China – South China Sea …

Posted on October 7, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Uncategorized |

By Steven Lee Myers – NYT —– 

In April, on the 69th anniversary of the founding of China’s Navy, the country’s first domestically built aircraft carrier stirred from its berth in the port city of Dalian on the Bohai Sea, tethered to tugboats for a test of its seaworthiness.

“China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier just moved a bit, and the United States, Japan and India squirmed,” a military news website crowed, referring to the three nations China views as its main rivals.

Not long ago, such boasts would have been dismissed as the bravado of a second-string military. No longer.

A modernization program focused on naval and missile forces has shifted the balance of power in the Pacific in ways the United States and its allies are only beginning to digest.

While China lags in projecting firepower on a global scale, it can now challenge American military supremacy in the places that matter most to it: the waters around Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea.

That means a growing section of the Pacific Ocean — where the United States has operated unchallenged since the naval battles of World War II — is once again contested territory, with Chinese warships and aircraft regularly bumping up against those of the United States and its allies.

To prevail in these waters, according to officials and analysts who scrutinize Chinese military developments, China does not need a military that can defeat the United States outright but merely one that can make intervention in the region too costly for Washington to contemplate. Many analysts say Beijing has already achieved that goal.

To do so, it has developed “anti-access” capabilities that use radar, satellites and missiles to neutralize the decisive edge that America’s powerful aircraft carrier strike groups have enjoyed. It is also rapidly expanding its naval forces with the goal of deploying a “blue water” navy that would allow it to defend its growing interests beyond its coastal waters.

“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” the new commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Philip S. Davidson, acknowledged in written remarks submitted during his Senate confirmation process in March.

He described China as a “peer competitor” gaining on the United States not by matching its forces weapon by weapon but by building critical “asymmetrical capabilities,” including with anti-ship missiles and in submarine warfare. “There is no guarantee that the United States would win a future conflict with China,” he concluded.

Last year, the Chinese Navy became the world’s largest, with more warships and submarines than the United States, and it continues to build new ships at a stunning rate. Though the American fleet remains superior qualitatively, it is spread much thinner.

“The task of building a powerful navy has never been as urgent as it is today,” President Xi Jinping declared in April as he presided over a naval procession off the southern Chinese island of Hainan that opened exercises involving 48 ships and submarines. The Ministry of National Defense said they were the largest since the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949.

Even as the United States wages a trade war against China, Chinese warships and aircraft have picked up the pace of operations in the waters off Japan, Taiwan, and the islands, shoals and reefs it has claimed in the South China Sea over the objections of Vietnam and the Philippines.

When two American warships — the Higgins, a destroyer, and the Antietam, a cruiser — sailed within a few miles of disputed islands in the Paracels in May, Chinese vessels rushed to challenge what Beijing later denounced as “a provocative act.” China did the same to three Australian ships passing through the South China Sea in April.

Only three years ago, Mr. Xi stood beside President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden and promised not to militarize artificial islands it has built farther south in the Spratlys archipelago. Chinese officials have since acknowledged deploying missiles there, but argue that they are necessary because of American “incursions” in Chinese waters.

When Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Beijing in June, Mr. Xi bluntly warned him that China would not yield “even one inch” of territory it claims as its own.

China’s naval expansion began in 2000 but accelerated sharply after Mr. Xi took command in 2013. He has drastically shifted the military’s focus to naval as well as air and strategic rocket forces, while purging commanders accused of corruption and cutting the traditional land forces.

The People’s Liberation Army — the bedrock of Communist power since the revolution — has actually shrunk in order to free up resources for a more modern fighting force. Since 2015, the army has cut 300,000 enlisted soldiers and officers, paring the military to two million personnel over all, compared with 1.4 million in the United States.

While every branch of China’s armed forces lags behind the United States’ in firepower and experience, China has made significant gains in asymmetrical weaponry to blunt America’s advantages. One focus has been in what American military planners call A2/AD, for “anti-access/area denial,” or what the Chinese call “counter-intervention.”

A centerpiece of this strategy is an arsenal of high-speed ballistic missiles designed to strike moving ships. The latest versions, the DF-21D and, since 2016, the DF-26, are popularly known as “carrier killers,” since they can threaten the most powerful vessels in the American fleet long before they get close to China.

The DF-26, which made its debut in a military parade in Beijing in 2015 and was tested in the Bohai Sea last year, has a range that would allow it to menace ships and bases as far away as Guam, according to the latest Pentagon report on the Chinese military, released this month. These missiles are almost impossible to detect and intercept, and are directed at moving targets by an increasingly sophisticated Chinese network of radar and satellites.

China announced in April that the DF-26 had entered service. State television showed rocket launchers carrying 22 of them, though the number deployed now is unknown. A brigade equipped with them is reported to be based in Henan Province, in central China.

Such missiles pose a particular challenge to American commanders because neutralizing them might require an attack deep inside Chinese territory, which would be a major escalation.

