I will not pretend to know what Obama’s real intentions were. But let me just say I am always cynical. Bottom line, why should a personal matter get the attention of the press?

  5. 7 Jessica in NYC
    October 29, 2009 at 17:55

    Yes, it is the obligation of a President to acknowledge the death of soldiers who gave their life doing their job as the President asked of them. Visiting the fallen soldiers is a way of honoring their sacrifice and a reminder than the President’s decisions have consequences.

    Bush was right to visit the families, but he did not visit them all or contact all of them. As a President, he couldn’t have, but to be selective is worst. What makes one family’s lose grater than another?

  6. 8 Saut
    October 29, 2009 at 18:03

    Let’s face it; Pres Obama prefers to pin medals on militrary heroes who win wars. But given the scarcity of such persons and the paucity of achivements. It is nice and politically expedient to honour the valiant dead.

  7. 9 Steve G
    October 29, 2009 at 18:04

    Consoling the families of fallen soldiers in private as G W Bush did does not get national media attention it simply may have helped them through their pain and showed them personally that the decision to commit troops was not taken lightly.

    As in previous wars control of the media is key. Control the media and you control the masses.

  8. 10 margaret
    October 29, 2009 at 18:08

    As a retired military person I’m thrilled when the powers that be acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the military. As a person opposed to the war of choice in Iraq I would prefer that the powers that be think twice before starting a war. Also, I resent the fact that the wars we have been prosecuting are largely invisible to the average American particularly–this includes those returning flag draped caskets and the carnage in the streets of Afghanistan and Iraq. I think Vietnam style coverage by the media would be better.

    Margaret Tacoma, WA

  9. 11 Tom D Ford
    October 29, 2009 at 18:13

    Yes, it is the right thing to do.

  10. 12 patti in cape coral
    October 29, 2009 at 18:29

    I don’t see anything wrong with this gesture whatever the motive.

  11. 13 Ann
    October 29, 2009 at 18:30

    I can’t imagine why anyone would think it was the wrong thing to do. Maybe I’m missing something?

  12. 14 Jim Newman
    October 29, 2009 at 18:33

    Hello again
    The only right thing to do is to bring the troops home alive – all of them.

  13. 15 Chuksagwu
    October 29, 2009 at 18:47

    Oh sure it is. It is the best way to honour these heroes and urge others out there to keep on the fight. Lets not make a case out of this one.

  14. 16 Kate M.
    October 29, 2009 at 19:00

    The commander in cheif should definetely be saluting killed soliders.

  15. October 29, 2009 at 19:13

    This was certainly the appropriate thing to do. As Commander in Chief, he has to rally his troops in difficult circumstances. Iraq has been a quagmire and President Obama is coming under heavy fire for actions of the previou Administration. He is trying to do the most sensible thing: bring American troops back without putting Iraqis in jeopardy. But al Qaeda is determined to thwart the President’s good intentions. Obama is resolute but at the same time he does not want to leave Iraq in the lurch. Tough decisions for a humane president

  16. 18 John in Salem
    October 29, 2009 at 21:15

    It’s a reasonable certainty that no president has ever done something publically without being accused by someone of doing it for political gain.
    In this case it was entirely appropriate for Obama to honor those killed under his command, and it is a reasonable certainty that his actions will be interpreted negatively by the clowns on Fox news.

  17. 19 T
    October 30, 2009 at 01:13

    In one sense, yes it’s a White House pr bonanza photo. But many problems remain. Everything from vets STILL not gettint proper PTSD treatment. And, Obama refuses to sign condolence letters to the fmailies of vets who killed themselves.

    Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.

  18. 20 Bert
    October 30, 2009 at 01:39

    Yes, it’s the right thing to do. Seems to me that staying away from these ceremonies makes it seem like the guy ordering these soldiers into battle doesn’t want to be reminded that there are horrible consequences too.

