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 12, 2013
Mr. President: This week Mr. Hasan Rahaya, an Indonesian, was awarded an
honorary doctorate by Hiroshima University. He is 90 years old. The reason for the
award? He was one of a group of foreign students studying in Hiroshima during the
war. When the atomic bomb was dropped, he was 1.4 km from ground zero. The
blast knocked him to the ground. In the ensuing days he helped victims much like
Kurt Vonnegut in Dresden after the firebombing when hundreds of thousands
perished. The latter's "Slaughterhouse Five" is definitely essential reading for U.S.
Mr. Hasan Rahaya is remembered well, and with fondness, by a certain Meiko
Kurihara, who spent dazed days searching for her family. When she would return
exhausted to the small encampment of survivors at the university, Hasan would share
his own meager rations with her. I can't remember how many thousands were
incinerated, and how many died lingering painful deaths.
War continues in all its horror, whether it is the iconic Vietnamese girl set alight by
napalm running in agony toward the camera -- Nick Turse's book on Vietnam horrors
is further essential reading -- or whether it's the 70,000 Syrians killed (6000 in March
alone making it the deadliest month) and now over a million refugees just looking for
food and shelter, their lives shattered.
Kofi Annan, the UN Envoy to Syria stated in a recent lecture that a peace deal was
negotiated in Geneva (June 30, 2012) that would have allowed all parties to contest a
monitored election. However, the U.S. apparently reneged on the deal when it was
put to the Security Council. U.S. and France were complicit. General Mood, the
Norwegian commanding the peacekeeping force in Syria at the time agrees.
Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi has revealed the transportation of weapons and men
from Libya to a Free Syrian Army base in Turkey using unmarked NATO planes. U.K.
and French Special Forces were providing training, and the CIA was passing on
intelligence as well as communications equipment. Another clandestine war.
Add up the totals (usually underestimated) 100,000 to a million depending on who
one believes in Iraq, 25,000 in Libya, 70,000 in Syria, ... then there are Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now Mali. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are beginning to
pale in comparison. Isn't there a better way?
The toll in Afghanistan continues to mount. On April 3, in one of the deadliest
Taliban attacks of the 11-year war, 53 were killed and 200 wounded. If the drone
attacks are supposed to weaken them, the evidence is not supportive. On April 6, six
Americans were killed in separate attacks. On April 8, a NATO strike killed 20
including 11 children. The heartbreaking photo shows them lined up side by side
each wrapped lovingly in a blanket. Eyes closed, they could almost be asleep except
for the patches of blood. None look more than about nine years old. How many died
in Sandy Hook? Children are children ... everywhere.
What does NATO expect when they target a house ... in a country where large
extended families cohabit? There must be a better way in the 21st century.
On April 9th, a report on homeless in America gave a figure of 634,000 without