Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
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
August 3, 2012
Mr. President: Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published the jobs and
unemployment figures for July. It shows 163,000 new non-farm payroll jobs created;
not enough to accommodate new entrants to the job market because unemployment
rose from 8.2 to 8.3 percent. There is however, another statistic not as widely
reported -- the Household Survey report indicates the opposite; instead of jobs being
created, it found 195,000 jobs were lost in July. Is it not time to put our statistics
reporting house in order?
Sir, you are now the recipient of a letter signed by 56 neo-cons urging you to invade
Syria to free its people. The same familiars bring truth to the expression, 'familiarity
breeds contempt', for it was not that long ago when they urged the invasion of Iraq,
also to bring freedom -- a war where the cost including Afghanistan is over $5 trillion
according to the figures calculated by Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz;
hundreds of thousands have died, millions displaced and it will cost billions to rebuild
infrastructure. Moreover, the centrifugal forces of religion and ethnic tension have
fractured social cohesion. Long gone are the days when the Prime Minister (like
Tariq Aziz under Saddam Hussein) could be a Christian. In fact, Christians who had
lived there peaceably since the earliest days of the religion have left in droves. So
much for neo-con freedom. It calls to mind Thomas Carlyle's apostrophe, 'O Liberty,
what things are done in thy name.'
The dual citizenship of many of the signatories of the letter begs the question, 'what
kind of a man serves two masters', and the follow-up, as to which master is being
served by the letter. Iraq, it is acknowledged almost universally, was a bad mistake,
and Afghanistan is turning out to be the same. What is Syria going to be?
A sad irony is that the prescription for an invasion always offers the justification of
saving lives; yet the record is the opposite. Even now, a decade after the U.S.
entered Iraq, death and mayhem continues -- just last week, bombings around
Baghdad killed over 100 people; this week twin car bombings took the lives of 19 and
injured 47. Reporters Without Borders ranks Iraq near the bottom (152 our of 199) in
press freedom. Libya is in chaos with rival armed militias parading around in major
In these wars, people have lost sons, daughters, friends, relations, homes and
livelihoods; many are destitute. But some say 'it is better to fight them there than
here'. Nineteen men from basically two countries, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, attacked
us on 9/11, yet feudal Saudi Arabia and the controlled-by-generals democracy of
Egypt have escaped our ire.
Instead, the trail of tears runs along the North African coast from Libya, round the
Horn of Africa, Somalia, across to the southern coast of the Arabian peninsula,
Yemen, up to Iraq, the funded insurgencies in the northwest and southeast (Baloch)
Iran, into Afghanistan and Pakistan, on to Indonesia and our decades long support of
the murderous dictatorship of Suharto who killed hundreds of thousands. Latin
America, too, has a long story to tell.
And back home inflation-adjusted wages for the 99% have remained virtually stagnant
since the 1970's, despite growth in GDP and productivity. Exactly who does our
democracy work for?