Geo-Politics: Change the Dynamic ~ Offer Incentive

If I were President…

1.  We get less than 20% of our oil from the Middle East.  I’d halt this immediately.

2.  That oil shortfall would be sourced from our own reserves and Canada.  I’d even throw a bone to Venezuela in exchange for their withdrawal from OPEC.

3.  I’d close all bases in the Middle East.

4.  I’d place a base in Israel and Egypt.  Keep the base in Turkey.

5.  I’d tell Egypt and Turkey that they have choice.  Either they’re with the West or their with the Muslim world.  If they decide that they’re with the Muslim World, then we withdraw all support and all bases from those countries.

6.  I’d tell Europe and Asia that America is no longer responsible and will no longer take action in the Middle East except in the case of defense of our allies.

7.  The Allies in the Middle East would be designated as Israel because they are a Democracy as well as Egypt, Turkey and Jordan.

8.  Our alliance with Egypt, Turkey and Jordan would be predicated upon Democratic reforms and their renunciation of a foreign policy based upon Islamic Internationalism.  These countries can keep their Islamic Nationalism, if they chose to do so.  That choice would mean our pulling all resources and support from their nations.

9.  Support of Jordan and Egypt would also be predicated upon an agreement to assimilation all Palestinian refugees.  All refugee camps would have to be closed down.  Those refugees would have to be given full rights in the countries in which they are located.  The US would assist with funding for housing and job training for these refugees at 50% of the cost.  This Aid Package would be closely guided by a contractual auditor to ensure that the monies were being used to build infrastructure and not lining the pockets of corrupt officials.  If bribes are insisted upon, funding would be withdrawn.

10.  Continued support of Israel would be predicated upon a real peace plan with the Palestinians.

a.  Israel would either permanently partition the West Bank and Gaza as sovereign nations and pull out completely leaving the Palestinians to their own fate.

or

b.  Israel would annex the Palestinian areas and alter their constitution making Israel an officially and legally secular nation.  Part of that constitutional reconstruction would be safeguards for all religions, creeds, ethnicities from persecution, etc.

There would be a ten year time frame to effect these changes with specific milestones in place.  If these milestones are not met, we would pull all support for any or all of these nations.

We would offer the new Palestine Nation, if created, a package of aid in return for a turning away from Islamism.  The US would provide financial and expert support in building a nation from the ground up.  A referendum from the Palestinian people would be required to receive this Aid Package.  In essence, the Palestinian people would be required to request it via said referendum and the leaders of Hamas, Fatah as well as members of any other quasi-governmental group recognized by the people.  If the people did not vote for our assistance, the offer would be withdrawn.  This Aid Package would also be closely guided by a contractual auditor to ensure that the monies were being used to build infrastructure and not lining the pockets of corrupt officials.  If bribes are insisted upon, funding would be withdrawn.
The onus would then be on these nations.  If they decided to go along with us, they would have our support.  If not, we would withdraw from them and leave them to their collective  fates.

I would have these treaties ratified by the US Congress and the United Nations.

There would be no military solutions offered.  Either they come on line with us or we no longer have a reason to be associated with them.  End of discussion.

As for the Gulf and their oil, that would be the responsibility of whomever wishes to continue to purchase oil from those nations.  China, France, Germany…whomever it may be.

We would continue to patrol the ocean lanes for support of international trade.  The Straits of Hormuz — no longer our problem.  Saudi Arabia — keep with your Wahhabism/Salafism on your own shores or risk offending more nations.

Egypt seems to be progressing towards Democracy.  This surprised me as I thought that the Muslim Brotherhood would take them in the direction of Islamic Sharia.  This is a positive development.  Jordan would need to step away from Monarchy and join the rest of the world in Democratic reforms.

Over the short term, these initiatives would seem expensive.  Over the long term, these initiatives would save America and the Globe much in terms of blood and treasure.

This would be my solution.

In effect, we would be saying; “Join the World and we will support you.  Remain in the Dark Ages and we will abandon you.”

I want out of the business of supporting corrupt and/or stubborn regimes.  Whether that regime be Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Western Europe.

