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THE LAND OF OZ Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 07 November 2013

Brisbane, Australia.  I'm making a pit stop here on my way from Nauru back to the US.  Oz - Aussies pronounce their country's name Oz-trial-yah, as they don't speak English but a funny language called Strine that occasionally sounds like English - is the place to follow up on the insanity of The Island of Fubar.

Besides, I can't resist having written a TTP column for you in all seven continents this year. Africa and South America in March, Antarctica in April, Europe in August, Asia in September, all those in the US (North America), and this one in Australia now.

So let's talk about Oz, and how the Aussies are facing their version of a lethal threat that can destroy America.  Like the US, it is a wealthy First World country with a long difficult-to-defend (albeit maritime) border with a large, poor, and corrupt Third World country.

How they ruinously handled this, and how they are solving the problem now, is a crucially important lesson for us.
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THE ISLAND OF FUBAR Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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Nauru.  Welcome to the world's smallest country - a tiny isolated rock in a remote part of the Pacific, right on the Equator, 8.1 square miles with 9,300 people living around its 10-mile circumference.  No one lives in the interior and we'll soon find out why.  Of all 193 Member States of the United Nations, Nauru is the smallest in population.  Only Monaco (less than 1 square mile on the French Riviera) is smaller in area.

I wanted to reach the three most unknown and hidden nations in the South Pacific on this excursion.  I found Tuvalu entrancing, and Tarawa in Kiribati repelling - but now I have made it all the way to the bottom of the Pacific's barrel.

I have been to almost all of those 193 UN countries (189 in fact), and I can confirm that Nauru is more FUBAR than any other.  Actually, that's an understatement.  You all know what the acronym means, and Nauru takes it to a whole new dimension, a higher standard of fubaredness than the rest of the world which is unlikely to be surpassed in our lifetimes if ever.

Better get comfortable in your favorite chair with at least three fingers of your favorite adult beverage at the ready to get through this.  You'll find it hard to believe but this is a true story.  Kafka himself couldn't have made it up, although he would have relished the irony in how it applies to us.  The photos are all mine.

We'll start with what Nauru unbelievably looks like.  Note the green strip around the perimeter and the vast gray uninhabited interior.
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SACRILEGE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 24 October 2013

Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Kiribati.  I might as well warn you right up front.  You are really, really not going to like this.  You are going to get seriously steamed. 

Tarawa is sacred history in the annals of the United States Marines.  The Battle of Tarawa was one of the most brutal and lethal in the Corps' history.

After losing Guadalcanal to the Marines in 1942, the Japanese were determined not to lose Tarawa, with its vitally strategic position in the Central Pacific.  They spent a year building up an incredibly well-fortified array of defenses on Betio to control the entrance to the lagoon and thus the entire atoll.

The Japanese commander, Rear Admiral Keiji Shibazaki, was so confidant of his preparations and men his message to Tokyo was, "It would take one million men one hundred years" to conquer Tarawa.

It took the US Marines 76 hours.  But at a horrible cost.  On Tarawa, the Marines demonstrated epic bravery and heroism - guts and glory beyond normal imagination. 1,113 Marines died, 2,290 wounded.  It is no mystery whatever that Tarawa is a sacred memory for all Marines - and to trash and besmirch it would be sacrilegious. 

Yet that is exactly and precisely what has happened, and in the most disgusting manner thinkable.
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SERENDIPITY IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Wednesday, 16 October 2013

tuvalu_map.png

Funafuti, Tuvalu.  I'm not sure if what I've discovered here in one of the world's smallest and unknown independent countries is a case of serendipity: finding something where you least expect it - or barendipity: not finding something where you most expect it.  Whichever, it's fascinating, revelatory, and absolutely hilarious. 
 
I came here to understand why and how this place exists.  You'll be amazed to find out.  Get ready to have a really fun learning experience. And enjoy the photos...
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GUADALCANAL IN AMERICA Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 10 October 2013

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Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.  Idyllic, isn't it?  Everybody's dream of a South Seas island paradise.  But it wasn't in 1943.  On a moonless night back then, an American PT boat was tracking a Japanese convoy.  All ships were "running dark" with no lights.  Suddenly, a Japanese destroyer was on top of the PT boat, ramming it before the crew could get their boat out of the way.

Their boat sunk, the crew swam to this island, and were subsequently rescued.  An insignificant tale, save for the fact that the PT boat was numbered 109 and captained by Navy Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, who 17 years later would become President of the United States.  That's why the name of the island is Kennedy Island.  (The original native name is Kisolo.)

One can only imagine the rage, disgust, and contempt he would feel over his successor's treatment of his fellow World War II veterans by physically preventing them from visiting the memorials that honor them in Washington.  You have to think he'd say it's time for a Battle of Guadacanal to liberate America.
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