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 16, 2016 (posted September 22)
Mr. President: China and Russia are conducting joint naval exercises in the South
China Sea this week. Five Russian and ten Chinese ships will participate in eight
days of drills covering joint air defense, anti-submarine operations, landing,
island-seizing, search and rescue operations, and weapon use. For the purpose, the
Russian fleet includes an Udaloy class anti-submarine destroyer, the Admiral Tributs.
The message, in the wake of the international tribunal's ruling against China's claims
in the South China Sea, is crystal clear.
Even more important is the trade offensive as outlined at the recent G-20 meeting in
Hangzhou. Their vision of a plus-sum game was clearly directed against TPP, seen
by China as antagonistic to its interests and an attempt by the US to call the shots on
The Chinese multi-polar view also embraces trade in currencies other than the dollar
particularly in the case of Russo-Chinese trade. A starting point is the joint Russian
Far East and Chinese Northeast initiative. Rivals in the past, U.S. policies directed
against both countries have boomeranged bringing them closer together.
Who is responsible for this policy failure? Or perhaps it is just hubris -- the false
security of being labeled the world's only superpower. Well, welcome to the
multi-polar world again. Chinese economic strength combined with Russian military
power including 7300 nuclear warheads arrayed against the U.S.. Worth noting of
course that on a Purchasing Power Parity basis, China is already the world's largest
Also on the dollar front -- or rather omission thereof -- Russia and Iran announced
this week that trade between the two countries will henceforth not be in dollars. It is a
natural outcome of the U.S. seizing foreign assets at will, a constant threatening
posture, and the my-way-or-the-highway attitude to sovereign nations. Many
countries have waited patiently for alternatives, and now China is making such
Other long time allies have been emboldened by China's open outreach. Rodrigo R.
Duterte, the newly elected president of the Philippines, aside from lacking basic
diplomatic courtesy, has declared his intention to follow an independent (from the U.S.
that is) foreign policy. He wants to end joint U.S.- Philippine naval patrols west of the
country in the South China Sea; acquire weaponry from China and Russia also; and
develop economic and trade relations with the same.
One wonders if the CIA is now busy hatching a coup plot to send him scurrying and
bring the Philippines back into the fold. President Duterte would do well to remember
another loquacious president, Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, also elected but then
swiftly dispatched into exile through a coup within six months of excessive verbiage.
There was a time when the U.S. was a good friend of Pakistan, a country now used
and discarded to suffer on its own the aftereffects of the war on terror. The latter
starting with an Afghan war on a country that was not involved in any way with 9/11
except that it offered a place to stay to a mujahedin commander, who had assisted
with CIA help in getting rid of the Soviets. The man's name was Osama bin Laden.
The Afghan government wanted proof of his involvement; George W. Bush was not
prepared to wait. A trillion and more dollars later, after 2325 soldiers are dead and
20,083 wounded, the U.S. is still there. In a related scandal, an average of 22
American veterans commit suicide each day. Might it have been better to have
offered proof of bin Laden's involvement? What has been gained by making enemies
out of most Afghans who were once friends remains the obvious question.
In the history of the world, the downfall of great powers often begins with overreaching
leading to a fed-up citizenry. That the U.S. has begun its downward slide is confirmed
by a demagogue like Trump now having a better than even chance of becoming