It’s not all about oil anymore

The tagline to my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, set in the context of the recent past of the Persian/Arabian Gulf, states:

It’s all about oil . . . “

and I still believe that holds true for most of the 20th Century  Iran – and it was certainly true from 1936 when the Americans discovered vast reserves of cheap crude oil in Saudi Arabia.

But the Americans, having discovered vast reserves of shale oil and gas at home, are no longer dependent on Middle East crude oil. They have shifted their geo-political focus onto the Far East. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the Syrian civil war are disappearing from the headlines. And what about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that drove most of the 20th Century chaos in the Middle East?

Flying under the rader, the Israelis have taken possession of more than 70 % of the former Palestine. Of the remaining 30% (the West Bank, supposedly set aside for the Palestinian State) the Israelis continue to build settlements in strategic locations, linked by settler only roads. Effectively they are now in control of the West Bank, and the two state solution is dead. How long will it be before they annex the West Bank – and then what next?

If you believe my Arab friends, the Israelis will never be satisfied until they control the whole of the Middle East. They will, under the pretext of national security, attempt to annex Jordan – the home of so many displaced Palestinians.

In the meantime I grieve for the characters I created to tell the turbulent story of the oil rich Middle East. The flotsam and jetsam that washed up in The Gulf for a variety of reasons. Archetypal expatriates. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, driven to the fringes of Western society trying to survive.

Poor old Uncle Tom, diabetic and obese and impotent. Unable to give his wife Hettie the child she wanted so desperately. His foster son Ray, the brave SAS trooper whose fiancee cheated on him while he was away fighting in the Dhofar campaign – a hidden politicians war.

And the equally brave Dudley, a young cavalry lieutenant leading desert patrols in the Trucial States, fighting tribesmen in the Battle for Buraimi Oasis – a proxy war between Britain and the USA.

And Captain Bob who, when he lost his command of a supertanker, lost his command – and submitted to the ferocious attacks of the shrew of his social climbing Glaswegian wife.

And my narrator Mick, a journalist of the old school, grubbing around in all the darkest corners exposing corruption and hypocrisy regardless of the personal cost. It cost him the love of his life – Leila – the lovely young Palestinian woman from the refugee camps trying to pass as a Lebanese flight attendant because she just wanted a husband, and a normal life.

And it almost cost him the friendship of his life-long friend Pete Moore, a talented geologist and succesful businessman who was too high-minded and naïve to withstand the blandishments of Natalya, a 19 year old Kosovan whore, and the threats of her brutal Albanian pimps.

All of this is fading into history as international attention shifts to the Far East, and the maniac who is running North Korea. Here in Australia, even that story takes second and third place to the debate about gay marriage – and the citizenship requirements of senators. Both subjects rank somewhere between 0 and 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. How low can we go?

THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, deals with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. You can preview my book on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com

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The Microcosm reflects the Macrocosm

Attempting to integrate into a small coastal community in Australia I joined the Progress Association assuming that they would be working diligently to develop the as yet underdeveloped community.

I walked out of the first meeting, thoroughly bored, on the edge of resorting to primal scream therapy. I gritted my teeth and stayed on at the second meeting while they continued to discuss in some detail weeds that were sprouting on a street corner, the price of tomatoes in the local supermarket, and whether we could spend A$230.00 on paint.

On the other hand, they blithely announced they had authorized spending A$83,000.00 on a feasibilty study (repeat feasibility study) to widen the cycle track on the road bridge across the river.

To their credit the committee anounced that they too were bored by penny-ante discussions about weeds and paint and the price of tomatoes, and were planning to produce a strategic plan for the development of the community. Hurrah! all well and good.

BUT,

the committee are going to produce this plan in a closed session without consultation or input from members, or the general public. When I objected to this I was shouted down – and I mean shouted down – with the saying “We are not going to listen and take note of a bunch of people spouting their opinions.”

And they wonder why BREXIT, and Trump, and here in Australia Pauline Hanson. The general public is tired of entitled groups making plans in secret, without consuktation, and then pushing their agenda down people’s throats, regardless.

My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” places the plight of expatriates washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf in its political context. Ordinary people caught in the extraordinary clashes between cultures, and the agendas of narcissistic rulers and vainglorious politicians, and uber-rich businessmen and media moguls, all seeking to shape the world to their own advantage.

(Note: Google the meeting in 2008 on Lord Rothchild’s yacht anchored off Corfu, just as the world teered on the edge of the GFC. It was attended by Lord Sainsbury, Lord (Peter) Mandelson, George Osbourne, David Cameron, Rupert Murdoch, and the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska etc.)

Most of the people who read my book get the political context and the clash of cultures – but only two readers, both women, have seen that my book works on other levels. It exposes the gulf between the “haves”, and the “have nots” – and the gulf between men and women. The latter exposes not only the way Arabs treat women, but also the way greedy and faithless Western wives treat their husbands. Spousal abuse is not the sole prerogative of men.

You can preview my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com

What was the use of Magna Carta?

And what was the use of The Peasants’ Revolt, or the Russian Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, or indeed the iconic French Revolution with its motto ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’? All of these were brutal reactions to oppression by entitled elites who refused to relax their grasp on their privileged lives.

