Afghanistan, Corruption and How the World Is

Sarah-Chayes-0208_124-scrsThis is Sarah Chayes and she has written an amazing book called Thieves of State. She was a journalist and embedded herself in Afghan society and started a soap factory. She also got close to the Kharzis. She at first tried to help but became aware and then disillusioned.

Her thesis is basically, many states of the world have broken down because of corruption.  Global aid in cash feeds this. Power brokers ‘capture’ foreign aid and development and then compete amongst each other for control of the cash or income streams that flow from it (cue the Russian mega billionaires).

2Q==The humiliation and daily impact on citizens, especially proud men in societies like Afghanistan breeds resentment; reprisal killings and inhumanities increase. The breakdown creates a vacuum into which the people reach for local warlords, ‘strong men;’ tribalism takes over as a de facto form of government. Even if bad, people often gravitate to these ‘strong men’ in desperation for some form of order, the chaos being too insecure, frightening and destabilising. And it is into this context that extreme Islam emerges (again, amongst proud resentful young men). They are told, “well, this corruption of police/politicians/leaders happens because they do not observe the law of god.  If they did, this would not be happening.” Extreme personal morality becomes an attractive counter and hope to the hopelessness of corrupt and failed states like Afghanistan. It also provides an easy target for the breakdown and easily identifiable ‘enemies’ (people in power who have corrupted themselves). This is why America and the West, the source of all the money, is often viewed so negatively, a great corrupting ‘Satan.’ People who collaborate, are also viewed as part of the problem.

She says this is exactly what is happening now in Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia.

A feature is internal ‘civil war’ amongst tribal or regional groups competing with each other for resources in a completely corrupt and self-centered human societal context.

Fascinating.  I agree with her. But I view this essentially rotting moral framework as both a natural human scenario but also driven by spiritual forces (of malevolence against humanity). This is a conventional Christian worldview.

To safe, affluent, sheltered critics of Christianity, there is really no answer to this.  I argue, that Christianity –in the first century as well as the 16th century (in the form of the Reformation, a political reaction to the corruption of Divine Monarchs and the rotten Catholic Church empire) as well as now –is one of the few, if not the only, system or “ism” that can modify this slide to destruction.

Christianity’s power works at the level of individual human morality and self moderates. It is only as a collective of that, that it works at a State level (ie the takeover of the Roman Empire simply through the power of so many Roman citizens turning to christianity, and eventually the emperor himself). It eschews corruption and selfishness, and that is why where Christianity is generally applied – not to over state the case – as an underlaying principle of state philosophy or policy –say in Britain, or early America, Ethiopia– the worst excesses of human behaviour (corruption, greed, random killings, murders, pillaging, oppression of the weaker) is generally constrained and resisted.

The secular world has little response to the breakdown of states like Yemen, Afghanistan (both Russia and the West have tried there), Nigeria, Somalia (Black Hawk Down) other than to send in tanks and bomb the crap out of those involved in the dissolving system (victims as well as perpetrators).

It is a fascinating discussion and poignant in the context of geo-politics in our world today. Fascinated by (and involved in) politics as I am, I find this intriguing. The world we live in is largely unravelling as we know it; we are viewing enclaves of order and cohesion amidst seas of corrupt and imploding societies, mass exodus, refugees and war. This will only continue as a kind of tipping balance swings over. Jesus said, “In those times, nation will rise against nation, there will be wars…”  “men will be lovers of self…”

For me, this is a biblical inevitability and a state of affairs warned about and described over and over by various biblical voices (the Prophets, the chronicle of Israel’s history, the lessons of her kings’ careers, the canon of apocalyptic literature, etc).

But I have hope.  As modern life at the international level darkens, and the West (where there is still some light) reacts with bombs and guns and soldiers to hold back these chaotic developments (within as well as without) there is a Great Hope coming, who will Give Light to the Nations. But until then, we will have to endure, and wrestle with, the consequences of humanity’s natural way of doing things.

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What I’m Reading (May 2015). Angels & Red Planets

angelologyI am just about to start this, Danielle Trussoni’s “Angelology” but only because I couldn’t get “The Martian” (soon to be a film) that my daughter recommended and has just finished. Anything she likes, I’ll read. She’s always right.

Angelology is by a female writer who does a take on the Nephilim’s female offspring [see Genesis 6] rebelling against the Nephilim and fighting them through the ages as a covert order of Franciscan nuns.  There are Rockefeller letters, and I’m sure the Knights Templar and the Freemasons will get a look in somewhere, but I was interested to see how another author handled the same subject matter as I did in my American-published novel The Bloodred Tree (buy it on Amazon or at Scorpio Books, soon, or a signed copy from me directly, click book cover in the panel to right).  There is a sequel novel to Angelology, so if its good, it becomes an extension read.

