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  If bribes are insisted upon, funding would be withdrawn.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.

Did BushCo allow bin Laden to Succeed?

Recently, a question was asked:  “Do you really believe what you are saying or do you think FDR and Bush were begging and pleading for Japan and Bin Laden to attack us so we could enter a war? Seriously?”

On the question of Japan, undoubtedly FDR was courting an attack as justification for entering the War in Europa. Anyone who has read the history of the build up to World War II knows that FDR was looking for a way to get the American people on a war footing. Embargoes are a mother!

As for bin Laden. BushCo were strangely oblivious of bin Laden prior to 9-11. I do not put it past the Gov’t and especially one guided by the likes of Cheney and Rummy to allow an attack to occur so as to “lead” the nation to war.

Why did we NEED to go to Iraq? The answer is that we DID NOT. Yet, 9-11 and the GWOT were used as an excuse to take us into that war. They definitely “shaded the truth” to get the war that they wanted.

The Spanish American War was yet another contrived war as was the Mexican War and the Vietnam War. When one looks at the Korean War, it is a war into which we either secretly goaded North Korea or into which Truman simply blundered like a blind fool.

American spheres of influence were stated loudly to the World. South Korea lay JUUUUUUUSSSSSST outside of the line. Leading NK, China and the USSR to believe that we’d stand by and do nothing.

From the internet:

In June 1950, after Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared Korea to be outside of America’s sphere of influence, the North Koreans invaded South Korea and attempted to reunify the country under communist rule. President Truman immediately declared Korea a “global police action” and attempted to drive the North Koreans out of South Korea. In fact, the United States secret larger goal in the Korean war was to defeat North Korean communism and create a unified Korea under American domination and control. Korea was supposed to be the first major effort to rollback global communism. However, communist China, feeling threatened that aggressive American actions against North Korea would be followed by American attempts to undermine Chinese communism, entered the Korean war against the United States and its South Korean ally. The Korea war quickly proved to be a deadly stalemate between the United States and communist China. Only in 1953, after President Eisenhower secretly threatened to drop atomic bombs on China, did the Chinese agree to an end to the war, leaving North and South Korea divided just as they were at the beginning of the war.

The Korean war, as many American leader later said, seem to justify America’s global crusade against Soviet communism. It convinced many Americans of the truth of the United States governments warning that the Soviet were plotting to take over the world and impose communist domination over the free world. The Korean war would further justify American creation of the “nuclear umbrella” to shield the free world from Soviet expansion. As described by Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1949, the nuclear umbrella was the American threat to wage nuclear war against the Soviet Union if the communists threatened any country in the free world. An attack on any member of the free world, thus, would be treated as an attack against the United States, which would lead America to wage nuclear war against the aggressor.

Also, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman: mission and power in American foreign policy By Anne Rice Pierce PG 248 (Google Books)

As well as the following:


After World War II, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. divided Korea into spheres of influence—the Soviets backed Communist-ruled North Korea and the U.S. backed the South Korean dictatorship. Both Koreas had threatened to invade the other. When U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared that South Korea was no longer part of the U.S. defense perimeter in Asia, the North invaded the South.

Do I think that a US President and/or the US Political and Military Leadership are capable of allowing an attack or incident to happen so as to lead us into war? Definitely.  It’s been done several times.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO!

REMEMBER THE MAINE!

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR!

9-11! NEVER AGAIN!

THE LUSITAINE!

FORT SUMTER! (As Lincoln stated; “The North must not be seen as the aggressor.)

The Tonkin Gulf Incident

Leaving the Koreas outside of our “sphere of influence.”

What did Madame Ambassador say to Saddam Hussein when he asked how the US would view aggression against Kuwait?

Known faulty intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq in ’03.

The War of 1812 and lust for Canada.

Hawaii, the US Marines and Dole Fruit

Gautamala and United Fruit

Nicaragua/Panama ~ We needed a Canal passage.

