Tag Archives: Donald Trump

NOT THAT “GOOD GUY”

The man on the right is Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association boss, described by the man on the left as “one of the good guys”.

Back in 2012, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Wayne claimed that “to stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.” A claim he reiterated last week in the wake of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School.

However, it must be noted that while Wayne may well be one of the “good guys” he would not want to be confused with being a “good guy with a gun”. You see, like his President, Wayne dodged the Vietnam draft back in 1970 and has never borne arms in the service of his country.

In any event, as anyone with battlefield experience could tell him, when the bullets are  flying in all directions, there is no such thing as a good guy with a gun.

At best, some of the guys with guns are a little less bad than the others.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand. A true story of love, service and incompetence.
Over-matched, over-ruled and over-weight, Spin Zhira is a tale of one man’s personal battle against the trials of middle age set on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry or your money back.¹

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick HennesseyThe Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘A must read.’
Richard DorneyThe Killing Zone 

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read.’
Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars 

‘First Class.’
Doug Beattie MC, An Ordinary Soldier

 ‘Absolutely fantastic’
Dr Mike MartinAn Intimate war

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.

¹Check the small print first

Advertisements

The clue is in the name

My son, Harry is a school age American citizen so, even though I am not a citizen myself, I’m invested in the US gun debate following yet another High School shooting tragedy in which a former pupil has been charged with murdering 17 with an AR-15 assault rifle.

The AR-15 has a singular purpose – the clue to which is in the name.

President Trump thinks that “Anyone adjudicated as mentally incompetent or dangerous to society should be prevented from getting a gun.” His detractors say that this would be difficult to enforce and may even be unconstitutional but I believe they are quite wrong.

There is a very simple and incontrovertible test: Anyone wishing to own an assault rifle is a danger to society and quite possibly mentally incompetent to boot.

But there is one snag.

According to the National Rifle Association, the AR-15 is the “most popular rifle in America” and estimates that over 8 million mentally incompetent or dangerous citizens already own one.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand. A true story of love, service and incompetence.
Over-matched, over-ruled and over-weight, Spin Zhira is a tale of one man’s personal battle against the trials of middle age set on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry or your money back.¹

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick HennesseyThe Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘A must read.’
Richard DorneyThe Killing Zone 

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read.’
Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars 

‘First Class.’
Doug Beattie MC, An Ordinary Soldier

 ‘Absolutely fantastic’
Dr Mike MartinAn Intimate war

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.

¹Check the small print first

Words and deeds are not aligned.

We are told that President Donald Trump changed his mind about sending more troops to Afghanistan after a campaign by his national security adviser H.R. McMaster which included showing the president a photograph of women casually strolling through downtown Kabul dressed in miniskirts.

mcmaster-handshake_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bq4lz3vhngjj3ofrk0333amok8gxsxzqyx3veh6vpypsq

The picture from 1972 was used by Mr McMaster in an effort to demonstrate to Mr Trump that Western culture could return to Afghanistan if he sent more troops. It appears to have been a winning argument. On the campaign trail last year, Mr Trump had vowed to end America’s longest war calling it a “total disaster”.

If the President was moved to change his mind by the prospect of Western culture returning to Afghanistan it is not clear why he would lie about his motivations to the American people but he did. In a widely publicised speech to troops at Fort Meyer in Virginia he insisted, We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.

It seems the British government are equally eager to see the return of Western culture to the streets of Kabul and “welcome” the President’s change of heart.  Prime Minister Theresa May is prepared to approve a surge of special forces personnel to hunt down Taliban leaders and the Isis and al-Qaeda militants they are sheltering.

Theresa May

It’s curious because, only last year, speaking at the Republican Convention days after Donald Trump was inaugurated as President she declared, “there can be no return to the failed policies of the past – the days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over“. Or perhaps not.

Western rhetoric, policy and strategy on Afghanistan are contradictory and confused. Words and deeds are not aligned.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand. A true story of love, service and incompetence.
Over-matched, over-ruled and over-weight, Spin Zhira is a tale of one man’s personal battle against the trials of middle age set on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry or your money back.¹

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick HennesseyThe Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘A must read.’
Richard DorneyThe Killing Zone 

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read.’
Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars 

‘First Class.’
Doug Beattie MC, An Ordinary Soldier

 ‘Absolutely fantastic’
Dr Mike MartinAn Intimate war

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.

¹Check the small print first

INSURGENT ALGEBRA: 10-2≥20

The Sunday Times has learned that the SAS are being readied to return to Afghanistan as part of Donald Trump’s planned military surge.

According to Whitehall sources, “Theresa May is prepared to approve a surge of special forces personnel to hunt down Taliban leaders and the Isis and al-Qaeda militants they are sheltering.”

