Weekly Letter to President Obama
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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
May 13, 2011
Mr. President: H. L. Mencken once said that for every problem in the world,
there is an answer -- simple, clear ... and wrong. I am reminded of it as the
assassinations, successful and unsuccessful unfolded last week. We can
put the Nazis on Trial at Nuremberg after the Second World War; we can
revive the Japanese leader Tojo after he shot himself in the chest in an
attempt at suicide, and then try him for war crimes; but we now assassinate
relative pygmies. Whatever happened to that nation of laws we so wanted to
show to the world after the Second World War? If there is something
morally repugnant about blowing the brains out of an unarmed man in front
of his preteen daughter and young wife (according to news reports), I have
not seen it in the cringing triumphalism displayed on the contorted faces of
the screaming crowds in Times Square.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, accused of sheltering bin Laden, has already paid the
first installment of the total price to be exacted for his death -- eighty young
recruits to the border police were killed and hundreds injured in a massive
bomb attack outside their faculty. So it seems the Taliban allies of bin Laden
believe Pakistan is complicit in his killing, and the U.S. thinks it was helping
him hide. Caught in between, Pakistan has lost over 30,000 dead since this
'war on terror' began and its efforts bring faint praise if not scorn. Small
wonder, the U.S.'s favorable rating in Pakistan is at an all time low.
While Congress is griping about aid to Pakistan, commentators over there
are calling the aid package 'peanuts' weighed against the sacrifices they
believe the country has made and the existential threat unleashed from
What an alliance and what a policy to have brought it to such a nadir,
particularly when it is almost impossible to extract ourselves from
Afghanistan without Pakistan's help.
With the Mississippi rising, another "100-year flood" is upon the hapless
residents along its banks. The 100-year designation is possibly the worst
nomenclature imaginable as the real probability of experiencing such a flood
is better than even (56%) in a normal lifetime. Most developed countries use
a 1000-year standard in building protective barriers and control systems.
Why not us, is a good question to ask, but then we know the answer already.