Pinochet ~ Nixon and Henry Kissinger

Nixon, Cambodia and Laos

Murphy’s Law of Combat Operations

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1. Friendly fire – isn’t.
2. Recoilless rifles – aren’t.
3. Suppressive fires – won’t.
4. You are not Superman; Marines and fighter pilots take note.
5. A sucking chest wound is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
6. If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.
7. Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.
8. If at first you don’t succeed, call in an air strike.
9. If you are forward of your position, your artillery will fall short.
10. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
11. Never go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself.
12. Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
13. If your attack is going really well, it’s an ambush.
14. The enemy diversion you’re ignoring is their main attack.
15. The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions:
a. When they’re ready.
b. When you’re not.
16. No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.
17. There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
18. Five second fuses always burn three seconds.
19. There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.
20. A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.
21. The important things are always simple; the simple are always hard.
22. The easy way is always mined.
23. Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.
24. Don’t look conspicuous; it draws fire. For this reason, it is not at all uncommon for aircraft carriers to be known as bomb magnets.
25. Never draw fire; it irritates everyone around you.
26. If you are short of everything but the enemy, you are in the combat zone.
27. When you have secured the area, make sure the enemy knows it too.
28. Incoming fire has the right of way.
29. No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
30. No inspection ready unit has ever passed combat.
31. If the enemy is within range, so are you.
32. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
33. Things which must be shipped together as a set, aren’t.
34. Things that must work together, can’t be carried to the field that way.
35. Radios will fail as soon as you need fire support.
36. Radar tends to fail at night and in bad weather, and especially during both).
37. Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing.
38. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in, and you won’t be able to get out.
39. Tracers work both ways.
40. If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will get more than your fair share of objectives to take.
41. When both sides are convinced they’re about to lose, they’re both right.
42. Professional soldiers are predictable; the world is full of dangerous amateurs.
43. Military Intelligence is a contradiction.
44. Fortify your front; you’ll get your rear shot up.
45. Weather ain’t neutral.
46. If you can’t remember, the Claymore is pointed towards you.
47. Air defense motto: shoot ’em down; sort ’em out on the ground.
48. ‘Flies high, it dies; low and slow, it’ll go’.
49. The Cavalry doesn’t always come to the rescue.
50. Napalm is an area support weapon.
51. Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
52. B-52s are the ultimate close support weapon.
53. Sniper’s motto: reach out and touch someone.
54. Killing for peace is like screwing for virginity.
55. The one item you need is always in short supply.
56. Interchangeable parts aren’t.
57. It’s not the one with your name on it; it’s the one addressed “to whom it may concern” you’ve got to think about.
58. When in doubt, empty your magazine.
59. The side with the simplest uniforms wins.
60. Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps.
61. If the Platoon Sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.
62. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never stay awake when you can sleep.
63. The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a map and a compass.
64. Exceptions prove the rule, and destroy the battle plan.
65. Everything always works in your HQ, everything always fails in the Colonel’s HQ.
66. The enemy never watches until you make a mistake.
67. One enemy soldier is never enough, but two is entirely too many.
68. A clean (and dry) set of BDU’s is a magnet for mud and rain.
69. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.
70. Whenever you have plenty of ammo, you never miss. Whenever you are low on ammo, you can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
71. The more a weapon costs, the farther you will have to send it away to be repaired.
72. The complexity of a weapon is inversely proportional to the IQ of the weapon’s operator.
73. Field experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
74. No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill.
75. If enough data is collected, a board of inquiry can prove anything.
76. For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. (in boot camp)
77. Air strikes always overshoot the target, artillery always falls short.
78. When reviewing the radio frequencies that you just wrote down, the most important ones are always illegible.
79. Those who hesitate under fire usually do not end up KIA or WIA.
80. The tough part about being an officer is that the troops don’t know what they want, but they know for certain what they don’t want.
81. To steal information from a person is called plagiarism. To steal information from the enemy is called gathering intelligence.
82. The weapon that usually jams when you need it the most is the M60.
83. The perfect officer for the job will transfer in the day after that billet is filled by someone else.
84. When you have sufficient supplies & ammo, the enemy takes 2 weeks to attack. When you are low on supplies & ammo the enemy decides to attack that night.
85. The newest and least experienced soldier will usually win the Medal of Honor.
86. A Purple Heart just proves that were you smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive.
87. Murphy was a grunt.
88. Beer Math –> 2 beers times 37 men equals 49 cases.
89. Body count Math –> 3 guerrillas plus 1 probable plus 2 pigs equals 37 enemies killed in action.
90. The bursting radius of a hand grenade is always one foot greater than your jumping range.
91. All-weather close air support doesn’t work in bad weather.
92. The combat worth of a unit is inversely proportional to the smartness of its outfit and appearance.
93. The crucial round is a dud.
94. Every command which can be misunderstood, will be.
95. There is no such place as a convenient foxhole.
96. Don’t ever be the first, don’t ever be the last and don’t ever volunteer to do anything.
97. If your positions are firmly set and you are prepared to take the enemy assault on, he will bypass you.
98. If your ambush is properly set, the enemy won’t walk into it.
99. If your flank march is going well, the enemy expects you to outflank him.
100. Density of fire increases proportionally to the curiousness of the target.
101. Odd objects attract fire – never lurk behind one.
102. The more stupid the leader is, the more important missions he is ordered to carry out.
103. The self-importance of a superior is inversely proportional to his position in the hierarchy (as is his deviousness and mischievousness).
104. There is always a way, and it usually doesn’t work.
105. Success occurs when no one is looking, failure occurs when the General is watching.
106. The enemy never monitors your radio frequency until you broadcast on an unsecured channel.
107. Whenever you drop your equipment in a fire-fight, your ammo and grenades always fall the farthest away, and your canteen always lands at your feet.
108. As soon as you are served hot chow in the field, it rains.
109. Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.
110. The seriousness of a wound (in a fire-fight) is inversely proportional to the distance to any form of cover.
111. Walking point = sniper bait.
112. Your bivouac for the night is the spot where you got tired of marching that day.
113. If only one solution can be found for a field problem, then it is usually a stupid solution.
114. Radios function perfectly until you need fire support.
115. What gets you promoted from one rank gets you killed in the next rank.
116. Odd objects attract fire. You are odd.
117. Your mortar barrage will put exactly one round on the intended target. That round will be a dud.
118. Mine fields are not neutral.
119. The weight of your equipment is proportional to the time you have been carrying it.
120. Things that must be together to work can never be shipped together.
121. If you need an officer in a hurry take a nap.
122. The effective killing radius is greater than the average soldier can throw it.
123. Professionals are predictable, its the amateurs that are dangerous.
124. No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill.
125. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.
126. The quartermaster has only two sizes, too large and too small. (or “on order”)
127. The only time suppressive fire works is when it is used on abandoned positions.
128. When a front line soldier overhears two General Staff officers conferring,
he has fallen back too far.
129. Don’t ever be the first, don’t ever be the last, and don’t ever volunteer to do anything.
130. If at first you don’t succeed, then bomb disposal probably isn’t for you.
131. Any ship can be a minesweeper . . . . once.
132. Whenever you lose contact with the enemy, look behind you.
133. If you find yourself in front of your platoon they know something you don’t.
134. The seriousness of a wound (in a firefight) is inversely proportional to the distance to any form of cover.
135. The more stupid the leader is, the more important missions he is ordered to carry out.
136. When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not your friend.
137  When the enemy is closing, the artillery will always be to long
138  Smart bombs have bad days too.
139  Uncrating and assembly instructions are always inside the crate.
140  If you have a personality conflict with your superior:  he has the personality, you have the conflict.
141  If you enter the CO’s Presence with an idea, you will leave his Presence with the CO’s idea.
142. All or any of the Murphys Laws above combined.

