Posts Tagged ‘WORLD HISTORY’

 

Over the past several years the primary focus of the American population has centered on the Mid-East and especially ISIS and the revolution in Syria.  Issues in Iraq filled up the remainder of the space in the newspapers.  Of course we have had a presidential election to end all elections and that has filled up much of the space in the papers and on the airwaves.  With all the attention on the Mid-East and domestic politics Korea has flown under the radar.  In fact Korea poses a much larger problem from both a military perspective and a leadership perspective than what is general understood.

From a military aspect North Korea is a formable foe and while many feel that the North was defeated in the Korean war there was no surrender.  Instead there was a cease fire and the line between the North and the South was established on the 38th parallel.  This cease fire has remained in effect for almost 65 years.  Today the North Korean army numbers 700,000 with an additional 4.5 million Koreans in the reserve.  The active duty troops in North Korea outnumber the South Korean troops by 2 to 1.  Logistically the North Koreans have 70 submarines, 4,200 tanks, 458 fighter jets and 572 fixed-wing aircraft.

Until recently there was a deterrent to North Korea moving south and attacking the democratic governed country loyal to America and the West, South Korea.  That deterrent was nuclear arms controlled by the United States located within South Korea.  North Korea has now tested five nuclear bombs and the last test was a bomb small enough to be transported on a missile.  This changes the entire  power structure in the region.  With North Korea developing a missile that could reach the United States we now have a nut  in North Korea could severely damage property and kill American citizens.

The worst case scenario in world terrorism has roads through North Korea.  ISIS and other terrorist organizations would love to have a nuclear weapon that they could get into Europe or the United States and then detonate the bomb.  Soon North Korea will have the ability to provide such a weapon.  Providing a nuclear bomb to ISIS would be a win/win for North Korea.  ISIS would gladly pay dearly for the weapon and then ISIS would do North Korea’s dirty work when it detonates the nuclear bomb.

In addition to one of the largest and best prepared militaries in the world, North Korea has a mad man that controls this force.  Kim Jong-un inherited his position when his father died.  Very little is known about the leader of North Korea; however, it is understood that he did receive two college degrees.  It is also thought that he spent some time in Switzerland in school but under an assumed name.

When he first came to power I had erroneously thought that we may have an opportunity to obtain an easing of tension on the Korean Peninsula.  This Pillsbury Dough Boy looking child-like leader quickly proved me wrong.  He is ruthless with little or no conscience and no regard for human life.  Soon after taking power he had his uncle executed; fearing his uncles attempt to seize power.  He  later had the minister executed by firing squad.  The firing squad consisted of anti-aircraft guns.

America does have a card up its’ sleeve.  All earlier American administrations used diplomacy to deal with North Korea.  While it had an effect on keeping North and South Korea from an all-out war, the North Korean government continued to build a massive military while snubbing its’ nose at world-wide sanctions.  America even had a military ship illegally seized in the late 60s and America had to pay a ransom for the release of the men.  Today we have a new player in the White House and this is certain to have North Korea guessing.  Following a massive cruise missile attack on Syria and then a week later having the largest non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal dropped in Afghanistan has certainly had Korean diplomats scratching its’ head.  North Korea does not know what to expect from the new administration and that is exactly the response that we want.  This new uncertainty is what we need to keep North Korea off base and questioning what will happen next.  In the meantime, an American aircraft carrier is steaming off the coast of North Korea and several Japanese destroyers have joined the task force in a training exercise.

North Korea is no longer the flying under the radar.

 

The news agencies have had a banner year for material to analyze, report on and sensationalize.  Over the year Donald Trump’s successful attempt to be the Republican candidate was detailed on every news show and talk radio program.  Following the official nomination, the turmoil over the nomination combined with the actual run for the White House filled all parts of the world’s media.  As this was transpiring, ISIS was at the forefront of international news as we watched terrorist attacks around the globe.  Even America was not immune.  Then against all odds Trump became our president and parts of the country revolted and again the news media was in overload to cover this part of our country’s news.  Throw in a wall along the Mexican border and America has not had a loss for items to discuss.

