Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rohrbacher on Burma // "Modern Flying Tigers!"

My Love - please post this to the blog - I miss you terribly!

All - good morning - as you can see the work here goes on with small cries from others throughout the world stating change needs to take place in Burma. I have seen much in the short time we have been here and there is so much work to do...yet so little time. I had commented that I wished I could take my children here to see the devastation and oppression - it is nothing short of enlightenment for those of us from the west. I have met another Special Forces guy here - his stories of what he has seen over the past several years while living in the jungle will humble you...I will share them with you when I am home. I hope you are all journey home begins soon

National Review Online today. 
Burma: The Next Nuclear Rogue? 

For our sake as well as theirs, America must start assisting the brave opponents of the Burmese junta.

Over the past decade, while America has struggled with intractable conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, ominous long-term changes in the international landscape have evolved into an ugly new reality. Once we have freed ourselves from the mayhem of Iraq and Afghanistan, we may be shocked to find that our attention has been needed elsewhere. A number of so-called “brush-fire” wars may have serious long-term consequences, and North Korea’s and Iran’s uncompromising and unrelenting efforts to obtain nuclear weapons are coming to a crisis. It seems that while we have been focused elsewhere, they have been fixated on their goal.

As the U.S. participates in the gathering of the United Nations General Assembly that opened yesterday morning, our feeble response to both North Korea and Iran has set a bad example — potentially resulting in a nuclear arsenal in the hands of one or both of these erratic and irrational regimes. A number of other unsavory characters also seek the clout, security, and respectful attention that nuclear weapons provide. There have been recent revelations, for example, that the Burmese junta, a government that is the worst of the worst, is engaged in a long-term endeavor to obtain nuclear capability.

Over the past two decades, the Burmese military has turned a once-prosperous country with enormous potential into a poverty-stricken police state where the government literally enslaves its own people for manual labor. Village after village in Burma’s ethnic tribal areas has been burned and savaged by the junta’s forces, turning hundreds of thousands of Burmese into displaced persons. The more fortunate refugees have managed to flee across the Thai border in order to reach some semblance of safety. But even Thailand, with its long history of benevolence and charity toward refugees fleeing tyranny, is reaching its limits.

The suffering of the people of this hidden corner of Asia knows no bounds. When a massive cyclone hit Burma in 2008, the military delayed Western aid from reaching devastated areas, with no concern for the suffering of their own people. The ruling generals are tyrannical, bloodthirsty, and without moral restraint. So how do nuclear weapons fit into this picture? Recent reports indicate that the regime is actively pursuing a nuclear program, with the help of North Korea. Such awesome new power in the hands of psychotic bullies who have no regard for human life would be a nightmare — not just for the suffering Burmese, but for all of humanity. Like North Korea’s nuclear program, Burma’s does not suggest that it’s time to cut a deal. It’s time for regime change. Such a goal does not require us to send troops, but it does require a commitment to an alternative, and it requires our attention.

Thankfully, there is an alternative to the Burmese military establishment. Aung San Suu Kyi and her ethnic allies are democratic and give the West a viable and powerful option. They would already have succeeded in toppling their oppressors, except that China has supplied the junta with an arsenal of modern arms and other instruments of repression. There is a steep price for China’s assistance. Burma’s vast natural resources are being plundered, and China is being provided with strategic military positioning for its army and navy, which puts India in serious jeopardy. All of this is, of course, in keeping with China’s global game plan of adding to its own power by helping the world’s most rotten regimes, including North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and Venezuela, among others.

America, stuck in quagmires of our own, has not made any serious effort to counter the Chinese-led coalition of despicable regimes. The State Department’s policy of engagement and patience has not resulted in domestic changes, while at the same time some of these countries have made great progress toward gaining nuclear-weapon capabilities. The suffering of their people continues even as they pour their money into nuclear-weapon development. Iran and Burma both have organized opposition movements, but while America may applaud them, our government has always stopped short of full and vigorous support.

I recently returned from the Thai-Burmese border, where I consulted with members of the Burmese democracy movement. I was deeply impressed with not only their courage, but also their commitment to a decentralized, denuclearized, democratic Burma. The freedom-loving people of the region want to be our allies against an evil enemy, as they were in the fight against the Japanese in World War II. The American government has treated them as pariahs.

A few Americans — missionaries, former members of the Special Forces, and a sprinkling of adventurers — are there on the border as volunteers. Reminiscent of the Flying Tigers before Pearl Harbor, though not as well equipped, this ragtag contingent of American idealists help as best they can, though often facing hostility from elements in our own government. They are doing what my father used to call “the Lord’s work” — literally as well as figuratively.

