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October 08, 2023



An old friend approached me about oil exploration opportunities in Mongolia in the early nineties which I found interesting.  We structured a venture to pursue the opportunities which made us either true pioneers or evidenced insanity.  In 1992, the Republican Presidential Convention was held in Houston, which was then the oil Mecca of the world, and a visit was underwritten by the International Republican Institute (IRI) for the new democratic leadership of Mongolia.  Potential commerce in Mongolia arose following the peaceful overthrow of the communist Mongolian government by the soon-to-be friends of mine.  Their action was accelerated by the Russians fleeing Mongolia to return home following Perestroika and the collapse of the former Soviet Union.  The Russians fled the Choibalsan Russian air force base in eastern Mongolia in such a hurry that food was left on the dining tables.


We were also active in Russia which burnished our pioneer reputation.  In any event, I was the only person that could be found who had any relationship whatsoever in Mongolia, so I was asked to host the delegation.  Those times were truly my salad days so I was perplexed how I could look after them without exhausting my limited money supply.  I knew they liked to drink so I asked a Hispanic lady to cook Mexican food while I made copious quantities of margaritas, and we spent the afternoon in my house.   


My first admonition from their Republican young handler was to get them back to the Astrodome for the convention on time.  The margaritas and Mexican food were a big hit to be followed by vodka shooters and a request to visit shopping malls.  It appeared that our visitors had a much greater interest in drinking and shopping than going to a political convention and I could not blame them.  They were a bit tardy but finally made it to the big show and all was well.  I was then cemented to the Mongolian side of the earth becoming their first Honorary Consul to the United States and received numerous awards including the Polar Star.  We ultimately sold our oil fields to the Chinese but still have a condo in Ulaanbaatar though it has been a while since we have been back.  Just to provide a reference point, the standard quip about Mongolia is “As far as bad neighbors are concerned, Mongolia is very fortunate.”  The map below makes it all crystal clear.

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The Washington Post recently published several articles regarding the September landmark visit of Pope Francis to Mongolia. He praised the medieval empire created by Genghis Khan though he overlooked the rivers of blood that were shed in that endeavor.  Pope Francis commended the respect for various religions that Genghis Khan put forward in a land that became predominantly Buddhist.  The week before he was in St. Petersburg where he praised the culture of the Russian empire.  It is unlikely that the Pope had been properly briefed by his handlers that a Stalinist stooge, Prime Minister of Mongolia Choibalsan, basically eradicated Buddhism with the purge of Buddhists that began in 1937 and reduced their ranks from 87,000 Buddhists to some 500 after 18 months. At least 17,000 Buddhist monks were killed by firing squads. 

Therefore, somewhere between Genghis Khan and Choibalsan, Buddhism publicly disappeared only to be revived in the early 1990s.  Pope Francis is shown below with Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh and Khulan Ganbat, age 11, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on September 2.

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Pope Francis is pictured below being energized by the youth of Mongolia which has a calming effect on the threat of the two bad neighbors and their miserable codes of conduct.  In fact, the Mongolian people have developed a resilience and strength that enabled them to survive the harsh climate and their neighbors.  Strangely, the ruthless history of Genghis Khan results in some measure of caution on the part of their neighbors to at least “handle the Mongol hordes” with caution.

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In another article in The Washington Post entitled Pope Gives ‘Noble’ Chinese People a Shoutout at Mass in Mongolia in Bid to Warm Ties, Pope Francis sent a special greeting to China’s people at the end of a Mass celebrated in Mongolia during the first-ever papal visit that was largely overshadowed by Beijing and its crackdown on religious minorities.  He brought up to the altar the retired and current bishops of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Hon Tong and Cardinal-elect Stephen Chow, clasped their hands and told the crowds that included mainland Chinese pilgrims that he wished them all well.  As shown below, Pope Francis said, “I want to take advantage of their presence to send a warm greeting to the noble Chinese people and wish them the best and to always go forward, always progress.” 

The United Nations has made it abundantly clear that China’s human rights violations represent “crimes against humanity” given their repression and imprisonment of the Muslim Uyghur population. The Pope highlighted the contrast of China compared to Mongolia when he presided over an interfaith event with Mongolian shamans, Buddhist monks, Muslim, Jewish, Shinto leaders, and a Russian Orthodox priest.  The Pope, shown below, may appear to be frail but he exhibits a strength that is readily apparent and abundantly clear in his remarks.  “The fact that we are meeting together in one place sends a message: It shows that the religious traditions, for all their distinctiveness and diversity, have impressive potential benefit for society as a whole.” Moreover, Francis said “If the leaders of nations were to choose the path of encounter and dialogue with others, it would be a decisive contribution to ending the conflicts continuing to afflict so many of the world’s peoples.’’ What a powerful punch from this frail “Man of God” to the evil leaders of Russia and China!

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