Screen shot 2015-05-15 at 5.46.22 PMAll five copies of The Martian were out on loan, so it must be good. It seems to be an extension of the Mars Mission, Red Planet scenarios (the Oxygentaor, the Hab, the water maker etc).  In both movies someone survives inside the Hab., because oxygen is being generated. I love that scene in Red Planet when they realise they are doomed, and are running out of oxygen in their helmets; and the scene in Mars Mission where they discover their long lost colleague alive on mars inside the Hab.  I also love “AMEE” in Red Planet.

Dave at Scorpio Books also informed me about Helen Lowe, a successful epic fantasy writer who, like me, also lives in Christchurch, so I’m going to try her books as well.

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Satanic (Real) Colouring Book for Kids

Satanic-Coloring-Book-231x300THIS IS ACTUALLY FOR REAL. My friend Father Dwight Longnecker in the USA received this colouring book in the mail. It’s just satire, you say. Nope!

It’s called The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities and is produced by The Satanic Temple. There’s a “find the difference” puzzle and the child is to help a little girl named Annabel to “dispel fear and ignorance by demonstrating Satanic rituals for her class.” Annabel is a cheerful little tyke with a pentagram on her robe and she’s officiating at a Satanic ritual in school. Riii-ght.

It’s just satire, you say. Nope.

On other pages Annabel and her friend Damian have to counter some “bullies” who are “mad and afraid of things they don’t understand”. Annabel has cosy a study “filled with Satanic literature and philosophy” and later they encounter a big, fat, ugly boy with pimples who is “sometimes scary because he has trouble saying what’s on his mind.” Damian and Annabel have to “use their patience and open mindedness” to help him. Elsewhere the kids learn to draw pentagrams which reflect the goat’s head they go on a trek through a “dark, dank labyrinth” with Cerebrus–the hound of hell–who is portrayed as a cute puppy.  “Propaganda” and “normalisation” much?

The Satanic Temple “facilitates the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberties.” They portray themselves as a civic minded organization fighting against cruelty and injustice:

The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Civic-minded, The Satanic Temple has been involved in a number of good works including taking a stand against the controversial and extremist Westboro Baptist Church, working on behalf of children in public school who have been subject to corporal punishment and more.

They come with an aggressive pro-abortion public policy (no liberty and human rights language available for the unborn it seems) using all the language of the equal rights movement and portraying Satanists as another poor, misunderstood minority group. Surrounded by “bullies and haters” the Satanists are “advocates for individual liberties.” Where have we heard all this before?

Dwight quotes Chesterton’s quip that ‘when people stop believing in God they’ll believe in anything.’ Human beings have never, and never will, exist in a Richard Dawkins faerieland atheistic vacuum. Take God out, and this rubbish fills up the hole.

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Drawing Mohammed Withdrawn

So, Saturday Night Live had a skit last night like a game show, where the contestant has to draw something.  One contestant gets “The Prophet Mohammed” and the joke is him trying to obfuscate and avoid.  Pretty funny.

People have lauded SNL for tackling this obviously fear-ridden subject, ie, if you do something like this, all your children and your dog will have their heads cut off and your building will be visited by gunmen.  But no, they took it on.

EXCEPT! On all the video feeds receiving the original clip (that I can find), the clip has been withdrawn – either with an audio message or a screen message in black.  Intimidated are we?  Yup. Feels like the Sandpeople have won.

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An Open Letter to Atheists

Views_of_a_Foetus_in_the_Womb_detailIn a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other:

“Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”

– Útmutató a Léleknek

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Vegetable Garden Adventures: Phase 10 (Bulldogeddon II: An Iron Curtain Descends)

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Peekers at this blog may recall the unfortunate late summer incident of the two bulldog puppies who managed to scale the iron fencing like a ladder (Bulldogeddon), fall over the top and -entombed within for a few hours- used their time to trample with glee the entire new vege garden lovingly nurtured and cultivated over the previous 9 blog posts, only to be threatened with opposable thumb retaliations.