The American Navy has never faced such a threat before, the Congressional Research Office warned in a report in May, adding that some analysts consider the missiles “game changing.”

The “carrier killers” have been supplemented by the deployment this year of missiles in the South China Sea. The weaponry includes the new YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missile, which puts most of the waters between the Philippines and Vietnam in range.

While all-out war between China and the United States seems unthinkable, the Chinese military is preparing for “a limited military conflict from the sea,” according to a 2013 paper in a journal called The Science of Military Strategy.

Lyle Morris, an analyst with the RAND Corporation, said that China’s deployment of missiles in the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands “will dramatically change how the U.S. military operates” across Asia and the Pacific.

The best American response, he added, would be “to find new and innovative methods” of deploying ships outside their range. Given the longer range of the ballistic missiles, however, that is not possible “in most contingencies” the American Navy would be likely to face in Asia.

The aircraft carrier that put to sea in April for its first trials is China’s second, but the first built domestically. It is the most prominent manifestation of a modernization project meant to propel the country into the upper tier of military powers. Only the United States, with 11 nuclear-powered carriers, operates more than one.

A third Chinese carrier is under construction in a port near Shanghai. Analysts believe China will eventually build five or six.

The Chinese military, traditionally focused on repelling a land invasion, increasingly aims to project power into the “blue waters” of the world to protect China’s expanding economic and diplomatic interests, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

The carriers attract the most attention but China’s naval expansion has been far broader. The Chinese Navy — officially the People’s Liberation Army Navy — has built more than 100 warships and submarines in the last decade alone, more than the entire naval fleets of all but a handful of nations.

Last year, China also introduced the first of a new class of a heavy cruisers — or “super destroyers” — that, according to the American Office of Naval Intelligence, “are comparable in many respects to most modern Western warships.” Two more were launched from dry dock in Dalian in July, the state media reported.

Last year, China counted 317 warships and submarines in active service, compared with 283 in the United States Navy, which has been essentially unrivaled in the open seas since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

A third Chinese carrier is under construction in a port near Shanghai. Analysts believe China will eventually build five or six.

The Chinese military, traditionally focused on repelling a land invasion, increasingly aims to project power into the “blue waters” of the world to protect China’s expanding economic and diplomatic interests, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

The carriers attract the most attention but China’s naval expansion has been far broader. The Chinese Navy — officially the People’s Liberation Army Navy — has built more than 100 warships and submarines in the last decade alone, more than the entire naval fleets of all but a handful of nations.

Last year, China also introduced the first of a new class of a heavy cruisers — or “super destroyers” — that, according to the American Office of Naval Intelligence, “are comparable in many respects to most modern Western warships.” Two more were launched from dry dock in Dalian in July, the state media reported.

Last year, China counted 317 warships and submarines in active service, compared with 283 in the United States Navy, which has been essentially unrivaled in the open seas since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Unlike the Soviet Union, which drained its coffers during the Cold War arms race, military spending in China is a manageable percentage of a growing economy. Beijing’s defense budget now ranks second only to the United States: $228 billion to $610 billion, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The roots of China’s focus on sea power and “area denial” can be traced to what many Chinese viewed as humiliation in 1995 and 1996. When Taiwan moved to hold its first democratic elections, China fired missiles near the island, prompting President Bill Clinton to dispatch two aircraft carriers to the region.

“We avoided the sea, took it as a moat and a joyful little pond to the Middle Kingdom,” a naval analyst, Chen Guoqiang, wrote recently in the official Navy newspaper. “So not only did we lose all the advantages of the sea but also our territories became the prey of the imperialist powers.”

China’s naval buildup since then has been remarkable. In 1995, China built only three new submarines to begin replacing an older fleet that totaled 83. It now has nearly 60 new submarines and plans to expand to nearly 80, according to a report by the United States Congressional Research Service.

As it has in its civilian economy, China has bought or absorbed technologies from the rest of the world, in some cases illicitly. Much of its military hardware is of Soviet origin or modeled on antiquated Soviet designs, but with each new wave of production, analysts say, China is deploying more advanced capabilities.

China’s first aircraft carrier was originally launched by the Soviet Union in 1988 and left to rust when the nation collapsed three years later. Newly independent Ukraine sold it for $20 million to a Chinese investor who claimed it would become a floating casino, though he was really acting on behalf of Beijing, which refurbished the vessel and named it the Liaoning.

The second aircraft carrier — as yet unnamed — is largely based on the Liaoning’s designs, but is reported to have enhanced technology. In February, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation disclosed that it has plans to build nuclear-powered carriers, which have far greater endurance than ones that require refueling stops.

China’s military has encountered some growing pains. It is hampered by corruption, which Mr. Xi has vowed to wipe out, and a lack of combat experience. As a fighting force, it remains untested by combat.

In January, it was embarrassed when one of its most advanced submarines was detected as it neared disputed islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. The attack submarine should never have been spotted.

