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 3, 2015
Mr. President: Congratulations on the nuclear framework agreement with Iran
announced last night. Of course, the details will keep the technical teams busy until
the end of June deadline. After 33 years, we need to end a conflict centered more on
pride than on mutual interest -- on both sides.
Yes, we will have obtained verifiable guarantees the Iranians cannot make a bomb in
less than a year. Still the question is simple: What use is an Iranian nuclear bomb, to
Iran or to anyone else? They certainly cannot use it for fear of annihilation as Israel
and the U.S. both have a massive second strike capability. It does have an element of
security from outside threats but regime change is most often implemented through
internal strife. It was how Iran's first attempt at a parliamentary democracy was
aborted. The elected prime minister lost his life in the coup and the malleable young
Shah was imposed as ruler. Everyone knows which country was principally
responsible and why.
In Nigeria, the opposition candidate, Mohammadu Buhari, won the presidential
election beating the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. It is the first peaceful transfer of
power in Nigeria's history. One of the reasons for the incumbent's defeat was his
ineffective response to Boko Haram. The public hopes the new leader, with his
military background and his strict, austere, and incorruptible reputation, will be able to
respond better to the Boko Haram threat as well as handle Nigeria's endemic
corruption. How did Boko Haram suddenly become so powerful? Their arms are a
consequence of the Libyan adventure, where Islamic militants were employed to
dispose of Muammar Gaddafi, the manner of disposal a measure of their barbarity.
The school girls Boko Haram kidnapped months ago have not been rescued. In the
meantime, numerous other attacks have occurred.
In Kenya two days ago, 147 students were killed in an Al Shabab attack, another
consequence of our policy -- this time in Somalia. When the Somalis settled their
differences, we did not like the government and coordinated an overthrow (through
an Ethiopian invasion). As a direct result, Somalia fell into civil war and Al Shabab
was born. Kenya became a haven for refugees from the fighting. Under pressure
from us, the Kenyans deployed troops to squeeze Al Shabab from the west. Al
Shabab has responded with terror attacks on Kenyan soil, noting in the message
following this latest that it was revenge for Kenya's military involvement in Somalia.
Attacks on schools in Pakistan has been a recent horror. Quite possibly Al Shabab
learned from the Taleban there that schools are a soft target. In Pakistan, the Afghan
Taleban squeezed by the U.S. found shelter among their kin folk across the centuries
old porous border in Pakistan -- the first Mughal Emperor lies buried in Kabul. Again
under pressure from the U.S., the Pakistan government deployed its military against
the Taleban. The result is an ongoing terror war, a legacy of the U.S. war on terror
and its history in Afghanistan.
So much for this squeeze-the-balloon policy. It pops out in the adjoining countries
eventually exploding in regional chaos. One would have thought the lessons of the
Cambodian genocide would have been enough.