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 29, 2015
Mr. President: The New Development Bank (NDB) proposed by the BRICS countries
is expected to be launched at the 2015 BRICS summit at Ufa, Russia in July. The
bank intended as a rival to the IMF and the World Bank will eventually have $100
billion capital, plus a further $100 billion currency reserve. The Indian banker KV
Kamath has been appointed the first president and the bank is expected to
commence operations by the end of the year. In addition to Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa, the original five members, Greece has been invited to join
the bank by Russia which was named to the rotating leadership of BRICS in April.
The bank headquartered in Shanghai is organized differently from the World Bank
which affords votes based on contributed capital. China investing $41 billion is by far
the heavyweight investor, yet is content with a single vote, the same as the other
members. Moreover, the loans will not permit the bank to meddle in a country's
domestic affairs, the antithesis of the World Bank and IMF.
In addition to NDB, China has initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
to rival the Japan (and U.S.) dominated Asian Development Bank, and to abate the
influence of the World Bank and IMF. It is to be headquartered in Beijing and will work
through a Secretariat led by a Chinese Secretary General (Jim Liqun). Contrary to
U.S. wishes, 74 countries, including the major European economies, have elected to
become founding members of the bank as of now.
Slowly but surely China is rising and U.S. economic might is being whittled. Yes, there
is a long way to go but the military pivot to Asia will not change the economic trend --
unless we are planning a war with China.
Across the vast Eurasian expanse, on Russia's borders with Europe another
confrontation has been set up. Do we really want to fight Russia also? With 2000
nuclear warheads, a new advanced tank, the world's largest bomber and a new fifth
generation Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fighter reputed to be more maneuverable than our
own F-35, the proposition sounds insane. Yet there we are blaming Russia for
Ukraine having spent $5 billion (as admitted by Victoria Nueland) to overthrow its
elected government. A war-ravaged country and thousands of refugees seeking
shelter in Russia. Of course, Crimea was taken: The people living there are Russian;
it was transferred to Ukraine governance by Khrushchev when it mattered little as it
was all part of the Soviet Union; and it is vital to Russia's Black Sea fleet formed over
two centuries ago.
Another intervention: Libya. If it was humanitarian, to save lives as claimed, why did
the airstrikes destroy infrastructure -- the schools, the hospitals, the precious water
supply system. The Human Development Index was constructed in 1990 by Pakistani
economist Mahbub ul Haq while Special Adviser to the UN Development Programme.
Used in the latter's famous annual Human Development Reports, they show Libya at
the top of all countries in Africa pre-intervention. It is now a shambles, and the
sub-Saharan Africans who used to come there on a well-traveled path for jobs and
economic advancement now continue on to a flooded and increasingly bigoted
Europe, and sometimes to tragedy in the waters of the Mediterranean.
Concentrating on the economy, bringing back good manufacturing jobs, improving
education through positive means like increasing spending, ending the scandalous
higher education loan business, removing tax loopholes where major corporations like
GE pay a pittance or nothing, reducing the rising and glaring inequality through
progressive taxation are just some of the measures that should have been taken.
(The tax critics can be pointed to the Eisenhower years when growth and highest tax
rates were more than twice we have.) Instead the government is party to the banks'
get rich quick schemes which continue with the public purse at the ready for the
inevitable disastrous losses. Could the trillions dished out by the Federal Reserve
and the trillions spent on wars have been more gainfully employed? That is the way
to compete with China.