The second aircraft carrier also appears to have experienced hiccups. Its first sea trials were announced in April and then inexplicably delayed. Not long after the trials went ahead in May, the general manager of China Shipbuilding was placed under investigation for “serious violation of laws and discipline,” the official Xinhua news agency reported, without elaborating.


China’s military advances have nonetheless emboldened the country’s leadership.

The state media declared the carrier Liaoning “combat ready” in the summer after it moved with six other warships through the Miyako Strait that splits Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and conducted its first flight operations in the Pacific.

The Liaoning’s battle group now routinely circles Taiwan. So do Chinese fighter jets and bombers.

China’s new J-20 stealth fighter conducted its first training mission at sea in May, while its strategic bomber, the H-6, landed for the first time on Woody Island in the Paracels. From the airfield there or from those in the Spratly Islands, the bombers could strike all of Southeast Asia.

The recent Pentagon report noted that H-6 flights in the Pacific were intended to demonstrate the ability to strike American bases in Japan and South Korea, and as far away as Guam.

“Competition is the American way of seeing it,” said Li Jie, an analyst with the Chinese Naval Research Institute in Beijing. “China is simply protecting its rights and its interests in the Pacific.”




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Russia on the ‘Spy’ Offensive …

Posted on October 4, 2018. Filed under: From Russia with Love, Uncategorized |

Spying and Counter Spying – their Man is Master in the Kremlin …


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WWI – Indian Contribution …

Posted on September 21, 2018. Filed under: Regimental, Uncategorized |

From Gen KM Bhimaya ...

 The Daily Telegraph, London, dated 8 September 2018, writes –
About how Lord Jitesh Gadhia (the youngest British Indian member of the House of Lords), an Ambassador for the Royal British Legion’s Thank You campaign commemorated the services of the Undivided Indian Army – 11 VCs, of which 2 were won by The Garhwal Rifles Regiment.
The Thank You Campaign was commrmorated together with the current visiting Indian cricket team and the current British cricket team.

The team members wore special, unique poppies made out of khadi, in a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who supported Indian participation and help to the British in their hour of need.

The Indian contribution to the British War Effort is mind- boggling –
1.3 million soldiers and over 10,000 nurses.
Out of which 74,000 lost their lives fighting from the Somme to the Sahara.
Contribution of over 20 billion British pounds – in today’s money,
170,000 animals and 37000 tons of Supplies.
Copy of this Daily Telegraph was sent to Gen Bhimaya by Mrs. Lucy Clarke, widow of Maj ARE Clarke of 2/18 RGR – and daugther-in-law of Brig AE Clarke of the 2/39th and 2/18 RGR.
Brig Clarke was the Center Commandant when The Garhwalis celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the Raising of the Regiment in 1937.
Incidentally while preparing for the Celebration of the Centenary of the Regiment’s Raising in 1987, the Author of this Blog chanced upon the Menu Card of the Golden Jubilee Dinner.
In addition to details of the Dinner, at the Bottom of the Card in Italics was the admonition, ‘No Speeches Please’
At the Centenary Dinner – ALAS!!!


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Great Soccer Players these Spaniards …

Posted on August 28, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Edited Version of Anjan Basu in The Wire –

For many the lumping together in a single memorial of the victims and the victimisers of the Spanish Civil War is outrageous.

Forty-three years after Francisco Franco’s death, Spain may have finally come to grips with a task that it has found so hard to complete – laying to rest the ghost of the dictator.

His tomb is housed inside the Basilica de la Santa Cruz which stands in the monumental memorial complex, not far from Madrid, dedicated to those who died in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

Appropriately called the ‘Valley of the Fallen’, the monument is spread over a staggering 3,360 acres, or 13.6 square kilometres, of Mediterranean woodland and granite boulders on the Sierra de Guadarrama hills, about 50 kilometres north-west of Madrid, with Mount Abantos standing guard over it.

As incredible as it may sound today, the Valley of the Fallen – Spain’s most significant memorial to the Civil War – was commissioned by the very man who had lit the fuse of that war.

After his bloody three-year campaign against the democratically-elected Republican government ended in Franco’s installation as Spain’s El Caudillo, the Leader, the general embarked on the grandiose project of erecting a monument that was to be “a national act of atonement and reconciliation”.

The dictator wanted the memorial to be built on a scale that would equal “the grandeur of the monuments of old, which defy time and memory”. It was indeed a gargantuan project, taking nearly 19 years (1940-1959) to execute and costing nearly 1200 million pesetas.

The centre piece is a gigantic 500-feet-tall cross – the tallest memorial cross in the world – that stands over a massive granite outcrop out of which was hewn an enormous basilica, the Basilica de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caidos, effectively the largest Christian temple in the world, larger than even the venerated St Peter’s in Rome.

The cross can be seen from over 30 kilometres away. One needs to ride a funicular to be able to reach the base of the cross itself.

In the valley, and scattered across its expanse, lie buried over 40,000 of the Civil War dead – both Nationalists and Republicans.

