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
November 3, 2017  (posted November 6, 2017)

Mr. President:  Tales of exaggeration and outright lies by this president are not new.  
In 1974, the New York Times did a profile on the young Trump.  He claimed he was
worth $200 million when his taxable income then was $2,200 a week; that he was of
Swedish heritage; that he had graduated at the top of his class at Wharton!   Claims
of high intelligence are repeated often, and an assurance of how he would get better
deals abroad.

Which brings us to his foreign policy.  His campaign promoted America First, a
doctrine earning its name before WW2 when proponents wanted the US to stay out of
another European war.  Roosevelt thought otherwise and the Japanese ended the

Since the election, however, the only isolation Mr. Trump has initiated is in the
unintended alienation of allies.  Against foes, he has been quite belligerent.  He has
threatened to annihilate North Korea; he ordered missile strikes against Syria when
the evidence of its culpability was vague; the stepping back from the Iran nuclear deal
and his clear backing of the Saudis place him in the Sunni camp against the Shias.

While closely aligned with Netanyahu, he claims to be pushing for a peace deal.  He
certainly has of a different source.  Beset by the new Trump-Netanyahu-Saudi
alliance, the Palestinian factions Hamas and PLO have agreed to peace (at least a
truce) and power sharing.

Trump's pugilistic approach to trade has offended friends and rivals prompting Angela
Merkel's caustic remark that if Americans want to sell cars here, why don't they make
cars Germans would want to buy.  Meanwhile, China and Russia are drawing closer,
swooping up Iran, possibly Turkey and other peripherals while Trump threatens
Pakistan, now less dependent than ever on America.

He has sent an additional 6,000 troops to Afghanistan, a drop compared to Obama's
efforts which failed.  They have made no difference and the Taliban control half the

If all of this constitutes foreign policy, its strategy remains a mystery while it has all the
makings of a mishmash response to events in ways ill-informed even thoughtless.

Meanwhile the specter of his Russian problem looms larger turning partly real with the
indictment of Paul Manafort Jr., who managed the Trump campaign briefly, and the
guilty plea of campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the
FBI about his connection with the Russian government's efforts to influence the 2016
election.  The latter could conceivably lead to the White House particularly when
Papadopoulos is busy negotiating a lenient sentence in exchange for information and
could involve others.

Of course, the Clinton campaign spent $12 million trying to get dirt dug up on Trump
including the notorious dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British
Intelligence operative turned consultant, who founded Orbis Business Intelligence the
firm hired.

Six of one and half a dozen of the other as each campaign tried to acquire
ammunition to smear the other.  So, what else is new?