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
Sept 30, 2011
Mr. President: About a dozen years ago, the Chinese politely asked if they
could join the International Space Station program. The Russians and the
Europeans had no objection; the U.S. did. So the Chinese went their own
way. This week they launched successfully the first element of their own
space station. Ours now is starting to suffer the consequences of straitened
economic circumstances here, in Europe and now, with global contraction
and declining oil prices, also in Russia.
In the meantime, thanks to the greed and rents imposed by bankers on the
general public, the West is in a bust and China has become the world's
banker. China can actually afford a space station. How things change when
a greed economy rooted in excessive consumption takes hold, and we
forget that economic success is rooted in wise investment.
Is it also wise to persistently antagonize a country with a hundred nukes and
a very large land army? -- relatively ill-equipped but convertible into guerrilla
forces in the face of an invasion. Under very difficult circumstances,
including jettisoning an erstwhile ally -- the Taliban -- Pakistan has furnished
a vital supply line, provided bases, opened up its air space, even gone to
war against its own people suffering thousands of military and civilian
casualties as well as devastating suicide bombings, now almost weekly yet
unheard of before the conflict.
It turns out a U.S. end run around Pakistan in direct talks with the Taliban
failed because of Karzai's insistence on U.S. troops staying on to bolster him
-- we agreed to 24,000; the Taliban exited the talks. The various responses
in Kabul, whichever group is responsible, have exposed the folly of a
strategy based on the Northern Alliance's minority rule.
Some Senators are calling for a cut in aid to Pakistan and a tilt towards India.
It makes little sense to antagonize a necessary ally, and a tilt to either
country diminishes our own importance. A neutral broker working towards
peace between the two nuclear-armed states would be more responsible
and worthy -- at last -- of a Nobel Peace Prize..
In all fairness, the governments in both countries, and especially the
Administration of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are set on a peace
trajectory. The latest confidence building measure is the just signed $6
billion trade agreement, the biggest in their history. For the future, one can
imagine a Benelux type free trade area with adequate safeguards for the
junior partners. If, in addition, the parties can be persuaded to accept an
autonomous Kashmir within such a framework we could be on the way to
peace in a riven subcontinent.
Such an arrangement could also have been practical in Israel-Palestine, but
a two-state solution is becoming increasingly unlikely. The settlements
housing almost a half-million, (roughly 10% of the Jewish population) and
growing, will lead inexorably to a South African scenario, and a struggle for
equality and civil rights within a single state. One wonders if the present
Israeli government ever bothers to look beyond the next election.