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
September 9, 2016
Mr. President: I must confess to admiring the grace with which you deflected the
crude vulgarity thrown at you by Rodrigo Duterte. He used the same words for the
Pope. Looks like they pop out of his mouth whenever angered and might even be a
common Philippino expression like the word 'harami' in Hindi or Urdu meaning
bastard, and its usage on the Indian subcontinent to almost denote 'naughty'. Of
course the Philippines has become an important pearl in the string being prepared to
Today its ally and dependent, North Korea -- though China claims little influence even
if North Korea's survival lies in its trade with China -- exploded a 10 kiloton nuclear
device. That was was ten times the size of its first test in 2006 and two-thirds in
comparison with the 15 kiloton Hiroshima bomb . While not a hydrogen bomb, it still
Lots of talk and lots of hand wringing, but North Korea continues its relentless march
towards a ballistic missile nuclear warhead. Couple it with its fast developing SLBM
capability and we have a power to be reckoned with. It is what they have wanted ever
since the former Christian fundamentalist president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak,
reneged on the deal the North had made with the South and reversed the decade
long 'sunshine policy' of his predecessors, the liberals Kim Dae-jung and Roh
Moo-hyun, the former a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. North Korea has also
learned the lessons of Libya and Iraq.
This week we had the first encounter between the major candidates while the minor
parties' leaders were making news of their own. Jill Stein was out protesting and Gary
Johnson is so out-of-it he was unaware Aleppo existed. Does it really matter? Given
a choice, an Aleppo native would probably prefer a US president who did not know
where his city was. Imagine a world where the US president did not know where
Afghanistan or Iraq or Libya or Syria were -- no more refugee problems in Europe for
a start. Probably no 'brexit' and no reemergence of an extreme right-wing party
defeating Angela Merkel's CDU in a recent local election. And this administration led
by a Nobel Peace Laureate would not have the dubious distinction of keeping the
country at war for every day of its two terms -- a first.
Returning to the debate/encounter, the overall impression left by Hillary was an
unpleasant one. Reminiscent of the Kennedy-Nixon debate, Mrs. Clinton appeared
more factual while Trump came across as confident and pleasant. Of course he
talked nonsense but that hardly matters in elections. Anyway Hillary Clinton blissfully
ignored the fact we have 4000 troops helping to fight ISIS. No troops in Iraq or Syria
she promised and we will bomb them to victory. Since when has that worked,
especially in her case as she seemed uninformed of the different intertwined factions
and their supporters in the uncontrollable world of proxies of proxies.
'Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination' advocated Clausewitz.
Difficult in a country where anyone can be president.
The Chinese always have a way of reminding the world of their historical greatness as
the pendulum shifts to them again. The G-20 meeting was held in Huangzhou, a city
Marco Polo described as the greatest in the world. To the extent the meeting laid the
onus of long term world economic recovery on China's grand proposals, are TTP and