The next thing that I would do would be to withdraw all forces from Europe.  The only way we would keep US troops stationed in Europe would be if at least 50% of the costs were funded by the country that wished for us to be there.  All real estate used by the forces stationed in those countries would need to be loaned permanently at a cost free basis for the duration of the deployment to that country.  A Status of Forces Agreement would have to be met whereby our Servicemembers would be subject to US Law and the UCMJ only while in country.  All services for our Servicemembers would be provided without interference by the United States.  All Servicemembers would be on a Tax Free Status in that country.  That nation would also have to be a member in good standing of the Democratic Nations of the World.

If they are not willing to do this.  No problem.  We will simply not have a need to act in defense of their Nation.

I would also pull out of South Korea.  On the way out, I’d tell China that if North Korea attacks, we would bomb the North into the dark ages.  That would be my final and only dealing with North Korea.  If the people of the North are too brainwashed, too stupid or too weak to fight for change, this is not the problem of the United States of America.  Let China feed North Korea or South Korea if that be their desire.

I would pull all of our forces out of Japan.  Japan doesn’t need us there and many of the people don’t want us there.  Next, I would enter a treaty with the Philippines wherein we purchase land from them to station our Pacific Forces.   I would base a Marine Expeditionary Unit and an Army Mechanized Infantry/Stryker Division there along with a Carrier Fleet being on Station at all times.

China would be warned that Japan is still our ally.  Taiwan would be told to work out their differences with China.  If China became bellicose and threatened invasion, we would act in defense of Taiwan.  Unless the threat is based on Taiwanese provocation.  In that case, Taiwan is on their own.

I would also make an alliance of mutual support with India.  Our Armed Forces would conduct joint operations/exercises with India.  If possible, I would allow for a treaty whereby US Forces would be permanently stationed in Southern India.  This would hinge upon Indian acquiescence on the Kashmir debate.

I would withdraw all forces and support from Pakistan and Afghanistan.  If Pakistan wanted our support, they would have to oust the Saudi Wahhabis and the Deobandi.  Pakistan would also be required to sweep the FATA and NWFP of taliban influences.  They would also be required to withdraw from the Kashmir debate.  This would be the price of assistance from the US.  No debate.  No equivocation.  If they want our support, they give up their dispute with India over Kashmir and halt support of all terrorism directed towards India.

India and Kashmir would be required to allow a full vote by the Kashmiri people.  1.  Independence  2.  Annexation by Pakistan  3.  Retention by India

International Election Officials would oversee the vote.  Any monkey business by either side and no deal.  Kashmir should be able to decide it’s fate.  Their fate should not be decided by Muslim terrorists or Indian Soldiers.

We would withdraw all support from Pakistan if this is not followed through to completion.   With regards to India, we go to a neutral stance.  India has no need of our support.  They’re a viable nation in their own right.

Aside from moving away from the Defense of Europe, I would do nothing in Europe.  They’re sovereign nations that can navigate their way through the world in their own rite.  We should not be providing defense for them unless they are willing to subsidize it.

On patrolling the commercial sea lanes, I would require that other nations either subsidize fleet operations or provide support in the form of personnel and equipment.  Either that or we protect only US shipping.

It’s time for the free ride to end.  The Nations of the World (especially Europe) have enjoyed peace at the expense of the American tax payer for far too long.  They decry our every move.  It’s time for them to step up.  The World doesn’t want Team America — World Police or so they say.  Let them have their desire.

These actions would save American Tax dollars.  They would remove us from the Middle East conflicts.  They would place the onus on other nations to conduct their own defense and improve the lot of their own citizenry.

After these offers, blame for the sorry affairs of the world could no longer be placed at the feet of America.  The primary sources of conflict would have been given a viable alternative.  If they chose the path to peace, it would be with our leadership.  If they chose the path to war, it would be at their own behest.  The blame would lie with themselves.

Another thing that I think would be a positive is for an exchange program wherein a Battalion of another Nations forces would be given the opportunity to come to Fort Irwin, Texas to train with US Forces.  I’d rotate the Nation on a regular basis.  6 Month rotations.  This would be a tremendous opportunity for our Armed Forces and theirs.  I’d offer this opportunity to India, Romania, South Korea, Hungary, Egypt, Russia, Thailand, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and other Nations with whom we would engage in treaties of mutual defense or with whom we wish to improve relations.

