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
August 7, 2020

Mr. President:  Seventy five years ago this week, the world witnessed a cataclysm that
was to change the
nature of war forever:  The atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and worse -- while
the Japanese argued among themselves about whether and how to surrender -- a
second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later on August 9th.  Now there
was no other rational choice, and the Japanese gave up.

If anything good ever came out of a war, it was the generous peace.  The US helped
in the reconstruction of the defeated nations.  As a teenaged student in London, I
remember visiting Germany a dozen years after the war ended.  Major centers had
been flattened by the bombing.  In Hamburg, one would see a few residential
buildings and then ruins as far as the eye could see as if a massive earthquake had
hit.  A never ending horror across all major cities and a shortage of labor.  So the
Turks came ... and stayed.  Welcome then, not so much now.   

The Germans were humble -- a humility that would gradually diminish with the
country's resurgence as one observed over succeeding decades.  Cleanliness and
order are part of the national psyche, particularly the latter.  Everything in order --
'Alles in ordnung'.  It even applies on a personal level as someone might ask exactly
that if you appear disturbed.  It then means, 'Everything okay?'

A grease spot on the otherwise fresh tablecloth at breakfast, my fastidious six-year
old daughter complained.  It was whisked away with apologies and immediately
replaced.  Order restored.  Ordnung muss sein says the German proverb.

In dollar terms, Germany is now the world's fourth largest economy, Japan the third.  
The world has not ended despite economic interests being often cited as a cause of
war.  In fact, we are grateful for their products judging by the numbers of their
automobile names in the US.  Japan appears to have eclipsed the famed auto giants
of the past, GM, Ford and Chrysler and UK icons long forgotten.  And Donald J.
Trump has a beef with both countries and is busy pulling out troops from Germany.   
Of course the giant dragon of exporters to the US, namely China, is for President
Trump our public enemy number one.

The bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the end, merely the beginning, and
at the back of our minds remains the terrifying hope that it is not the beginning of the

Following the US, there soon were other nuclear powers:  the UK and the Soviet
Union followed by France, then China.  After China, India was not to be left behind,
and after India the same logic applied to Pakistan.  Then there is Israel seeking
external security while like diseased fruit, it rots from the inside.  And let us not forget
nutty North Korea.

When the US and the Soviet Union faced off with thousands of nuclear weapons, the
strategists produced the theory of mutually assured destruction.  Its acronym MAD
was closer to the truth than its Pentagon proponents could ever have imagined for
they would have destroyed not just each other but the world.

Even India and Pakistan with 100-plus weapons each could cause a nuclear winter
from the fall-out and the dust covered skies.  The subsequent crop losses and
famines would kill many more across the world than the devastation wrought by the
bombs.  It is just one more reason why nation states could eventually become

Fortunately, for the human race, nuclear war is more potent in the threat than in the
execution; the latter  would certainly certify MAD.  The response to a military threat
carrying the phrase 'by all means necessary' is enough to cool things down quickly.  It
was Pakistan's reply to India's threat to expand an incident in the disputed Kashmir
region with an attack on mainland Pakistan.  In that sense, nuclear weapons have
become a sort of insurance policy.  Pakistan and India have fought several major
wars but none since both sides acquired nuclear weapons.  The cost is unthinkable,
and one hopes will remain so in the minds of strategists.

Such is the world my generation is leaving to you:  flawed but holding together all the