Weekly Letter to the President
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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
May 11, 2018 (posted May 14, 2018)

Mr. President:  International treaties and agreements are between countries -- not
between leaders or governments, for if that were the case they would not be worth the
paper they were written on.  The Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union was
signed in 1972.  Bush II withdrew unilaterally in 2001 citing a changed world.  On June
1, 2017, Donald Trump announced the U.S. will cease all participation in the Paris
Climate Treaty signed two years earlier.  On Tuesday last he quit the Iran deal.

Two days later, the White House released the date and location of Mr. Trump's
meeting with Kim Jong-Un.  One can only wonder what Kim is thinking.  The last
person voluntarily giving up nuclear weapons received a bayonet colonoscopy --
hardly anyone's preferred exit from this world -- and that at the hands of the allies of a
Nobel Peace Laureate US president.  Fortunately, the circumstances in North Korea's
case are quite different:  the other party, South Korea, is stable, seeks closer
relations, in fact is the prime mover in the current initiative.

On the Iran deal breakup, the fallout is telling.  The major European countries (UK,
France and Germany) have the most to lose economically -- a huge Airbus airplane
contract is just one example.  Always intended as a bargain, the deal offered Iran
re-entry into world commerce in exchange for giving up nuclear ambitions.  The U.S.
now threatens reprisals against any companies violating its edict:  obey U.S.
sanctions or else ... .  The Europeans could choose to present a united front and
protect their companies through legislation and similar reprisals.  But who wants such
an economic war?  The companies themselves are likely to have commercial interests
in the U.S. dwarfing anything in Iran.

The European hope lies now in a Trumpian disaster for the Republicans in the
November midterm elections followed by ignominious defeat in the presidential
election.  But elections turn on the unexpected, and these countries' pusillanimous
responses only exposes them to the world as true US vassals.

Terminating a peace agreement inevitably raises the prospect of war.  It would be a
disaster.  Iran commands the Strait of Hormuz and a blocked Persian Gulf could see a
quadrupling or more in the price of oil, bringing the current economic and stock
market boom to a crashing end.  Missile attacks from Iran and its ally Hezbollah would
cause havoc in Israel's cities; asymmetric warfare in Syria and Iraq would cost
American lives.

Doubtless, Iran would be drawn closer into the Russian-Chinese orbit and might even
sign a defense pact with Russia -- perhaps earlier still if it felt the approaching winds
of war.

For all these reasons, war may appear to be a long shot, yet Trump's advisors,
notably, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo harbor an irrational hatred towards the
country and Benjamin Netanyahu imagines it to be the last viable threat to neutralize.  
Encouraging a foreign diversion is the corruption indictment hanging over him, while
Trump has his own legal troubles.

On the other hand, a bellicose Trump is just that ... bellicose.  As with North Korea, he
could well be seeking a deal on better terms, namely, more restrictions for Iran in the
future.  Iran will not surrender its missiles; it might be more accommodating on future
enrichment of nuclear fuels.

Let's hope reason prevails ... sometimes it does.  Look at North Korea!