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 28, 2014
Mr. President: Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and everyone hopes the
holiday offers a brief respite from the difficult world successive presidents seem to
have made for ourselves.
Anyone who has given any thought to our tragic military adventure in Iraq must be
sorry to see Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel leave. According to news reports, he
wanted an up-front discussion of the pros and cons of confronting IS (or ISIS or ISIL
the name changes almost weekly) directly with US troops. Sergeant Hagel had seen
the Vietnam mess first hand; not so the ardent armchair interventionists (AAIs).
Apparently the AAIs won out.
Among a myriad reasons why we should not intervene, is a simple, important one: we
are now busy making a new set of extremist enemies so dangerous as to not mind
killing themselves in pursuit of their aims. Bombing them (our preferred method) kills
many more civilians than the few entrenched IS fighters in the heavily populated
cities. It has also caused another flood of refugees, most of whom according to
reports found life more bearable under IS (as they were Sunnis) than under the
viciously sectarian, Shia regime of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. By the
way, how does IS "involve an actual or imminent threat to the nation"? Your
prerequisite, as a Presidential candidate in 2007, for a President to "unilaterally
authorize a military attack" ... "under the constitution."
Finally, what will be the cost of this new found war? One would guess at least the $1
per soldier per year of the Afghan war and then some, because bombing campaigns
It is often said that a prosecutor worth the name can get a grand jury to indict a
cabbage ... and its opposite -- that is not indict someone when the prosecutor does
not want to. The charade in Ferguson is over and the white police officer who shot
Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager, was not indicted. Such is the case in
almost all such incidents.
And there are plenty -- there were 54 police shootings in October 2014 of which many
for sure were justified. But there are worrisome ones. Just last Saturday, twelve-year
old Tamir Rice was playing in Cudell Park and recreation center in Cleveland's
northwest side when he was shot by police -- apparently within two seconds of their
arrival on the scene in response to a 911 call. They thought it was a real weapon. Is
there something seriously amiss with police training when such events are becoming
commonplace across the country?
Last Friday there was a vote in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee which
carries responsibility for humanitarian issues. It was on a resolution to condemn
attempts to glorify Nazism and deny Nazi war crimes. While it was clearly aimed at
Ukraine and its neo-Nazis, it also called for the adoption of the International
Convention against racial discrimination for a mechanism to resolve complaints.
What have we against such a resolution? One might be forgiven for thinking the US
proposed it. Telling, for our position in this new world, that it was Russia, our WW II
ally against Nazism, who brought it to a vote. We voted against -- we plus two other
countries (Canada and Ukraine) -- while I55 countries voted for, and the resolution
passed with a resounding majority.
Where is the moral compass?