Thursday, 11 April 2013

KOREA, WAR WITHOUT END...



by Gareth Wallace

History is a funny thing, it is amazing how quickly we forget, or we simply don’t learn our past. 

Watching the news this evening (Tuesday 9th April) South Koreans were telling a British TV journalist that they wanted the British to come and help them with North Korea. Maybe they were old enough to remember the British contribution to the American lead UN force that defended the South against North Korean Communist Aggression all those years ago.

HMS Belfast moored on the Thames and famously recently restored by the Russians for her brave Arctic Convoy service also fired her guns in anger against the Russian backed Communist forces of North Korea and China.

The venerable Spitfire in navalised “Seafire” form flew some of its last missions in the Korean War.

The British Army Soldiers and Tank Crews of 1 Rifles, Queen’s Royal Hussars, The Royal Irish Regiment and The Royal Regiment of Scotland are serving in regiments whose antecedent units fought in Korea. But all of that seems ancient history….until a few weeks ago. North Korean rhetoric of impending nuclear war has now reached a level not seen for many years.

The outlandish threats of Armageddon seem designed to bolster the internal credibility of Kim Jung Un. If you can prove you have enemies outside the regime walls it might help boost his fledgling autocratic inherited leadership inside the world’s premier secret state.

Due to the frankly bizarre and irrational way North Korea is governed, unless these threats are handled with the utmost diplomatic care the US, and South Korea (with missile defence ally Japan) fear that some kind of conflict could take place.

However if the unthinkable happened, war would not have taken place by accident. Let me be as clear as I believe a certain former female Prime Minister would be in these circumstances. The responsibility would lie entirely with a reprehensible, evil and frankly absurd regime in North Korea which has blackmailed the world into relative silence with its aggressive nuclear weapons programme and frankly deliberately irrational behaviour designed to encourage appeasement.

This time around if there was a war, it would to misquote a famous philosopher, be nasty brutish and short. Today the ROK (South Korean) armed forces are large and well equipped. Alongside their US allies they are best placed to defend their homeland. The nation that builds the ships, cars and TV’s and mobile phones that we love in the West could match even the UK in the quantity and quality of its defences.

High tech US and South Korean weapons would be used to blunt any WMD threat while the world held its breath to see if North Korea’s vast Army could reach out the short distance and capture South Korea’s capital Seoul.  

In the 1950’s South Korea was poor and had a weak army. It relied on the UN to defend it, with the UK sending powerful forces to stand alongside mainly US but also other UN units fighting under a UN mandate. Hero of the US Pacific Campaign in WW2 General MacArthur was also the initial commander in Korea.  His mistake in the Korean War was to actually go for regime change in the North by invasion. That was when China counter invaded and the war was both prolonged and nearly lost.

This was a war that cost over 1 million lives, which seems even more shocking when some of the soldiers fighting it has taken part in World War Two only five years before, a war to end all thought of war if ever there was one.

This was the clearest example of the Cold War turning ‘Hot’ where with the backing of Stalin and the USSR, Communist China under Mao took on the might of the USA. The end result was bloody stalemate.

MacArthur wanted to use nuclear weapons against China to win a victory. He was removed by the US President for his insubordination. The UN fought the Chinese to a standstill on the 38th parallel and the uneasy ‘peace’ that lasts to this day was the end result. US President Truman perhaps wisely though that in a world were more than one nation had nuclear weapons an uneasy peace was preferable to a risk of a nuclear war. The two Koreas settled down to an unsettled freeze-framed existence where the rival communist and capitalist philosophies were granted free rein to reach their ‘peaceful’ zenith.

North Korea has thus turned into the most extreme Communist closed state, even surviving the fall of the USSR and the coming of capitalism to ‘Communist’ China.

Meanwhile South Korea is now democratic, has a thriving Christian Church, and is one of the most advanced economies in the world producing not just heavy industry such as ships and cars, but also advanced consumer electronics that are the equal of anything produced in the USA or Japan.

Gareth Wallace
Political lobbyist for a
for a major UK charity
Twitter @garethrwallace

The uneasy peace might have allowed the conflict on the Korean peninsula to escape serious public understanding for decades no peace treaty has been signed, and the North Korean regime has been allowed to build up WMD’s behind a cloak of relative secrecy for many years.

In the North the citizens live in poverty and even famine conditions. They are educated that the Kim dynasty is to be worshipped and that scientific development and progress have come from the regime.

Decades of brainwashing and mis-education has left the people of North Korea seemingly unable to resist either practically or even intellectually the totalitarianism of their leaders. They simply don’t know what truth is.

The future looks unstable, the current crisis is unnerving. The only certainty is that unless we seek to address the Korean question with more vigour and focus, it may once again rear its ugly head as it did back on the 25th June 1950.