Well, Homo Sapien Sapien and OutdoorHusbandofOddJobs HAS retaliated. BAM!IMG_20150506_090757 IMG_20150506_090844

I’m quite proud of this fence.  It is immovable 1mm either way and I only used clay to ‘cement’ it in place, not concrete.  It’s actually an old safety fence that was atop a pool enclosure concrete wall, that I bought off a chap nearby. It fits perfectly with only a little grinding off one end; almost no waste, so a very successful recycling for another purpose. The vertical bars do not allow the dogs any purchase; but allows the sunlight through, and dog company while I’m gardening, and is almost invisible, not an eye sore in the back yard.  I bought a secondhand gate off TradeMe, cut it down, and modified it to fit, and latched it to prevent bulldog vegan vege rights activists getting in.  IMG_20150506_090913They do try, walking round and round the circumference trying to ‘Colditz’ a way in (rather than out) but I think Opposable Thumbs Alpha Ape has defeated Canis Familiaris x2 on this one.  1-all.

Consequently I’ve put in some winter lettuces, which have thrived. It’s also a great area to toss the bulldog poop rather than walking all the way over to the compost, and naturally marinates into the soil.

Mission accomplished!

Meanwhile, somewhere near Cheshire…

"Stupid dogs, Pfffff. I can slink through that fence anytime and crap wherever I want. Might just sit there and grin at them to express my obvious superiority!"

“Stupid dogs, Pfffff. I can slink through that fence anytime I want and crap wherever I want. Might just sit there and grin at them to express my obvious dextrous superiority!”

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3. First Tank Battle [Flers-Courcelette, The Somme]. Part 3: Terrain and Maps

British troops at Flers-Courcelette. My grandfather could well be among these faces.

British troops at Flers-Courcelette. My grandfather could well be among these faces.

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Flers_Somme_1916As mentioned earlier, the Battle of the Somme was a series of battles over a long period of time, the anticipated slog foreseen by Kitchener.  When you do a tour of the Somme, you can take various battleground tours.

  • Loos: 25 September – 14 October 1915.
  • Flers-Courcelette (Martinpuich) 15–22 September 1916.

The 1915 Battle of Loos ( aka the “Third Battle of Artois“) about which there are many songs, poems and paintings, was a major Anglo-French offensive against the German lines using the ‘New Army’ poster boys (see Part 2).   The British used tunneling and mines in this battle, and the offensive opened with the deployment of chlorine gas for the first time. 140 tons was released at 6.30am prior to the push.  Unfortunately much of it blew back across British lines and it is likely this is when my grandfather in the KOSB was gassed, as I was always told after his death.  His battalion was decimated in the attack, but he survived, perhaps taken back to a medical station earlier in the battle having been blinded by the gas, much like Hitler was. This perhaps saved his life.

20,000 British soldiers lost their lives in this encounter, including Rudyard Kipling’s son and the Queen Mother’s brother among several other notables. Several VCs were awarded, including the famous story of the Highland Piper at Loos.

Martinpuich postcard while in German hands 1916, before it was heavily shelled by the British.

Martinpuich postcard while in German hands 1916, before it was heavily shelled by the British and taken.

The KOSB medal roll of honour shows that my grandfather Francis (Frank) served as a Loos survivor in the 7/8th KOSB, part of 15th Scottish, at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette during which tanks were surprised upon the Germans for the first time, causing many to spontaneously surrender in terror.

In the map below, the KOSB field HQ is at the bottom of the purple shaded area above the word “Trench.”  His unit was to advance across Objective 1, “Hook Trench,” across Objective 2 “Martin Trench” to the 3rd objective “Starfish” at the top of the purple wedge. Of interest is that New Zealand troops were to the right of Frank’s position, and I suspect this is where he met Kiwis for the first time, and is what prompted him to leave his wife and child at home in Scotland, and try and seek a life in New Zealand after WWI. I’m sure the Kiwis seemed exotic and their country a Land of Milk and Honey (literally). The KOSB had the innovative Mk I tanks to their left and right, so Frank was right in amongst it.  They were sandwiched between these hulking new shock weapons.  They must have been very excited and probably quite confident they were going to “give it to the Bosch.”

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Frank’s rare survival at Loos and involvement in Flers-C. is probably why he was promoted to 2nd Lt in the Battalion.  During Loos, obviously injured or incapacitated by chlorine gas, and thus probably saving his life while many of his colleagues and most of his officers were massacred, he was transferred to 6th KOSB. It was not always possible to return a man to his own unit after hospitalisation, however he wanted to return and was eventually posted to the re-organised 7/8th KOSB unit of survivors. He ended the war in the 7th Officers Cadet Battalion.

Next: more maps and Lt Geoffrey Malins’ photos, maps and film.

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2. First Tank Battle [Flers-Courcelette, The Somme]. Part 2: the Pointy Propaganda Poster Finger.

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As mentioned in part 1, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (Martinpuich) was unique for a number of reasons.

