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
February 20, 2015

Mr. President:  No matter how one cuts it, slices it, dices it, phrases it, parses it,
Debaltseve was an ignominious defeat for Kiev.  Whether we believe the separatist
version of 3000 Ukraine government troops surrendering with all their equipment, or
Mr. Poroshenko's claim of an orderly fall back to a better strategic location for any
future hostilities, the fact remains Debaltsevo -- the name's Russian ending seems
more appropriate now -- was a vital railroad junction needed to hold the separatist
areas together.

Mr. Putin with his enigmatic smile, must be pleased as Punch as to the way things
have turned out in Ukraine.  It is a bankrupt state and he wanted nothing to do with it.  
The IMF has released the first tranche of a $17.5 billion loan with $40 billion to come.  
Russia is getting paid by Ukraine for its gas -- $2 billion in the first installment.  From
its vantage point, what could be better?  It has Crimea; its Sevastopol naval base is
secure; and the industrial heart of Ukraine (on which the economy relied) is now within
its ambit.  The West has on its hands a basket case.  Now who thought up the Ukraine

A mix of European majors' greed -- bring in Ukraine to sell to -- and American
expansionism -- missiles on Russia's doorstep to neuter them militarily in addition to
economically.  Well, instead of pulling Russia into Europe, it has been driven east,
into the arms of a China desperate for resources its fast growing economy can
absorb -- already the world's largest in purchasing power parity terms, it will soon be
so in absolute dollars.

Looking around, it is difficult to see any foreign policy success.  Afghanistan is in a
mess with civilian deaths from violence soaring.  How stable can it be when a
complete US withdrawal is unlikely in the near term?  Back again in Iraq openly from
the air, with war authorization for ground forces pending in Congress.  Libya has two
governments and has exported Islamic radicalism south as far down as Nigeria.  
South America?  Problems with Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina ... ; Central America is a
mess except for Nicaragua that successfully withstood the US.  Honduras tried for a
time with elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya, who tried modest social change
asking for support at the beginning of this administration.  Instead, he was ousted in a
coup.  No wonder children are streaming out of Central America to escape the hell
created there.

Five trillion wasted in Iraq and a country destroyed.  One trillion in Afghanistan, in a
backwater where no one knows why the US invaded.  Almost anyone with a
questioning brain knew there were no WMDs in Iraq.  And what if there were?  How
did they endanger the US, or even Israel with its massive nuclear retaliation
capability?  By the way, does Israel feel safer with IS? -- especially when it starts to
recruit from the almost marginalized Israeli Arabs.

Imagine a world where these trillions could have been used for genuine help to make
lives better.  But then I am dreaming again ...

The dreams become a nightmare when politicians come up with  proposals to punish
the weakest in our society -- cuts in Social Security pensions, SSI, Medicare,
Medicaid.  All the while, the defense budget and military expenditures continue to soar
over made-up threats and wars of choice -- wars that have consistently increased
terrorism especially in the hapless targeted countries.

It is said the measure of a civilized society is how it treats its weakest.