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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Cole Kinder



Gordon: When did you attend UCLA, what degree did you earn, what was your favorite class, and why was it your favorite?

 

Cole: I attended UCLA from 2017-2021 earning a BA degree in Political Science with a focus in International Relations. My favorite class was "Introduction to Slavic Civilization" (Slavic 90) with Professor Roman Koropeckyj, a son of a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest.


I liked many of my classes and had many amazing professors including one with the unfortunate last name of Trojan. We are not big Trojan people at UCLA but we really liked Dr. Cody Trojan who was more Bruin than that other name. Slavic 90 was my favorite because it went in depth into all Slavic people including Ruthenians and Sorbians.


The focus on Ukraine in the last unit of the course really helped prepare us for the unfortunate 2022 Invasion. There were so many other classes including Professor Danielle Candelora's “Ancient Aliens” class where we learned about immigration in the ancient world. Contrary to popular belief, there are Christian professors and I had some very interesting ones including a Catholic former CIA officer and an Eastern Orthodox choir member.

 

Gordon: Please share with our readers your volunteer experiences and what you did with each organization.

 

Cole: I was very lucky to be an altar server in the Diocese of Orange (CA) for nine years. During high school, I combined these church duties with my civic duties by volunteering for the City of Newport Beach government as well. Here, the local high school students would participate in mock city council meetings, formulate various plans, intern with certain departments, among other activities including beach cleanups.


College brought many sleepless nights so I joined the newly established Knights of Columbus at UCLA's University Catholic Center as my lone volunteering position. Unfortunately, we did many activities on Saturdays and if you know anything about college football, you probably can assume I was not as productive in the fall for the Knights.

 

Gordon: What sports did you play in college and what awards did you receive?

 

Cole: I only was a one sport athlete in college playing running back for the UCLA Bruins football team. Although, I suppose if I went back for extra degrees, I could add to my list of sports I played while in college. So, if I tell people I played basketball, baseball, and numerous other sports in college, please do not correct me even if it was pick up games while I went to an online school. I did receive many awards, most notably the top male graduating UCLA scholar athlete for the 2020-2021 school year. I am still happy we footballers got one over on the golf and tennis teams that tend to win a lot.

 

Gordon: Who is your favorite football player of all time and why is he your favorite?

 

Cole: To be perfectly honest, I would have to say Kai Forbath in college and Cooper Kupp in the NFL. See, we Bruin fans might see UCLA play in the Rose Bowl Stadium every home game, but unfortunately we did not see us play very much in the Rose Bowl Game. So, we grew to love our field goal kickers and Kai Forbath was Mr. Automatic.


If you think the Holy Spirit is good at guiding the Church, Kai Forbath was like that, but with guiding the football through the uprights. Cooper Kupp, meanwhile, was the Rams' key player in our recent Super Bowl victory.


I also viewed Kurt Warner as my favorite player growing up for this reason but for the St. Louis Rams instead of the Los Angeles Rams. Historically, I really enjoy Jackie Robinson, Gary Beban, Tom Fears, and Jim Thorpe. Jackie Robinson excelled both collegiately and professionally for the UCLA Bruins, Honolulu Bears, and Los Angeles Bulldogs, while dominating in other sports like basketball, track and field, tennis, and of course baseball.


Gary Beban was our sole Heisman Trophy winner, while Guadalajara-born Tom Fears became a Bruins and Rams legend. Lastly, Jim Thorpe was another all-around great athlete who had one of the best football plays, the pitch, drop-kick, and pass option that allowed him to either run or pass for a touchdown, or kick a field goal on the same play! Nevertheless, Mark Harmon remains the coolest UCLA football player because he doubled as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in N.C.I.S. 

 

Gordon: To what organizations are you a member?

 

Cole: I currently play for the best team handball club in the USA, the California Eagles. I am not yet good enough to play on the A team, but I like to think my efforts help our main players in practice.


We are trying to win the North American Championship next so we can play in the IHF Super Globe, the club world championship in team handball. There, we would be heavy under dogs because we would be playing big name teams from Europe, Africa, and other continents. Well, big names for team handball fans such as THW Kiel and FC Barcelona.


Yes, FC Barcelona has other sports and they apparently like to win in everything. So, pray for me that I can be on the A team so I can tell the future generations that I played FC Barcelona while Lionel Messi was still playing, albeit in a different sport and while Messi was in Miami.

 

Gordon: Where and when did you serve as an intern writer and what was your most memorable experience that you had when working there?

