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
November 27, 2015
Mr. President: Happy Thanksgiving! What an edifying idea for a holiday -- a day of
gratitude and reflection.
The week, however, has been far more tumultuous. Turkey shot down a Russian
Su-24 fighter bomber over northern Syria for violating Turkish airspace. If that
sounds nonsensical, it is. A tiny 'U' of Turkish territory intrudes into Syria, a strip
barely two miles in width. The Su-24 flying at, say, three-fourths of its maximum 800
mph speed would be across the strip in 12 seconds. Turkey's claim of several
warnings over several minutes falls flat.
Mr. Putin's response has been measured. He has not, for example, laid waste to a
barren part of Turkey with a small nuclear weapon to show what could happen to
Istanbul; he has not started in absentia trial proceedings against the Turkish
president, to convict him of murder and conspiracy to murder the Russian pilot who
was shot while parachuting down in contravention of the Geneva convention. No.
What Mr. Putin has done is to lay down (to all intents and purposes) a no-fly zone
over northern Syria, and he has cut the direct military communications line with
Turkey, set up as part of the operational agreement with NATO. Any future
challenges by Turkey will cost it airplanes.
The big question of course is whether Turkey was given the green light for its action
or acted on its own to support the Turkmen rebel groups Russia had been targeting,
and who in fact shot and killed the parachuting Russian pilot near the Turkmen
villages Turkey protested were being bombed by the Russians.
The many-sided Syrian civil war leaves open the question of who would rule Syria
should Assad fall. A Jeffersonian democracy is certainly not in the cards. What's
more, chaos on the Libyan model mushrooming terrorism has a higher probability. It's
time to wake up these somnambulistic sheikhs in their tinpot 'doms basking in the
comfortable glow of American firepower and supporting dubious rebel groups in Syria.
There is a story doing the rounds that the Russians have a new technology, which
blinds enemy radar and satellite communication, and the West would like them to
activate it more often, so it can be studied with the object of developing
countermeasures. If Turkey had been tasked with this chore for NATO, it might
explain the country's bizarre and bombastic behavior against a far superior foe.
Meanwhile, two Turkish journalists have been charged with espionage for revealing
that trucks belonging to MIT the Turkish intelligence agency were carrying arms to
Islamist rebel groups supported by Turkey. These are the same rebel groups being
bombed by Russia providing further motivation for Turkey's attack on the Russian
The story also bares a simple fact: the Islamist rebel groups are proxies of US proxies
supplied with arms and foreign volunteer fighters for the sole purpose of toppling the
Assad regime. Some of the more radical groups have cut their leashes -- as in
Afghanistan. And the Paris attack make France the latest victim. Who is next?
This week the US politely declined to join a grand coalition (including Russia)
proposed by France. Why? Because the principal aim of US policy remains the
removal of Assad. Francois Hollande flew off to Russia where, according to the latest
announcements, the two countries have agreed to cooperate fully.