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
September 22, 2017  (posted Sept 27, 2017)

Mr. President:  To say Donald Trump's UN speech last week was an embarrassment
for his country is to understate the case; to say it made the U.S. a laughing stock is
closer to the mark.

A cornucopia of falsehoods and half-truths, it included the risible assertion of
America's respect for the sovereignty of other nations; North Africa, the Middle East,
Afghanistan, even Ukraine all lost to temporary amnesia, the largely unsuccessful
focus was on attracting support against North Korea and Iran --  recidivism to the
Bush-Cheney neocon position.  And meeting with the leaders of Columbia and Brazil
to discuss Venezuela (could regime change be on someone's mind?) was the icing on
the cake of hypocrisy.

Drug money is a perpetual flood in Columbia; political corruption runs rife in Brazil.  
Three weeks ago, $16 million worth of cash was found stashed in an apartment used
by a former cabinet minister in President Michel Temer's government.

Cheap discourse belittles a man.  Calling Kim Jong-un 'Rocket Man' certainly got a
response from him:  he called the speech a "dog's bark" ... although he wasn't
addressing the UN General Assembly.  Calling Iran a dictatorship supporting
terrorism, Trump, as usual, criticized the nuclear deal hinting he might pull out of it.  
Hassan Rouhani, Iran's elected president, addressed the same body at a later time.
He referred to a "rogue newcomer to international politics" and called the Trump
speech, "ignorant, absurd, and hateful.  Tweeted his foreign minister, Javad Zarif, "A
hateful speech that belongs in medieval times."

The only support rested with Israel and Saudi Arabia -- the latter claiming, without
citing evidence, that Iran was cheating to develop a nuclear capability.  The rest of
the world, including IAEA the monitoring agency, believes Iran has been complying

Even among traditional allies, no one could fully support Mr. Trump.  The British
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said they were trying to persuade the U.S. not to
pull out of the Iran deal.  Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called it "...the
wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience," using "schoolyard language
like 'losers'", adding that it allowed countries like Iran to criticize the U.S. in
international forums and receive a sympathetic response.

France's President Emmanuel Macron wanted countries to work together as opposed
to the Trump emphasis on sovereign nations.  He said it would be a "grave error" to
back out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was highly critical:  "I am against threats of this
kind ... I must say we consider any type of military solution absolutely inappropriate
and we are counting on diplomatic efforts."  She is also reported to have observed
that more Germans are anti-Trump than are anti-immigration.  Merkel, Xi and Putin
were all absent from Trump's speech.

He has relied on China to help, seemingly without realizing its relations with North
Korea are at an ebb while the latter's ties with Russia have strengthened.  Kim
Jong-un has not visited Beijing and President Xi Jinping has not been to Pyongyang.  
More to the point, President Xi has held four summit meetings with his South Korean
counterparts -- he is keen to foster closer ties.

Indeed, while China does help prop up the North Korean economy, its (and Russia's)
current focus is on economic links with the South via a rail link through the North,
joining the peninsula to China and Russia and beyond to the Eurasian One Belt One
Road network -- new markets for the participants.  As Mr. Trump throws Iran into their
welcoming arms, it, too, is a willing participant in this massive development strategy.