A Benedictine abbey that houses the priests who say mass for the repose of the dead also stands inside the memorial complex, on the far side of the hill that makes up the basilica.

And behind the main altar of the basilica, inside its central nave, lies Francisco Franco in one of the only two marked graves in the entire complex. The other grave, also lying inside the nave, belongs to Primo de Rivera, the notorious founder of the Falangist movement, who was executed for treason against the Republic in 1936 and whose remains Franco got interred here out of gratitude to his benefactor.

Franco happens to be the only person buried in the Valley of the Fallen who did not die in the war that he had ignited. His acolytes thought up the specious justification that the Catholic faith allows the sponsor of a church to be buried within that church’s precinct.

They were not bothered to explain why all the war’s fallen lay in unmarked graves, although the memorial has records relating to each of those buried there.

The most scandalous aspect of this surreal enterprise was that a very large number of Republican Army war prisoners – the government puts their number at no more than 2,700 while others estimate it to be around 20,000 – were made to work on the construction of this humongous project, though Spanish law prohibited forced labour.

Those who died in harness here did not, however, find their final resting place inside the complex. For many in Spain, the lumping together in a single memorial of the victims and the victimisers is completely unacceptable, if not downright outrageous.

The fact that the Civil War’s executioner-in-chief and his chief ideologue lay in state here while numerous patriotic, law-abiding Spaniards – whose only fault was their unwillingness to kowtow to an evil regime – lie inside cold, anonymous pits, makes the Valley of the Fallen a monstrous anachronism.

Most liberals, and all those whose hearts beat in sympathy with the ideals of the failed Republican enterprise – including many whose kith and kin lie buried here – have scrupulously kept their distance from this memorial.

Many abhor this monument while others have adored it over the years.

Every year till 2006, on November 20, the anniversary of Franco’s death, Spanish fascists, neo-Nazis and dyed-in-the-wool Roman Catholic conservatives congregated at the Valley in strength in celebration of their ‘dear departed leader’.

And, come rain or shine, Franco’s grave is known to have been adorned with freshly-cut flowers every day of the year.

Germany ruptured with its Nazi past violently, irrevocably in 1945. But in Spain, Franco was succeeded by King Juan Carlos, who had once memorably described the tyrant as “that exceptional man whom Spain has been immensely fortunate to have”.

The young king openly acknowledged that his own political legitimacy was based on the Civil War victory that cost “so much sad but necessary sacrifice and suffering”.

So Spain’s transition to democracy was necessarily a halting, wobbly process, and the fact that both the army and the church remained deeply entrenched in the country’s power structure, the change in the regime notwithstanding, handicapped the process of democratic transformation.

Western powers led by the US were also keen that the new Spain did not stray from the path of a conservative constitutional monarchy and that ‘radicals’ (meaning socialists) always remained a relatively weak political formation.

Indeed, all through the Cold War years, Francoist Spain had remained a valuable ally of the Western democracies.

However the repressive nature of the Franco regime could never be wished away. All dissidence was treated as criminal activity and ruthless suppression of political resisters, and even their summary executions, continued till 1975, the year Franco died.

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards lost their lives during the Civil War years and subsequently, during the Franco years. Nearly half a million fled the country to escape persecution.

These wounds remained open, and Spain’s unique – many believe deeply-flawed – approach to the democratisation of its polity and society was the Pacto del Olvido (the Pact of Forgetting), a social-political contract that resolved to put the country’s past firmly behind – effectively saying, “Let us all forget and forgive”.

This compact to collectively not look back to the country’s recent violent past was made into the Amnesty Law of 1977.  While, for the time, nearly every side agreed to go along with it, the law soon began to be questioned on grounds of legitimacy.

Clearly, the Amnesty was loaded in favour of the perpetrators, rather than the victims, of the State’s crimes, and the victims – or their friends and families – could scarcely reconcile to such a law.

Angry debates raged through the 1980s/1990s over how and when to junk the Olvido, clearly no longer in favour with many Spaniards.

The socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, elected in 2004, challenged the continuing validity of the Amnesty Law. While it failed to scrap the law, it passed fairly comprehensive modifications to the Amnesty provisions by bringing in the Ley de Memoria Historica (the Historical Memory Law) of October 31, 2007.

Among other things, the new law gave sanction to recognising the victims on both sides of the Civil War, accorded aid rights to victims (and their descendants) of the war as well as the subsequent dictatorship, and formally – for the first time – condemned the Franco regime for its many atrocities.

Equally importantly, it decreed the removal of all Francoist symbols, memorials and statues from public places, and banned all political events at the Valley of the Fallen.

From 2007, it was no longer possible for Franco’s admirers to pay homage to his memory at the Valley memorial. Franco, though, continued to lie inside Spain’s most important Civil War memorial.

The Historical Memory Law was a bitterly contested piece of legislation, but even the conservative People’s Party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy, which succeeded Zapatero’s socialist government in 2011 and is intrinsically hostile to the reform, did not dare repeal or even amend it.