The last item on my agenda would be reforming the UN.  That, though, is a whole other post.

That would keep us from any more of this:

Along with legislation mandating a Declaration of War in order to commit forces to a Ground Invasion of another country.  I have no problem with bombing a perpetrating country into the stone ages.  If there are viable targets.  I would also work to repeal the prohibition against assassination of World Leaders.  We could have saved a lot of money and lives by simply putting a .99$ bullet through the forehead of Saddam Hussein.  We could save a bit more by spreading about 200 USD worth of lead throughout the Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian power structures.

Ain’t Afraid to Die

I ain’t afraid to die.  Don’t wanna live forever

9to 5 don’t appeal to me.  Don’t want life in a suburban trap

Out in the wildlands life just feels more vital.

Afghanistan

Cambodia

Bangkok and Saigon

Eternity ain’t no desk and damn sure ain’t no corporate bonus

I don’t want to live forever, though, ain’t in no rush to die

Don’t want a walker.  No wheelchair or hospital bed for me at 80.

I’d rather go out in a blast.  I’ll take the bang at the end of the day.

America, the land of drones.  Slaving away for a corporate buck.

That life ain’t no way to live.  Security, the tool of enslavement.

Homeland insecurity is the key.

I don’t wanna live forever nor do I want to be a slave.

I’d rather live and die.

 

Khmer Apsara 2010

I purchased this painting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  I’m a huge fan of the Apsara theme and the mythology behind them.

Also picked up the Angkor themed painting below.

Monetary Notes of the World


Unny and I had this table custom made for our new digs out in the ‘burbs.  Cost a bit, but, not too much.  It’s made from teak wood.  I wanted something in which to display the monetary notes which I’ve collected from my travels.  I only wish that I had some of the notes that are in my storage room back in the States.

There are notes in there from China, Dubai, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, India, Iran, Bahrain, Egypt, Vietnam, North Korea and a few other countries.  As well as notes from old French Indochine.  The note with the tiger is from Vietnam during the US war era.  I actually got that one from ebay.com because I thought it was cool.

There are also coins in there from all over (Japan, Malaysia, EU, England, etc).  Some old ones but mostly newer coins.  I placed my three French Indochine Silver Dollars. They’re probably counterfeit, but, I don’t care.  That actually makes them a little more interesting to me and I paid a pittance for them.  3 or 4 bucks.  Nothing to cry over.  I knew or thought that they were fakes when I purchased them.

I also placed of couple of Greco-Bactrian coins in there.  Supposedly, they’re silver and over a thousand years old.  I don’t know.  So many fakes being sold in Afghanistan these days.  Even so, those coins are supposedly a dime a dozen over there.  Chances are they’re real.  They’re not rare, though.  At least not for anyone who’s traveled in Central Asia.  They’re all over the place there.  It is said that one can find them walking out in open ground or on fields and such.  They’re that common place.  Neat little pieces of history.

The necklace is a Kuchi piece that I purchased at a bazaar in Herat.  It’s made of brass and copper with a few worthless gems thrown in for good measure.  It has an old animist relief on it.  Looks to be an old Ganesh likeness to me. I also placed my Bamian Buddha stamps in the lower right corner and four little jewelry/snuff boxes.  The two with Camels depicted on them are from Dubai and made from silver and glazed to make the camel likenesses.  The other two I purchased in Herat.  Those two are supposed to be silver as well.  Though, I doubt it.

There you have it.  My little collection of monies (and sundry items) from around the world.

Money!

I’m not a numismatists or serious collector of coins and notes.  Not by any means.  Even so, I usually grab a few notes and/or coins when I’m traveling.  The part that is cool for me is to find old money that is still in circulation.  The old Mao notes in China.  Older notes in Thailand that have an earlier version of King Bhumipol.  The notes in Cambodia that highlighted the various peoples and ethnic minorities or have varying versions of Angkor Wat and other sites. The notes used in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, the Civil War and the Taliban eras.

