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
April 8, 2011
Mr. President: Why is it we blunder into tribal, ethnic or sectarian strife
leaving behind devastation and hatred not just between factions but also of
In Afghanistan, we used the minority Northern Alliance of Tajiks and their
friends to topple the universally disliked Taleban; fellow Pashtuns were
relieved at their departure. Instead of capitalizing on their goodwill, we
chose to hand over the reins to the Tajiks. The result now is the "Afghan"
army has less than 3 percent Pashtuns - the largest ethnic group. How can
such an army be considered national, constitute security, or contemplate
Efforts to win over the civilian population are hobbled increasingly by the
growing lists and tales of atrocities -- a not unlikely consequence of the
constant harrowing pressure of guerrilla warfare. Winter is near ending, and
attacks are on the rise. Meanwhile, anticipating the likely course of events ,
local politicians and leaders have begun to hedge their bets.
In Iraq, huge bombings leaving scores dead are increasing in frequency.
The Shia government has not been able to include or mollify the Sunni elite
who had always ruled the country. Irony of ironies, the government is
particularly close to Iran. So, after years of championing Saddam Hussein as
a counterweight to the regime in Iran -- including shamefully, real-time
targeting data for his chemical weapons -- we turned against him instead of
reining him in. The end result: a devastated Iraq, trillions wasted, and Iran
with a surer foothold.
We are now in Libya. In our defense, it was Mr. Sarkozy who initiated the
effort joined by Mr. Cameron of the U.K., both hugely unpopular, and the
former recently hammered in local elections. Angela Merkel stayed away
from the party wisely -- although more likely also influenced by elections.
What has been achieved? Nothing much, other than prolonging a civil war
that was almost over. Now the killing continues, and the fragile structure of
Libya's petroleum industry is being destroyed.
Money and lives wasted endlessly as ideology conquers common sense.
In Japan, the situation at the "clean and safe" nuclear energy plant
continues to deteriorate steadily. This week nitrogen gas has had to be
pumped in to quell the hydrogen danger in some of the pressure vessels.
Radioactive water continues to leak as evidenced by iodine-131, now at 7.5
million times permitted levels in the seawater just off the coast. This
leakage appears to have no end in sight. Cooling cannot be stopped for fear
of meltdown, so water must be maintained in the system despite the leakage;
like a leaking car radiator that needs to be continually topped up. Access to
sections of the plant is seriously hampered, and with high radiation levels,
the power company is running out of qualified personnel who have not
exceeded the maximum annual radiation dose permitted.