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 27, 2014

Mr. President:  There is only one country in the world with the nuclear capacity to face
this country.  For a while, the threat of nuclear war seemed in the past.  Then in
another country (known at least to one observer for its intricately decorated Easter
eggs), there was a rift among the elite as to its future direction.  Should it continue to
look east to Moscow, or should it look towards the EU?  That was in 2004 -- the
Orange Revolution.  It soured Russia.  But given Ukraine's precarious economy, it
was forced eastwards again and Viktor Yanukovych was elected in 2010.  However,
the Maidan protests and the subsequent removal of Yanukovych (seen in Moscow as
a U.S. assisted coup in view of the damning, hacked Victoria Neuland phone call) has
brought us to a fracture of relations with Russia.

Russia has acted to preserve its Black Sea access taking back Crimea.  It had been
gifted to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev on the three hundredth anniversary of the
Treaty of Pereyaslav when the Orthodox Ukrainian Cossacks pledged loyalty to the
Czar of Russia in exchange for protection against Catholic Poles.  The tug-of-war
between the Ukrainian-speaking western part and the Russian east is centuries old
and why America exacerbated it is difficult to comprehend.

Crimea is back in the Russian fold.  The fracture within Ukraine is unlikely to mend
soon.  The Russian-speaking Slavic east, tied by language, tradition, religion and
industries supplying Russia (including critical military hardware), is in open rebellion.  
Not only are we back to a 1956 Hungary like situation using proxies with the roles
reversed, but the dismantling of a buffer state places the west in direct confrontation
with Russia; given the weaponry, that implies nuclear.

Ukraine has now signed an agreement on free trade with the EU as a possible first
step to membership.  But which Ukraine does the Kiev government represent when
the industrial half is in open rebellion with daily casualties?

The UN reports the number of refugees worldwide has surpassed fifty million for the
first time since World War Two.  Impoverished Pakistan, the victim of Afghan
instability, still hosts and supports  more refugees than any other country in the world
without any significant outside help.  Part of the blowback lies in the constant terror
attacks that have brought the country to the brink of civil war and to civilian
displacement and destruction in the Afghan border areas.

The refugees have multiplied ... millions from Iraq to Syria then elsewhere as Syrians
themselves, again in the millions, flee their own country;  refugees from Libya -- where
two days ago Salwa Bugaighis, a prominent lawyer and women's rights activist was
shot and killed in Benghazi, while  others like Magdulien Abaida of the Hakki rights
movement have fled or gone underground; refugees from Somalia, and earlier from
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos ... in a world of whose making?  Now there is Ukraine,
so far a trickle but an increasing daily reminder  Since many of the world's refugees
are a direct result of American policy, surely we can provide more assistance towards
their upkeep.

Blowback in Cambodia (from Vietnam) killing millions; in Nigeria from Libya; in Kenya
from Somalia, in Pakistan from Afghanistan ... .  Blowback and torture -- the
consequences of guerrilla war when facing an almost invisible enemy, torture became
an enticing short cut to victory.  Not very successful, looking at the results in Vietnam,
Iraq, etc., and sobering and shameful for the country, though not surprising, that
Bush Jr. and Cheney cannot travel abroad without fear of arrest.

The 2012 book "Torture and Impunity" by Professor Alfred W. McCoy lays out a
well-researched history that has to be a must-read for future Presidents.