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
July 1, 2016
Mr. President: In offering Norway as an example of stable future relations with UK-EU
relations, one has to be careful of a couple of events. First, Norway is a puny
economy in comparison with the UK and can be accommodated with much greater
ease. Second, Norway has never been a member of the EU, and cannot be accused
of disrupting it, or even trying to break it up.
The EU negotiations are going to have to balance an emotional desire to punish
Britain versus the rational economic need for stability in Europe -- as well as world
markets that have already reacted in fear. A long laundry list of issues are involved
and the negotiations are going to be long and complicated.
Such was the reason cited in a very British coup yesterday as Michael Gove, the
intellectual heavyweight of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, withdrew his support
(and announced his own run) five minutes before Boris Johnson was to declare his
candidacy for party leader. It led to a most unusual speech leading off with Boris'
accomplishments as Mayor of London, his efforts in leading the charge on Brexit ...
only to be followed not by throwing his hat in the ring but by a meek withdrawal as he
had realized he would never have the necessary votes without Gove's support. Et tu,
The worst treachery in a lifetime said many, which does not behoove well Michael
Gove's leadership prospects.
Drunk with power is not a new phenomenon; it is certainly the problem with Recep
Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. And some of the consequences have been threatening
Syria; joining the coterie feeding the rebels; breaking the agreement with the Kurds;
and downing a Russian bomber. Erdogan sponsored Turcoman rebels in Syria's
northern borderlands facing Turkey came under aerial attack by the Russians
assisting the Syrian government. They were also bombing other rebel groups plus IS
-- the latter in conflict with the rest including the Turcomans (the name spelled with a
'c' because of the long French presence in Syria). It is a complicated world out there,
made more volatile with outside interference.
An oft result is blowback and Mr. Erdogan is getting it in spades: The Russians
stopped all commerce -- no trade, no tourists -- and it is hurting. Mr. Edogan, who
refused to apologize to the Russians at the time of the incident, is down on his knees.
Will the Russians listen?
The Kurds and IS have resorted to bombings, reducing even further the tourism that
is a significant factor in the Turkish economy. The latest attack -- this time at Istanbul
airport, a place of tight security -- by three suicide bombers using also machine guns
left 42 dead and a couple of hundred wounded. The numbers are likely to rise.
Is Turkey ripening for another of its military coups to rescue the country from civilian
rule excess? It is going to be more difficult this time as Mr. Erdogan has set about
assiduously drawing out the military's teeth one by one.
In Pakistan a legendary qawwali (religious songs of praise in the Sufi tradition) singer
Amjad Sabri has been shot to death by the Taliban in a vivid demonstration of a
warped interpretation of Islam. The whole country mourns. And so the legacy of first
the CIA then NATO involvement -- both being instruments of policies without
forethought, as well as knee-jerk reactions to the enemy du jour -- continues to
destroy the countries it was supposed to help.