These notes convey a sense of history to me.  They’re part of the fabric of the history of these lands. That fascinates me. I’ve monies of varying sorts from nearly every country that I’ve visited plus a few other notes that were gifts from the homelands of folks whom I’ve met out on the road.

These are a collection of items from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.  The Lao and Khmer notes, I picked up in Luang Prabang, Vieng Vang and Vientiene (Laos).  The Thai notes were given to me by Unny’s parents.  She was telling them that I had a crazy fascination with money so that brought me some from her Grandfather’s house.  Some of the notes are pretty old with the oldest dating to the 1920s.

The coins are all Thai with the exception of the old French Indochine Piastres.  They are probably fakes, but, they were too cool to pass up.  I tested them as I have been instructed.  The ring test and the obverse/reverse line test.  They actually passed those test.  Even so, they were much to cheap and felt too light to be solid silver coins of that size.  Perhaps, I’ll have them checked one day.  I don’t care if they are real or not.  They look cool and that’s all I’m interested in at this point.

Random Photos

I bought this Statue of Jayavarman VII in Cambodia in December of 2008.  Carried it to Afghanistan and it’s been in my room here in Herat since.  I’m going to leave it in Afghanistan.  Just wanted to leave a piece of Cambodia behind in this country.  The Taliban and the Khmer Rouge similarly wrecked their respective countries and set them back decades in progress and education.  To me, it’s a similar tale.  I’ve pretty much decided to give this statue to MG Akrummuddeen.  Hoping he will keep it in his office.  That would be pretty cool.

These candies were an Eid gift form Wahid.  I’m going to send them home to my Momma.  The tins depict the Minarets of Herat.  I think that ‘s awesome.  These remind me of the candy tins that my Grandmother used to have at her house when I was a kid.

Olympus E30

Dave's CamBag

My new camera.

Making plans to take a 9 day tour of Vietnam with Unny in December.

We’ll start at Phnom Penh in Cambodia.  Take the fast boat down to Chau Doc.  The first day in Vietnam we’ll do the Mekong Delta tour.  I’ve done it once but this will be Unny’s first time there.

Then it’s off to Saigon.  While in Saigon, we’ll take the Cu Chi Tunnel tour and tour the City.  Plan on hitting up the backpacer area and maybe we’ll buy a painting or two.  Definitely have to entertain ourselves at Apocalypse Now Bar.  Stop by Mogambo and see Mama Lani.

Next stop will be Da Nang.  At Da Nang we’ll spend a day at Hoi An.  There is an art shop there that I’d like to visit.  Theysell original art.  A bit pricey.  I think I’ll splurge this time and buy one or two of the guys works.

From there, we’ll find a way down to Hue City.  I want to see the Citadel there as well as the old Royal Cemetery.  We’ll take a cruise down the Perfume River.

Final stop will be Hanoi.  A tour of the city there will include the Hanoi Hilton, the Ho Chi Minh Mauseleum, the old French Quarter, the lake in the center of the city (the name of which escapes me right now) and the National War Museum among other places.  This time, I’m going to get over to Halong Bay as well.  I missed it last time because I was too lazy to get up and go.

I’ll use the new camera to take plenty of pictures and Unny and I will have a ton of new and amazing memories to reminisce upon in our “Golden Years.”  lol

Should be a great trip and I bought this groovy new camera just in time.  Now I just have to learn how to use it to it’s fullest capability.

A few pics from a recent trip

awgreenWat Arun and Angkor Wat in dramatic repose…

plus the silhouette of my beautiful girl.

I shot the Angkor Wat photos at dawn and then took the one above and photoshopped it a bit to obtain the pink, green and blue effects.  Just thought it looked cool.

The Wat Arun photos were taken at dusk.  I spent a night at the wonderful Arun Residence.  Just across the Chao Phraya from Wat Arun and only a short walk from Wat Pho and the Grand Palace.

These are just a few shots of some of my favorite places in Asia.  Hope you enjoy.  If you like ’em, leave a note.

in the middle of Afghanistan–BIG BLUE

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So I’m standing outside the Regional Police HQ in Herat.  Waiting to head back to base.  We’re smoking and joking with the Afghan Police who are heading out to lunch.  When up walks this guy:

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And to my surprise…DUDE HAS A KENTUCKY WILDCATS hat on his head.  One of those old tobagons (presently called a beanie)  from the 70s or 80s.