 

Cole: I served as an intern writer for close to a year with Our National Conversation and my most memorable experience was participating in a podcast that included a very impressive intern, Ryan Dulaney, and former US Ambassador to Cyprus, John M. Koenig.

 

Gordon: You are a Features Writer at Catholic365. What is one of your favorite articles that you have written, and why is it one of your favorites?

 

Cole: I have been lucky to write so many articles on Catholic365, but my favorite are the ones that deal with Holy See international relations. For this reason, I must single out my article titled "The Abrahamic Family House Displays a Peaceful Future for Faith Loving People". I liked this article best because it represents the greatest part of Pope Francis's pontificate, his role as a unifier of different religions and nationalities.


This specific event focused on the opening of a religious complex that includes a Christian, Muslim, and Jewish house of worship and follows the groundbreaking peace deals led most notably by Pope Francis, Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb, and the late President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as well as his son and current President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.


Focusing on our common similarities and goals allows us to act like the Good Samaritan. We may be different religions, but that does not limit our ability to treat each other with dignity and work to make a more charitable world.

 

Gordon: Please provide an overview of your book Foreign Policy in 4 Hours, Afghanistan 2021: An analysis of why the United States of America abandoning its ally, Afghanistan, is against its national self-interest?

 

Cole: Foreign Policy in 4 Hours, Afghanistan 2021 was my attempt to explain where the USA went wrong in Afghanistan and what we could have done to fix our issues in the past and for future endeavors, all in a four hour’s read. Additionally, I wanted to dispel many popular fallacies, most notably the idea of Afghans giving up.


We were so lucky for so many years to be allied with amazing Afghan defenders in our quest to help the de jure Islamic Republic of Afghanistan reach high living standards and vastly more freedom. I will not give away too much, but suffice to say I was really distraught that a nation of over 30 million people lost their freedoms nearly overnight. I really hope the Taliban can become better leaders to help the Afghan people reach their true goals we helped them get much closer to, but I fear other policies will continue to be implemented.

 

Gordon: What are some of the current challenges in Jordan and what are your recommendations on how they should be addressed?

 

Cole: Jordan, like all nations, faces way too many problems to mention. The major challenge I have focused on is the confluence of Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric and support, Palestinian refugees, and anti-monarchy demonstrations. Jordan has been placed as one of the protectors of Christians and Muslims, and thus Palestinians in the Holy Land.


Furthermore, Jordan borders Palestine and Israel. Therefore, Jordan had been an early ally of Palestine and Jordan's Hashemite Dynasty has generously taken in millions of Palestinian refugees. This has led to the peculiar situation where ethnic Palestinians likely outnumber ethnic Jordanians in Jordanian citizenship. This is one of the reasons Jordanians are scared to let in more Palestinian refugees because they fear losing their own nation by becoming a decreasing minority.

 

Meanwhile, Jordan's Royal Family is a key ally of the USA and has sought peaceful relations with Israel. This reality has angered many Jordanians who are either ethnically Palestinians or are family and friends with Palestinians. Therefore, Jordan's deals to trade with Israel for water and energy, and their deals to have US Armed Forces in Jordan to protect the nation against radical forces like ISIS have been spun to allege that King Abdullah II is an American puppet who supports Israel.


These accusations are not passive either as certain Palestinian factions have tried to topple the monarchy’s rule through past revolutions. These revolutions largely followed the rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood, which continues to be a major piece of the opposition. Last decade's Arab Spring largely targeted the monarchy using talking points shared by the Muslim Brotherhood. This opposition seeks the destruction of the USA and any deemed “American puppets” including allies like Egypt.


Therefore, Jordan's King Abdullah II faces a potential violent revolution if the opposition continues to successfully paint the king in red, white, and blue. This is one of the two major reasons for King Abdullah II’s hesitation into letting in more Palestinians as he could be essentially writing his death note with how popular radical and terrorist rhetoric and activity is among the Palestinian population.

 

Lastly, and most important for Catholic relief organizations is the predicament of Palestinian refugees themselves. The Kingdom of Jordan, its opposition, and others like Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon all are concerned that if Palestinians seek refuge outside their borders, Israel will simply take over Palestine and not allow for Palestinians to return.


