Weekly Letter to President Obama
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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 27, 2012
Mr. President: The military exercises held jointly with the Philippines off Scarborough
Shoal in the South China Sea were, if not provocative, certainly thought provoking.
We have made public this new strategy of "re-balancing", that is an increased military
presence in the Pacific aimed at China. Of course, we can bury China in nuclear
rubble, and they can us. So, why the saber rattling? Yes, there are minor territorial
issues with China's neighbors, and some feel overwhelmed. But that is by China's
China has now surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy, and at its
current rate of growth, relative to the U.S., it will overtake it within a couple of
decades. India, our champion in the emerging states rivalry, is also growing fast but
is hobbled by mismanagement, endemic debilitating corruption, and a kind of laissez
faire capitalism that has further impoverished the already poor, including farmers and
peasants, to the point where there is a Maoist rebellion in 20 out of its 28 states.
The economic issue is mind boggling. The Chinese hold over $3 trillion in foreign
exchange reserves of which an estimated $1.75 to $2 trillion is in U.S. debt. However,
China is increasingly trading in their own yuan or local currencies. This, and China's
diversification of its reserves into gold and other currencies, are major reasons why
the dollar's role as a reserve currency has diminished from 85 percent of global
reserves to now nearer 60 percent. And, it has been the dollar as a reserve currency
that has maintained its demand, allowing us to pump out money without becoming an
Argentina of the past or a Greece of the present.
It is one thing to be borrowing this money for worthwhile investment that will pay off in
the future -- infrastructure or education and training for example -- quite another, if we
borrow to satiate the addictive appetites of our consumer culture, or pour it down the
sinkhole of war and the military -- both ineffective as we have seen in Iraq and
After a trillion dollars, Iraq is a virtual Iranian satellite serving as a conduit for arms
and goods traffic between Iran and Syria. The Chinese have won the lucrative Iraqi
oil contracts legitimately by bidding successfully for them. And we are left with
warmongers like Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and others, who helped get us in
the Iraq mess, now waving their arms wildly at Iran and yelling "fire" once again.
So the soldiers popped their shooters by Scarborough Shoal (Huang-yan Dao to the
Chinese) and Secretary Clinton added a bellicose speech. The main Spratly Island is
occupied by the Philippines, and the archipelago's worth lies in the resources within
its territorial limit. It is probably irrelevant to the Chinese who develops them as long
as they have access ... at a fair price. Surely, all that can be negotiated without saber
By the way, are the Chinese planning a tit-for-tat, and holding joint military exercises
with the Cubans in the Caribbean? No, they are too smart for that. They spent their
energies building a pipeline from gas-rich Turkmenistan to Xinjiang supplying gas that
they need to fuel their phenomenal growth, and in the process shut us out of Central