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
October 16, 2015

Mr. President:  About a month ago, an outrageous scandal erupted in the sedate
world of Bridge:  the Israeli team and a couple of others, withdrew from the World
Bridge Championship, after irrefutable evidence of cheating.  Of course, it is not the
only country in the world to cheat and lie -- think of the Iraq war and others -- but the
murderous brutality with which demonstrations, including today's day of rage, are
being put down requires condemnation.  No doubt our supine representatives will veto
any resolution in the Security Council, so perhaps it is time for a quiet word with Mr.
Netanyahu.  Very disturbing footage from cell phones and other devices belie Israeli
claims, and reveal a 'shoot first' policy against Palestinians including even those who
are Israeli citizens.

Wars are debilitating.  Think of Britain, the world power in 1914 reduced to a
shambles after the Great War, and to a debtor nation as its gold and bonds were
shipped to the US in the Second World War.

What earthly geopolitical reason was there for Iraq?  The mess and the vacuum filled
by ISIS is going to haunt the area for a long while.  And people across the region
blame the US -- 80 percent in a recent poll -- for ISIS.

What is Libya, if not the greatest social, political, economic and humanitarian disaster
inflicted upon the region since the Second World War?  What is the strategic or even
tactical gain?  And while the lies about preventing an impending slaughter in Benghazi
might play with the general public, anyone investigating the facts knows the civilians
killed in the Libyan army advance were barely a few hundred.  After civil strife and the
destruction of infrastructure leading to thousands of deaths, and the imposition of
disparate groups including religious fanatics holding power in their own areas, the
country is a disintegrating mess exporting religious fanaticism south as far as Nigeria.  
When Defense Secretary Gates opposed the Libyan adventure, he was outshouted
by a belligerent Hillary Clinton and her White House allies, so the voice of sanity (as in
Colin Powell's 'pottery barn rule' before Iraq war) was lost.

With all the millions whose lives are disrupted, who lose their homes, sometimes their
existence, their country, who flee as refugees with just the clothes on their backs,
ready to be exploited by ruthless smugglers, and going to countries where they are
far from welcome, the question for our decision makers is simple:  All for what?

Libya led Africa on the Human Development Index; where is it now?  All the death and
dying from Libya through Egypt -- with our new friend Mr. Sissi -- and on to
Afghanistan, where the Taleban attack on Kunduz reminds us of their strength; all this
human misery for what?  Do our leaders have a conscience?

In the first Democratic candidates debate this week, Mrs. Clinton claimed she was a
progressive.  Despite a neo-con legacy of the triple disasters in Ukraine, Libya and
Syria (where Bashar al-Assad remains wildly popular in the areas under government
control), the gutting of the safety net, under husband Bill and the disastrous bank
deregulation leading to the predictable 2008 financial disaster ... a halting Bernie
Sanders did little to refute her claim.   

In the meantime, 158 families have so far contributed more than half the total funds in
this presidential election, and the Democratic party like its GOP rival is a confirmed
tool of the elite.  The major banks now own 44 percent of assets.  They had a little
over 20 percent in 2008, and less than 10 percent in the seventies.  Thanks to the
Clintons, the oligarchy is firmly entrenched and nothing has been done in the past
seven years to dislodge them.  This column spoke of an opportunity to be a new
Roosevelt in 2009 ... or forgettable.  The choice is transparent.