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 28, 2019
Mr. President: Two meetings ended this week: the G20 meeting, a forum for leaders
and central bank chiefs, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn.
At the G20, the work behind the scenes to try and ensure some measure of global
growth was probably more important than the leaders' palliatives. Donald Trump, as
usual, did the headline grabbing.
He appeared most comfortable with Vladimir Putin as the two dished the media,
agreed there was no meddling by Russia in the 2016 election, and, to crown the
event, Putin invited Trump to Russia ... for next year's victory parade. Germany
continues to be the whipping boy for US and European leaders' get-togethers these
days. Less than a month ago it was the 75th anniversary D-Day commemorations
both in England and at the landing site in Normandy. Poor Angela Merkel had to
stand there and take it. Surely, German 18-year olds, who too were drafted and
fighting for their country deserved some sympathy. Do wars make sense, even this
so-called good war. With 50 million dead across the world, how can it be called
'good'? Will reason ever prevail?
You might think with all the mayhem of WW2, we would have learned a lesson. Hell
no! Korea came next. Pile up some more corpses ... and then in a few years, the US
president is being best buddies with the leader of North Korea, and with the leader of
the 'evil empire.' That empire the US just had to stop because there was a domino
theory: if one domino falls, then the next is pushed down and so forth ... Vietnam,
Cambodia and the rest.
They did fall; yet now we are trading with the same Vietnam, Cambodia and the rest,
even China the scourge in 1950s Korea. How much of the stuff we use is imported
from these countries? Then think of the wide swathe from Indonesia to North Africa,
then across the ocean into Latin America. Think of the havoc created in the lives of
people in these areas.
Asylum seekers piling up at Trump's border fence? Then what about the coup in
Honduras which is now murdering protesters, union leaders and the like. Whether its
banana plantations in central America or copper mines in Chile, the world has to be
kept safe for American corporate interests, one way or another. Good luck Mr.
President in your meetings with Xi and others. As you well know Mr. Xi gets oil from
Iran, which is also fast friends with Russia. Does that mean that Iran threats are a
bluff? We hope so.
The second meeting, the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, was stymied in its
goals by our good friends the Saudis, to whose coat tails we hung on, perhaps not
altogether grimly. At the closing plenary, a watered down agreement put an end to
formal discussions on the UN Inter-Governmental Panel's 1.5C climate change
report. It has been removed from further UN consideration or dialogue due to Saudi
objections with US backing.
According to scientists -- the people who have spent their lives studying climate --
climate change is an existential issue. Means little to the Donald who trusts his gut
instincts. It means more work when we will have wasted crucial years and the world's
roasting. By the way, France just hit a new high temperature record of 45.9C.