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
August 5, 2016, (posted August 10, 2016)

Mr. President:  Happy birthday from yesterday!  Among your gifts is a bump in the
polls to over 50 percent.  For this you have to thank the two presidential aspirants of
the major parties, the buffoon and the ethically challenged in this
hold-your-nose-and-vote election.

Thanks to his squabble with Ghazala Khan, Donald Trump has sunk in the polls.  It
was her story that caught fire after the Democratic convention.  Her husband the
dignified Khizr Khan expressed his grief for his son, Captain Humayun Khan, who had
sacrificed his life to save his men.  What has angered American Muslims is Trump
disparaging all of them, and Khizr was speaking for them when he brandished the
constitution at Trump.  His wife choking back tears stood bravely at his side.

Captain Humayun Khan ordered his men back to safety while he ran toward the
suicide bomber's truck causing a premature explosion and saving his company of at
least a hundred soldiers.  He sacrificed his life for his men.  For this he received a
posthumous Bronze Star.  Now I am not sure how these honors are evaluated, but
surely a man who gives up his life to save a company deserves better.  Isn't such
heroism what a Congressional Medal of Honor is about?

What is the origin of IS and its predecessor that cost the captain his life?  A new book
by London School of Economics professor Fawaz A Gerges (ISIS: A History) attempts
to do precisely that.  It puts everything in the pot:  the breakdown of state institutions
caused by foreign intervention, rising sectarianism since the intervention, decades of
dictatorship, failures of development, poverty, and even the Palestinian stalemate.

The latter is turning into a vicious tribal war where the norms of civilized government
in its institutions are being violated.  Settler men kidnapping a twelve-year old
Palestinian child and setting him alight, or an Israeli army medic not just refusing to
treat a wounded Palestinian but shooting him dead are not the images to garner
support for Israel on the world stage.  It is also distinctly harmful for this country when
UN General Assembly votes are often the rest of the world one-way, and two votes
against.  One feels particular concern for Israeli peace groups increasingly
marginalized and Israeli journalists who now feel unsafe.  Shouldn't these folks be
getting our support if we desire peace?  As Uri Avnery the well-known Israeli peace
activist wrote in a column recently, Hillary certainly does not support him.

If the neocons wanted to destabilize the secular regimes they felt could pose a threat
to Israel, they succeeded in Iraq and Libya.  But here is a thought:  one can reason
and compromise with secularists, can one with religious fanatics?  The neocons got
more than they bargained for and have left most of us with a severe headache.

Bombings continue from Libya through Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan ... leaving the
US in a state where war is the norm and peace exceptional.  Had these wars been
won and the world stable, there might be logic in this policy.  There is a reason why
Trump's "death, destruction and devastation" mantra has a ring of truth that
resonates with a substantial part of the electorate and why he has a better than even
chance in November.