Weekly Letter to the President
Copyright © 2017
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 13, 2018 (posted July 16)
Mr. President: To say that US foreign policy is delusional is not an exaggeration. It
seeks political hegemony and a relationship with China and Russia akin to what it has
had with Japan and Germany, that is, go ahead and develop in the economic sphere
but don't try to flex political or military muscle.
There are at least two problems with this scenario: China is now the world's largest
economy on a purchasing power parity basis, and the Russians have the nuclear
capacity to make a wasteland out of the US. Russian weapons systems can also be
Take the S-400 in comparison with the US Patriot missile defense system -- the
purpose of these surface-to-air systems is to shoot down incoming missiles or
aircraft. The S-400 has a more powerful radar, double the range, is faster (Mach 6 vs
Mach 5), takes five minutes to set up against one hour for the Patriot, and is
cheaper. China has just bought 32 launchers and is expected to buy more, thereby
challenging Japan, Taiwan (which it claims) and other neighbors for control of the
skies, as it is doing over the seas bordering itself. NATO member Turkey has
recently signed a purchase deal, and Iran wants to, as does Qatar after its recent
spat with Saudi Arabia. If Russia supplies Iran, any attack planned by the US or Israel
would prove to be very costly and politically infeasible.
In our world of instant and continuous news feeds, one can imagine a bemused
Vladimir Putin listening to Trump exhorting NATO members to increase contributions
to NATO -- an organization designed to counter the Russian threat -- specifically
castigating Germany's Angela Merkel for being beholden to Russia with her country's
reliance on Russian natural gas.
Early next week he meets Mr. Putin in Helsinki, fresh from his soft power World Cup
triumph as the world beat a path to Russia. What does Mr. Trump tell the leader of
the world's largest country covering eleven time zones? US political hegemony is a
Europeans clearly want access to China, its labor, its markets, even finance, and with
it comes Russia and their numerous initiatives together including the Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIE) their answer to the US-sponsored World Bank.
That Britain joined AIIB contrary to US wishes is a clear sign of China rising as the US
declines comparatively; Britain, having faced up to the US, was followed by a rush of
Russia wants sanctions lifted. What does the US want? Crimea is a non-starter.
Help with Iran? For the Russians, it has become an important ally both with regard to
Syria and as a Mideast power in its own right. Mr. Trump's instincts are right. But
what he achieves is another matter. Childish petulance accompanied by a different
story for different leaders would leave an observer with little optimism.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump manufactures and markets his own reality; this time on his
popularity ('I think they like me a lot in the UK') despite avoiding roads and traveling
by helicopter when possible during his pared down UK visit. Hordes of demonstrators
undeterred have a giant parade balloon several stories high of a bloated child with
the trademark blonde hair. It is one the largest demonstrations ever outside the US
against a sitting president.