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
October 2, 2015
Mr. President: It has been a notable week for the comings and goings of world
leaders, if only to address the UN. The UN itself celebrates the 70th anniversary of its
founding. It was a different world then: Japan and Germany, now substantial
economic powers, were defeated countries and the former enemy. India was a colony
as was much of Asia and almost all of Africa. There were only around seventy
countries in the world, now nearer two hundred.
Liberation for the colonies was not easy. India was too much of a handful for a
war-weary, economically-strapped Britain. In its hurry to leave, it left a mess behind.
One country became two and then three. Kenya and Southern Rhodesia were
different. With colonial settler communities not anxious to leave, it took wars and what
became known as terrorism to force the issue. Ditto for the French in Algeria and
their mess in Indo-China, the latter willingly inherited by the US in its lunacy.
So here we are, a new world and new enemies, some manufactured here. The UN
Security Council retains its old makeup, and the Second World War victors -- US,
Britain, France, USSR and China -- retain permanent membership. In the curious
world of political rationale, China's seat was occupied by Taiwan for most of the UN's
history. Why? Because Chaing Kai-shek the Generalissimo who exhausted his
armies fighting the Japanese was in turn evicted from China by Mao and his
communist forces. Communist China was denied a seat in the UN thanks to the veto
power enjoyed by permanent members of the Security Council.
The current people without a seat are the Palestinians. Any votes on their issues are
a lopsided 150 or so 'for' and about six 'against' in the General Assembly. The latter
comprising the US, Israel and some South Pacific island dots that could not survive
without US largesse. Most resolutions on the Palestinians' behalf requiring Security
Council approval are routinely vetoed by the U.S.
The US wants a peace settlement with two states living side by side in
Israel-Palestine; Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu does not, given his coalition that
includes ultra-orthodox religious parties and right-wing extremists. Their desire for
settlements keeps eating up Palestinian land till it looks now like a piece of Swiss
cheese, a piece even the revered Solomon (who could handily manage a dozen-plus
wives) could not divide into Israel and a viable Palestinian state. No matter. For
domestic reasons, the US continues to support the Israeli government with its veto in
the Security Council. It is a case of not even the tail but the tip of the tail (the Israeli
extremists) wagging the dog.
One might think the veto is a bad thing. Far from it. It has been a uniquely clever
device that has prevented major confrontation between the great powers. Isolated in
the UN, the former USSR exercised its veto frequently; the US is not far behind with a
count of 83.
But a new danger looms. Outside of the Security Council, the US has started
bombing Syria, actually ISIS held territory. The Soviet Union has responded by
joining in, but is also bombing other Islamic extremists, some enjoying the support of
US allies. The possibility of a US-Russian confrontation is troublesome at best and
nightmarish at worst.