|As we prepare to enter our new year on January 1, 2019, Thai Buddhists will celebrate their new year from April 13 to 15, 2019 during the Songkran water throwing festival to bring in 2562. As their new year represents the birth of Buddha, they are roughly 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar which is generally followed in the western world. The water throwing is to symbolize a new cycle by welcoming the rainy season to end the scorching summertime period of March and April. Otherwise, Buddhist events tend to relate to lunar timing.
There are specific Buddhist Observation Days which are the new, full and quarter moon events during which time the Five Precepts of Buddhism are chanted. The Five Precepts, or Five Lines (haa taew in Thai), are shown below in the form of a Pali Sanskrit Sak Yant Tatoo. Although many think they empower the owner, a more compassionate view is that they impart these precepts to others. Actually, it would be pretty difficult to see a Sak Yant on your back to remind you of what they represent.
The Precepts in simple terms are as follows: (1) do not kill, (2) do not steal, (3) do not practice sexual misconduct, (4) do not lie, and (5) do not take harmful drugs or intoxicants. A more positive and expansive interpretation is: (1) be kind and compassionate, (2) be generous, (3) be respectful of the opposite sex, (4) be honest and dependable, and (5) be mindful and responsible.
These principles are pretty straightforward and easy to comprehend. However, why are they not being practiced by democratic leaders around the world? The author has had extensive experience in the Middle East and North Africa for some twenty years. The western world has done everything possible to de-stabilize countries there even though few intervening foreign leaders at the time knew anything about them or their history. Let's consider three examples that are close to the home database: (1) the destabilization of Iraq and much of the Middle East following an invasion for no sound reason that was further bungled in the aftermath of occupation; (2) the giddy bombing and destabilization of Libya aimed at removing Colonel Gaddafi who was finally going legit; and (3) the war by Saudi Arabia against the Houthi, Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, a historic tribal and troubled region for many years.
The author has been on the Kuwait side of the border with Iraq and received a full briefing from a Kuwaiti regarding the killing zone. Fleeing Iraqi tanks following the US-led coalition intervention to free Kuwait would leave the super highway exiting Kuwait City to widen their column into the desert toward Iraq only to be slaughtered by the U.S. jets above them. As few of them made it to the border, Sadaam Hussein's forces were basically finished.
Based upon unfounded rumors of weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. invaded Iraq following 9/11 to remove Sadaam as well as all semblance of law and order by dismantling the Baathist infrastructure, including the Iraqi police and military. Baghdad was lawless while the U.S. military remained behind closed doors. Elsewhere in Iraq, U.S. forces fought a war of attrition in smaller cities that became familiar names. Even in more modern times, the U.S. recently closed its consulate in Basra, Iraq when rocket-propelled grenades began to hit the compound. No more consulate debacles like the one that occurred in Benghazi, Libya could be tolerated.
The author's day job provided the compulsion to go to Baghdad after Sadaam's statute was toppled taking the fifth commercial aircraft flight from Amman, Jordan to Baghdad. A ten-pound Kevlar vest added excessive weight to the carry-on garment bag. Nonetheless, it was way too soon to do business there with gunfire throughout the night. Everyone seemed to be running around the streets with guns while wearing no uniforms as the U.S. forces looked on from above in helicopters. When the question of Sunni/Shia tensions was posed to one of the senior Iraqi energy guys, he responded that he was Christian but above all else they were all Iraqis. I realized later I was talking to a well-educated bureaucrat who now lives in Canada as everything fell apart driven by religious factions.
So now we turn to a former despot in North Africa, Colonel Mohammed Muammar Gaddafi, and our involvement in that chapter. When relations between the West and Libya began to improve, the day job focus moved to Tripoli given a friendship one of our shareholders had with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was a nice young man with a penchant for the good life. In fact, we solidified our Libyan relationship by bringing the Russian giant Gazprom into our Libyan state venture. In the end, the commercial arrangements never sorted out and the western world grew tired of the Colonel.
With U.S. Presidential support, the French, in particular, began bombing runs into Libya when some of the rebel groups began to taste the Arab Spring fever. It is a great gig for a French pilot to fly a bombing run over Tripoli and be back home for a great meal and a bottle of Bordeaux-just like playing a video game. Well, the Colonel was brutally murdered and Saif was imprisoned by some bad folks. However, nothing like a good bombing run and the smell of napalm in the morning to whet the foie gras appetite of a French pilot.
Saif was released from prison about a year ago and, as shown below, appears to be good form. In fact, he looks pretty much like he did when last seen in London. Saif was a good mate of Tony Blair and a frequent figure in London. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague has been anxious for Saif to pay them a visit but the Libyans have not been very responsive. It would seem that the ICC might have bigger fish to fry in Saudi Arabia given their activities in Yemen and even their consulate in Istanbul.
For a number of years, we had oil production in Yemen which was ultimately sold to the Chinese. During our tenure, there would be the occasional capture of one of our foreign oil workers. The game was they were held for ransom by some tribe to be dutifully negotiated and released for the normal bounty of a Toyota Land Cruiser. It would have made a great Toyota advertisement-the reward of choice in the Yemeni desert. The captors were always kind enough to bring the captive's laundry into the camp to be returned the next day. At this juncture, the Houthi rebels in Yemen have become a thorn in the Saudi's side with their backing from Iran. Therefore, the Saudi's have become the most recent French equivalents with bombing runs that seem to have focused on more evident civilian targets than military ones.
Saudi fighter pilots are trained at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. It is hard to beat the southern hospitality of that state. The U.S. training is directed to support the Saudi bombing missions in Yemen.
Saudi aircraft armed with Lockhead Martin bombs make bombing runs directed at Houthi rebels though a recent mission killed forty Houthi school children in a school bus. Given that behavior, we should not be surprised when a Washington Post reporter is enticed into a Saudi consulate to be murdered and dismembered on the spot while the U.S. administration ignores the responsible party and talks about vast future arms sales to the Saudis.
In the meantime, we have begun to tear gas Honduran school children seeking asylum in the U.S. Have you ever had tear gas in your face? It is not pleasant for an adult and could be traumatic for a child. Have we lost our moral compass? How about a New Year's resolution to consider the Buddhist Precepts. If nothing else, see if you can grab a handle on compassion. It will give you a better view on life and, if you consider yourself a Christian, perhaps a shot at the next life.
These stylish backpacks are made of a unique material derived from 100% natural cellulose fiber, known as Washable Paper Fabric.
The material is considered as the best alternative for leather and is as strong as leather but much lighter and is machine washable.