  19. 21 scmehta
    October 30, 2009 at 08:23

    Let’s not be over-suspicious of all the leaders. He is the supreme commander or Commander-in-Chief of his military troops; he had gone there to lend his moral support and not for gaining any political mileage.

  20. 22 Steve
    October 30, 2009 at 09:56

    I think President Obama is an honest man, a man who understands the losses our families suffer for the good of others.

    He was quite correct to attend the return of his soldiers at base, it’s a shame other leaders don’t make the same effort.

  21. October 30, 2009 at 14:58

    Most humane gesture.Unfortunate that we are forced to question the least basic courtesy to soldiers, because of polical skulduggery of most of the politicians.I think Obama is sincere.

    • October 30, 2009 at 20:00

      We are not forced to question the most basic human courtesy to soldiers. Those who do so are in fact just exposing themselves as being heartless and ungrateful to those who lay down their lives in the service of their country, in pursuit of dubious political gain by means not quite above reproach, to put it mildly.

  22. 25 Dennis Junior
    October 30, 2009 at 16:31

    ^^Was he right to do this? ==Yes==

    ^^Or does he risk being accused of making political gain, and of undermining national support for the operation? ==Probably==

    ~Dennis Junior~

  23. 26 Tom K in Mpls
    October 30, 2009 at 18:33

    Side point. In the picture above, you can see Obama was well instructed by a Marine on how to execute a proper salute. Hand and forearm are as flat and straight as a sword.

    • October 30, 2009 at 19:52

      I hope this is not a criticism of president Obama that he knows (has been taught) the right way to do things. What a picture he would present if he didn’t know or had not been taught to do this?

  24. 29 nora
    October 30, 2009 at 18:42

    It was extraordinary to hide the fallen soldiers from the public eye and save the voters and politicians from the sight of coffins. It is most appropriate to restore the visibility of the ultimate sacrifice.

  25. October 30, 2009 at 19:41

    It is the right thing to do for the Commander-in Chief to receive the bodies of soldiers who died in the service of their country. President Obama is doing the right thing in not trying to sweep under the carpet the war dead and keep the public ignorant of the sacrifices made by them. It is almost indecent the way the dead had been treated under Bush, as though he was almost ashamed of them. People who don’t like President Obama would like to tar and brush him whatever he does. If they tar him for paying his respects to the dead soldiers by receiving their bodies at the base, they are tarring just themselves, exposing their lack of of respect for the dead. Whether we should be involved in these wars is an altogether another question to be discussed elswhere.

  26. 31 John in Salem
    October 30, 2009 at 21:58

    Sigh… My boss and his wife, devout disciples of Limbaugh and Fox news, were just talking about what a disgusting display of self-promotion it was.
    I can honestly say that the only other time I have witnessed such pure, venomous and irrational hatred was during the civil rights movement of the sixties.

    What used to bother me on an intellectual level is now becoming a knot in my gut – I am beginning to fear for my country should anything happen to this man.

  27. October 31, 2009 at 15:38

    Its nothing special when you recall that Abraham Lincoln actually stood next to Oliver Wendell-Holmes while the bullets were flying in the ACW and had to be ordered by Holmes to duck down.

  28. 33 John
    November 1, 2009 at 11:51

    Sad, at least he turned up, here in the UK we have an unprecedented report that actually names 10 high level people as being responsible for the deaths of 14 UK airmen in a Nimrod explosion because they acquiesced to Gordon Brown’s demand to save money, and we have hardly heard a peep out of the BBC, no ‘Have Your Say’ or anything.

  29. 34 Elias
    November 2, 2009 at 17:51

    Like all politicians they will do whatever they can for their own popularity, there are no exceptions.

  30. 35 A.Z.Utilitarian
    November 3, 2009 at 04:51

    Well…Obama is not hiding the fact that good people are dying because of his decisions. No one could stand there by those offloaded coffins and be unaffected. This is a real improvement over publically praising the military and then cutting the veterans benefits that other Presidents did.

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