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Couldn’t help myself.  I started laughing and told the guy that he had to stop and take a photo with me.  I tried to get my terp to get the words in the pic.  If you look closely, you can make it out.  “Kentucky Wildcats”

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We posed for the pic and I thanked him.  And laughed all the way home about the incident.

The hat must have been a donation from some Kentucky fan and found it’s way to the Humanitarian Aid program heading to Afghanistan.

Crazy…

Holiday in Cambodia –Dead Kennedys

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So you been to school
For a year or two
And you know you’ve seen it all
In daddy’s car
Thinkin’ you’ll go far
Back east your type don’t crawl

Play ethnicky jazz
To parade your snazz
On your five grand stereo
Braggin’ that you know
How the niggers feel cold
And the slums got so much soul

It’s time to taste what you most fear
Right Guard will not help you here
Brace yourself, my dear…
Brace yourself, my dear…

It’s a holiday in Cambodia
It’s tough, kid, but it’s life
It’s a holiday in Cambodia
Don’t forget to pack a wife

You’re a star-belly sneech
You suck like a leach
You want everyone to act like you
Kiss a*s while you b*tch
So you can get rich
But your boss gets richer off you

Well you’ll work harder
With a GUN in your back
For a bowl of rice a day
Slave for soldiers
Till you starve
Then your head is skewered on a stake

Now you can go where people are one
Now you can go where they get things done
What you need, my son…
What you need, my son…

Is a holiday in Cambodia
Where people dress in black
A holiday in Cambodia
Where you’ll kiss a*s or crack

Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot,
Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot…

And it’s a holiday in Cambodia
Where you’ll do what you’re told
A holiday in Cambodia
Where the slums got so much soul

Pol Pot!

Holiday in Cambodia” was the second single by the Dead Kennedys. The record was released in May 1980 on Alternative Tentacles with “Police Truck” as the b-side. The title track was re-recorded for the band’s first album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980), and the version that appeared on this single, as well as the single’s b-side, are available on the rarities album Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (1987). The cover picture of the single is taken from the 6 October 1976 Massacre in Thailand, and depicts a member of the rightist crowd beating the corpse of a student protester with a metal chair.

The song attacks both Eastern totalitarianism, Western complacency and the direct relation between the two through American military intervention. The song’s lyrics offer a satirical view of young, self-righteous Americans (So you been to school/For a year or two/And you know you’ve seen it all/In daddy’s car/Thinkin’ you’ll go far…) and contrast such a lifestyle with a brutal depiction of the Pol Pot regime of Cambodia (Well you’ll work harder/With a gun in your back/For a bowl of rice a day/Slave for soldiers/Till you starve/Then your head is skewered on a stake).

The version of this song that appears on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is slightly different from the single version, being fifty-five seconds longer and featuring an extended guitar noise intro as well as an extended psychedelic solo.

In October 1998, Biafra was sued by former members of the Dead Kennedys. According to Biafra, the suit was a result of his refusal to allow “Holiday in Cambodia” to be used in a commercial for Levi’s Dockers; Biafra opposes Levi’s due to what he believes are their unfair business practices and sweatshop labor. However, the other members claimed that their royalties had been defrauded. “The record industry has been skimming royalties owed artists since the beginning,” according to Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray. “This case is no different from blues musicians being taken advantage of in the twenties and thirties. Many people doubted the claims we made against our former record label back in 1998 but with this announcement there is no denying we were the victims here.” Record Label Drops Legal Action

The song was covered by straight edge hardcore/metal band Earth Crisis on their 2001 covers album The Last of the Sane. It was previously covered by the California-based thrash metal band Lääz Rockit, appearing on their 1989 album Annihilation Principle. Also, the band Boy Sets Fire has covered it on their 1998 album, In Chrysalis.

