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 6, 2012
Mr. President: You have traveled widely, staying one assumes at the best hotels or
state guest houses, guarded by security services, meeting with heads of states and
governments. I too have traveled, living at the other end of the scale, dealing with
ordinary people mostly, but also, off and on, with the intelligentsia. No doubt, you
have noted, as I have, that people everywhere are much the same. Yes, there are
superficial differences, but at the core, they respond to the way they are treated.
So, here we are in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) because nineteen Arabs from our
allies, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, carried out attacks on our cities. Was the government
of Afghanistan involved or had prior knowledge of the attacks? No. Yet our
response: to ally ourselves with an Afghan minority and through armed conflict instal
it as the government in Kabul. When the majority rebel, we call them Islamic
terrorists; when they seek help from heir kin across a porous border drawn up by the
British in the days of Empire -- go back another century or so and it was all one
country (including India) under the Mughals -- we blame the Pakistan government,
and force it to attack its own Pashtun population. The result is another country rent
asunder, and frequent terrorist bombings previously non-existent.
To the question, 'why do they hate us', one need only read the above. Wherever our
military adventurism, posturing and pressure (including economic) take us, hatred is
bound to follow. The antipathy now runs across North Africa, the Middle East, most of
Latin America, and as we proceed in our efforts to encircle them with bases, Russia
and China. One wonders where our foreign policy and military experts and leaders
are taking us.
In the context of hate, the increasing 'green on blue' attacks, seemingly beyond
comprehension, become quite understandable -- two more this week leaving three
dead and many more wounded. The attackers are soldiers we are training to fight for
the regime in Kabul. Is anybody laying odds on its survival in the event of a complete
Meanwhile, the economic recovery at home is so anemic, the patient might need a
blood transfusion. Only 80,000 jobs were created in June and we need 150,000 to
accommodate population growth alone. The $5+ trillion cost of the wars (Iraq and
Afghanistan) requires yearly interest, and since we are running a trillion plus deficit
the chances of paying down the debt in the foreseeable future seems remote. And
any investment spending for growth requires even more borrowing, increasing the
Appropriately, regime change on a budget is the latest modus operandi -- after Libya
comes Syria, where the bloodletting is becoming a torrent as heavy weapons are
supplied to the rebels. Libya, through its oil revenues, once provided the highest
standard of living in Africa for its people. They enjoyed free medical care, free
education through university, and family subsidies for a middle class life. Now, the
IMF is calling for drastic curtailment of social services. So where are the oil profits