Weekly Letter to the President
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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 22, 2019

Mr. President:  As countries continue their squabbles, their home the earth is going to
hell in a handbasket.  A new review paper in Biological Conservation reports 40
percent of insect species are threatened with extinction.  Guess who pollinates our
plants where we get our food?

All of which is of little concern to President Trump, who disdains science and experts
of any kind.  His vice president has been at the Munich Security Conference where an
awkward silence prevailed as he conveyed greetings from Trump and waited for the
customary applause.  His speech, focused on hounding Iran, met with polite, muted

Angela Merkel in contrast defended the Iran agreement (which the US has unilaterally
abrogated) and talked of maintaining lines of communication without giving up gains
already achieved.  Her ambit included Russia and Mr. Putin, and her critique of Trump
and his policies received thunderous applause in what was seen as a striking rebuke
to 'America First'.  Some said it was one of her best and most thoughtful speeches.

In India, it's Kashmir again.  Poor Kashmiris.  They tried trusting Nehru and waited ...
and waited for the promised vote for self-determination; of course Pakistan's
headstrong responses did not help.  They tried peaceful demonstrations and
received blinding and sometimes fatal shotgun pellets -- not for them just tear gas or
the famed Israeli rubber bullets.  What's left but militancy for which Mr. Modi blames
Pakistan his convenient scapegoat.  All too convenient with elections round the
corner, he has the country awash in jingoism.  Communal assault often follows in this
his tried-and-true election tactic.

Rahul Gandhi the jejune opposition leader is out of his depth as usual.  His only hope
is for Mr. Modi to overplay his hand.  All of this despite a general dissatisfaction
because the promised economic benefits for the majority have not materialized, and
as cell phones multiply, people can actually see the extravagances of the rich.

Mr. Modi threatens to isolate Pakistan and Muhammad bin Salman signs projects and
loans worth $20 billion -- at the beginning of his visit to Pakistan, the figure touted was
$10 billion.  As Theodore Roosevelt used to say, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick'
not the reverse.

A rational answer to the Indian subcontinent is a loose confederation of independent
states in a cooperative scenario, accruing the benefits of free trade and the particular
resources of individual members -- not the copycat US 'most favored nation status' to
be yanked like a toy from a recalcitrant child.  All this when Pakistan has just
introduced the very short range Nasr low-yield nuclear-tipped missile designed to
decimate a cold start attack.

Instead of the frenetic jumping up and down and undiplomatic meaningless threats,
how about a calm and rational peace?