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
June 7, 2019
Mr. President: Mette Frederiksen of the five-party Social Democrat bloc won 91 of the
169 seats in the Danish parliament ending the rule of the right-wing Liberal Party
group that had governed for 14 of the last 18 years. The election issues centered on
climate change, immigration and Denmark's generous social welfare policies. All
parties favored tighter immigration rules thereby taking away the central issue
dominating the far-right Democrat Freedom Party which has seen its support halved
since the last election in 2015.
Ms Frederiksen promised more spending to bolster the much loved social welfare
model and increased taxes on businesses and the wealthy. A left wave is sweeping
Scandinavia as Denmark becomes the third country, after Sweden and Finland, to
move left within a year. Mette Frederiksen will also be, at 41, the youngest prime
minister Denmark has ever had.
Donald Trump has used the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorations to garner
positive publicity. The supreme promoter has managed to tie it in with a "classy" (his
oft-chosen word) state visit to the UK spending a day with royals. It was also a
farewell to the prime minister as her resignation is effective from June 7. Add a D-Day
remembrance ceremony at Portsmouth and he was off to his golf course in Ireland for
a couple of days of relaxation disguised as a visit to the country for talks -- he has
little in common with the prime minister, Leo Varadkar, who is half-Indian and gay.
Onward to France where leaders gathered for ceremonies at several places. It is
easy to forget the extent of that carnage: over 20,000 French civilians were killed in
Normandy alone mostly from aerial bombing and artillery fire. The Normandy
American cemetery holds over 9600 soldiers. All in all, France lost in the
neighborhood of 390,000 civilian dead during the whole war. Estimates of total
deaths across the world range from 70 to 85 million or about 3 percent of the then
global population (estimated at 2.3 billion).
Much has been written about conflict resolutions generally from a cold rational
perspective. Emotions like greed, fear and a sense of injustice when unresolved lead
only in one direction. There was a time when individual disputes were given the
ultimate resolution through single combat. Now legal rights and courts are available --
not always perfect, not always fair, but neither are humans.
It does not take a genius to extrapolate such legal measures to nations and
international courts ... which already exist. Just one problem: the mighty simply
ignore them. So we wait, and we honor the dead of wars that in retrospect appear
idiotic and insane. Worse is the attempt to justify such insanity through times like the
"good war", a monstrous absurdity.
It usually takes a while. Then we get leaders who have never seen the horror of war
--- some have assiduously avoided it --- and the cycle starts again.