Then in June this year, the tables were turned on the PP government which had to resign following massive corruption allegations and Pedro Sanchez’s PSOE government was installed.

One of Sanchez’s election promises was to disinter Franco from the Valley of the Fallen by suitably modifying the Historical Memory Law.

He has delivered on that promise now by approving the legislative decree that will enable the exhumation without running the risk of a legal challenge.




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A Book Review by CHAZ …

Posted on August 15, 2018. Filed under: Books, Uncategorized |


‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ – Mark Manson

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. – Goodreads Synopsis

This one has been at the top of the charts for a while, and after it has been recommended to me multiple times, I thought what the hell. I’m not one much for “self-help” books, (Maybe that’s why I have so many problems…) but this one promises to be different from all the rest.

I secretly thought that most books like this were just a scam trying to make a quick buck by telling you to just be happy. This one is a bit different (You can tell by the title alone), and that is because it knows the target audience – Millennials. (Scary OoOoOoOo)

Millennial has been tossed around in the media and from everyone else that is not a 1101130520_600“Millennial” and usually it is associated with a negative connotation.

The word “entitled” is always used in conjunction with Millennial as well. Mark Manson also knows this, and speaks in depth about this feeling of entitlement.

What really stuck out to me was how Mark explains that there are actually two ways to channel that entitlement. There is the first way that everyone knows: that you deserve something more because of who you are/what you’ve done, and the second way: that because when you make yourself a victim out of a negative experience in your past, you are also expecting different treatment.

Now that seems obvious to understand, I just never thought about how victimizing yourself is also a form of entitlement. There in lies the true power of the “self-help” books – changing your perspective.

Ok… So I am entitled. What now?

Now the main body of the book starts to come into play. Sure we feel that this hard work thumbnail_largewe have done deserves something special – I work harder than everyone else in the office,

I accomplish more, and I need that promotion now! Where the fuck is it?! Maybe the problem is that you are channeling all of your “fucks” into something that is not going to end up paying dividends later on.

Mark tells us that we need to take a step back from caring 110% (and getting 110% emotional) about everything and pick what is really going to matter to us in the long run.

Ask yourself: Why I am giving a fuck about this so much. Why is this so important to me. Why are my emotions going totally fucking berserk over this.

As it turns out, if you ask yourself why enough times, you might end up getting to the root of the problem and fixing your self-entitlement on the way. So stop fucking crying and figure out what really matters to you.

I am focusing on being happy! Where is my progress?

Nope. Mark wants you to actively seek out the negative experiences instead of the positive ones. (But this goes against all of the other self-help books!)

Why would we want to be OK with negative experiences? Because that is how we grow. We learn the most, and grow the most, from all of the negative experiences in our lives.

Mark understands this and makes an attempt to reach us through his own personal journey. Maybe we should have just listened to Alfred all those years ago:

Bruce Wayne: What have I done, Alfred? Everything my family… my father built…

Alfred Pennyworth: The Wayne legacy is more than bricks and mortar, sir.

Bruce Wayne: I wanted to save Gotham. I failed.

Alfred Pennyworth: Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Bruce Wayne: You still haven’t given up on me?

Alfred Pennyworth: Never.

It starts to get a little Buddhist, but we need to learn to accept the negative experiences that have come before, and that will come in the future. It is what will make us a better, and stronger, person.  Stop giving a fuck about trying to be happy all of the time.

My Takeaway

I’ve been going through some “Millennial” shit recently and I didn’t even know it. The main thing that has been irking me is my work life. I work too hard, I care toomuch, and I am too ambitious. All of that boils up to one great big pot of entitlement. Aside from the entitlement, I also feel empty. I feel that I am kicking ass all day, giving the world all it’s worth, using the most energetic years of my life, but for what? So some other entitled prick can benefit (or baby-boomer who crashed the houseing market and destroyed the environment)? Take a look at the chart below (shout-out to Kyle for showing me this) –



Ikigai: The Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” Hmm ok then. So where do we see ourselves here? I am smack in the middle Good/Paid For/Need, AKA – “Comfortable, but feeling of emptiness”. Yes I am good at what I do, Yes I get paid a decent amount for it, and OK I guess someone has to do it – but I feel dead inside. I’m not helping anyone really, I’m not making a difference for the better in the world (which is common among Millennials I guess), so why am I trying so hard? That’s where Mark Manson has helped me. I need to sort out in my life what I should give a fuck about, and I need to bring back balance to the force. (Well maybe not that)

It’s time to stop rejecting the negative, time to stop feeling entitled, and time to sort out the fucks.

Want more Millennial context?

Check out this video. Simon Sinek really explains it better than anyone else I’ve ever heard talk about it. The guy is fucking sharp.

Thanks to Gioia @ My Crazy World of Books Blog for sharing this with me. Check out her blog!!

