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
June 13, 2014

Mr. President:  This week the city of Mosul, second largest in Iraq with a population
around two million, fell to ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), a group reputed to be
even more radical than al-Qaeda.  So we replaced a secular government where
al-Qaeda was not tolerated and the prime minister was Christian with a Shiite
government and a Sunni rebellion led by fundamentalists.

When Secretary Colin Powell came up with the famous "Pottery Barn" metaphor, "You
break it, you own it", it seemed apropos.  But given what has transpired, the 'bull in a
China shop' might be more suitable.  He leaves whosoever might be able, to pick up
the pieces.  Ditto for Libya ... and Syria should Assad fall.

The U.S. is now despised across most of the Middle East, large swathes of Latin
America, and we are trying to hit the jackpot in Russia and China.  Of course, from a
neo-con point of view, which seeks to disintegrate any possible opposition -- no
matter how weak relatively -- to Israel, the fiascoes in Iraq, Libya and Syria make
perfect sense. That plans were thwarted in Syria would direct attention to Russia,and
what better way to even the score than Ukraine.

It seems an eternity when President Eisenhower visited London.  Crowds cheered
wildly as his motorcade rolled past the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, traversed
the Strand into Whitehall.  He was seated in a pale green Rolls Royce convertible
flashing his infectious smile and waving to the crowds, clearly excited and happy to
see him.  He was, of course, not unfamiliar having called the D-Day invasion and
commanded the conquering armies.

Now the American president travels in his own plane carrying his own armored
limousine (or two) designed to protect against all manner of weapons and bombs.  
Every president promises to make the world a safer place; all one can say is they
have apparently failed to make it safe, even for themselves.

After hundreds of billions (projected by some into trillions) spent in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the only way a U.S. president can visit there is by stealth, in surprise
unannounced drop-ins and certainly not in a clearly marked plane like Air Force One.

One cannot but speculate what the reception in these places might have been if the
fortune frittered (Afghans had no knowledge of 9/11 and Saddam did not have
WMD's) had been devoted to economic development.  And one does not mean loans
called aid and restricted in their utilization to American companies, equipment and
consultants at vastly inflated prices.

The fact remains, Saddam Hussein or any successor with the same secular ideology
would never have tolerated ISIS, and the Taliban responding to public pressure would
have in all likelihood softened their religious stance on social issues as has been
happening in Iran and where women now outnumber men in university.

Then to what purpose wars and drone strikes raining death from the skies, when they
fail in their objectives and the world becomes less safe?