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
May 22, 2015
Mr. President: On Sunday (May 17) a fight broke out between rival motorcycle clubs
at Twin Peaks, a restaurant in Waco, Texas. The police arrived, armed to the teeth.
One officer in close-up has a pistol strapped mid-thigh, a submachine gun looped
around his shoulder, and numerous other devices strapped or taped. The gunfire
resulted in 9 killed and 18 wounded, all apparently by the police. Of the 170 arrested,
115 had no criminal records. It's an extraordinary way for police to respond to a
brawl. None of the time-honored techniques for mediation and defusing tensions --
just gunfire. Many of the casualties had no criminal records, and the restaurant
presumably had other patrons plus staff. Should the police be firing indiscriminately
into a public place?
The police are supposed to be part of the community, charged with a duty to protect.
In recent years, however, a certain military mind set has crept in, dividing the police
from the public. The vicious take-downs, choking, injuries and deaths are making the
citizenry fearful of calling the police for help. In a recent incident, they shot a
homeowner on his doorstep, the very person who had reported an intruder. Is a
public inquiry into the Waco incident called for?
This week the brutalized, ethnically cleansed Rohingyas of Burma suffered further
when Malaysia and Indonesia turned away boatloads. Despite the spotlight on
Burma, persecution continues. Its dictatorship of the generals stripped the Rohingyas
of citizenship in 1982 despite their roots there. They first came three centuries ago
and have lived there for generations. Now they have been driven off their land and
relocated to camps -- a reminder of Japanese internment in the U.S. during WW II,
except the Rohingyas have often had their homes burned and many have been
killed. Ang San Su Kyi has tarnished her Nobel Peace Prize Medal by being
notoriously silent on the issue. No comments from the White House, not even during
the November 2014 Presidential visit, the second of two in as many years. Perhaps
the girdling of China is more important.
The task might be difficult. China is the largest trading partner of too many
countries. In 2006, the U.S. was the largest trading partner for 127 while China
dominated trade with 70. By 2012, the situation had reversed when 124 countries
considered China their largest trading partner and the U.S. had only 76. The list
includes countries like Japan, Russia and Brazil. Also the largest imports for the
European Union and India come from China. China has now surpassed the U.S. as
the world's largest trading nation with their sum of exports and imports about $4
trillion. It was a position the U.S. had held for over 60 years. Finally, China has a
colossal trade surplus with the U.S. and its major trading partners ensuring huge
Such economic power is being manifested through AIIB, the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank; through the silk road projects; through large projected investments
in Pakistan, paving the way for a land connection to a Chinese-run port on the
Arabian Sea. It will ensure a faster land route for fossil fuel imports from the Persian
Gulf and Chinese exports.
There may be a pivot to Asia but electronic fund transfers cannot be cordoned by
aircraft carriers. Does it really matter who polices the South China Sea? In the end,
what really counts is unrestricted passage so the world can benefit from the trade