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
Feb 24, 2012

Mr. President:  The latest from Afghanistan has another dozen
demonstrators killed on the fourth day of unrest since reports surfaced of
Korans being sent to incinerators for disposal.    That is the trouble with
occupation forces:  they are often insensitive to local culture, custom and
tradition.  The worst incidents occurred in the western province of Herat.  So
the religious insult has apparently alienated the whole country including the
Tajeks, Uzkeks and Hazaras, erstwhile allies.

Afghanistan has become an impossible situation.  If an agreement is
negotiated with the Taliban, there is no guarantee (because we have no
leverage) that they will abide by it after NATO forces leave.  Trying a
multilateral approach by incorporating regional powers is also a problem
because U.S. relations with both Pakistan and Iran are at the lowest ebb.

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis' devastating critique of so-called success against the
Taliban, based on first-hand knowledge, has shown it to be simply a PR ploy
benefitting both the military brass and politicians.  So why not just declare
victory and come home.  The Taliban have never been interested in
attacking the U.S. and never will; that is, if the recent New Yorker article on
Mullah Omar (Jan 23, 2012) is to be believed.

In a series of fourteen bomb attacks in and around Baghdad a couple of days
ago, there were over 200 casualties.  And the horror stories emerging from
Libya are hardly comforting.  Both countries are devastated.  Small wonder a
majority of Syrians now support Assad although some are questioning the
statistics in this latest poll.  The "Friends of Syria" meeting in Morocco
refuse to negotiate without preconditions, following the blueprint of Libya.  
The shadowy leadership of these rebels remains shadowy.  Their fiercest
advocates prescribing democracy are absolute monarchies and sheikhdoms,
where democratic protest is put down brutally (as in Bahrain).  Al-Qaeda also
wants Assad gone.  That alone should be a portent, but this administration is
oblivious to the irony and the danger signals in all of this.

In the meantime, Iran barely tweaked the oil faucet this week and prices shot
up.  One wonders who this new boycott is really going to hurt.  A thought on
the nuclear issue there:  ever since both India and Pakistan acquired the
bomb, there has been no major war between them.  The threat of MAD
(mutually assured destruction) seems to work.

The new tax-reform proposal advocating tax breaks for manufacturing firms,
to encourage them to bring jobs back to the U.S., is in concept a great idea.  
The devil, of course, is in the details.  What is a manufacturing firm?-- even
McDonalds makes hamburgers.  Then, there has to be a tandem process of
generating skilled workers.  After all, there are firms with skilled job
openings right now, and no one to fill them.