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Coach Cal, Terrence Jones and Profanity ~ An Ideal Time for Some PERSPECTIVE

When I was 18, I was in the Army. I turned 18 about 1 month after basic training. Yes, my Drill Sergeants cursed at me. One of them called me a dumb em effer and kicked me damn near across the room. It was more like a pushing kick than a kick. But his foot hit my back and I went sprawling.

I was recently in Afghanistan.

I met a few 18 year old soldiers over there.

I’m not sure about this. But I don’t think IEDs or bullets or rockets or mortars or any other type of munitions have an age checker on them.

Lots of cursing going on in Afghanistan as well.

I know I cursed every time a rocket exploded near enough that I could feel the ground rock. Usually I was cursing because I had to get my lazy butt out of bed and head to a bunker. I heard a lot of cursing in those bunkers too.

Terrence Jones is 18 or 19. I don’t know. I’ve heard both. I think he’s 19. By that age, there are many who have been in combat and are about to head back to combat.

The average age of the Combat soldier in Vietnam was 19. Nu Nu Nu Nu Nineteen. lol

My older brother joined the Marines when he was 17.

I knew a lot of 18 year olds amongst my fellow recruits.

Some of these were heading to the Korean DMZ.

Some of these guys were heading for Fulda.

Some of them were heading to Panama and would be embroiled in an invasion soon.

Lots of 18 and 19 year old Marines in Beirut in 1982-3.

Terrence Jones had a couple of profane words beginning in “F” directed at him on National TV.

Why am I supposed to be concerned about that?

He could be just another talentless schmuck heading for his second tour in Iraq.

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.

An Introduction to World Geography: America and the World

My Fellow Americans!  Is this how you see the world, too?