It seems that we are, once again, walking with eyes wide open into a flawed strategy of night raids and drone strikes.

As General Stanley McChrystal, a former ISAF  commander explained: “From a conventional standpoint, the killing of two insurgents in a group of ten leaves eight remaining: Ten minus two equals eight (10-2=8). From the insurgent standpoint, those two killed were likely related to many others who will want vengeance… Therefore, the death of two creates more willing recruits: Ten minus two equals twenty, or more, rather than eight (10-2≥20).”

McChrystal’s insurgent algebra is correct but it is Albert Einstein, author of the most famous algebraic formula of them all, who is alleged to have said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

albert-einstein

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand
A true story of love, service and incompetence.

When Chris Green became disillusioned with his seemingly perfect existence he didn’t buy a sports car, run off with the au pair or snort cocaine from the breasts of prostitutes.

Instead he went to fight the increasingly unpopular war on terror in Afghanistan.

In the process of discovering himself he unwittingly discovers that the courage and heroism of the soldiers he fights alongside are confounded by incompetence and corruption, not to mention “an industrial strength counterterrorism killing machine”.

It’s a world where the dipsomaniac governor is in the pay of the illicit opium trade, the Chief of Police is a pederast and all round bad guy and the locals still haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842, or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. All infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Missing his two young sons, unable to influence policy and just a phone-call away from a brawl he can only lose with the elite SAS, Chris dreams of epic powder days in the High Alps a world away from Afghanistan. But before he can return home to a hero’s welcome – and his wife’s divorce lawyers – he must first complete one last mission to Zumbalay, the Taliban Heart of Darkness and an unlikely reunion with an old man in Helmand.

Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry or your money back*, Spin Zhira is a rare insight into the male mid-life crisis. What every woman needs to know and why every man should be careful what he wishes for.

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick HennesseyThe Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘A must read.’
Richard DorneyThe Killing Zone 

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read.’
Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars 

‘First Class.’
Doug Beattie MC, An Ordinary Soldier

 ‘Absolutely fantastic’
Dr Mike MartinAn Intimate war

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.

 * check the small print first

TRUMP RULES OUT AFGHAN EXIT

President Donald Trump has ruled out a hasty US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, America’s longest war.

Trump had previously tweeted “We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!” but has now been persuaded that America must remain in Afghanistan to “fight to win” vowing to avoid the mistakes made in the past.

“We are not nation building again, we are killing terrorists” the President said. Unfortunately, if ISAF learned anything in Afghanistan, it was that the supply of willing insurgent foot soldiers in that part of the world is infinity. My friend Niels Vistisen, Political Adviser (POLAD) to the Governor of Nahr-E-Saraj in 2012, observed It became increasingly obvious that even though ISAF won all of the battles, NATO was not winning the war.’

General Stanley McChrystal, a former ISAF  commander explained: “From a conventional standpoint, the killing of two insurgents in a group of ten leaves eight remaining: Ten minus two equals eight. From the insurgent standpoint, those two killed were likely related to many others who will want vengeance… Therefore, the death of two creates more willing recruits: Ten minus two equals twenty (or more) rather than eight.”

McChrystal was infamously sacked in 2010 by President Obama after his motor-mouth got the better of him in the company of a Rolling Stone journalist. While his media skills may have been deficient his insight into counter-insurgency warfare was not.

Killing terrorists is not the winning strategy that President Trump now seeks or that America now needs to end the longest war in its history.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand
A true story of love, service and incompetence.

When Chris Green became disillusioned with his seemingly perfect existence he didn’t buy a sports car, run off with the au pair or snort cocaine from the breasts of prostitutes.

Instead he went to fight the increasingly unpopular war on terror in Afghanistan.

In the process of discovering himself he unwittingly discovers that the courage and heroism of the soldiers he fights alongside are confounded by incompetence and corruption, not to mention “an industrial strength counterterrorism killing machine”.

It’s a world where the dipsomaniac governor is in the pay of the illicit opium trade, the Chief of Police is a pederast and all round bad guy and the locals still haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842, or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. All infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Missing his two young sons, unable to influence policy and just a phone-call away from a brawl he can only lose with the elite SAS, Chris dreams of epic powder days in the High Alps a world away from Afghanistan. But before he can return home to a hero’s welcome – and his wife’s divorce lawyers – he must first complete one last mission to Zumbalay, the Taliban Heart of Darkness and an unlikely reunion with an old man in Helmand.

Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry or your money back*, Spin Zhira is a rare insight into the male mid-life crisis. What every woman needs to know and why every man should be careful what he wishes for.

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick HennesseyThe Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘A must read.’
Richard DorneyThe Killing Zone 

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read.’
Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars 

‘First Class.’
Doug Beattie MC, An Ordinary Soldier

 ‘Absolutely fantastic’
Dr Mike MartinAn Intimate war

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.