R&B parodist Blowfly is set to release his own version of “Holiday in Cambodia”, renamed “R. Kelly In Cambodia”, for his forthcoming album Blowfly’s Punk Party. It has also been parodied by spoof lounge artist Richard Cheese, who croons Biafra’s angry, cutting lyrics in a Frank Sinatra-like voice. An instrumental version of “Holiday in Cambodia” also appears on Bay Area-pianist DJ Liebowitz’s Beware the Piano. The disc Tercer asalto by the Spanish group Def Con Dos features Veraneo en Puerto Hurraco including the line ¿Vacaciones en Camboya? ¡y una polla! (“Holidays in Cambodia? Fuck off!”).

This song is a classic.

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Angkor and Siem Reap: The American Guide

I had been planning and putting off going to Laos since 2005.  I’d even booked a flight boarded a plane and been diverted by a cyclone.  Wound up going to Chiang Mai instead on that trip. This trip.  I hadn’t intended to go into Laos.  My intent was to stay in Cambodia a bit longer and travel upriver to Battambang and see a bit of the countryside away from the usual tourist chatter. This time, though, I decided that it was time.  I’d waited long enough for Laos and Avin decided to go with me.  But first, Angkor…

Amy, Rey and me at Bayon Temple

On my last holiday (July 2008), I had come to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh and two of my friends from the capital city had come up with me so that I could give them a tour of the Angkor temples.  A bit of a twist there.  An American giving Cambodians a tour of their own cultural treasures.  I’ve been there 6 or 7 times by now.  So I guess I know them as well as anyone.  I’ve almost seen all of the temples around Siem Reap. On these next few trips, I plan on branching out a little further and seeing some of the sites near the Thai border.  But that’s for the future.  Amy, Rey and I toured the temples.  I took them to all of the major sites.  Angkor Wat.  Bayon.  Ta Prohm.  Bakoung.  The Elephant Terrace.  The Leper King.  By that time, the unrelenting Cambodian sun had taken it’s toll.  We returned to our hotel to rest during the heat of mid-day. During the summer months of Cambodia, you have to get out of the heat at mid-day.  That sun will cook you.  I’ve stayed out in it.  But I’ve not many Cambodians who will endure it for long by choice.  I like being out at this time because there are fewer tourists out at this time.  I can be alone in the temples.  Get great pics.  Take my time.  Afterward, we went to the Temple Club.  We watched the Apsara Dance Show and had a few drinks.

The funny part of this night came after we left the Temple Club and it’s Apsara.  We walked up Pub Street to a rooftop bar at the end of the street.  Before we went up, I noticed neon lights a little further down the street.  I asked the girls if they wanted to check it out.  They agreed to come along.  When we got inside, it turned out that the bar was a Khmer version of a strip club.  No  nudity.  But dancers on a stage in skimpy outfits.  These girls were acrobatic.  I don’t think any American girls could compete with the way these girls dance.  I sat down and ordered a drink for myself.  Amy and Rey ordered a beer.  I looked around a bit uncomfortable.  Not for myself, though.  I was fine in there.  More than fine.

I need not have worried.  Amy and Rey loved the place.  They danced to the music.  They talked about the girls.  Asking me which was sexiest and prettiest.  Compared the dancing.  They applauded at the end of each dance.  We sat there and carried on and had fun.  A little later, we invited our favorite over for a drink.  I was thinking the girl would have a beer or a whiskey and coke.  She ordered a Soy Milk.  I almost fell over laughing.

It was an interesting trip.

The girls left the next day and I met Avin…

That’s another story.

Cambodia and Thailand: Will it be War?

Is this the Thai government attempt to divert the countries attention away from the PAD protests and madness?  What is going on in the Land of Smiles?  It seems to be going insane.  Between the PAD, the Muslims in the South and the Cambodian border, Thailand has become the land of division, protest and madness.

War threat If you have your ideas about this news, share it with others, here!

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered fresh troops to the border with an ultimatum to Thailand: Pull military forces back today or the border will become a “life and death battle zone”.

Hun Sen told reporters in Phnom Penh that he had warned Thailand’s visiting Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat that without a quick pullout, Thai soldiers could face being fired upon by Cambodian troops in “large-scale armed conflict”.

“If they cannot withdraw tonight, they must withdraw tomorrow,” said Hun Sen.