A friend sent me this on facebook.  I almost died laughing.  Especially the depiction of Europe.  He’s a Brit, though.  He wanted to know where the Brit Isles were or wy they were omited.  His thought was that surely the Brits weren’t being mixed in with the Euros.  lol

His comment:

no, but the nation that gave you your great great (repeat as req,) families doesn’t make the map????? its wrong…
and why would an anti-american spell centre like a yank???? not sure, but I like the map!!!
As for me, I love the map.  Especially the summation of Europe.

Chaghcharan ~ Ghosts of The Ghorid Empire

chagh ap sign

There are two entries in Wikipedia for Chaghcharan.

Chaghcharān (Persian: چغچران) is a town and district in central Afghanistan, as well as the capital of Ghor Province. It was formerly known as Ahangaran. The main inhabitants of Chaghcharan are Tajiks. It is located on the southern side of the Hari River, at an altitude of 2,280 meters above sea level. Approximately 15,000 people live in the town, making it the largest in the province. Chaghcharan is linked by a 380-kilometre-long highway with Herat to the west and about the same distance with Kabul to the east. Due to severe weather, the road is often closed during winter and even in summer it can take three full days to drive from Chagcharan to Kabul.

There is an airstrip, located north and west of the Hari River, one mile east/northeast of Chaghcharan. It is approximately 1800 metres in length, unpaved and capable of supporting small to medium sized aircraft.

In 2004, an independent FM radio station راديو صداي صلح or ‘Voice of Peace Radio’ opened in the town, the first independent media in this part of Afghanistan.

In June 2005, ISAF established a Lithuanian led Provincial Reconstruction Team in which Croatian, Danish, US, UkranianIcelandic troops also serve.

and

Chaghcharan District is one of the most populated districts in Ghor Province (115,000 in 2005). It is a mountainous district. The winter is severe and the roads are inaccessible because of the snow. The district center Chaghcharan is also the capital of the province. It is situated at 34°31′21″N 65°15′06″E / 34.5225°N 65.2517°E / 34.5225; 65.2517 at 2268 m elevation. The drought seriously affected the agriculture — the main source of income. There are a hospital and secondary schools in the district center, but because of the bad roads and severe weather they are hardly accessible to the rural population. Most of the population is Aimaq Hazara.


The first states that the people are mostly Tajik.  The second correctly states that the people of Chagcharan are mostly Aimaq.  The Aimaq are a Shi’a people closely related to the Hazara of Afghanistans Hazarajat.

I have been trying to get to Chaghcharan for the past 18 months to train the ANP Province Logistics Cadre.  Always before some problem arose.  Some unseen event would halt our progress and keep us away.  Either personnel on the ground were busy or out of the net or the winter snows would forestall progress in our travel.  We’d get bumped from the flight.  The flight would be cancelled due to weather or the aircraft would break down on the flight line or be re-routed.  Something would happen to keep us from getting there.  All plans came to naught.

Finally, Shoaib and I made it up there. I didn’t trust it until we actually landed.  Kept waiting for a sudden snow storm or the aircraft to run out of fuel and need to re-direct to Bagram or Kabul or worse, yet, Qandahar.  Who knows.  It’s happened before.

Heading out on leave, I was flown from Herat to Kabul.  Somehow, we were re-routed to Qandahar for a fuel stop.  We landed.  I looked out the window and told my fellow passengers that we were in Qandahar.  They thought I was crazy.  I recognized the place though because I’d been there a couple of times with another company.  I just started laughing as the flight crew stepped back to apologize for the landing and explained that neither Kabul or Herat had fuel readily available so we had to land in Qandahar to fuel up.  That pit stop turned a 1 hour 45 minute flight into a 5 hour ordeal.  Making matters worse was that we had been on the flight line for 10 hours prior to that flight because 3 other flights had been canceled that day.  We were happy as hell, though, when we landed in Kabul.  Not a complaint one.  We were just happy to finally make it and be in position to make it out for our respective R&Rs.

Back to Chaghcharan…

We board a Canadian ISAF flight to Chaghcharan from Herat.  Shoaib and I are both afraid to get our hopes up.  We both want to get  up into the mountains and finally do some work in Chor Province.  Shoaib had lived and worked there previously.  He was a Terp for the Lithuanian contingent.  He’d spent two years up there.  I am fascinated by the history of the region and would really like to experience as much of Afghanistan as possible before I finally give up this region and head home or wherever I end up after the Stan.

The Canandians are funny.  A little female NCO comes and briefs us and clears the military passengers weapons.  She gives us the safety brief and tells us that it’s a short flight so we should keep our IBA and Helmets on for the whole of the flight.  Then.  She leads us to the aircraft.  We climb aboard.

We roll down the tarmac and go wheels up.  Almost safe.