As we have been enthralled with all the dynamics of 2016 we have not had the time to witness what is going on in East Asia.  While America slept North Korea was working.

North Korea is a very closed society that is hammered by world sanctions.  Even its’ staunchest ally, China is concerned with the flagrant development of the nuclear bomb and now the development in its deployment vehicle.  It is well believed that North Korea has developed the “bomb” and much of this testing has been side notes to news coverage as other more reality show type political issues have filled our air ways.  We seem to be more involved in the first lady copying prior first ladies clothing than in North Korea’s nuclear development.  While our attention has been on high end department stores dropping a president’s daughters line of merchandise due to political pressure, North Korea is testing  an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.  It is a major accomplishment for this rogue regime to develop a nuclear weapon.  It is just as important to have the ability to deploy this weapon and North Korea is close, despite world condemnation of this development.

Adversity causes sane men to do irrational things.  Adversity causes insane men to do horrendous things.  Stories coming from the closed country disclose that there is internal friction against the current leader, a leader more despicable than his father; and the father was bad.  Soon after he took control of the country he had his uncle executed; fearing a power challenge.  He had his defense minister executed by firing squad and the execution weapon was an anti-aircraft gun. These terrible acts were in the early days of the dictator’s role as the leader of North Korea and the country has become worse as time has gone by.  Internal resistance to the North Korean regime shows the concern within the country but at the same time could become a catalyst for even more extreme behavior by the country’s dictator.

What are the ultimate dangers of increased resistance within a country that is ruled by an iron fist.  Stories will leak out of the country of purges within the military and among high ranking government officials as paranoia becomes more prevalent.  Missile testing will continue until a successful nuclear deployment system has been developed.  Then the world is in peril.  South Korea is the first thought of countries in the sights of North Korea aggression.  There has never been an official peace treaty between the two countries and today there is only a cease fire in affect from a war that ended over sixty years ago.   Japan will also be an easy target once the ballistic missile carrying a nuclear weapon is developed.  Hawaii would be an easy target and eventually the missile development would lead to rockets capable of reaching America’s West coast.  Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles would be prime targets of North Korea.

So what do we do?  This is the prime question for a president that is being tested early in his first 100 days in office.  One thing is certain, the response to this increased threat will have new twists of how to deal with global concerns and it will be quick.  It will be quite interesting seeing how this evolves.


 

Americans are so fortunate.  It is true that many Americans are not as well off as others and it is true that life can be somewhat harsh for some as compared to the average American.  It is also true that living in America is great as compared to the majority of the rest of the world.  True, we have children going hungry at night and in certain areas a person could die after being struck by a stray bullet; but so many other parts of the world are much more deprived than what we have in America today.

The average American does not realize how fortunate he or she is.  Unfortunately, many feel they are guaranteed to a soft and comfortable life if they are citizens of our country.  Many feel this is a constitutional right when in fact the constitution only grants its’ citizens “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  Everyone has a right to pursue their dreams.  It is up to the individual to make the best of it.

Last week I visited   a man that was 94 years young.  When I left I felt so fortunate to live in a country with so many advantages and built from the sweat and blood from men and women like the man I visited with, Raymond Johnson.  I learned about the fiber of the ones who carved out our country during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.  I learned what it was like to live in rural North Louisiana, to move with the sawmills as they moved, to go to school in numerous locations in rural America and most importantly to build a very successful business.  This is one of those success stories that proves the American dream is achievable.

What I was most inspired about was that this story represented the core fiber of America that built our great nation.  That unique individual that did not complain about living conditions because it was the only living conditions that was ever known.  That person that was working while obtaining an education in rustic country schools and who felt fortunate to be able to get an education.  The person that worked endless hours without complaint to realize a dream because that is the way it was supposed to be.

