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
February 1, 2013
Mr. President: It is a given for a stable country to be a nation of laws; an observant
population, and a system of justice and enforcement are also required prerequisites,
for moral delinquency and deceit are as much a part of our nature as their opposite.
In a similar vein, if we are to ever live in a peaceable world, there must be adherence
to international law, and the most powerful countries must demonstrate their
willingness to abide by it and be as much subject to it as the weakest. Yet, we refuse
to be subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Moreover,
our ally Israel -- which to its credit does not spurn the ICC -- has this week displayed
behavior in flagrant violation of the norms for a country willing to live peacefully within
the international community.
It refused to attend when called before the UN Human Rights Commission -- a first for
any country -- claiming bias. If that was true, surely it was better to attend and prove
the bias. To their great credit, many Israelis of conscience have already brought to
light numerous human rights violations.
Separately, the UN also issued a report calling illegal Israeli settlements a violation of
international law and urging their evacuation. It deplored the trampling of
Palestinians' rights, their treatment as second class citizens, and their gradual
deprivation of their land through seizure and restricted access to their farm fields.
Not content with all this, Israel then proceeded to bomb Syria -- a military research
facility in Damascus and a convoy apparently ferrying Russian surface-to-air SAM
missiles to the Hezbollah. From the Israeli point of view, they cannot tolerate this kind
of threat on the southern Lebanon border with northern Israel. But for the southern
Lebanese, the hegemon to their south does what it wills, and they would love to dent
So there we stand. Those of us who want to live in a peaceful world see dimmer
prospects every day. When those who should be setting an example continue to
disappoint. Human ingenuity being what it is, the weak resort to guerrilla tactics, or,
as it is known now, asymmetric warfare. If the Iranians needed any kind of a spur to
urge them to speed up their nuclear program, the bombing of the convoy must have
given them an additional push.
To think that Iran used to be fairly friendly to Israel a few decades ago, and the Shia
in southern Lebanon -- now led by the Hezbollah -- once welcomed the Israeli
invasion in the 1980s. But now Israel is busy quarreling with the Turks, who once
used to hold joint military exercises with them. It is time to encourage these
antagonists to patch up their quarrels. The slights and territories involved are still
relatively (in comparison with peace with the Palestinians) minor. And it could set the
stage for a comprehensive Middle East peace.