Weekly Letter to the President
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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 7, 2017
Mr. President: The North Koreans sent us a gift on July 4th. In the morning, -- their
time, it was still July 3rd evening here -- they launched a missile. It reached a height
of 1741 miles (2802 Km) which was 400 miles higher than the earlier May 14 launch.
Calling it the Hwasong-14, they have claimed it has a range of 10,000 km and can
reach anywhere in the world -- a range greater than 5,500 km is an ICBM. This is
now their 11th missile launch this year and their expertise cannot be denied. It is
quite likely that they already have a warhead to fit since rational thinking suggests
Now what? The U.S. can send additional men or warships to the area in a show of
force. But what else? The President leans on China in a tweet response but China
has previously demurred.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping was on a visit to Moscow and at a joint news
conference with President Putin, the latter proposed pushing forward their joint
initiative on North Korea. It calls for freezes in ballistic missile tests and also dealing
with U.S. deployment of weapons in South Korea. He is referring of course to the
THAAD ABM system installed in South Korea.
The Russians are particularly worried about the girdling of their country with ABM
systems. Mr. Putin has pointed out previously how these have destabilized the prior
balance. Russia now is faced with a launch on warning choice -- a kind of use it or
lose it, because a U.S. first strike coupled with the ABMs present the potential of
neutralizing the Russian ICBMs.
The Dr. Strangelove who thought up this first strike capability must have been just
about as nuts as the movie character for by creating a hair trigger he has brought us
to the doorstep of World War III.
Will we see reason and dismantle these sites, or will Russia eventually be forced to
eliminate them unitarily? And then what will be the consequences? Is a reality TV
star and property/casino developer the best equipped to handle them? Unsettling
questions all of them, but this is the world we live in.
While our president speculates on China to 'put a heavy move on North Korea and
end this nonsense once and for all' in his tweet, he forgets it is probably more likely
China is helping its ally along to secure a bigger and bigger bargaining chip. Are the
days of the THAAD system in South Korea numbered? One can add, it is not
particularly liked by the new South Korean president for it makes his country a target,
and he, in contrast with his predecessor, favors a political diplomatic strategy in
dealing with the North.
And so it was, as the U.S. celebrated its 241st anniversary of independence --
another war that might have been avoided. Had the radical Whigs won the British
election, the colonists would have gotten the vote and we would all be living in a giant
Canada benefiting from their excellent healthcare system. Not to be, the
authoritarians of the right won. They believed the colonists should do as they were
told because they enjoyed Britain's protection. Perhaps patience would have
resolved the issue. But then who had time for patience with France waiting in the
wings to settle old scores, particularly its reversals in India. The web of global politics
(and its uncertainty) can catch even the most wary.