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 23, 2016 (posted September 24)
Mr. President: The country has been at war for 15 years -- wars intensified by a
Nobel Peace Laureate. The cost is now estimated by reliable sources in the trillions
and worldwide casualties in the millions. Post-traumatic stress disorder has reached
epidemic proportions: An average of 22 veterans are committing suicide ... each day.
So inured to violence, the police are killing civilians -- often unarmed -- and vice versa
in alarming incidents. Mass shootings are common enough to be less than big
headline news. Last weekend, bomb attacks, fortunately amateurish, hit New Jersey
and New York City wounding at least 29. At the same time 1500 miles away in sleepy
St. Cloud, Minnesota, a radicalized and heretofore polite, courteous and well-liked
Somali security guard went on a stabbing spree in a shopping mall.
Simple question: Why isn't Canada with many more refugees subjected to such
violence? If a president cannot answer that question, he should resign. If he can and
is unable to effect policies to stop it, he should also resign.
Just over the Labor Day weekend, a holiday to celebrate labor and unions -- although
with the unions emasculated in our post-industrial world, and no union-organized
picnics or any other activities, the name is redundant -- the US military was busy flying
sorties in six countries: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. When
residents from these countries hear of the killings of relatives and friends, some of
them snap. The attackers over the weekend belonged to Somalia and the Pashtun
borderlands of Afghanistan/Pakistan, the most droned place on earth.
The policy in Syria of still trying to topple President Assad is now bringing a
confrontation with Russia. Any miscalculation and the results could be deadly, for
how many missiles does it take to sink an aircraft carrier, and what then will be the US
president's response? Killing 62 Syrian soldiers in support of Islamic extremists at a
well known location is hardly the way to fight ISIS and the alphabet soup of
fundamentalist groups. Predictably, the fight for Aleppo has resumed.
The rank hypocrisy in accusing Russia of trying to recover past glory -- after
organizing a coup to topple a legitimate elected government in Ukraine, brazenly
breaking a truce agreement just this week, and much more -- left the UN audience
uncomfortable and probably gobsmacked.
And the histrionic and incoherent performance of the 'liberal interventionist' supremo
and US Representative, Samantha Power (married to University of Chicago law
professor Cass Sunstein, an ethicist and animal rights activist) to protest a Russian
call for a Security Council meeting was less diplomatic than churlish. Anyway Sergey
Lavrov made clear, this time in skilled diplomatic language, the truce was more or less
over. The US should be very grateful Putin is unlikely to lob missiles about. Both
careful and cautious, he is trying as always to wean away Europe -- and succeeding
to some extent with Turkey, which too has done some bombing in the fairly recent
past ... this time of the US's Kurdish allies.
In the Syria-Iraq mess, everyone is fighting their own war ... the people on the ground
doing the dying. If there is an iconic photo for this US administration -- like that of the
naked girl fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam -- it is of Aylan Kurdi, the little toddler
lying dead, face down as the water laps beside him.