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
June 6, 2014
Mr. President: Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The beach head secured at
the cost of 10,000 dead and wounded opened a second front against the Germans.
Stalin was much relieved for the Russians had paid the heaviest price. Twenty million
of them died in the war -- a horrendous figure; add up the Japanese, the Chinese,
other Asians and Europeans, and the simple fact that the vast majority of victims were
non-combatants, and one begins to wonder if man or perhaps our leaders undergo a
loss of sanity in playing the global power game. Does the affliction lead to a
callousness to wholesale human suffering and death where cities full of civilian women
and children and men of non-military age are firebombed out of existence.
And the end result? Laughably (if one could ever laugh at war), it is what the losers
were fighting for -- access to markets and resources for their burgeoning industries.
Within a couple of post-war decades both Germany and Japan were among the
world's leading exporters (now rivaled by China) and the ubiquitous Volkswagen
Beetle and the transistor radio were everywhere, to be added on later with higher and
higher value products.
Germany is now the EU's industrial powerhouse expanding into Russia, as Japan
does the same for Asia while expanding into China already the largest trading
partner, both suffering the occasional hiccup from territorial disputes.
The history begs the questions: Could there have been a better way than plunging
the world into war? Why do leaders opt for war reflexively?
Yet, a climate of perpetual war or readiness for war has never left. As Mr. Putin was
quick to respond, America has forces or special forces in 124 countries; Russia is in
none. Wars against Communism splitting families through chance and geography,
killing and maiming millions; proxy wars; wars to defend civilians but destroying their
countries' infrastructure leaving chaos in their wake. Wars and organized coups in a
perpetual power game.
The results are there for all to see: Tens of millions displaced flooding refugee
camps from Pakistan across the Middle East. And a constant stream of asylum
seekers to the EU through Italy, Greece and Spain, even across the Indian Ocean to
In Nigeria, the most populous African country a new force has emerged. Spawning a
hatred of Western education (and concomitant culture of dominance) and facilitated
by arms from Libya, Boko Haram is on a rampage killing hundreds in several villages
in just the last few weeks and kidnapping around 300 schoolgirls. Originally
preaching against western education, the group turned to violence after their leader
Mohammed Yusuf was killed while in police custody. Now thanks to the Libyan
turmoil, they are often better armed than the government forces sent after them.
From wars to the easy solution of killing by drone, including U.S. citizens. Forget a
trial, forget the Constitution, the 'war on terror' turns the executive into judge, jury,
Yes, the easy solution. Not lost on disturbed youngsters. Two more mass shootings:
At the start of the Memorial day weekend in Isla Vista near U.C. Santa Barbara,
yesterday at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle. These are so frequent, they no
longer capture attention for very long.
Through wars and a retreat from adherence to the rule of law, a societal climate
change to nobody's liking. Cooling this one is easier ... we just have to hold our
government and elected leaders responsible.