I thought back to something I said several years ago; every community has a history and every person in that community has a history.  Unfortunately when a person dies the history dies with them.

I promised Raymond that I would return to visit again and asked permission to bring a tape recorder with me.  He was quite responsive so next week I hope to capture a little of the essence of growing up in timber camps around North Louisiana.  Then I remembered a note I received from the LSU library following my donation of my grandfather’s political papers.  The note disclosed that the enclosed papers were copies of interviews of my grandfather written by T. Harry Williams, a professor at LSU.  Williams was writing his book, “Huey Long”, and he later won the Pulitzer Prize for his publication.  It was noted that he was a pioneer in writing by using oral history was he captured the life of the Kingfisher, Huey Long.

I started thinking about how we could capture the history of our community and preserve his for future generations.  Perhaps a new project is on the horizon.

 

While growing up we may be introduced to different countries and cultures through formal education and media sources such as television.  This introduction provides a general understanding into the geography and people of another land.  As good as the education is and as good as a media report is about another country and its’ people it is not until a person has experienced face to face interaction with another people that the country and its’ inhabitants are fully understood.

At a young age I was fortunate enough to visit the Pacific island country of the Philippines; courtesy of the United States Navy.  It was a beautiful country and the people were very resourceful.  Everyone that could work did work.  While many lived in what we refer to as poverty, the residence did not realize this and went living life to the fullest.

A few years later I was in Saudi Arabia and a large amount of the labor force was from the Philippines.  These laborers made up a large percentage of the crafts that went into designing oil and gas facilities across the mid-east.  The Pilipino laborer was favored above other nationalities.  They were arcticians when it came to drafting, piping layout, welding and other construction crafts.  In addition to construction activities, the mid-east hospitals were filled with Pilipino nurses and medical technicians.  One of my British supervisors told me that if he could take the Pilipino welders from our project, move them to America and set up a company, he would become a millionaire.

Ties between the United States and the Philippines run deep.  Admiral Dewey defeated the Spanish Fleet during the Spanish American War in the battle of Manilla Bay, the bay located at the Philippine capital. America then provided a military force to protect the country while at the same time establishing a military presence in the Pacific at a key geographical location.  When Japan invaded and brutally controlled the Philippines during World War II it was America that liberated the country.

For decades the country was very appreciative of the sacrifices made by America to remove the foreign forces from its’ borders.  Military bases were allowed to be built and manned in the country.  Favorable trade agreements were made between America and the Philippines.  Philippe citizens were allowed to be a part of the U.S. Military and thus had a short cut to American citizenship.

So what has gone so horribly wrong with the relationship between America and the Philippines.  Another foreign policy blunder by the United States.  The Philippine President used an expletive toward the American president that was recorded recently and got wide coverage around  the world.  Now military agreements are being made between China and the Philippines; unheard of ten years ago.  Following the fall of Egypt and eventual control by the Islamic Brotherhood, America still honored deals that led to providing sophisticated arms to Egypt.  When the Philippines wanted sophisticated weapons we did not provide them.  The Philippines looked to China and China was more than happy to provide the weapons.  The Philippines also rescinded various military agreements with America but has since back tracked on that action.

Unfortunately, this is another example of failed American foreign policy.  We are not getting any better at this and our failed policy is pushing America farther to the back of the line when it comes to world admiration and power.

 

How is the best way to reinforce our belief in America?  How is the best way to show that America is truly a part of a unique experiment called democracy?  How is the best way to declare that you are a part of our political infrastructure?  The answer is simple; go out and vote.  Regardless if you are rich or poor.  Regardless if you are black, white, yellow, brown, red or some shade between.  Regardless if you are Republican, Democrat, Green Party. Libertarian or any other party in between.  The one thing to remember is that regardless of how unique you are, you are equal with everyone else when it comes to voting.  Our founding fathers guaranteed this; one man, one vote.

