Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
March 4, 2011
Mr. President: On March 1st, while we were grateful for the end of a
miserable snow-laden February, in Afghanistan, a tragedy was unfolding.
The ravages of winter and a diminished male population oblige families there
to send out young boys to gather firewood for cooking and heating. So, it
was on such an errand, nine boys were engaged: four were seven years old,
three were eight, one was nine, and one, twelve.
A U.S. military helicopter spotted them, shining a bright light upon them, then
rose and flew away. But then it returned a few minutes later and killed them.
One can imagine the anguish of their families. Oh, yes, we are told mistakes
happen in war. It is also obvious the helicopter dropped down to
investigate, and satisfied they meant no harm, flew away. So who ordered it
back? General Petraeus has apologized; is he investigating? Even if our
military now seems immune to horror, whatever happened to winning hearts
and minds, or perhaps that too is a lost cause.
Drone strikes have been variously estimated as causing from 70 to 98
percent collateral deaths of innocents -- mostly women and children related
to the target. Apparently, certain knowledge that children will be killed or
mutilated is no deterrence to our decision-makers and "tough" leaders.
Kathy Kelly, from Voices for Creative Nonviolence and a real Christian,
reports on a large extended family she met who had fled their homes in
Helmand after a mother and her five children were killed in a drone attack --
perhaps, the target had already left by the time the Nevada drone operator
returned from his lunch of Big Mac and fries, or perhaps they mistakenly
targeted the wrong house due to faulty intelligence. Anyway, Jama Gul a
nine year old survived. Her father gently unzipped her jacket to reveal an
amputated arm cut off by shrapnel, still in the process of healing. Her little
brother's leg was mangled in the same attack.
Our actions speak louder than any words Al Jazeera can supply. For a long
time, it was fashionable to blame that messenger. But even Secretary
Clinton this week expressed admiration for Al Jazerra's reporting -- albeit
with the addition -- and getting across "their" message. She decried our
media's lack of coverage. Well, our reporters have been in Egypt, but even
there some were beaten up by the crowds. Unfortunately, they got hurt for
our government's hypocrisy. Just last week, we were the only country
voting against a resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements. We
agreed they were illegal, but then offered a laughably convoluted argument
for the veto. Those working for peace in Israel squirmed; they are appalled
at AIPAC's control over Congress and our political process.