“We have tried to be patient, but I told the Thai foreign minister today that the area is a life-and-death battle zone.”

His comments came after talks with Mr Sompong in Phnom Penh.

Mr Sompong also met with his counterpart Hor Namhong in a bid to resolve the dispute over the area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

The Cambodian foreign minister said yesterday’s talks failed to end in agreement because his Thai opposite number “could not sign anything”.

Hun Sen and Hor Namhong both told reporters that Cambodia could choose to take the border dispute before an international court if it was not resolved soon.

The comments made by the Cambodian prime minister and foreign minister surprised Mr Sompong and Thai officials, who were adamant that the meetings had not been a failure.

Mr Sompong said the tone during the meetings between the two countries had been different as the Cambodian leaders agreed that both sides had to be patient in resolving the border spat.

He said no Thai troop withdrawals would be made from the 4.6 sq km overlapping area between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and Preah Vihear province of Cambodia until the dispute over ownership is cleared through negotiations in the Joint Boundary Commission that was set up to demarcate the land border.

Thailand reiterated its ownership over the area, Mr Sompong said in Bangkok and rushed to report the talks to Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

Suranaree Task Force commander Maj-Gen Kanok Netrakavaesana will hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart tomorrow on the border issues and the Thai and Cambodian defence ministers will meet next Tuesday , according to Mr Sompong.

Cambodian Deputy Defence Minister Gen Neang Phat said more Cambodian troops were heading to the area after up to 500 Thai soldiers had tried to cross the border near an ancient Hindu temple that is claimed by both countries.

“We are building up our troops at the border in response to Thailand, but I cannot reveal the number,” he told reporters.

Maj-Gen Srey Deok, who oversees the Cambodian military in the disputed area, said: “Thai troops have already entered the area. They are confronting our troops.”

But Maj-Gen Kanok denied that more troops had been sent to the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand and Cambodia have 10 soldiers each at the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple and 45 around the compound on joint patrol, according to the agreement between the two countries to ease border tension.

The two countries also have back-up troops near the border.

The number of soldiers there remained unchanged, Maj-Gen Kanok said.

Maj-Gen Kanok slammed Cambodia for distorting information and taking advantage of the political crisis in Thailand to launch an offensive move for its own political benefit.

The Suranaree chief, his patience wearing thin, called for a quick solution to the border spat and a clear direction to be provided by the government as it could become an armed conflict if it was left unsettled.

“I want the government to solve this problem and make it clear what to do. If it is left this way, nobody knows what is going to happen,” he said.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia first flared in July after the Preah Vihear temple was awarded World Heritage status by the World Heritage Committee.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, but the surrounding land remains in dispute.

Tensions escalated into a military confrontation in which up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops faced off for six weeks.

The two countries have swapped accusations of violating each other’s territory in the dispute.

(with Agency reports)

Prassat Preah Vihear

Prassat Preah Vihear

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This is the disputed angkorean temple called Preah Vihear on the Cambodian-Thai border.  There have been a few small clashes between Thai and Khmer forces over the land in this area.  A few Cambodians have been killed by Thai soldiers.

Next trip to Cambodia/Thailand, I am going to see this place if I can.  Look at the Temple and the area.  Magnificent.  Beautiful.

And, a bit dangerous:

In the guidebook, Adventure Cambodia, published at the end of 2000, the trek to Preah Vihear from Choam Khsan town is described as follows:-

Along the way to the mountain temple, you will notice pieces of vehicles hanging from up in the trees here and there from unfortunate souls that hit a landmine. It’s an eerie reminder in this peaceful and uninhabited forest area of the deadly devices that are still lurking about this area in big numbers. The soldiers at the base camp are a friendly lot that will allow you to park your bike at their camp while you hike up to the temple and you can figure that the bike will still be there when you return. It’s not required but it’s a real nice gesture to give these underpaid guys a few thousand riel to watch your bike – good insurance and you will make some friends. It’s a good idea to have your moto guy or a soldier lead the way on the winding upward climb to the temple. The mountain is riddled with landmines and while, if you follow the golden rule for Cambodia – always stay on worn pathways and roadways – you will be okay, there are intersecting pathways, where it’s difficult to figure out which way to go. I did the hike alone but there was some question on which path to follow at a couple of spots.