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Greater than – ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ – Gertrude Bell …

Posted on May 29, 2018. Filed under: Movies, The English, Uncategorized |

“The onset of the First World War hastened the demise of the The Ottoman Empire that had ruled the Middle East for five centuries. Now the colonial powers set their eyes on dividing the spoils”. 

‘Queen of the Desert’ – the Motion Picture – moves to a small room in which British army officers gather around a table with a minister from the War office, the future British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The officers and Churchill  are looking at a map of the colonial “spoils”.  Churchill asks: “How do we delineate the borders?.  . . Who knows best about the tribes? . . .Who knows best about the Bedouin tribes?”

The officers reluctantly agree among themselves, “That woman”.

https://wallwritings.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/bell.jpeg?w=114&h=150“That woman” is Gertrude Bell, a British archaeologist, writer, traveler, and diplomat, who worked in a time of intense Western colonialism. 

This motion picture rescues Bell from oblivion.

The film ‘Queen of the Desert’, is based on the real-life story of Gertrude Bell  (1868-1926). Nicole Kidman acts the part of a, a humanitarian among those human colonialist scorpions who were roaming the deserts in search of prey and profit.

The difference between Bell and Lawrence? Bell was a woman and a natural diplomat, while Lawrence was an adventurer, romantic author -‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’  and made famous by  David Lean’s film, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.

Lean’s film made  Lawrence famous while ‘Queen of the Desert’ has been put on the backburner by the Film Industry. Diplomacy, Arab history and colonial exploitation of indigenous populations has little appeal. Gertrude Bell actually cared about the people of the Levant. Her books – and books about her – underscore this.

Gertrude Bell was there when the modern Middle East was formed. Because of her personal and caring knowledge of tribes and their leaders, she was used by the victorious nations after World War I to draw borders and choose leaders who became kings.

But the story of Gertrude Bell violated a narrative written and protected by Zionism as Levant history before 1947 was of little consequence and a period best lef out.

Queen of the Desert was initially screened in 2015 at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival. It was nominated for the festival’s highest award, the Golden Bear. Directed by noted German director Werner Herzog and beautifully photographed on locations in Jordan and Morocco, the film was a natural for American “art house” screenings.

With Nicole Kidman, as the film’s star and a script by Herzog, which examined the role Gertrude Bell played in modern history, yet the film was not distributed in the US. The Desert Queen covers history in the World War I era when Israel did not exist then.. Yet a Nicole Kidman film of that era was shelved for two years.                                                                                   ..

When Queen of the Desert had its limited run earlier this year when it finally surfaced. There was still money to be made so the film now has DVD exposure and is on Netflix and sites like Amazon, began renting or selling copies.

This sensitive film which examines the life of one of the most significant women of the 20th century, lies deep into the archives of film history, a journey noticed by only a few.

https://wallwritings.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/screen-shot-2017-04-14-at-12-54-07.png?w=640&h=356The picture above of Gertrude Bell between Winston Churchill (left) and T.E. Lawrence, was taken in Cairo, Egypt, in the early 1920s.

It is an unfortunate fact of history that this photograph is viewed as one of a future  British Prime Minister, the real “Lawrence of Arabia”, and “that woman”.

One Final Perilous Journey For Gertrude Bell

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For the Soldier …

Posted on May 26, 2018. Filed under: Regimental, Uncategorized |

Unless You are a Soldier …… by Clive Sanders

Unless you have been a Soldier

You just never will understand

stuff Soldiers have seen and done

In the Service of their beloved Land.

They trained to fight in fearful combat

And cope with awful sounds n sights

that should not be seen by anyone

because they keep you awake nights.

Soldiers never discuss the wounds

On their bodies or in their minds

They just put all their pain behind

And make their memories blind.

Proudly they served their Country

And remember the comrades lost.

For the Freedom you enjoy today,

The lost paid the awesome cost.

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Trump, Xi, N Korea …

Posted on May 23, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

President Donald Trump called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a master ‘poker player’, indicating that Beijing may have influenced the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s attitude in talks with the United States of America, reported Newsweek. 

Trump, while speaking to media persons in a joint press conference in the Oval Office with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, stated that Kim Jong-un had become inflexible to negotiate with US after he visited China earlier in May this year.

During the press briefing, Trump was quoted as saying,

“I think there was a change in attitude from Kim Jong Un after his meeting with Xi. There was a difference after Kim Jong Un left China the second time. President Xi is a world class poker player. Maybe nothing happened, I’m not blaming anybody. But there was a different attitude from the North Korean folks after that second meeting.”

In the meantime, US continues to prepare for the summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un, the White House has said, amidst uncertainty swirling around the meeting. North Korea, however, has threatened to cancel the meeting over a joint US-South Korea military exercise. The US has said it was going ahead with the preparation.

“We continue to prepare for the summit, and if they want to meet, we will certainly be ready,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday. “President Trump rightly stated that if North Korea agrees to denuclearise, that it can be a bright future for them. But we remain clear-eyed in these negotiations, but we continue to prepare, and we’ll see what happens,” she said.