I don’t think they turned the heat on during the flight.  No matter.  I was prepared and bundled up in my fleece, Palestinian scarf and combat gloves.  I was warm.  I strap myself in.  Put my helmet on and prepare to catch a nap.

Shoaib sits on the web seating and tries to work the seat belt.  I watch him as he stares at it befuddled and then show him how to work the clasp.  All the while chuckling.  I had assumed that he’d been on a C130 before.

Apparently, he hadn’t.

45 minutes later, we land.

I’m excited as hell.

FINALLY!

We made it.

18 months in the making.  We’re in Chaghcharan.  I’ve read about the place and never thought I’d ever actually make it there.

We climb down the stairs to exit the aircraft and walk onto the dirt runway.

There are three little buildings.  One of which is an outhouse.  The other two are locked up and look to have been out of commission for quite a few years.

We’re greeted by the PRT welcome wagon.  A mix of US and Coalition soldiers from Lithuania, Denmark and Croatia.  They load our bags into some Toyota pick  up trucks and we jump in for the short ride to the FOB.

FOB Whiskey.  PRT Whiskey.  Depending on who is talking to you.  It’s a smallish FOB in the middle of the Hari Rud river basin.  It looks like they diverted the river with a canal the runs around the base and into town.  Even so, when the river swells in the wiinter rain months, the FOB floods and the plywood walking planks, I’m told, float as you walk on them.

We should be returning at that time.  So we may get to experience the floating planks.

We meet our military sponsors.  They show us to our Five Star Hotel.  A not well insulated tent with very inadequate heating that is as dusty as the roads out in town.  No matter.  I’m happy to be there.

It’s a decent FOB.  Pretty good chow.  Same day laundry service.  Decent gym.  Surrounded by Hescos, Concertina wire and 12 ft tall fencing.  As safe as any place in Afghanistan.  Chaghcharan is a pretty sleepy town.  Not too much activity of any sort.  If the Taliban are there, they’re sleeping and waiting to go somewhere else to cause trouble.  FOB Whiskey hasn’t had problems of any sort for almost a year.

We settle in.  Grab a bunk and are given a tour of the FOB.  Not much to see and won’t go into it here.  The highlight is the MWR house with pool tables–Russian and regular.  It also houses a small internet cafe with intermittent internet access.  Every Thursday, the Coalition forces have a beer night.  3 beer limit.  The US forces can not imbibe.  General Order #1 prohibits the consumption of alcohol in Afghanistan.  That lovely throwback to our puritan roots that makes absolutely no sense to me.

I sit down with my military sponsor and we put together a plan.  He briefs me on the Ghor Province Commander and Logistics Cadre.  Giving me a rundown of shortcomings and items that he’d like me to include in my instruciton.  Fuel and Accountability.  We talk about the usual problems that he has noted during his tour in Chaghcharan.  We plan out the next two weeks.

By that time, it’s getting late.  I head off to bed.

I can’t talk too much about our routes and training.  So I’ll leave that part out of here for now.

The rest of the week is left to coordinating travel.

As we travel around to various sites, we drive through the town of Chaghcharan to and from the Province HQ.  We visit the Generals house.  Hit up a few check points to see if they are supplied correctly or manned at all.  All seems well.

I always carry my camera on these trips.  Along the way, I snap random photos.

We drove up to a check point and supply point in the hills surrounding Chaghcharan.  On the way to one of them, we stop at an old Russian Fort.  It looks old.  Like Great Game old.  Late 1800s or so.  I grab my camera and take pictures of the surrounding area.  It’s beautiful country.  Greenery.  Desert.  Mountains.  Roads heading off towards places like Sagar and Pasaband.  A road that one can follow straight to Kabul.  The same road that took the author of  The Places In Between from Herat to Kabul.  Beautiful.  It’s like being on top of the world up there.  You can see for miles in every direction.

After we finish with our mission of training the ANP Logistics Cadre, it’s time for us to head back.  We manifest for a Sunday flight.  That flight gets canceled.  I get a little worried.  Next flight out is Tuesday.  So that Sunday, we head back to the PHQ to mentor the Province Logistics Commander.

Tuesday.  We make the flight.  Early flight.  We rise at OH DARK Thirty.  Pack our bags and equipment on a Toyota truck and head out to the airfield.  We are getting a ride on the mail flight.  It’s a Blackwater flight.  Old Russian Bird.  We wait out on the airstrip for about 45 minutes and she lands.  We climb aboard.

What a difference in conditions.  It’s a heated civilian bird.  Seats like a 747.  But big and cushy.  HEAT!  EXCELLENT HEAT!  Best of all….WINDOWS!

