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
December 9, 2016 (posted December 14)
Mr. President: Your final foreign policy speech at MacDill air force base in Tampa,
betrayed its purpose through the venue. The Tampa, Florida, base is home to
Special Operations Command and Central Command -- Special Operations playing
an ever increasing role in counter terrorism.
The gist of the speech seemed to assert that the US is and should stay true to its
values when fighting counter terrorism. An assertion when at the same time
Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, has written a letter to Secretary John
Kerry warning him the US could be charged with war crimes in aiding Saudi Arabia's
bombing campaign in Yemen. The US helps through in-air refueling of planes. The
Congressman claims there are 70 documented incidents targeting civilians including
women and children. Yemen itself never had a refugee crisis through years of civil
conflict, that is until the merciless Saudi air onslaught.
What did Libya do to incur US wrath? It was fighting a civil war where the casualties
were in the hundreds and the rebels themselves not without foreign instigators. Look
at Libya now. From leading Africa on the Human Development Index scale to being
bombed into a shambles without an effective government. By the way, what was the
strategic (or for that matter even tactical) value of bombing a precious and expensive
water system bringing water from the south to Tripoli? And how did it help the civilian
population of Tripoli? Now, of course, those who can, in Libya, are fleeing to Europe.
In fact, sub-Saharan Africans who would come to Libya seeking work now try also to
get to Europe.
Ask the Libyans who they blame for their problems and the answer comes back
without equivocation, the US. It was the leading cause of the country's destruction.
Ask the Yemenis ... ditto. It is the country supplying the planes, the bombs, the
air-refueling. Without it there would be no air campaign. Ask the Syrians as a
National Public Radio reporter did this week. They certainly do not blame President
Bashar Assad, who they feel is doing well at keeping the country together. No, they
blame the Saudis, the Gulf States and their arms supplier-in-chief, the US.
Ask the Somalis. It was a U.S. sponsored invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia that
destroyed the last chance of Somali stability, continuing the killing. The Islamic
Courts regime could not have chosen a worse name, which sent danger signals
rippling through the US administration, bringing fears of a Taliban and al-Qaeda
replay. And it was a quiet, studious Somali student who went on a rampage at Ohio
State University just over a week ago. Mr. Trump has been there this week to express
his condolences and to repeat his anti-Muslim immigration and "extreme vetting"
Ask the Iraqis and the Afghans. A vast swathe from North Africa through Yemen into
Afghanistan and Pakistan are embroiled in conflict. Estimates of deaths in Iraq vary
from 200,000 ascribed to violence to a million from the ravages of war. The war
casualties in Afghanistan according to the Watson Institute at Brown University stand
at around 111,000 with at least as many wounded, and continue to increase after a
US presence for 15 years. Deaths from the effects of war among the population are
not easily determined but as in Iraq are likely to be even higher.
The question to ask is whether 19 persons, primarily from Saudi Arabia, responsible
for the 9/11 attacks warrant this wholesale killing. And for what? If anything, the
situation and the fear factor in the US are worse and one of the reasons for Donald
Is this heavy-handed policy actually fighting terrorism successfully, or is it alienating
populations enough to be a proximate cause?