Will the world be as unprepared now as it was then? We must not let our current problems blind us to the geopolitical realities of Korea, the greatest unresolved war left on this earth. 

From time to time, friends will be leaving articles on this blog. It's my site, so you can be sure that I agree with most, if not all what my contributing friends say. If you would like to contribute something, feel free to contact me.

Gareth Wallace is a political lobbyist for a major UK based charity. He has worked in public affairs for over 10 years including for the leader of the Conservative Party. His professional interests are mainly concerned with UK social policy. His private political interests are focused on defence and foreign affairs.The views in this article are his alone. He tweets his own views on politics and culture at @garethrwallace

Monday, 8 April 2013

MARGARET THATCHER 1925 - 2013

By Colin Bloom


Passing of Baroness Thatcher

Statement from Colin Bloom, Executive Director, Conservative Christian Fellowship 8th April 2013

“The Conservative Christian Fellowship started whilst Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and she will forever have a special place in our hearts.

It has been said of her that whilst many Prime Ministers were weathervanes, she was a signpost. Her legacy for both the United kingdom and the world is incalculable; history will show that she, more than any other British Prime Minister of the past sixty years, changed our Nation for the better.

Her Methodist upbringing shone through her; she was particularly fond of a quotation from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, "Earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can.” Something which we think might be a fitting epitaph for her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”


WHERE IS THE HEART IN THE WELFARE DEBATE?


by Joseph Colman

Over the past few weeks we have witnessed a condensed version over the debate which has rumbled on for decades. It is an argument that always makes me feel uneasy, it never satisfies and I have never felt a home in either ‘camp’.

No matter where you stand politically you cannot deny that for the vast majority the welfare payments received are a serious assistance in helping go towards the day-to-day cost of living in Britain.

Because of this the debate focuses around the question ‘how much is enough’ vs ‘how long is enough’ – both are about securing a system which provides ‘enough’ to those receiving the state welfare. But this, to me, seems such an uninspired place to focus the debate.

This weeks Spectator (6 April) issued an impassioned call to recognise the fact that ‘at no point were fewer than five million working-age people on out-of-work benefits. This was not just a waste of money, but a criminal waste of human potential’.

Something that the Welfare debate misses so often is that many of those talked about abjectly on the copy churning out from Fleet Street and on the paragraphs in hansard is that these are men and women, children and families, who have aspirations and dreams.

For most they are full and brimming with life but for others trapped on welfare there is real genuine need – not just for sustenance but also for relationship. Our needs are more than food to eat and shelter from a storm (no matter how important they are!) we are created for relationship

Joseph Colman

Scion of the famous mustard dynasty,
ice cream salesman, political anorak
Twitter @JosephColman
The relationship we have been created for cannot be filled by ‘stuff’. This is why the church is uniquely placed to breathe truth and life into this dead carcass of a debate. It can say that this is not about money or wealth. It is not about how much you have and how much is enough. It transcends ‘stuff’ and is uniquely about the relationships you hold and the worth that you feel through these relationships. It is about feeling a sense of ownership and belonging to your community and society at large.

What breaks my heart is that waste of human potential.

Human potential can be found in being gainfully employed, accepted in your community and knowing you bring something uniquely valuable and positive to the society you belong to. However I am yet to see the welfare debate couched in these terms.

Perhaps, no matter what party or politics you side with, we can share this common ground of the debate and bring a little bit of perspective and see about an end to this waste of potential.

From time to time, friends will be leaving articles on this blog. It's my site, so you can be sure that I agree with most, if not all what my contributing friends say. If you would like to contribute something, feel free to contact me.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

CHECK WHAT FUEL WE ARE PUTTING IN

by Colin Bloom

On Good Friday, a friend of mine went to the service station to fill his wife's car up with fuel. He'd just squeezed in the last drop, the tank was trimmed to the brim and he was feeling pleased with himself at this act of marital kindness. His satisfaction was short lived, because as he looked down he saw he was holding a green unleaded petrol nozzle. His wife's car is a what Ringo Starr would call a Diseasal.

It cost my friend nearly £300 to get his mistake fixed. It would have cost him a great deal more if he had attempted to drive the car away. It could have been terminal. For the car that is; his marriage would probably have survived.

This little story made me think about the sort of fuel we put into ourselves. It reminded me of the Old Testament Israelite character Daniel. He was a Royal or a Noble from the  tribe of Judah and along with his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego he was dragooned into the Babylonian King's court, where he eventually became the highest ranking Official across the land.