I can take photos along the way on the flight back to Herat.  I must have taken a couple of hundred photos.  Some are below.  I’m pretty syked about this.  I know somewhere in our flight path is Jam and it’s 1000 year old Minaret.  I would love to visit this site.  Get down there and touch it, smell it.  Get a feel for it.  It was built by the rulers of the Ghorid Empire sometime during their reign in the area.  1088 or so.  It’s one of those places that was forgotten and re-discovered.  It’s a 60m tall Minaret with the Mary Sura from the Qu’ran written around the whole of the body of the Minaret.  It’s in surprisingly good shape for a monument from antiquity.

We had a smooth flight and an even smoother landing.  Once we land, Shoaib and I jump off the aircraft.  Offload our bags and drag them to the pick up point.  I send Shoaib home and wait for my ride.  First order of business when I land is to call my boss and let him know that I’m “home.”

Then I call Habibi.  It’s been a little over a week since I’ve talked to  my diminutive sweetheart and I can’t wait to talk to her.  I call her up and…get her answering service.  She’s at work and has her phone turned off.  I laugh.  I guess I’ll have to wait to talk to Unny.

I sit down, pull out my book and wait for my ride back to homebase.  Two hours later, I’m in my hooch relaxing.

Later that night, I finally get through to Unny and my heart smiles to finally hear her voice.  54 more days and I’ll be with her in Bangkok.  We’ll have our party at Bedsupper Club on Soi 11.  Then we head out for our 9 day tour of Vietnam.  Backpacker style.

Very excited about this trip.

Below are the pictures that I took along the way in Chaghcharan.   Lots of pics.  I took approximately fifteen hundred photos up there.  I’ve included a little over a hundred of the best for this blog.

I hope you enjoy them.

Peace

 

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.

The McSanctity of Life!

https://i0.wp.com/z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/1/V/iraq_mcdonalds.jpgI do not believe that life is sacred.  Merely being born does not make one worthy of life nor does it make one entitled to a good life or an easy life.  I believe that it is up to each individual to make their life sacred.

I’ve often asked the question and very rarely been answered, but, who defines what life is sacred.

Whose life is sacred Mother Theresa or Hitler?

Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great?

Xerxes or Ceaser?

Attila the Hun or Aetius, Master General of Rome?

Mahatma Gandhi or Kublai Khan?

Ted Bundy or Ted Kennedy?

Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson?

Mussolini or Charles De Gaulle?

Pol Pot or Ho Chi Minh?

Singh Man Rhee or JImmy Carter?

Teddy Roosevelt or FDR?

Chiang Kai-shek or Mao Tse Tung (Mao Zedong)?

Josef Stalin or Leon Trotski or Vladimir Lenin or the Romanov family they murdered?

Was the life of George Patton more sacred or less sacred than that of Erwin Rommel?

The lives Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson who were two of the most pious and religious American Generals were more or less sacred than the lives of Grant and Sherman. Sherman who supposedly said that the only good indian is a dead indian and was the author of modern day total war.

The Monk in Southeast Asia who studies Buddhism and teaches by his example yet does not believe in Christ as his savior. Sacred or no?

The Hindu Brahman? Sacred or no?

The Roman Empire and it’s millions of souls. Both the murderer of Christ and the main vehicle by which Christianity became THE primary religion of Europe. Had there been no Ceaser, there’d have been no Constantine.

And in the end, we live our beliefs. America says it believes in the sanctity of life even as we demand higher profit ratios and cheaper sneakers and nicer houses at cheaper prices. These things all come at a high human toll.

Yet, life is sacred?

It’s a good thought that is seldom put into action.

We invade Iraq because it has oil which is the grease of the capitalist machine. Then we stand idly by and watch as genocide occurs across the African continent.

http://robeusgeopoliticus.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/iwo_jima-mcdonalds.jpgLife is cheap.

There is nothing sacred about it. We love the sentiment. It makes us all feel better. Jesus and his words of Faith, Hope and Love. Christians who worship the man, yet, ignore his words.

Personally, I think Jesus would be ashamed of Christendom.

Life is as sacred as a Super-sized Big Mac Menu Meal.

The McSanctity of Life.

America has proved this time and again.  We preach human dignity and self determination even as we support dictators who are willing to do our bidding.  We preach self determination even as we have a distinguished one hundred plus year history of deposing democratically elected governments in the name of corporate profits.

Before one of you morons calls me unAmerican or a “blame America firster,” you might want to read a little history.  Start with Chile and Guatemala.  It’s a world tour.  Next stop, Vietnam and Iran.  Come on back home and read a bit about Honduras, Panama and Cuba.  If you know nothing about these chapters of American history, speak not to me.  You’re a blind and ignorant fool.

