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
June 21, 2019

Mr. President:  War is a failure of reason, it has been said, and war with Iran makes
little sense after they have faithfully complied with their nuclear agreement (the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action), endorsed as it has been by the Security Council.  It
was the US, and the US alone, choosing to abrogate the deal that has resulted in the
current confrontation -- an unequal one in the unexpected sense that the US carrier is
a big fat sitting duck for Iran's locally manufactured  sophisticated missiles.  
Additionally, its air defenses supplied by Russia will render aerial bombing an
expensive proposition in airplane losses.

A brief description of Iran's missiles that pose a danger to the US fleet or air attacks is
in order.  First, Iran's missile program is domestic with help from Russian and China.  
Iran now has the capacity to produce anti-aircraft missiles with up to long-range
capability, such as the one used to destroy the $120 million sophisticated US drone
which was not without avoidance measures.

Of greater worry to the task force must be the Qader anti-ship missile with a 300 km
range (about 190 miles).  It can counteract electronic warfare measures and can be
launched from land, sea or air, extending its range.  Deadlier still is the Khalij Fars
anti-ship ballistic missile that slams down on a ship at Mach 3.  It is much harder to
defend against, particularly The Fateh Mobin version which uses infrared sensors for
terminal guidance and is equipped with radar evasion features.

Iran's missile inventory extends to a dozen or more functional types including medium
range ballistic missiles.  The Iranians often note these are of domestic manufacture,
which in itself is a consequence of the long trade embargoes -- yet another
unintended consequence.

Of course, Iran also has the ability to use conventional weapons like mines to close
off the Strait of Hormuz to tanker traffic, causing chaos in the world economy by
throttling fossil fuel exports.

Iran is also now firmly within the China-Russia axis, and it remains a major supplier for
China.  The latter is expanding the sea port of Gwadar in Pakistan, round the corner
from the Gulf, to enable tankers to unload for overland transport, cutting transit time
to the Chinese border to less than 24 hours ... that is when the north-south artery in
Pakistan is extended to Gwadar.  Infrastructure development and improvement is part
of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative to which Pakistan signed on almost

Since the rest of the signatories to the Iran Deal including the EU have declared Iran
to have abided by it, the US is alone in the world in its unwarranted intransigence.  In
the recent past, the US has withdrawn from an anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia,
the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Agreement on climate change and has
threatened to pull out of NAFTA -- the latter leading to hurried minor changes.  So
here's a question:  if the US were not the 800 pound gorilla on the block, who would
want to negotiate with such an unreliable partner?

It all goes to show that when Trump called off this military escalation, he was not just
thinking of the 150 Iranians he claimed would be killed, he was also concerned about
US casualties and the loss of a ship or two, future relations with China and its
partners, the lack of support from Europe, and the uncertainties of war -- all with one
eye on the 2020 elections.