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
July 21, 2017 (posted July 24, 2017)
Mr. President: In this world there are two kinds of people: those with, and without,
grace. You decide which side you fall, although Mrs. Abe the Japanese Prime
Minister's wife has clearly made up her mind. Anyone who can read a whole speech
in English knows enough to say, 'Excuse me, I do not speak English well'. So, to not
respond at all to the U.S. president sitting beside her who turns to converse conveys
a distinct meaning.
There was a time when countries prided themselves on their civility and their citizenry
for their courtesy. Now the byword is the put down; rudeness, crudeness and
vulgarity rule the day -- not to forget the jingoism, demagoguery and xenophobia that
can win elections. If such was the state of a democracy, would its founders weep?
In the past week, U.S. presidential ire has been directed at Iran. Shortly after the
administration's quarterly declaration to Congress certifying Iran's compliance with the
nuclear deal, it slapped additional economic sanctions the following Tuesday (July
18). Three days later, Trump added threats of 'new and serious consequences'
unless detained U.S. citizens are returned. Robert Levinson, a former law
enforcement officer disappeared ten years ago in Iran. In addition, Xiyue Wang, a
Chinese-born U.S. citizen, as well as a father and son (Iranian U.S. citizens), Baquer
and Siamak Namazi -- the elder a former provincial governor in Iran -- have been
sentenced to 10 years jail for spying. For perspective, it is worth noting that 5 million
tourists visit Iran annually contributing $2 billion in revenue, and the country is trying
to expand its tourism industry.
The nuclear agreement itself is difficult for the U.S. to abrogate unilaterally as it
involves the five permanent veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council plus
Germany. Yet Trump appears to have swallowed the Netanyahu line on the deal.
Add that to Trump's new found chumminess with the Saudis and their deep Wahhabi
antagonism towards Shia Iran and we could be on the edge of another cataclysm in
the Middle East, this time enveloping the whole region.
If we recall the history of the deal, the Obama regime first had to give up their
zero-enrichment requirement before the Iranians would even agree to talk. They got
While sanctions had hurt Iran, it refused to buckle under the pressure; in fact it added
centrifuges and speeded up enrichment. Had the Obama administration continued on
this course, they would have had a nuclear Iran or war.
There are those in Washington who still believe sanctions and pressure would bring
Iran to its knees. They have forgotten the Iranian response to Iraq and the Iran-Iraq
war when Iran stood up to a better-prepared Iraq despite enormous casualties.
The extremists in Iran already believe the U.S. cannot be trusted. If Trump keeps up
the pressure imposing further sanctions, how soon before they secure an upper hand
and the deal falls apart? Could an unwinnable war (Iraq and Afghanistan are living
examples) and/or a nuclear Iran be the consequence? Finally, the North Koreans
have seen what happened to Libya after it gave up its quest for nuclear weapons.
What are they learning from Iran's latest experience?