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
August 29, 2014
Mr. President: Given the demands of the job, we hope it has been a relaxing and
refreshing vacation. News reports suggest you now favor golf over basketball. That
's as it should be. With golf one can age gracefully. It does not require as many
people -- one can even play alone, the individual testing himself, conquering his
frailties in a physical and mental battle, no teamwork necessary. In its verdant
surroundings, the golf course remains an oasis of calm, a temporary shelter from a
fraught world. No surprise then that many US presidents have played or taken up the
As the middle east refuses to stabilize and the wily Mr. Putin keeps chipping away at
Ukraine, the question of legacy is beginning to form on the lips of commentators.
There is, however, a region of the world where simmering animosities fanned by
religious intolerance have resulted in two nuclear-armed powers in a perpetual
face-off. It is a tinder box, set alight frequently by proxies and extinguished
temporarily, only to be lit again. Suspicion, mistrust, proxy wars, cross-border
incursions, carry their own risk. Thus a dangerous miscalculation or
misinterpretation of intent, even an over-zealous lower level commander, or an
accident could very easily lead to a nuclear exchange. In peace lies safety -- and not
just for the Indian subcontinent because with each side possessing over a hundred
weapons, the climate effects could spread across the globe.
Recent attempts to restart peace talks were torpedoed by Prime Minister Modi.
Reasons speculated upon vary: from a tougher Indian stance to pure local politics --
elections are due to take place in the disputed Kashmir region. Whatever the reason,
the two sides clearly need an honest broker, perhaps a catalyst. Even a limited
agreement, any agreement bringing peace to over a billion people would be no small
It is an opportune moment: the two leaders will be in New York mid-September for the
opening of the latest session of the UN General Assembly. A meeting on the sidelines
to set forth a basic skeletal agenda and a timeline would be significant, and realizable
since both countries want to maintain close relations with the US -- India because of
its rivalry and cross-border disputes with China, and Pakistan to bolster its military
and economy. The only question remaining is whether this President can seize the