This is why many leading Catholics seek a cease-fire, safety corridors, and other measures because they understand that all nations involved see refugee settlement as permanent rather than temporary and are therefore not likely to push for this option. This has put King Abdullah II and his opposition in a pickle because both options seem terrible. One may save Palestinians, but would likely end their dreams of a country. The other may keep the dream of a country alive, but would likely lead to massive death tolls.

 

Therefore, I would advise King Abdullah II to maintain diplomatic contact with leading actors in the region and push for compromises that keep a two-state solution alive. Additionally, I would advise King Abdullah II to speak to his less popular allies about painting him as the main pro-Palestinian representative in the various negotiations and to credit him for any “wins” by the Palestinian side. This would help fight the oppositions’ image of an “American puppet” king and restore strength in the Hashemite Dynasty.

 

Gordon: Please tell us why we should honor Saint George.

 

Cole: There are many stories about Saint George and we may never know which ones are correct. However, what is important is the memory of his martyrdom and subsequent canonization. It shows people of Faith that our most important investment is not in the S&P 500, but is our spiritual investment to reach Heaven. Furthermore, there is a push in England to not celebrate Saint George's Day by various sects of society.


They push against Saint George by claiming that people use his memory to support bad causes. This is a dangerous precedent in the English-speaking world because it establishes the idea that others can usurp our religion and then eradicate our traditions. Therefore, we will never be able to celebrate anything religious, national, or traditional because there are always going to be people that use good for bad. This will eradicate our ability to show gratitude to our heroes, as well as eliminate models for our future generations to seek inspiration from.


We should all view ourselves beneath God, and we should all seek to follow the path of holy people. In many places from the City of Genoa, Italy to the country of Georgia, the home nation of England, and to many Christians, Muslims, and others across the world, Saint George is this hero and model we learn humbleness, charity, and honesty from. And would it not be great if an influential place like England regained its Christian-ethic? Hopefully when they do, it is through a return to the Catholic Church.

 

Gordon: You have also been a Featured Writer at the AYO Post. What are some of the issues that you addressed?

 

Cole: The AYO Post and its previous name as the ASEAN Youth Journal focuses on news in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a sort of European Union for Southeast Asia. These nations include Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, and the Philippines.


It has other non-full members, most notably East Timor and Papua New Guinea. This region is very important for the world and includes a diversity of religions that adds extra credibility to the people here. When the world's third largest Catholic nation (Philippines) and the world's most Catholic nation outside of those surrounded by Rome (East Timor), the most Buddhist nations (Thailand and Cambodia), and the world's largest Muslim-majority nation (Indonesia) creates policy, we should really pay attention.

 

My role with the AYO Post has been on foreign policy and sports in Southeast Asia so I have covered topics from sepak takraw medal results at the Southeast Asian Games to the Civil War in Myanmar.


My favorite completed article was on the success of the Philippines men's lacrosse team and my favorite research was on the success of the Thailand men's flag football team, both of which far exceeded expectations with the Philippines finishing top 15 in the world and Thailand becoming the champions of Asia and Oceania.


Tackle football is good in Singapore and the Philippines traditionally, but flag football is strongest throughout all of Southeast Asia. So watch out for ASEAN at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics when flag football makes its debut.

 

Gordon: What is the importance of America’s Pacific family?

 

Cole: If the USA was the United Kingdom, we would be called the USAO, the United States of America and Oceania just as the UK's official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Why you may ask? It is because the USA is present in multiple continents, most notably North America and Oceania. Technically, there are arguments to make for Asia too, but we will ignore that debate for now. What is undeniably true is that our 50th state is in Oceania and thus, the "Pacific" region. Additionally, we have many more territories here, most notably American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.


Because of this reality, and our close partnerships we have shared with Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France, and the many independent nations of the Pacific, the Western world under US hegemony has effectively controlled nearly the whole Pacific from Macquarie Island of Tasmania (and arguably Western claims in Antarctica) to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Combined with new allies like Japan, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and the Philippines, we have created an eastern boundary to establish an area where the rules based order reigns supreme from free trade to national sovereignty, environmental regulations, and liberty.


The Pacific is the largest in the world and combined with the Indian Ocean, equals the most important area for world-trade. Nearly 37% of the world's economy is directly connected with major ports like Shanghai and Los Angeles-Long Beach, and when you add in the Indian Ocean through the passage where ASEAN is, this number shoots up past 60%.

 

Additionally, this region is very important for Christians and Catholics. Nearly every entity in Oceania from countries to territories are Chrsitian majorities with many being Catholic-majorities such as Guam (USA) and Wallis and Fatuna (France), the two most Catholic regions of the USA and France, and one of the USA's three closest allies in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).