If a person wants to make a statement, voting is the way to do it.  Many say that their vote doesn’t count.  Nothing is further from the truth.  There are actually recorded instances that a person was elected by a difference in the popular election by just one vote.  Instead of boycotting an election, go out and plea your cause and then go vote.  I have personally witnessed how many people would have loved to have been able to cast their votes and thus help to determine the future of their country.  Recall the first votes cast in Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein.  It was euphoria as men and then unprecedented women cast votes for who would rule their country.  Unfortunately, without America’s commitment to transition the government, this free vote was tarnished by leadership that fell back to tribal nepotism.  Afghanistan witnessed the same excitement.  Unfortunately, many voters had their fingers cut off by the Taliban for voting.  The Taliban was so concerned of the freedom provided by the ability to vote that it had to make a statement to stop it.

We take a lot for granted in our great nation and the ability to vote is one of them.  So many men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice that insured that freedom would be guaranteed for our nation.  Six hundred and eighty thousand men and women have been killed in combat and we still have the ability to cast our vote.

Very soon we will elect the next President of the United States.  There is not a better reaffirmation of our support for our great nation than to vote.  There is also no excuse for not doing so.  We can pre-vote as well as cast a ballot on election day.  Surely we can take thirty minutes out of our lives to select the ruler of the greatest country on earth.  Then we are sending a message to the rest of the world that we take our liberties and freedoms seriously.

 

Several months ago I wrote that this election was going to be unique so sit back and enjoy the ride.  It has truly been a unique trip through the world of American politics.  Then last week even the most exceptional aspects of the race paled in comparison to what was disclosed.  If you like reality television the drama of the presidential elections should keep you on the edge of your seat.  Likewise, those that have a love for soap operas can find the presidential elections to be just as entertaining as anything viewed during the day.

Just when we observed a vulgar ten-year-old tape surface that was certain to seal the fate of Donald Trump, WikiLinks posted a new tape that disclosed private speeches given to Wall Street executives that provided a look into the soul of Hillary Clinton.

I’m writing this prior to the second debate but I think that the future of the presidential elections will be lifted to a new crescendo that will make a squeamish electorate even more ill.  Trump is going to have to counter punch the leaking of the condescending tape.  Here comes the Clinton scandals of the 90s.  Names long forgotten such as Flowers and Lewinski will be resurrected.  The statement that enraged country and western fans when Hillary mocked Tammy Wynette’s  song “Stand By Your Man” and said she was not that kind of person just for the sake of it.  Later she remained staunchly by her man during the Clinton’s scandal.  This is not a revelation nor a condemnation of Clinton, it is a look at a tactic that looms in front of us.  At the same time the Clinton base will use the newly leaked tape as a springboard to show that Trump is not worthy to be a President of the United States and this is based on his vulgar speech and his way he approaches women.

So this week we will hear about statements made in confidence ten years ago by Donald Trump and marital indiscretions performed by President Clinton more than fifteen years ago.  For those that enjoy the tantalizing intrigue of sex, this will be a golden moment for the presidential race.  For those that want to view our country as a beacon for decency and places the office of the President of the United as a pinnacle of right, this is a sad situation that our country is in.

How does each party treat these situations to insure a victory in November that will eventually chart a course for the future of the country?  The Democrats need to back away from the leaked tapes and let the turmoil take care of itself.  Multi media will keep the tapes alive and the Democrats can then focus on what it plans to do when elected.  The official line is positive and the unofficial line will allow the scum to be used to defeat Trump.  The Republican Party on the other hand has to perform damage control for the leaked tape and at the same time unload on past indiscretions of President Clinton.  Trump is going to have to be active and do what he can do best, attack with vigor and without remorse.  He has to continue to claim he is not a Washington insider and to prove it look at the Washington insiders that refuse to support him and if the country wants change, elect Trump.  Again, sit back and enjoy the ride.  We have never seen anything like this before and hopefully will never see this again.