The first thing we are told about Daniel and his friends is that they were extraordinarily discriminating about what they fuelled themselves with. During their early training, Daniel refused to eat the fine foods and wine from the King's table, but rather chose a simple, rather plain, vegetarian diet. The only drink they took, we are told, was water. Perhaps unsurprisingly these four young men ended up looking healthier, fitter, stronger and more productive than the cohort they came with.

What does this have to say to us? What can we learn from Daniel's rather picky diet?

For me, the lesson isn't actually about food, it's about culture. It's about the cultural fuel we nourish ourselves with. Our four friends allowed themselves to be culturally assimilated into Babylonian life in almost every way; these Israelites allowed their names to be changed, they changed their language and the clothes they wore. They became very much part of the culture of their age, but in so doing they did not defile themselves by what they filled their tanks with. They were deliberate about what they took into themselves.

So should we be. We need to be careful not to defile ourselves with what we take in; what we furnish our minds with. If we fill our eyes, ears and minds with the wrong fuel isn't that the same as my friend filling his wife's car with the wrong fuel? We might get as far as the end of the road, but it would be slow, smelly and we might not make it much further.

So if we want to be like Daniel, we need to be extraordinarily discriminating about what we fuel our lives with too.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

JACKSON MIDDLE SCHOOL - A LESSON FOR US ALL

by Colin Bloom

Yesterday I wrote about why when it comes to religious freedom we should never, ever relax. We should certainly never give in to the aggressive secularists, whether here in the United Kingdom or the United States or elsewhere, we must stand and defend what is ours and reclaim that which has been taken.

Let me give you an example that I came across in the United States last week. It is the sad story of Jackson Middle School, Ohio, where for the past 66 years a portrait of Jesus has been hanging in their entrance hall. 
The picture of Jesus that was
hanging in Jackson Middles School

The portrait didn't belong to the school, but to one of the student clubs. However, some radical and aggressive secularists from the FFRF (Freedom from Religion Foundation) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) decided to take the school to court for their unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school. As if there weren't more pressing matters to deal with in American schools...

It is worth noting that between the FFRF and the ACLU they have an annual budget of more than $100m to fight these cases.

Despite nobody complaining, despite it harming nobody, despite this picture hanging there benignly since the 1940's, the School's board took down the picture of Jesus because their insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses.

The school Superintendent said, "At the end of the day, we just couldn't roll the dice with taxpayer money, when you get into these kinds of legal battles, you're not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It's not fair to take those resources from our kids' education."

It's often said that when America sneezes the UK catches a cold. I happen to think we are fighting this disease of aggressive secularism together. The time has already come when people need to decide what side of the argument they want to be on. It's not a question of whether we want the debate or not; these well funded organisations are going to be bringing the fight to a school, home or shop near you. 

Jackson Middle School thought it would be teaching lessons to a small community in South Ohio. They can take some small comfort in the knowledge that because of what they've been through there is a lesson for us all.

Friday, 5 April 2013

DON'T LOSE HOPE

by Colin Bloom

Earlier today I received a Tweet asking me how, in the face of such liberal totalitarianism, I don't lose hope. The Tweeter sent me the question after I posted this article on Religious Freedom. It's a good question, but one that can't be answered in just 140 characters. So this is might slightly more considered response.

There are three points I would make, although I'm sure there is a lot more to say on  the subject.

The first is that, most people, indeed most Christians don't seem to care about the rising tide of aggressive secularism. It totally passes them by, maybe because seeing beyond the busyness and priorities of their own lives would require too much effort. Even though we are all guilty of doing that; guilty of making our own momentary concerns seemingly of far greater importance than the bigger issues, I see many people who are rising to the challenge. From my vantage point I am optimistic that the number of people who are 'getting it' is growing.

The second point is one that I would be a bit stronger on; as Christians we need to get more comfortable wearing the full armour of God. That armour is to be used in both defense and offense, but the more we wear the armour, the more comfortable it becomes. Whilst never forgetting that we follow the Prince of Peace, we need to remember that He was also the Lion of Judah!  So long as we model ourselves on Jesus, remembering grace, mercy and love, we wont go too far wrong.

Finally, I don't lose hope because rightly or wrongly I take tremendous encouragement from the following scripture: 2 Chronicles 20: This is what the Lord says to you: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s."

So we won't lose hope, not now, not ever. We have it as an anchor for our souls, firm and secure.

5,000 IN TWENTY DAYS

by Colin Bloom

My Blog is less nearly 20 days old, and has just ratcheted up its 5000th visitor. Thank you for looking, please keep the comments coming in.

The most read piece was:

THE PRIME MINISTER'S EASTER MESSAGE 2013


The second most read was:

ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM


The third most read was:

CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES CAN BE PROUD OF THIS COALITION'S RECORD BUT A LOT MORE STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE


70% of you are from the United Kingdom, 25% from the United States and 5% from everywhere else.