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end”

Another Painting from Vietnam

https://hereticdhammasangha.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/mailgoogfdlecom.jpg

This painting reminds me of the “olden days.”  Simpler times and uncomplicated people.  A time in which I would have loved to have lived.  Grow  your own veggies and fruits.  Hunt your families meat.  Make your own clothing.  Create from  scratch or barter for other of life’s necessities or luxuries.  Build your own hooch in the jungle or on the river.  Live your life in as simple a manner as possible.  I don’t know if it was ever really like that, but, it’s a nice fantasy.

We have made life much too complicated in modern times.  We have created Governments to free us and provide security, etc.  But!  Have we freed ourselves?  Are we truly secure?  Governments are created and forced on people no matter their preference to have or to not have them.  In modern times, the people have grown so dependent on governance that we have no semblance of true independence.  No idea of true free will.  I don’t know if this is good or bad.  What have we as choices in America?  Democrats with their independence diminishing entitlements programs and Republicans with their parasitic, blood  sucking big business.  I’m inclined to believe that both are enemies of the people.  Both enemies of freedom and free will.  We have allowed our independence for which the founding fathers paid a blood price to be whittled away until it is no more than a mere shadow of it’s former self.  We have sold our freedom so that we might shuffle up to the trough of Democratic entitlements or 9-5 slave waging for Big Business.   It seems to me at times that we are no more better off than the serfs of the Middle Ages.  Certainly, we are fatter and we live longer.  But, to what end?  To what end.

At any rate, this is my favorite painting of those that I purchased in Vietnam.  I bought this in Hanoi in  the old French Quarter not too far from the Hanoi Hilton.   Hanoi was amazing to me.  It was another world.  I roamed the streets for hours.  Hired both a moto-taxi and a Sampan to tool me around during my two day visit.    I took a tour of the infamous Hanoi Hilton with it’s pictures of John McCain and John Kerry.  It’s a horror show inside as it was a French Colonial and Vietnamese house of horror and torture.  The prison was built by the French Colonial Government and used to hold and interrogate political prisoners until the French withdrawal after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu.   The Ho Chi Minh government then took control of it and used it to hold American POWs as well as Vietnamese POWs, political dissidents and others who opposed the communist governement.  Only a small part of the oringial compound remains.  Still, it is an interesting tour.  One can wait in line for an hour or so and view the body of old Uncle Ho.  No cameras allowed, though.  Take a 15 minute ride on a sampan and view his house and Capital building.  Venture over to the War Museum with it’s grotesque displays of human tragedy and war propaganda.

Some of the damage that America wrought 30 years ago in Hanoi is still evident.  One can still see the bomb craters here and there around town and in the country side.  Even so, the Vietnam people have mostly moved on.  Leaving the war behind as best they could and a bit better than we did.  I’m sure there are many wounds that are yet to heal.  But the people whom I met welcomed me and were generous in their hospitality towards me–the visiting American.

Traveling on the Mekong, one sees women much like this lady washing their hair over the river.  Rinsing their hair with a bucket or a bowl.  Early in the morning.  Sometimes through a foggy haze…it’s quite beautiful.  A mesmerizing site.

Something wonderfully peaceful about such a scene to me.  I can’t quite explain it.

I got her framed at Deck the Walls in Oxmoor Mall in St Matthews Mall in Louisville, Kentucky.  My old Kentucky Home.    And she hangs in my parents house while I’m over here in Afghanistan.

Phantoms

I haven’t seen my Dad for a while. It’s an odd relationship that I have with my father. If we are together, we can lapse into conversation as if we’d just seen each other yesterday. If I’m not there with him, it’s as if I don’t exist. It’s a bit odd. But I’ve come to accept it. I have always felt like I know my father well. Even when I couldn’t quite figure out how I should react to him. If I see him when I’m home. I see him. If not. It’s just the way it is.It’s just his way. He lives in the present. He deals in the here and now. If you’re not in the moment with him, you don’t exist. It’s a coping mechanism, I believe. It was a long road to come to the realization that it wasn’t personal.

Early in my life, I reacted harshly to my memories of my father and his mistakes.

Resentment. Anger. Hate.

Ultimately, I turned away from those and decided to walk a different path.

Acceptance. Love. Fate.