However, many people do not recognize these places as being important because most people are unaware of ocean territory, diplomatic strategy, and their implications for war.

 

First, global citizens need to understand that countries are not just the size of their land, but also the size of their waters. The nations of FSM, Palau, and the Marshall Islands may not even show up on your map, but when combined with the nearby US territories and Hawaii, equals an area exceeding the lower 48 states. These three nations are our closest allies and share our military giving our Armed Forces an extra three quarters of land and sea control.

 

These conditions have traditionally been shared across the Pacific through either America, France, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand, but now is under threat by a non-Western likely adversarial nation seeking world dominance.

 

The first goal of this hegemonic nation is to conquer nations diplomatically without force by establishing soft power through shared voting coalitions at the UN and popular pressure on various practices to weaken other nations through propaganda. The next goal is to gain hard power by setting up military and spy bases, followed by making their host nations a vassal or directly part of their country like the USSR did with Poland and Lithuania, so that its country effectively is larger and more capable to attack others.


This is already happening in the Pacific as this potential adversary has been using bribery and other illegal tactics to remove recognition of Taiwan, to form voting coalitions, and in some nations using hard power. Examples include Hawaii’s southern neighbor, Catholic-majority Kiribati, that allegedly has a spying base targeted against the US while Australia’s eastern neighbor the Solomon Islands allegedly struck a deal to allow for a military base and secret police from the same adversarial nation. Full takeover of other nations’ territories are also happening in the Pacific’s South China Sea, west of the Western world’s first line of defense. The end goal is for this country to become the world super power and replace the USA’s hegemony.

 

If you think your child is getting a bad education or your civil liberties are slowly being eroded now, imagine when all of the wealthy elites that donate to the schools, media, and political campaigns now are coerced to tow a literal party-line because 60% of the world's wealth is no longer protected by the USA and is controlled by an ideology that sees religion and America as evil.


The Pacific people have been putting pressure on their governments to stay with the West despite the Western nations often producing far worse deals. What other part of the world including in the US itself or our Church would take worse deals and less money because they love liberty and Christianity more? Thus, the American Pacific Family is very important because it forms a key part of our ally coalition.

 

Gordon: If you had the opportunity to change one US policy in foreign affairs, what would it be, and how should we address it?

 

Cole: This will be controversial but I would say promoting America in our media and schools. We should not censor classes and the media, with the exception of child protections, for the First Amendment is very important.


But, we can combat the inevitable anti-American education and news with pro-American classes and news, such as civic classes taught by veterans or a Voice of America at home. Just like many prominent Catholics have become defenders of the Church against many false allegations or misconceptions, we need Americans to become defenders of the US and engage in every argument thrown at it.


A great example is in Afghanistan. How many times was the war in Afghanistan described as an invasion as if the USA went into Afghanistan like the Soviet Union went into Hungary? Most people forget that the USA were asked, pleaded for, and invited into Afghanistan by the legal rulers of Afghanistan and were helping the Afghan people fight against an armed minority that a large majority have never supported there! We spent so much money, risked so many lives, only for the USA to depart Afghanistan from propaganda originating from the USA, because what group of people would feel good if they were constantly told that a majority of the nation they were risking their lives for did not want them there, that they were an occupying force, that they were committing war crimes, and that their own people were dying in high numbers?


Whether the USA should have been in Afghanistan or not is a whole other argument, but the fact remains that the USA stopped fighting when they controlled all the provincial capitals, most of the land, and population. The USA did not lose the war because the Taliban were more powerful, the USA left because the people in America were constantly told how awful we were to be there with no rebuttal.


In the future, the USA will be in a conflict where it will be detrimental to the fate of the free world like World War Two and the Cold War and the war will most likely be won the same way the Taliban did, by using the vast network of anti-American propaganda in our own nation and our aversion to anything even hinting at domestic propaganda.


Right now, all of us are living in a world run by Pravda, as certain Eastern European nations, East Asian nations, Middle East nations, and their proxies control all the narratives to weaken the US from the inside because we actually have an electorate that can control election outcomes. What we need is for people to get a diversity of information so the truth wins out and that diversity will only come by injecting pro-American viewpoints into America too.


Only then will Americans get to decide the future of their nation with the full potential of the First Amendment, when both negative and positive views are shared for our people to learn from.

 

Gordon: Thank you for an exceptional and informative interview.

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