What we are seeing now, with a wave of populism so sneered at by the privileged elite, is a (so far) less bloody reaction to the oppression of laissez-faire globalized capitalism that has served only to enrich the rich and beggar the poor.

Here in Australia the government propped up the banks during the GFC with A$700 Billion (of tax payers money) in loan guarantees. 9 years on the banking sector is still behaving in the same reckless manner, pumping up the property market with shaky loans, and issuing worthless paper.

House prices are now 10 times the average wage, and household debt is at 189% of disposable income – twice what it was 10 years ago. There are in circulation complex derivatives to a paper value of 12 times the actual value of the total GDP. And the experts, the pundits, wonder why the rise of populism. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

And what are our leaders doing about it? Nothing – because almost without exception they have their hands in the till, or their noses in the trough. They are prospering on the back of this bubble. Mike Baird, the former NSW Prime Minister, resigned and within 5 weeks walked into a banking job at a salary in excess of A$2 million, and negotiated a mortgage in excess of A$1 million to buy a house in a swanky suburb. The feeling is that he negotiated this golden parachute before he quit.

The property boom is being driven by speculators using negative gearing to lower their tax burden – and by black money coming in from China and the obscene profits from the ‘Ice’ epidemic that is sweeping Australia.

Donald Trump was right in saying “It’s time to drain the swamp.” No wonder he was elected instead of the criminal Clintons.

And Britain is right to exit the European Union – another club designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many. With the most recent terrorist attack in Paris it is looking likely that Marine Le Pen will become French President and take France out of the EU.

I am no supporter of right wing governments, or fascism – but I understand from history all to well how it comes about. It is the fault of the decadent and narcissistic fools who think they are entitled to rule without reference to the wishes of the common man. Google NARCISSIM and see what I mean.

My 12 odd years of economic imposed exile in the lonely oil camps of the Middle East gave me time think, read many good books, and observe Western so-called civilization from afar with detachment. And the company of the expatriate flotsam and jetsam that washed up in THE GULF for whatever reasons (financial ruin at the hands of banks, unfaithful wives, out of control drugged out teenage children, a weariness of fighting in politicians wars – Vietnam, Buraimi, Dhofar, The Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq – or just a general sick-to-the-stomach reaction to the consumerist ‘greed-is-good’ and ‘obesity-is-the-norm’ lifestyle in The West) – and exposure to austere Islam – gave me a wealth of material to write my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”.

Although it is a work of fiction, it is journalistic because the stories start from real events I witnessed – or were reported to me by reliable sources during my 40 years in and out of The Gulf. It is written from the points of view of those expatriates washed up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf.

You can preview my book on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites:

www.amazon.com www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com

Writing is like living life twice

Writing is a hard discipline that gives you headaches, sleepless nights – and a bad back. But a wonderful thing about writing is the threads that weave into stories unbidden – and only reveal themselves later.

My first book – THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” was written on weekends as short stories while living in an oilfield camp in Saudi Arabia and based on my 40 years experiences in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. There were 10 stories – two from each decade. But when YouWriteOn (the UK Arts Council initiative designed to encourage new writing) offered to publish a book for me, I realized I didn’t have a book – just a collection of stories. I had to weave those stories into a narrative.

I chose to do this through the eyes of a young and idealistic journalist sent out from the UK to cover the region. I topped and tailed the stories with a fictitious beginning and end for the fictitious journalist’s career. And when I had finished I realized that, subconsciously, the thread running through the book is a classic hero’s journey.

I have made several false starts on the sequel GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”, but recently, using a peripheral story from my first book set in aftermath of the war in Kosovo, I realize that this has set the tone for that book.

In the Kosovo excerpt a Serb policeman makes the point that UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) and the O.S.C.E. (Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe) are desperate to prove that they were not wrong to back the Albanians against the Serbs.

But in researching the story again I find that now, General Wesley Clarke, the Supreme Allied Commander NATO during the Kosovo War, believes that NATO intervened on the wrong side. And Carla del Ponte, the former special prosecutor of ICTY (the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) produced a book, THE HUNT, in 2008 that contained “serious and credible allegations” that the Albanians had transported 3-400 Serb prisoners from Kosovo, harvested their organs – and then killed them. These allegations were backed by The Council for Europe.

This is by no means the first time The West has blundered in and created chaos. Politicians understand the issues (maybe) – but they don’t understand the people. They don’t understand the tribalism, the depth of ethnic hatreds and the desire for revenge going back centuries that is rife in the Middle East and The Balkans. And so they blunder around and make things worse.

In the Middle East think Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration, and Britain’s neglect of its mandates in The Gulf, and the 5 fold increase in crude oil prices that funded the rise of fundamental Islam leading to the events of 9/11. And now Gulf II that destabilized the region and led to ISIS.

Read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Although it is a work of fiction, it is journalistic because the stories start from real events I witnessed – or were reported to me by reliable sources during my 40 years in The Gulf.

It is written from the points of view of those sources, archetypal expatriates who washed up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf. They were victims of power-mad politicians’ proxy wars,(The Buraimi Oasis, the Dhofar Campaign, the Viet Nam War), greedy finance house excesses (IOS, BCCI, Lonrho, Lloyds of London etc.) – and in some cases just victims of Madame Bovary style Western wives, and out-of-control, drug-crazed teenage children.

You can preview my book on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites:

www.amazon.com

www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com