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Petrol Diesel Prices – the Truth …

Posted on May 22, 2018. Filed under: Business, Uncategorized |

Govt can only give you a small part of what it first Takes Away from You …


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How China became Red …

Posted on May 5, 2018. Filed under: Books, Personalities, Uncategorized |

Gen Bhimaya Writes – General of the Army, G.C. Marshall held almost every important appointments (Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, during the critical stages of World War 2.) He also was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal. Hailed as the Chief Architect of Allied victory in World War 2, Marshall was expected to bring about the reunification of China, under a non- communist leader; Chiang-ki-sheik..

Unfortunately, despite his prior knowledge of China and his experience in handling Chinese commanders during war, he was outwitted by Zhou-in-lai who was equally well versed in statecraft, having studied and mastered it in Sorbonne, France. In fact, Zhou even transformed Clausewitz’s concept of war literally and figuratively. (Clausewitz: War is a continuation of politics by other means   Zhou: All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.)

Marhall, it is believed, failed to understand the Chinese culture: While Marshall relied on tactical adjustments as a prelude to the final reunification of China, Mao, ably supported by Zhou, yielded to tactical agreements, while stubbornly maintaining the aim, that is, a reunification of China under communist ideology.

James D. Hornfischer ‘s  ‘The Man who Lost China”

Here are some things no one ever says about Gen. George C. Marshall today: That he was vain, dull, a bungler. That he was guilty of “criminal folly” in his handling of foreign affairs. That he was not only disloyal to his country but also part of “a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man.”

These dumbfounding slanders, delivered by Joseph McCarthy on the floor of the Senate in the summer of 1951, are well and deservedly forgotten. But they reflected the tremors of their time, after the United Nations “police action” in Korea had spun beyond control, engulfing U.S.-led forces in a massive ground war with China—the same China that less than a decade earlier had been a U.S. ally.

What had Marshall, the now almost universally admired U.S. Army chief of staff who had contributed so much to victory in World War II, supposedly done wrong? He had dared and failed in something grand. In December 1945, he went to China as a special envoy of President Harry Truman in an attempt to broker peace between Chiang Kai-shek’s governing Nationalists and Mao Zedong’s insurgent Communists. In the end, though striving mightily, Marshall failed. As Mao drove Chiang and his forces to Taiwan and unified the mainland under Communist tyranny, his good name back home fell into a snake pit of paranoiac partisanship.

In “The China Mission,” Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, the executive editor of Foreign Affairs, skillfully tells the story of Marshall’s quixotic and forlorn diplomatic initiative. Deeply researched and written with verve, the book ought to be read by any U.S. foreign-policy maker practicing diplomacy in Asia. Marshall’s oft-forgotten experience in Asia has been covered before, notably in Forrest C. Pogue’s four-volume life (1963-87). But Mr. Kurtz-Phelan has performed a service in reviving this important episode with such aplomb, rigor and pace.

Three days before Christmas 1945, Marshall arrived at a small stone bungalow in Chongqing to begin a series of parleys aimed at ending 18 years of civil war. After an eight-year hiatus following the Japanese invasion in 1937, the conflict had resumed with a vengeance.

While there was idealism in Marshall’s heart—he was gravely concerned about the famine confronting ordinary Chinese people—power politics justified the effort too. Without a strong, unified China, Washington calculated, the Soviet Union could assert control of Manchuria, which it was already infiltrating and pillaging for industrial capital and infrastructure. Truman and Marshall believed a negotiated peace could serve American interests at home and abroad. Yet the American people in 1946 had little patience for expensive foreign projects.

Doggedly pushing through thickets of disagreement, Marshall won a quick cease-fire pact between Chiang and Mao’s emissary, Zhou Enlai. Chiang had come to the table because his extermination campaign against Communist forces failed once they retreated into China’s hinterlands. Though Mao professed to be a “Soviet pupil,” Stalin had humbled him, signing a peace treaty with Chiang’s government.

‘The China Mission’ Review: The Man Who ‘Lost’ China

On Jan. 22 Marshall handed Chiang a draft bill of rights, a procedure for a constitution and a plan for interim coalition government. He followed this up by securing an understanding to unify the rival Chinese armies under Chiang’s national leadership. “Marshall had achieved what even cynics were calling a miracle,” Mr. Kurtz-Phelan writes.

Praising him breathlessly were not only American journalists, who believed peace in their time was finally at hand, but his Chinese hosts as well. Chiang’s emissary called Marshall the midwife of unification, the leading strategist of the world and an ambassador of peace. Thus the American general departed Mao’s headquarters on March 5, 1946, flattered and hopeful.

But a stronger geopolitical tide was rising. On that very same day, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave his “Iron Curtain” speech in Missouri. America had already resolved to contain Soviet Communism, of course. And the previous June, the U.S. War Department had concluded that the “Chinese Communists areCommunists,” in league with the movement directed from the Kremlin.