Our government did not support brave anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan, like Commander Massoud, until after we had been attacked on 9/11. Had we done so, the attack might not have happened. So there is a cost to a policy of ignoring those struggling against tyrannical and/or fanatical forces, as in Afghanistan — and in Burma.

When America supports those brave souls fighting for their freedom against despicable tyrants, we are not only doing the right thing by them, we are invariably bolstering the safety of our own country. This is especially true in an era when proliferation of nuclear weapons is not just a theoretical threat.

 Dana Rohrabacher (R.) represents California’s 46th CD.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dispatch III- The Mission Continues

September 19th, 2010- An update from the 
                                       Life on Point Team.
Currently, Brian is deep in the jungle with minimal amount of access to the outside except for satellite phone or short internet bursts depending on the location.

The mission is going well but, I can tell he will be ready to have access to some of the things we take for granted in the United States. While we enjoy a hot shower, they use the cold water of the river to wash off the mud from the 14 hour trek through the jungle. The nice bed we climb into is traded for a hammock and a small covering to protect from insects at night. Their food choices are nothing like ours but, it sustains them.

The team's spirits remain high because they believe in the cause. Like the Burmese children in this picture, they too believe in freedom from oppression and will continue assist them in this pursuit. More updates to follow.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dispatch Number II: Title: You have very nice hair Mr. Brian!

Good afternoon all, as COO of our Life on Point team
I would like to share with you Brian's latest submission
from our work in Asia.
Please enjoy-

Its 12 September 2010–the weather has been both HOT and 
raining when its not raining the humidity is through the
roof–last night we crossed over into Burma with no
issues and we have begun to make our way to the link
up site. I have 2 porters with us who if not kept on
a short leash will take off and run with the gear…
these guys are marathoners! We are overlooking the river
and waiting for our boat to arrive…yes our boat. The next
phase of our insertion will be up river during darkness–
a ride of approximately 4 hours. We walked a total of 11
hours yesterday – you can already see how the terrain
takes its toll on the body…suffice to say that the
military checkpoints that we skirted around had no idea 
we were there…the rain helped cover any noise!

I made a couple of calls via SAT PHONE last night–
the first was to Ian but his phone was off....or
like any teenager he was ignoring his Dad...the
next one one was to Jake – he has not chatted with
me via this communications channel since he was a
very young kid and suffice to say he was perplexed
with the way I sounded. My COO assured him via email
and follow-up calls that it is the signal from
within the jungle…”dad is fine!”

We are on our way to Mong Pan – you may not initially
see it when you look at a map but as it is midway
down in Burma…this is our initial destination where
we will work extensively. The walk has been both
exhilarating as well as demanding and the weight loss
I encountered over the past 6 months has served well
here – when I say the humidity is a killer even the
locals state that “we need to rest Mr. Brian”

We have seen several villages or what is left of them
in this location. Government forces have come through
and executed a slash and burn campaign while telling
the world they have “relocated the people” …when you
see what this means first hand you really understand
what genocide is all about. It is ironic that our next
linkup point is an orphanage where children from the
villages we passed through yesterday once lived…
I’m not looking forward to that.

I have made a couple of tactical errors in coming here
…nothing that will get anyone on my team killed…but
suffice to say my “long hair” is not an asset in the
jungle environment. If I had the means right now I
would shave my head…the porters look and chuckle as the
sweat pours off me…in a comical sense one looked at me
and told me (in broken English)…”you have nice hair Mr.
Brian” …as I told me COO…”you can’t pay enough for
this quality entertainment!
Will keep you up to speed on the Life On Point Team
location as we move deeper into the jungle…many more
dispatches with many more pictures…till then...stay well! 


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dispatch Number 1...The Life On Point Team

9 September 2010
I have arrived in Laos and have begun preparations for movement. The Life on Point Team has been assembled; our equipment was waiting courtesy of the network already established and our transportation has been...well interesting. The contractor that we are working for has put me in touch with an "ex-pat" who is a communications he is here with me as well. Long discussions on wave propagation as well as training indigenous personnel on radio systems has punctuated the last 24 hours...suffice to say sleep has been in short supply.

The bus ride to the border was as interesting as anything I have ever done before...that is to say not since travelling through Russia and Kazakhstan have I shared a ride with various forms of livestock including chickens, a rooster and "mini-pigs" ... and yes all running uncaged throughout the bus! It was like a scene from Borat!

The hut we stayed in last night provided shelter from the rain...but not much more. My significant other would have been alarmed as I awoke at 0400 to the rustling under my sleeping mat...suffice to say the lizard that darted out from the light was large enough to alarm even me. The food has been rice which my stomach (while on these medications) can tolerate well and some bits of boiled chicken which has become a staple item for me. I have been told that as we make our way inland that more exotic offerings will accompany the fluffy white stuff...can't wait for that!

