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 29, 2016
Mr. President: "And the weak suffer what they must" is the title of a new book by
Yanis Varoufakis, the former Syriza party Greek Finance Minister and Oxford
economics professor, who took it from a passage in Thucydides' "History of the
Peloponnesian War." Varoufakis is writing about the Greek debt, owed originally to
German and French banks ... with enough political clout to have become 'too big too
fail'. So they were rescued by their governments and the debt is now owed to the
people of France and Germany. It has not been restructured in any way where
Greece could, or can in any foreseeable future, repay it; instead a stringent austerity
regime and further loans to continue payment of interest have been imposed. As a
result, the economy has contracted by 30 percent (comparable to the US economy in
the Great Depression) with almost no possibility of repayment of the original loans
ever. Additionally, Greece must now shoulder the burden of refugees (from Syria
principally) suffering a worse fate. Yes, 'the weak suffer what they must'.
This week the Pentagon disciplined 16 for the MSF hospital bombing in Afghanistan
on October 3rd last year. MSF (Doctors Without Borders in English) was not satisfied
with the result, calling again for an independent investigation. It claims the
coordinates were known to the military and the onslaught went on for near an hour
despite repeated calls, and that the hospital was clearly marked as such.
Why must bombing target life-sustaining infrastructure? In Aleppo this week a
hospital was bombed by the Syrians. In Mosul, Iraq, a town held by ISIS, the US
bombed dairy production factories on both left and right sides of the city according to
Dr. Souad al-Azzawi a resident (and award winning environmental scientist who
obtained her doctorate at the Colorado School of Mines). So reports Felicity
Arbuthnot a researcher for two award winning Iraq documentaries, frequent visitor
there since 1991, and coauthor of a book on Baghdad.
Mosul University was bombed killing 92 students, faculty, and cafeteria workers.
Other targets: Flour factories on both sides of the city, Mosul Pharmaceutical
Industries, a Pepsi plant, the Central Bank of Mosul, food store houses, electrical
generation and transformer stations on the left side of city, drinking water treatment
plants, Al Hurairah Bridge, etc., etc.
This is not a new story. These types of targets are favored in bombing campaigns
from Libya to Yemen to Syria to Iraq going back to the Second
World War which culminated in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and then Nagasaki.
Bombing, and its targets in civilian areas, can reasonably be foreseen to cause
civilian deaths. Is not killing civilians intentionally a war crime? But language is
parsed such -- namely civilians are not the intended target -- as to give wiggle room.
In Yemen, years and years of conflict on the ground did not result in any refugees ...
until the Saudi bombing campaign. Will the people of Mosul now denied food,
drinking water, electricity, not be thinking of leaving? More refugees.
According to an observer at the talks, the Russians offered in 2012 to have Assad
step down. It was not enough for Hillary Clinton who wanted the whole government
structure dismantled. Chaos like Libya and Iraq seems the preferred option. Since
then 300,000 have died and millions displaced becoming refugees -- in numbers
worldwide not surpassed since the Second World War.
Thucydides could not have been more right when he wrote in the Melian Dialogue, "...
the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."