Weekly Letter to President Obama
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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 17, 2011

Mr. President:  The action in Libya is now fast approaching the 60-day
deadline whence the War Powers Act requires Congressional approval.  Two
Justice Department lawyers looking into the situation have concluded much
the same as Speaker Boehner --  "saying 'it is not a war' does not pass the
'straight-face-test'".  So it is off to a golf game tomorrow and to a charm

No charm in it for the Libyans when hundreds of civilians have been killed in
the bombings.  We are killing civilians in Tripoli, who generally support their
government, to supposedly save civilians in rebel-controlled Benghazi.  How
is this supposed to end?  If NATO provides close air support to the rebels
who try to capture Tripoli thousands will be killed and many more thousands
will die as food and water run out.  The same will happen if pro-government
forces besiege Benghazi.

The purpose of all this mayhem?  Not at all clear.  Freedom?  Hardly -- the
slaughter in Bahrain during which we kept mum should have made our
government's attitude in that regard sufficiently clear.  Perhaps it was
Gaddafi's efforts to secure payment in gold for Africa's resources.  But the
destruction, the disruption, the loss of life and limb, another refugee
problem, are all too high a price.

We seem to go to war at the drop of a hat.  A supine Russia and an
ambivalent China facilitate "legality" through the U.N.Security Council.  At
least in the old days, a Soviet veto would save us from our worst follies.  So
here we are a decade after spending a fortune in Afghanistan to no avail, as
any ten-year old Afghan boy could have foretold,  desperately trying to talk to
the Taliban while spreading news reports that we are winning, they are tired,
and want to talk to us.  If we are winning, why do we need to talk?  And why
to a man, Mullah Omar, who was second only to bin Laden on the hit list?

Yes, we have our wars and then forget about them.  Iraq may be over but not
for the families of the two soldiers killed there last week.   And even when
the soldiers come home, they remember ... in their dreams and nightmares,
and the families remember the person who went and the stranger who
returned.  The cost of war is immeasurable -- something we should
remember as we gear up antagonism against Pakistan, a country with a
hundred nuclear weapons and uncontrolled insurgent groups by the score --
most due to our war against the Pashtun population resident on both sides
of the Af-Pak border -- a population that had never been involved in
international terrorism, and a country where terrorist bombings were as rare
as snow in June until we started the Af-Pak war.