We will begin to make our way across the border shortly and linkup with the folks who most desperately need our help. I met with another US representative this morning who wished us the very best. His name was "Ed" and no doubt he has seen much in this area. He showed us the latest imagery as well as pictures of what is happening inside the border is not a pretty site.

I feel fortunate on one hand to help...but on the other...sad that this type of oppression still exists in a world that has grown and matured so much over the past 100 years. I don't know what it is but the images of children being targeted based on ethnicity is disturbing to me. What has happened to these people and the way of life they have lived is nothing short of terrible. I have seen similar incidents in Srebenicia and throughout Bosnia while stationed there...but this is more chilling. Perhaps its because I am a father that these images of massacred children trouble me so much...they are innocents in a world that has forgotten them.

When I was younger I was watched a movie called the "The Evil that Men Do" and it starred Charles Bronson. It was a sad portrayal of exactly what men and regimes will do in order to get their own way. Seeing these latest pictures (both still and video) from "Ed" brings back to light the depths of that movie and what an evil man is capable some regards it is a giant step back in time and one that I am not willing to take...nor even stand for any longer.

The team is well equipped and prepared...a total of five well trained men and a cadre of support personnel who have all proven themselves in other areas across the globe. I am heading up the second element heading in across the border...a tedious climb followed by a solid day of movement to get to the affected area. Suffice to say I feel well...the physical activity and the anticipation of what is to come is both exhilarating...and at the same time foreboding...but it is what we signed up for.

I spoke to my father just before departing the US a few days ago...he did not understand why I was doing this...especially at this juncture in my life...I can only think that if he was here he would at least understand...for seeing is truly believing.

Hopefully this finds you all well...stay tuned as the dispatches will keep coming from both myself and my COO back in the States...and hopefully good news will come from our efforts. As the situation dictates I will forward pictures so that you get a sense of what we are trying to accomplish.


The Life On Point Team

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Efforts...and New Writings

Good Evening...and welcome to September!

It has been a long and exhausting day – Ian and I just finished viewing the new George Clooney movie titled “The American” – I will keep this yourself a favor and save your money. Clooney is a great actor with some very memorable parts…however this is not one of them. The movie just goes on and on and the plot is wayward at best. If you are a fan of “Euro-trash” movies replete with lackluster performances and way to much skin…then this is the movie for you!

I have my own personal review criteria for a movie…if what I see in the commercial trailers appears in the first 5-7 minutes then I am assured that the movie will be an absolute dud…every single action scene that was shown on the big screen trailers was complete within the first 6 minutes of this cinematic bomb!

Enough said…just don’t waste your money!

My partner and I have been writing and brining the next book to fruition…it is tentatively titled… "They Would Never Understand Why…Until Now"  Suffice to say that it is a story of comparisons between a couple...and how fate, destiny and personal struggles bring certain people together…no matter what level of adversity each has faced.

Talking about and ultimately writing this book has been therapeutic for both of…and allows us to fully comprehend how we have arrived at this point in our lives. I will warn you that it is not like my first literary effort…nor the construct of my pending second book of poetry...quite the opposite…this book and the stories held within chronicle the “reality” of what happened to us as children versus the “perception” that everyone views or remembers. The format is unique as well; it portrays each of us and the stories that defined not only our childhood but lifes events across 40 plus years...told against one another...and the subsequent interplay between it all. A couple of excerpts follow from our initial draft:

“Something told me she was special; that she would understand; that she knew that what had happened in my past bore strong resemblance to her own journey. We stared at each other for a moment…but it was in that moment that I knew that this woman and I were destined to be together…that no matter the circumstances, our lives were bought to this point for a reason…to comfort and provide solace in a world that had already robbed us of the innocence that others were able to enjoy. I could never explain the “how” or “why” we now stood speechless…but I knew in my heart that I had found the one who would finally make me whole.”

“He would make me laugh more than I could ever recall. His rapport with people and his philosophy on life captivated me. As we sat and talked well past the meal, the certainty grew that this individual struck a chord within me that has been discovered by no other. It was not his looks, his charm or wit…to say I felt a connection to him would be a mere understatement…for the first time in my life I wanted to share everything with someone, the good and the bad. I wanted to peel back the layers and let someone see past the self made barriers. I wanted to trust and be trusted. It was exhilarating and terrifying in one long overdue breath.”

We anticipate this project taking another several months but when complete…it will answer a lot of vexing questions…as well as provide insight into the lives of two very fortunate people.

Switching topics...the health situation has not changed...however the time that I have is now given to causes that benefit others…our website will be updated once I hit the ground in Asia and I look forward to getting back and watching the kids participate in their athletic pursuits.

Till then...enjoy the long weekend…as they say on the Cape...Summer is almost “ovah!”