Yet the face of the Bamian Buddha I stood upon in 1973 was sheared off, flat as a board above the statue’s mouth. When a Moslem army, led by Yaqub ebn Leys as-Saffar, captured Bamian in 871 A.D., as-Saffar declared the giant statue a sacrilege against the word of Mohammad and Allah, which forbade such "idols," and ordered that the Buddha be literally de-faced.
The most famous statue in world history is the Sphinx at the Giza Pyramids in Egypt. It has also been defaced and desecrated. The popular myth is that the Sphinx’s nose was blown off in malicious artillery practice by the troops of Napoleon in 1798. Artists’ renderings of a nose-less Sphinx drawn earlier in the 18th century prove this false. The truth is that, in 1378, the leader of a mystic Islamic sect known as Sufis, Sa’in al-Dahr, and his followers in Cairo, broke off the Sphinx’s nose for the exact same reasons as Yaqub as-Saffar and the Taliban used to mutilate the Buddhas of Bamian.
Islamic fanatic fundamentalism has been a problem for civilization for a long, long time. It is quite unlikely that it - or Islamic tyrants who use it to retain and expand their power - will go away any time soon.
On any given day, the Israeli intel folks can tell you what color undershorts Yasser Arafat is wearing. Name an Arab leader – Mubarak, Bashar Assad, King Fahd – and they can pinpoint where he is at almost any time that day. When the King of Jordan decided to indulge in a midday tryst with the wife of his prime minister (at the prime minister’s home, no less), they targeted the minister’s car, ready to blow up the road he would take should he have decided to go home early that day and discover his king was cuckolding him.
But ask them where Saddam Hussein is, and they’ll tell you that if they can place him within a two-block area once a month, they feel lucky. Multiple doubles, multiple diversions, multiple offices and palaces, rare public appearances, no gaudy convoys with flag-flying limos and truckloads of soldiers, just him and a few bodyguards in a nondescript car – this is an elusive man, hard to target.
All of this is to inject a note of sobriety in the joyousness we all feel at getting the Clinton White Trash out of the White House, and the relief of having decent and serious adults running the U.S. government again. There is no easy answer, and for some no real solution at all, for a great many dangers lurking in our world. The early indications are that GW is assembling the most pro-free market, pro-liberty, pro-real-defense (protecting U.S. interests with few places worth risking American lives), and just plain competent administration in modern memory. But don’t expect him and his people not to goof up, not to do stuff that will drive you crazy, or to succeed with quick solutions to major problems – such as knocking off Saddam Hussein.
I do expect GW to see to it that the U.S. economy is on a strong and sustained rebound well before Christmas. What we’re going through is the Clinton Hangover, paying for the manic excess of the Clinton years. Once the excess is wrung out (much of it has been already), GW gets his taxcut, and business can flourish with regulatory relief, this current bear market will be history. Trust me - the Republicans will make certain that the economy is reelin’ and a-rockin’ in plenty of time to ensure voters will be more than pleased to keep their control of the House and Senate in 2002.
Besides, where else will world money be invested other than the U.S.? Japan has a geriatric economy doomed to aged paralysis. China’s stock market (as recently predicted by its top three economists) is going to collapse. Europe’s unending mass paranoia (GM foods, depleted uranium, anti-globalist Ludditism, mad cows, et al.), refusal to have kids, always wanting to go on vacation, and fear of letting go of welfare statism disenable it from confidently flourishing in the 21st century. The U.S. will continue to be the best game on the planet.
But the best is not ideal. A briefing, for example, by Neil Livingston, president of Global Options (the best private outfit in the world at extricating people and companies from difficult or deadly situations: www.globalops.com) would leave you quite shaken as to how vulnerable our society in general and you personally are to a large number of different kinds of terrorism. This is especially true if you live anywhere near a major urban area - which is why SI founder James Dale Davidson thought his readers should have an escape hatch, a retreat, a haven in some remote, safe, and idyllic place in the world. He chose New Zealand, which is a wonderful place but not for those who want a quick getaway. Most of us want an escape hatch right here in the U.S.
My friend Otto Kuczynski has one. Otto's ranch in Montana lies along 15 miles of the Missouri River, a 43,000-acre fishing, hunting and wildlife paradise with a profusion of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, pheasants, grouse, ducks and geese, so pristine that Lewis and Clark (who passed through there) would still recognize it.
Since we now have a pro-human, pro-property rights Interior secretary, Gale Norton, property owners in the rural West can expect more cooperation than confrontation from the Feds who own so much of Western land. So it is out in Otto Country, the "Interior West" of the U.S., where I think my readers should consider having an escape hatch.
It does not have to be costly. Otto's price for his Ponderosa-sized spread is $4.5 million – but that's for a fantasy private wildlife preserve (Otto can be reached at 973-227-1656 if you want to talk to him about it). The West is riddled with escape havens in almost any price range. Their value will of course be going up steeply in the coming years as more folks figure out what we’ve been discussing here. I thought I should give you a heads up on it. So I'll see you out West. I'm off to find my own escape hatch out there too.
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