He is what he is. I have no desire to change the man. And the effort would drive a man insane. An email every now and again would be nice, though. lol

One thing that I remember clearly about my father from childhood is that he had a fascination with the F4 Phantom. Pops was a Jarhead. A Devil Dawg. He served a tour in ‘Nam. Up near Da Nang on China Beach at the foot of Marble Mountain. I’m sure that an F4 or two probably covered his platoon out on patrol. The Huey UH1. The Patton Tank. Things I remember distinctly from childhood. Visiting Fort Knox and Patton Museum. I still smile when I pass the Patton Museum.

I was doing research for a post for my blog. A new post on Vietnam that I’ll put up at a later date. Vietnam always brings my father to mind. So I googled F4 Phantom and found the video below. The Phantoms are all but retired. They’ve been put to rest so to speak. The wars are over. I hope that the same can be said for my father. The name of the F4 is somewhat symbolic of my father. He is a bit of a phantom as well. He has been a shadow in the lives of his children. Existing on the peripheral of our vision. Rarely daring to venture closer. It’s fitting. It’s also a perfect video as the aircraft is taking off. (Lest someone think I’m angry, I’m not. I laughed when I typed that. lol)

In 2006, I visited Da Nang. I went there to go where my father had been during the war. I walked around Marble Mountain. Explored the fields around it. Explored it’s caves and sanctuaries. I sat and marvelled that I was fortunate enough to make such a journey. Fortunate enough to see Vietnam in peace. As it was meant to be. I sat and wondered what it was like for a young man to land on China Beach. Full combat load. Ready to fight. What is it like to move in to the country and attack ancient cities like Hue.

China Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand. Da Nang is a modern city of 3 Million. Da Nang. It’s a peaceful place now. The Marble Mountain is a tourist attraction. It juts into the sky on the outskirts of Da Nang. A few hundred meters from China Beach and the sea. The top of Marble Mountain was knocked off during the war. Even so, it’s a beautiful place to visit. Tranquil. Perfect for reflection on the miracles, fortune and wonder of my life. Yet, like Vietnam and the Veterans who served there, it is scarred.

I met a couple of Vietnam War vets while I was in Vietnam. One guy probably served with my Dad. He was with the 1st MARDIV in 68-69. Perhaps, he ran into my Pops and they had a beer together. A very possible happenstance.

I found beauty and peace on my trip to Vietnam. The Vietnamese people were extremely welcoming. Nice folks. Especially out in the rural areas. I hope my Dad has found as much beauty. As much peace.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

Kahlil Gibran

Paintings from Vietnam

 

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This is the ubiquitous Vietnamese Schoolgirl. Every city in Vietnam from Chau Doc to Saigon to Da Nang to Hanoi, they wear these Ao Dai and can be seen coming and going to University. There is something exotic about these girls in these long dresses. They cover them from neck to ankle and they are so waif like. It’s pure feminine. Hard to forget. And the little girls going to and from school are adorable as well.

Cham Buddha

 

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Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa

The above is Pali. The language of Siddhartha Shakyamuni the Buddha. It means:

Homage to the Exhalted One; Perfectly enlightened by Himself

Buddhists will chant this three times while bowing three times when they enter a Buddhist Temple. It’s not so much worshipping of the Buddha as it is paying homage to him for passing on the way. The Middle Path. The path to Nirvana. The escape from the cycle of suffering.

I had been looking for a painting of Buddha for a year.  Something that struck me as true.  I think that I’ve been too heavily influenced by my time in Cambodia.  This Buddha has a strong Khmer influence.  The ears.  The hair.  It even has a strong resemblence to Jayavarman VII who is known as the Buddhist King.  This painting is the origin of the tattoo on my left shoulder.

Cosmic Apsara

 

aapsara-dancer.jpg

This painting is the Cham interpretation of the Apsara. It has a cosmic feel about it. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was as if she were floating above in Mount Meru watching us as we mortals toiled away our days on this earth.

Buddha and the adoring Nun

buddha-and-the-nun.jpg

This painting is totally taboo in Buddhist culture. A female is not supposed to touch the Buddha nor should a female touch a Monk. Yet, the portrayal of the act in this painting speaks to me of a devotion and a love so deep as to make defiance of tradition and custom not only possible but eminently obligatory.

The first three paintings I purchased in Hoi An, Vietnam. Hoi An is one of the oldest port cities in all of Asia. Marco Polo and Genghis Khan both visited this city. European, Chinese, Japanese merchants all traded their wares at this port. Travelers from all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East stopped over on their way to the markets of the world.

I picked up the fourth painting in Saigon in the backpacker district around Pham Ngu Lao area. This area has many of these art shops. The artists here will paint anything for you. All you need do is give them a picture. They’re quite talented young people.