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 26, 2016
Mr. President: Last Monday (February 22) was the fourteenth anniversary of the
death of Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the UNITA party. If UNITA sounds like unity of a
sort, it is far from the truth as it poisoned the communal well souring relations between
Savinbi's Ovimbundu people and the other Angolans. As the main front, the MPLA
fighting the Portuguese with the help of Cuba and the Soviet Union and securing
independence was communist; Savinbi presented himself as anti-communist,
notwithstanding his early support and training by the Chinese. There is also a file
released by the Portuguese indicating his willingness to fight together with the
Portuguese government forces against the MPLA.
Rejected by the MPLA when he first tried to join them, Mr. Savimbi spent his entire life
trying to defeat or outmaneuver them to secure power for himself. The resulting civil
war resulted in a half million dead and countless destroyed lives. Rejecting elections
when the results were unfavorable, he continued to the bitter end dying eventually at
the hands of government forces. The US provided the bulk of his support. Has there
been a cataclysm because the MPLA won in Angola? Clearly not. So why did we
support a civil war killing so many people and causing a communal fracture that will
take more than a generation to truly heal? Case in point: Mr. Savimbi's tomb was
If Angola was an isolated case, one might try to rest easy, but to anyone with a
conscience the unwarranted and often illegal manipulations and interventions
throughout the world have caused the greatest loss of life since the Second World
War. Now Europe is being flooded with refugees, threatening the fabric of the EU,
while Ukraine has become an irrecoverable basket case in the short and medium term.
Exactly what the US has gained from this destruction is difficult to fathom. Sensible
policy could well emulate the Chinese as they go about quietly investing all over the
world and reaping economic benefit. It comes as no surprise then that we are one of
their largest debtors.
The attractions of power for those who have tasted it can be addictive. Not satisfied
with the constitutionally permitted three terms in office, Evo Morales tried for a chance
at a fourth through a referendum. The Ecuadorian people sensibly rejected his bid
this week; presidents for life easily become a cancer.
In our own primaries, Bernie Sanders is mounting quite a challenge but seems unable
to get his message through. On the Republican side, Donald Trump seems
unstoppable. It might even be a refreshing change to have a president not beholden
to moneyed interests, and that comment includes Bernie.