 * check the small print first

Fake News or First to the Truth?

Fake News is taking the world by storm. President Donald Trump uses the term to denounce unfavourable news, such as the size of the crowd at his inauguration, while President Vladimir Putin, allegedly, used it to influence the outcome of the US election.

In Afghanistan we prefered to use the term First to the Truth, but it amounted to the same thing:

As with all major incidents the J9 Cell was responsible for communicating the ISAF version of events to the local population. I was required to produce a statement which confirmed that an ISAF soldier had been killed and provide a sanitised outline of the events leading up to Michael’s death. Once approved this would be translated into Pashtu and transmitted across the district in regular news bulletins via the MOB Price RIAB, radio‑in‑a‑box.

Great importance was placed on the speed of reporting in order to be the first to fill the information vacuum following an incident. This was referred to as being first to the truth, FTTT, or in the lexicon of the phonetic alphabet Foxtrot Triple Tango.

It wasn’t always entirely clear to me which was the priority, being truthful or being first.

In the relentless quest for good news and the blind insistence that everything was going swimmingly well, even when this was quite obviously not the case, it seemed to me that the truth was not always the overriding consideration.

As long ago as 1758 Samuel Johnson observed: ‘Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages. Little had changed, it seemed, in the intervening 250 years.’

caintv_665199690

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars and Investment in Blood

‘SPIN ZHIRA vividly conveys the disjointed essence of modern warfare and the impossibility of balancing the adrenaline of combat with ‘normal’ life. This book brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club and Kandak

‘If you want to read about political and military success in Afghanistan, this book isn’t for you. If you want a fresh perspective from someone who is not a career officer and who is brave enough to bare his soul, then SPIN ZHIRA is a must read.’
Lt Col Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zoneand An Active Service

‘Five stars’
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army

‘A journey of love, service and adventure. Excellent.’
Amazon Customer

Ten reasons why you should read SPIN ZHIRA.

Why do I find myself arguing in favour of leaving the EU when I’m going to vote to Remain?

EU referendum

I keep seeing lists on social media. Lists of people who think leaving Europe is a bad idea and lists of those who don’t. The ‘remain’ list is impressive, containing as it does a diverse mix of world leaders, high profile businessmen and foremost economists. They have two things in common. Firstly, they all predict that leaving the EU will be economically disastrous for Britain and second – and this is the reason why we can trust their judgement on this – they all failed to predict the global economic crisis.

The list of those in favour of leaving the EU is less impressive and includes ‘that bloke who heads up ISIS’. We don’t know his name but that doesn’t matter. We know he wants the UK to vote leave because David Cameron told us and therefore it must be true – just like his pre-election pledge not to cut child tax-credits.

Also on the vote leave list are Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. These two are becoming so politically indivisible it can only be a matter of time before they are rebranded ‘DonBo’. But, inexplicably, it excludes self-made billionaire Sir James Dyson and all of the other 299 British CEOs who think leaving Europe would be good for business. No prizes then for guessing which side of the argument has a penchant for compiling lists.

However, it seems rather obvious to me that if the primary consideration in the referendum is economic then there will be winners and losers whichever way you vote. Sir James Dyson will be freed from the European bureaucracy be believes constrains his business, Lloyds of London and the £60 billion London Insurance market thinks losing its unfettered access to the EU single market will be disastrous. Home owners may find themselves in negative equity; aspiring home buyers may finally be able to own a house.

Personally, I’ve never been terribly motivated by economics. It’s probably why I’m broke, unemployed and of no fixed abode. On the other hand I am happy and I’d rather be happy than rich. The United Nations’s 2016 World Happiness report lists Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway as the top four happiest states in the world. At number one is Denmark with more opt-outs than any other EU member state and in its own referendum in December last year rejected any further integration. The other podium positions go to Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, countries that, despite their geography, have all declined to join the Union. So if you want to be happy then independence from the EU, with all the extra happiness this seems to bring, might be a good place to start. Cast your vote accordingly.

And there it is. In my quest for happiness I now find myself in the DonBo camp along with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (yes, that’s his name). Except, of course, that I’m not.

The best, and as far as I’m concerned, the only reason to remain part of the corrupt and dysfunctional Economic Union is humanity. The current trend on both sides of the English speaking Atlantic to retreat behind borders, to put up walls and impose quotas – the politics of fear – is inhumane and will only lead to more trouble and more conflict. Our ability to love, be creative and above all to have compassion requires us to stick together, to unite rather than to divide even if this is sometimes difficult, frustrating or personally disadvantageous.

It’s not an easy choice, I don’t like the bureaucratic travelling circus that is the European Parliament, it doesn’t deserve my vote but I’d rather live in hope than in fear. I’d rather be human than happy.