  • First tank battle.
  • First use of tunneling and mining as a weapon.
  • First use of chlorine gas by the British as a weapon.
  • First battle of the new Kitchener poster recruits (‘New Army’) .
  • Debut of New Zealand soldiers on the Somme.
  • My grandfather’s Scottish battalion was devastated in this encounter.
  • It was filmed and photographed beforehand (extremely rare in WWII).
  • Three VCs awarded in this battle, including a New Zealander.

Like the mud that is so indicative of the visual panorama that is “The Somme” the battle is often subsumed within the chaotic bloody muddy mess of The Battle on the Somme which was actually an entire campaign of several battles over a protracted period (and included Loos, Passchendaele, etc).  But September 1916 (Flers-Courcelette) can be distinguished (as above) as something unique and trend-setting, as WWII was to show in the use and evolution of tanks and the non-use of poisonous gas.

Unlike the lazy simplistic myths of incompetent, bumbling unfeeling butchers, the British and French generals were veterans themselves and were mostly intelligent, careful, calculating men. They made decisions in atrocious conditions, under extreme stress, assailed by the vagaries and unpredictability of modern war. There was little communication and a patchy ability to understand what was happening after an attack was launched, or to even understand the enemy’s positions, terrain and dispositions (something Herman Goering was actively working on above, after being injured as an infantryman, pioneering aerial reconnaissance). We have to remember they were essentially soldiers of Napoleonic warfare (as was the American Civil War) rapidly confronted with a benumbing technological warfare (machine guns, planes, balloons, bombs, and in this battle for the first time ever, TANKS). They adapted quickly after appalling casualties.

kitchner-wants-you-britonsIn contrast to the prevailing perception, Kitchener believed the war would be long and bloody. He had the foresight to form new units for inevitable later offenses to help win what he saw would be a slog. This was visionary, and he went about it using modern media and marketing.

A series of very modern posters was published, the now famous and iconic “Britons [Kitchener (picture)] Wants You!” A picture of Kitchener pointed manfully at passers-by (now widely copied). It first appeared as the front cover of the London Opinion magazine on 5 September 1914 two years before, resulting in the highest number of recruits ever (forming Kitchener’s ‘New Army’).  My grandfather in Ayr, Scotland was one of them and ended up in one of the three Kings Own Scottish Borderers battalions (the KOSB) recruited in India, Dublin  and the UK.  The cover was then printed as posters and postcards and went everywhere.  The Times reported, “Posters appealing to recruits are to be seen on every hoarding, in most windows, in omnibuses, tramcars and commercial vans. The great base of Nelson’s Pillar is covered with them.”

Modern marketing and media as a vehicle of war had arrived – propaganda – and Kitchener helped pioneer this.  Next time: Part 3, the terrain and maps.

Infantry from the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Regiment, New Zealand Division in the Switch Line near Flers, taken some time in September 1916, after the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

Infantry from the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Regiment, New Zealand Division in the Switch Line near Flers, taken some time in September 1916, after the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

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This Is Really Scary. The Aussie ISIS Dr.

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Dr Tareq Kamleh recently of Perth, now an ISIS medical doctor.

This is scary.  This well-educated, hedonistic Australian doctor, who drank and partied and played with the ladies, and enjoyed all the benefits of high education in Australia, and lived in Perth, Adelaide, Alice Springs and elsewhere in Oz, simply turned and became an ISIS surgeon after a camping weekend away with Islamic friends and family.

So, this man has enjoyed everything the West has to offer, lived amongst us, knows what our culture and life is like, and now what ISIS is like, and his response:  to serve Islam at the ISIS level.

This should concern us all; that ISIS is not a delusion based on ignorance and a lack of education, but a dedicated alternative to Western civilisation based on ideological choice and extremism that can attract even the most hedonistic male Aussie. otherwise a pin-up boy for that country.  Read more here.

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How to Take a Ridiculous Racist Down

BAM! Racist pre-occupations nailed to the mast of European common-sense. One of the reasons European culture is so globally dominant, is because it is nationally and culturally diverse, ie: Scots, Irish, English, Welsh (add the Americans in here), French, German, Danish, Spanish, Greek, Italian, etc etc etc.

Life is not really a marxist race-wrestling match between Black and White despite some LIberals (like this Tumblr/Tweeter troll below) wanting life to be that simplistic to suit a simple-minded political ideology. “If you’ve ever watched a Disney movie, you’ve probably noticed something about the main princesses. Think about Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora. What do they all have in common? They’re white. It would seem like Disney is trying to whitewash their children’s movies, but a tumblr user set the record straight…”

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