The three-man “truce teams” dispatched throughout China to effect the cease-fire soon encountered difficulty. Both Chinese sides considered the negotiations a stratagem for improving their position on the battlefield before the peace terms froze the lines in place. The cease-fire provided a rationale to press disputes that kept the fighting going.

Mr. Kurtz-Phelan’s brisk narrative handles all this as a compelling drama. He adeptly paints his characters as more than mere avatars of political positions. Zhou was polished and gracious, a talented actor and dissembler who had become a communist in Paris, where he learned to debate with the best the Sorbonne had to offer. With a “personality full of mobility,” he engaged Marshall with relish about “Lincoln’s spirit of freedom and Washington’s spirit of independence.” One of Marshall’s aides thought Zhou “could run General Motors.”

Mao himself needed the talents of Zhou in order to play Marshall, for the Communist leader was by his own admission emotional, arrogant and quick to point fingers. Mao’s strength was his mystical sense of himself and a massively ambitious ego fueled by the resentments of his upbringing.

Marshall emerges in “The China Mission” as a figure of considerable sympathy. Mr. Kurtz-Phelan shows him as a devout public servant, a consummate professional and a sincere idealist who relied upon the good faith of all with whom he dealt. He could command a room yet conveyed “abject humility.” His Olympian calm coexisted with what the author calls “a reputation for truth-telling, for an almost insolent integrity in rooms of yes-men.” He was less a battlefield leader than a superlative organization man. In World War I he had spoken truth to power—to Gen. John Pershing, who promptly made Marshall his aide. In World War II, his talents had helped defeat Hitler and Hirohito. But the problem of China, in the end, was beyond him.

His warm personal relationships with Chiang and Zhou did not seem to matter. Culture was part of it—at every turn, the American was desperate to make a deal. But the Chinese civil war had a momentum, a ruthlessness, all its own. The talents that made Marshall an effective leader in Allied war councils doomed him to failure with his cynical Chinese counterparts. “Each side overplayed its hand when momentum seemed to be in its favor and them came back to negotiate when the momentum had shifted, at which point the other side was no longer interested,” the author writes.

Before Marshall knew it, American troops stationed in China to oversee an orderly repatriation of Japanese troops were caught in the rekindled civil war. Marshall pressed on nonetheless. Unable to parse the murky relationship between Mao and Stalin, he gambled on good faith, hoping for the best. An honest broker trapped in a wicked game, Marshall was in the end whipsawed by cultural and political forces beyond his ken.

By November 1946, Marshall was all but finished. More than two-thirds of his truce teams had been recalled to headquarters for reasons of their safety. With Truman’s domestic poll numbers in the tank, the midterm elections saw a Republican sweep of Congress. Marshall flew back to Honolulu two months later, never to return.

His failure inadvertently offered up America as a scapegoat for the continuing misery of ordinary Chinese. The Communists exploited it to the hilt. Chiang, meanwhile, believing that Republicans were more sympathetic to him, was counting on the 1948 presidential vote to save his cause. But his reading of U.S. politics was no keener than Marshall’s reading of China’s. With a fatal overconfidence, and poor counsel, Chiang saw his Nationalist forces stretched thin, too heavily outfitted to pursue Mao’s guerrillas into the hills. The same day Chiang’s armies finally lost Manchuria, Truman won a close re-election.

Chiang’s collapse produced an opening for McCarthyites in Washington to push back against Marshall’s idealism. The general returned home to vicious gossip. “There have been rumblings and rumors around Washington to the effect that you have been taken in by the Chinese Communists,” his colleague Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer told him.

The Marshall Mission was, by any standard, a failure. The 13 months of frenetic negotiation led to all-out war, and a Communist government in Beijing that vexes America to this day. The question is whether it had any chance of succeeding at all. After World War II, with the U.S. carrying out a massive demobilization (Truman preferred the term “disintegration”), failure was probably foreordained. Mr. Kurtz-Phelan’s book is valuable for its reminder that diplomacy is futile when it is backed only by the frail regiment of hope.

When a chastened Marshall, as Truman’s secretary of state, turned his attention to Europe, he found that change and peace were possible in war-torn regions of the world. The success of the Marshall Plan was a godsend for the ravaged continent and a boon for America too. But U.S. largesse toward Europe summoned forth hungry supplicants around the world. When Chiang’s ambassador in Washington said there should be a Marshall Plan for China—his chorus of supporters posited the existence of a racist double standard—Marshall could only laugh. Mr. Kurtz-Phelan does so right along with him. “Predictions by American diplomats and journalists that the Chinese Communists would turn into mere ‘agrarian democrats’ proved laughable.” Mao’s victory made it possible for Stalin to approve North Korea’s invasion of South Korea.

We know how the movie ends: the Communists in control by 1949, Chiang defeated and exiled to Taiwan, a customer of American arms. After Moscow tested a hydrogen bomb and war broke out on the Korean peninsula, the Cold War hit full stride.


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