Weekly Letter to the President
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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
March 1, 2019 (posted March 3)
Mr. President: Miscalculation and a bit of overreach on both sides and we have a
regrettable end to the North Korea Summit. Each party thought the other was
desperate for a deal: the North Koreans aware of President Trump's troubles with
Congress and the Oversight Committee hearings; Donald Trump misunderstanding
the letters from Kim Jong Un. His promises of denuclearization are old, and intended
as a final step after formal peace with South Korea and mutual disarmament. So they
might close a facility here and there but that is all they are likely to do.
A more dangerous rift, for the antagonists are nuclear powers, has occurred in South
Asia. Following a suicide bombing of a convoy by insurgents in Kashmir, Narendra
Modi facing an uphill election battle seized the opportunity for some flag waving. An
incendiary speech and Indian airplanes attacking insurgent-training areas was the
result. So it is claimed but no clear photos of base damage or evidence of any kind
seems to be available.
Pakistan responded. India claimed it shot down a Pakistani plane. The latter claimed
the reverse with some credibility because it had the pilot in custody. Released, the
pilot had glowing praise for the professionalism of Pakistan's armed forces -- possibly
because they had saved him from the angry mob (the people he had been bombing)
threatening him. The pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been
returned to India as a gesture of goodwill. The response has been more small arms
fire at the line of control killing two Pakistani soldiers. For heavier weaponry, Pakistan
might have an advantage through its Chinese Sh-15 howitzers and the new Nasr
missiles, which might also render a full-scale attack expensive in terms of casualties.
Some rights groups say a 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed; official Indian figures
are much less. The humiliations suffered by the population are legion and the
sentiments of the people obvious; which is why the promised self-determination vote
has never taken place. Such a vote in both Pakistan and India controlled areas,
under International supervision, is a straight-forward logical option to decide the
future, relieve the misery, and reverse the present lose-lose dynamic.
Meanwhile, the shameful treatment of Kashmiri students in India during this new
conflict demonstrates clearly the present feelings of the Hindu majority to the people
of Kashmir. Modi's Hindu nationalism appears to be causing irreparable long-term
harm to India's future. For in the end it threatens also the Christian, Moslem and Sikh
There is, of course, China to the north which has carved out a piece in the north
previously grabbed by the British presumably. And then there is the Taliban so close
and so deadly. Even Pakistan suffers their wrath from time to time -- a legacy of its
former US ties.
The bombing of the convoy leading to the current mess carried an inescapable
Taliban signature. It is what happens when a people have tried everything: patience,
peaceful demonstrations, appeals to reason. When there is nothing left, there is
nothing left to lose.