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
March 23, 2012

Mr. President:  That war is a roll of the dice is a given.  Mr. Amadou Tounami Toure
the duly elected leader of Mali, and a staunch U.S. ally, as well as one who actually
instituted democracy in his country, is the first domino to fall as a result of the Libyan
venture.  He has been toppled by disaffected soldiers.  Why?  Because they were
poorly armed and led, and sent to fight against Tuareg rebels.  The Tuareg are
scattered over several countries in the region much like the Kurds in the Middle East.  
How did the Tuareg manage to out gun the Mali army?  They acquired their new
sophisticated weapons from Libya, now awash in arms supplied by the backers of the
revolution.  Libya itself is a mess.  Doctors Without Borders, a Nobel prize winning
NGO providing medical assistance, left recently complaining they were being asked to
repair people so they could be tortured again.  Human Rights Watch has written a
searing critique of the regime, and called on the UN Human Rights Council to appoint
"an independent expert to document the abuses and monitor the government

Yes, war is a roll of the dice.  After $3 trillion, thousands dead and tens of thousands
injured, Iraq is a mess.  Every week there are bombings, and religious strife is now
endemic.  Christians, never persecuted in the previous regime -- in fact Tariq Aziz, the
prominent Deputy Prime Minister, was a Christian -- now live under constant threat of
violence.  The spate of bombings (more than 30) around Baghdad on a single day
this week left at least 52 dead and over 250 injured.  Al-Qaeda Iraq and allied Sunni
groups are mostly responsible.  Al-Qaeda itself has metastasized from Afghanistan to
many pockets in the Middle East and Africa.

As long as we fail to confront our major problems with the developing and Islamic
worlds -- namely exploitation of their resources (with minimal benefits to the people)
and Israel/Palestine -- we will continue to be looked upon with suspicion and distrust
... whether it is Bolivia or Indonesia, Brazil or Turkey, Venezuela or Pakistan, etc., etc.

In Syria, according to a poll in an RT report this week, 85 percent of the people
support the Assad regime and do not want Libya or Iraq repeated in their country ...
still bearing the largest influx of refugees from the latter.  Of the remainder, 10
percent of the rebels would like a ceasefire as would the government.  That leaves a
five percent hardcore minority which refuses dialogue, and is now resorting to terrorist

In our country too, life has become cheap.  It is one thing to be chased by an
aggressor and act to defend yourself; it is quite something else to chase a slight
17-year old down and shoot him in cold blood.  How is the latter self-defense even
under the "stand-your-ground" law?  I am surprised the administration has taken this
long to respond to such flagrant vigilantism by a self-appointed judge, jury and
executioner.  Even in the Wild West -- at least the Hollywood version -- a man was
given a chance to draw his weapon.  Trayvon Martin was unarmed.  But then our
government's recent targeting of its own citizen is hardly a shining example, no matter
the convoluted arguments of Attorney-General Holder.

On a brighter note, the appointment of Dr. Jim Yong Kim is welcome, particularly if it
alters the World Bank's focus from large dams and such to human health and
welfare.  Far better for the developing countries to build their own infrastructure than
be saddled with enormous debt due to comparatively exorbitant costs and fees of
foreign firms and experts.