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
April 28, 2017 (posted May 2, 2017)
Mr. President: In a continuation of the theater of the absurd, all 100 U.S. senators
were driven to the White House to listen to a top-secret intelligence briefing on North
Korea. North Korea now has missiles capable of reaching Hawaii and will soon be
able to extend its reach to California.
As they also have nuclear weapons, putting two and two together should not be
difficult, but we are told it will take time to reduce their size to fit missiles. Yet India
and Pakistan did it years ago -- the latter also has the even smaller tactical battlefield
warheads. It is inconceivable the North Koreans did not work on such practicalities
simultaneously. The crucial element has always been producing the fissionable
As always the illogical logic of propaganda aimed at the American people prevails:
first the scare of a 'mad' Kim Jong-un coming at them with missiles and then the 'but'
of a window of opportunity for military action before doom. It is all a reminder of 'the
smoking gun being a mushroom cloud' before the catastrophe of the Iraq war.
So is it all bluff directed at North Koreans for the South Koreans will never accept the
military option? They have also been embroiled in a leadership crisis following a
political scandal, culminating in first the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye
and then her removal from office on March 10, 2017. A fresh election is scheduled
for May 9.
To the extent our mainstream press has become an unquestioning cheerleader for
conflict, one cannot expect any restraining influence. Its shocking behavior in the
recent Syrian sarin gas attack is illustrative. The narrative of Assad the enemy holds
that any abominable incident is automatically ascribed to him -- no questions asked.
Within hours of the attack everyone was blaming Assad. Cui bono? Who stands to
gain was never an issue; neither was waiting for any kind of investigation. No one
questioned why ... why would he do this when he is not short of conventional bombs?
Critical thinking from the American public is almost impossible when half do not know
where Syria is. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for President in the
last election, had an embarrassing moment last September when asked about
Aleppo. His response: "And what is Aleppo?" That was indeed revelatory for Gary
Johnson is a noted politician, and was the governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003.
Like the president he too is a businessman and author. It all shows that when you live
in the most powerful country on earth little countries are off the radar, forgotten in the
midst of domestic (often) pocketbook issues.
It is purportedly the job of the news media to educate the public, a job at which they
have clearly failed.
Meanwhile, North Korea staged one of the largest live fire artillery drills to mark its
military founding day, as a U.S. missile submarine docked in the South. The point
clearly to drill home Seoul's vulnerability.
Pressure is being put on China to bring the North to heel by, say, using an oil
embargo as a tool. Yet China, which is urging restraint by all sides, is unhappy with
the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being installed in South
Korea. It's Defense Ministry also announced live fire drills and new weapons tests in
response, and complained the system 'damages the regional strategic balance and
stability.' Angering China to secure help against North Korea defies logic.
Stirring the pot further is Moon Jae-in, the South Korean opposition leader now ahead
in the polls for the May 9th election. He has vowed to review the U.S. agreement with
South Korea allowing the THAAD installation. In the meantime, villagers around the
site continue their protests.
Are we about to go to full-scale war with North Korea? Not in a month of Sundays!
But such is the crazy quilt of posturing.