A favorite photo

I met this little gal outside of Angkor Wat in July.  She was selling bottles of water and cans of beer and coke.  I stood and talked to her and was snapping photos of everything around me.  Later.  When I got to my hotel room and downloaded the photos.  I saw this one.  She is so beautiful.  Her face is full of wonder and life.  She is Cambodia.

The Killing Fields of Cambodia

“Chea, how come good doesn’t win over evil?” young Chanrithy Him asks her sister, after the brutal Khmer Rouge have seized power in Cambodia, but before hunger makes them too weak for philosophy. Chea answers only with a proverb: When good and evil are thrown together into the river of life, first the klok or squash (representing good) will sink, and the armbaeg or broken glass (representing evil) will float. But the broken glass, Chea assures her, never floats for long: “When good appears to lose, it is an opportunity for one to be patient, and become like God.”

from the book When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him

Cambodia. Pol Pot– Brother Number 1. The Khmer Rouge. Infamous for the “killing fields.” Brought to the notice of the West by the movie which shares the name. Cambodia is synonymous with these fields, with death, with genocide on a massive scale. The Khmer Rouge were the authors of this tragedy. Turning children into murderers. Turning the “base people” against the “new people.” Turning children against their parents. But Cambodia is more than this tragedy.

Cambodia is much more than that stretch of time dominated by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Cambodia is the beauty of the Apsara. The nobility of Jayavarman VII. The majesty and antiquity of Angkor. The power of the Mekong, Tonle and Bassac rivers. The smiles of it’s carefree peoples. Jungles and forests and elephants and monkeys. Even so, a visit to Cambodia can never be complete without the reminder of the desolation and carnage that communism wrought upon the soul of the peoples of Cambodia.

The evils of Tuol Sleng. The Killing Fields. Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot. Democratic Kampuchea. The dark history that is enshrined at Cheung Ekh along with it’s victims.

Cheung Ekh is a foreboding place. It is a stroll into madness and the heart of evil. I could feel the past there . The sadness that bled into the ground with the blood of it’s victims. The blood that swells just beneath the sod. The evil that consumed the people of Cambodia under the guiding hand of Pol Pot. It’s victims caught in an eternal and silent plea for justice. A justice that will never be realized. Those skulls stare at you.  Forever questioning how such a peaceful people could be turned into the tool of genocide by a mad prophet of death and destruction.

Cambodia’s notorious Brother Number One. The leader of the evil red revolution and murderer of millions. He died before he could be brought to justice.

Walking through the killing fields of Cambodia is horrifying. Yet, it’s fascinating. As I strolled through Cheung Ehk, I read the signs posts and literature. Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt a hand wrap around my heart. My stomach knotted up. My pulse raced. Walking through those fields, one’s soul joins the millions of victims in silent protest. One can feel their screams, the pain, the anger, the outrage. Surely, justice must come. It will not.

There is no justice. It is estimated that anywhere from 1.2 to 2.2 Million Cambodians died at the hands of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Cities, villages and families were decimated. So many lives ended. Stolen. Human history unwritten, obliterated.

The motto of the Khmer Rouge as regards the “New People”: “To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss.”

The base people were the people of the villages. The new people were city dwellers. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge evacuated all of the cities of Democratic Kampuchea. And as the Jungle reclaimed the land, the Khmer Rouge destroyed a people. Their first victims were the literate. The educated. Being in possession of glasses was enough to prove guilt. As with all of the “great proletariat” revolutions, the Khmer Rouge soon ran out of victims outside of the party and fell upon itself with equal zeal. Killing for the sake of killing. Murder became the great tool by which Pol Pot could purge the people of the evil of capitalism and turn back time. Erase history. Start from a new, pristine point without the corruptions of the West.

He would save the people by destroying them. A novel idea shared by many in the lands of Islam today. The leaders of Islam share this vision. They would set the world on fire to save us from what? Hell. Create a hell on earth to save us from hell in the afterlife. There is nothing new in this. It is the same act of the murderous tyrant and his minions throughout history.

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