There is one action that can move the Republican Party into a position that it has a chance to win the elections.  It is unprecedented, it is unique and it will rock the world of politics.  Donald Trump drops out of the race as the Republican candidate.  Mike Pence, his Vice President candidate and clearly presidential and one who clearly won the V.P. debate, will be elevated to the presidential candidate.  Then promote a failed presidential candidate to the position of Vice President candidate.

A very unique election year.

 

Last week we looked at the decision that Harry Truman made to drop the atomic bomb.  I agreed that the decision to do was a no brainer.  By dropping the bomb and ending the war early the lives of half a million young men and countless civilians were saved.  Truman later confessed it was not a difficult decision and he would do it again if he had to.

A year earlier another key decision had to be made.  This was not as easy and it had to be gut wrenching.  One of those decisions that required weighing pros and cons of a multitude of subjects and then coming to a final decision.  The decision would not mean if men lost their lives.  Instead it meant how many would die and this was being weighed against winning the war in Europe.  The man with the ultimate decision resting on his shoulders was Dwight D. Eisenhower and the ultimate decision was to begin the invasion of Fortress Europe, better known as D-Day.

Seventy-two years ago this week American, British, Canadian, Free French, Free Polish and troops from other nations landed on the beaches of Normandy to free Europe from Nazi domination.  Proclaimed as “The Longest Day”, the decision to launch the attack took a large amount of courage from a man that took the lives of the young military men and women under his control very seriously.

The operation had been planned for over a year.  Deception was key to the success.  Eisenhower had built a fictitious army around General George Patton.  Inflatable tanks were placed in this fake army location and information leaked out that Patton would invade at Calais on the French coast.  Germany saw Patton as the top American General and knew he would lead the attack.  Nothing was further from the truth and the true invasion force formed far away from Patton.

The invasion was first scheduled for May 1st.  Eisenhower insisted that the number of men be expanded by 66 % and airborne units would be added to the initial invasion.  Since the beaches of Normandy had no good locations to unload supplies following the invasion, a huge portable harbor made of concrete called Mullberry’s were invented.  This invasion would be their first real test.  A special tank was built that could be used on the beaches and again this invasion would be the first test.

Planning was gigantic.  Over a million troops had to be housed, trained, fed and equipped for a massive assault.   Everything from toilet paper to rifles and ammunitions to caskets had to be obtained, warehoused, inventoried and made ready for quick deployment.  Insurance papers had to be prepared while the chaplains, the “sky pilots” prepared the young men for a potential final journey.  Everything had to be ready.  Nothing was left to fate and the future of the free world was held in the balance.

As good as the Allied experts were at preparing the men and women for the invasion there is still one part that man cannot control, Mother Nature.  Because of the landing site and the obstacles placed in the water the landing had to take place at a certain time of day when the moon is just right, the tides are at the highest point and the weather allows the crossing of the English Channel at just the right time.  There were only a couple of days each month when everything can come together and then the weather must cooperate.  If anything goes wrong, the landing would be catastrophic.  If the invasion is delayed it would be weeks  before the invasion could proceed.  This would pose the problem of Germany learning secrets of the invasion while the invasion troops would be losing its’ edge as they sat for a month waiting to invade.

The weather was not cooperating.  The invasion was set for June 5th but high seas would not allow for launching the landing craft without massive loss of life and equipment.  Clouds would not allow planes to see their targets or drop zones for the paratroopers.  Also the moon needed to be full so that landing craft could see obstacles and the landing had to take place over a couple of hours so as to be at the highest tide possible.  The landing was postponed.  Troops stood down and waited.  Then members of the British Royal Air Force told Eisenhower that June 6th may be good enough for the invasion.  If June 6th was not going to be D-Day, conditions would not be adequate for two more weeks.  Ships would have to be recalled and everything started over again.  Eisenhower weighed all the information and finally gave a thumbs up for June 6th.  The rest is history.   He had already drafted the notice that the landing was a failure and he had to pull the troops back from the beaches; fortunately, this never had to be used.