Weekly Letter to President Obama
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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
Dec 2, 2011
Mr. President: A major story this week has been the killing of 25 Pakistani
soldiers at a border post by NATO. Public opinion there had already
hardened against the U.S., and our favorable rating in a recent poll had
declined to 18 percent; no doubt, it has fallen further after this latest
incident. The civilian government, already weak, has weakened further.
Tempers are now running so high that the government (and the military)
does not have the leeway to sidestep the strong anti-U.S. sentiment. It has
closed the border crossings through which enter over half the supplies for
the troops in Afghanistan ... after a long journey along the spine of Pakistan
starting at the port of Karachi which makes them vulnerable anyway. The
other major supply line is through Kyrgyzstan. But the newly elected
President there has announced he will not renew the lease on our air base
at Manas when it expires in 2014.
Worst of all is the announcement that Pakistan will not attend the Bonn
conference next week. Without Pakistan, the Taliban are unlikely to come
also, and any solution without the participation of the largest Afghan ethnic
group is bound to be undone after we leave. It took a good year's diplomatic
effort to organize the Bonn conference; it has all come to nought because
our forces in Afghanistan, encouraged by Pakistan scapegoating at home,
were unable to keep a tight rein at a critical juncture. It also exemplifies a
failure of coordination between the different arms of government.
For all the money expended -- trillions according to the latest Brown
University study -- in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have the unique distinction of
being hated by the largest ethnic group in each country. Mr. Biden's visit to
Iraq was accompanied by large anti-U.S. demonstrations in Baghdad and
bombing in the Kurdish areas. Of course, nobody dare go on a
pre-announced visit to Afghanistan.
The anti-climatic climate change conference opened in Durban, South Africa.
Except for the host, Jacob Zuma, no other world leaders graced the meeting.
It is a sad day for earth when the most significant issue affecting mankind's
future meets such a tepid response. If we can't see the wood for the trees,
it is because bankers are keeping leaders busy on almost all continents.
Bankers have obliged our governments through fear and legalized bribery
to bankrupt the institution of bankruptcy. Interest rates are assessed on the
basis of the borrower's ability to repay the loan. If the bank makes a mistake,
it loses its money. If it does it often enough, it goes bankrupt -- at least that
should be the case under capitalism -- but no longer! The bank is bailed out
by government. So how should interest rates be calculated? The system is
now like an airbag in a car that works beautifully until the car is in a crash.
Let us all hope the band-aids hold and we do not have another one.