Marie Antoinette’s cake

Maybe, finally, what I have been writing about for the last 30 years is beginning to enter the mainstream.

At a recent conference of the political elite in Sydney, Peter Varghese, the former Head of the Australian Foreign Affairs Department said:

“ . . . I wonder whether this is a gathering of the Ancien Regime and we are all eating cake at Marie Antoinette’s party. One day we might wake up to find the peasants are revolting.”

The only thing he got wrong is that the peasants have already revolted, hence Trump, Brexit and here in Australia Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party.

The political elite/progressives agendas are based on the ideas of the 1960s Permissive Society, outmoded ideas that have failed catastrophically to meet the needs of Western societies. Every indicator of civilized life is going backwards: divorce rates, drug abuse, violent crime, home ownership etc.

For the first time in many generations the present young adult generation will not have as good a life as their parents. This is all the consequence of laissez faire capitalism, and laissez faire neo-liberalism.

Maybe a sea-change is on the horizon? On TV the American series MADAME SECRETARY, and in books the successful Inspector Brunetti series of Donna Leon, are based on successful marriages and happy families – and not the usual divorced, recovering alcoholic, omniscient and frequently violent protagonist that is the noir norm these days.

The only disturbing factor for me is that MADAME SECRETARY still clings to the 19th Century attitudes of American exceptionalism and its divine right to re-create the world in its image, ignoring the realities of its own violent, drug crazed, money obsessed and fractured society.

Donna Leon, who is herself an American, but expatriated to Venice for many years, has a much more realistic view of the world as it is, and not as we wish it to be:

“ . . . how to persuade the Romanians to stop picking pockets, the Gypsies to stop sending their children to break into homes . . . in Venice. And on the mainland . . . asking the Moldovians to stop selling 13 year-olds and the Albanians to stop selling drugs . . and the possibility of persuading Italian men to stop wanting young prostitutes and cheap drugs.”

And, in the same vein as Donna Leon, I try to present the Middle East (or more precisely the oil-rich Arabian/Persian Gulf region) as it really is, and not as The West wish it to be.

In my first book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, I dealt with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. In the book I am writing now, GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”, I am dealing with the ongoing effects of that wealth which lead to the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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

Eight years ago America elected its first Black President – or did they?

Certainly Barack Obama’s Father was a black African, but his Mother was a white American, and his Father left when Barack was 2 years old and had nothing to do with raising his son from then on. And Barack was raised and educated by his Mother and his white Grandmother. So he was not really even half-Black. So there is the (less-than) half truth.

His presidency hasn’t been bad, and it hasn’t been too good either. He failed to make any break through in the chaos that is the Middle East – and his lack of action in Syria left a vacuum that allowed Russia to re-establish itself as a major player. And then just a few weeks ago he signed a US$38 Billion aid package for Israel that will enable them to continue to terrorize the Palestinians (and the Lebanese, and probably the Jordanians?)

BUT,

Out of a clear blue sky (Obama was on holiday in Hawaii) he allowed the USA to abstain, for the very first time, in a UN Security Council vote censuring Israel (for building illegal settlements on the West Bank) – and he allowed John Kerry to make a sharply critical speech of Israel on the same subject. At last truth seeped into the half truth – even if in truth Obama had nothing to lose. He was not up for re-election, and the Democrats had lost the White House anyway.

The existence of Israel, and its cynical lip-service to the 2 State solution, is at the heart of instability and chaos in the Middle East. The Israelis have every intention of annexing the West Bank, and having achieved that they will launch attacks against Jordan on the grounds of “security” because of course the Palestinians will launch counter-attacks from Jordan (there are more exiled Palestinians in Jordan then there are Jordanians). The Israelis will never be satisfied until they own the whole of the Middle East and its Holy sites and valuable oilfields.

The solution is simple. America is the enabler of Israeli terrorism and it should withhold its US$38 Billion aid package until Israel conforms with the UN Resolutions that are in place. There is a precedent. The 25 years of “The Troubles” with the IRA in Northern Island were brought to an abrupt end when the America found the guts – and political will – to denounce the IRA as a terrorist organization, and make it illegal to send them funds.

If you want insights into the present chaos and confusion in the Middle East, from Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration to 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, 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 five comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

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

www.feedaread.com

Lest We Forget

At the moment I am watching a CNN documentary about the 1970s. An era that saw the advent of cable TV, the 24 hour news cycle, NIXON and the Watergate scandal – and the ignominious end of the VIETNAM War.

And it is that last segment that resonates with me. I lived in the USA in the mid-1960s, and many of my young colleagues were drafted to fight in Viet Nam. I was even taken off a bus to Canada and questioned by the FBI as a potential draft dodger. Fortunately I had already done military service in the UK, and was not eligible for the draft.

And one of my best friends here in Australia fought in the Viet Nam war. In fact we first met on vacation in Viet Nam.

 The CNN segment on the war ends with a clip of the presenter standing in Arlington Cemetery among the endless rows of white headstones marking the graves of young Americans who died in Viet Nam, and he says,

“If any future President ever thinks of going into a foreign war again, he should visit this place before he makes that decision. The Viet Nam War cost America 7 trillion dollars, the lives of 56,000 young Americans, and more than a hundred thousand wounded – some of whom will never recover from their injuries.”

He spoke those words in 1974 – and what he didn’t say was that it was all to no avail. When the Americans left Viet Nam after 10 years of bloody conflict the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese swept into Saigon and took over the South.

Now think Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The body-bags still keep coming home (although figures are no longer published) – and the cost escalates to unimaginable numbers, not just in trillions of dollars, but in civilians killed and maimed and forced to flee their countries as refugees. Will no American President learn the lessons of (recent) history and heed George Washington’s words:

“Interventionists are the result of refined education on minds of a peculiar structure,”

If you want insights into the recent history, and the chaos and confusion in the Middle East read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. It is written from the points of view of the archetypal expatriates who washed up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf prior to the events of 9/11. They were victims of power-mad politicians’ wars, greedy finance house excesses – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out of control drug-crazed teenage children.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites for the USA, UK, Germany and Spain, and download it if you have a Kindle.

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

www.feedaread.com

Lest We Forget

Here in Australia ANZAC day, commemorating first of all the carnage of the failed landing at Gallipolli in WWI and then the many Aussies and Kiwis who fell in WWII, Korea, VietNam, Afghanistan and Iraq – is a valiant attempt to prevent people forgetting the terrible sacrifice and struggle that has created and maintained this amazing Western civilization we are living in. But people all too easily do forget, and live in a world of endless entertainment and denial.

          WWI slaughtered 10 million people and was supposed be the war to end all wars and create a world fit for heroes. No such thing happened.

          Quite apart from all the fallen heroes, there are many more who remain alive but whose lives have been shattered by the horrors of war. What used to be called simply shell shock, and is now labelled as post traumatic stress disorder, is affecting more and more veterans in this better educated and informed world as they realize the futility of fighting in the dirty wars of vainglorious politicians.

         In my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” there are two stories that deal with the effects of war on young men.

        The first concerns Dudley, a young British cavalry officer who fought in the Battle for the Buraimi Oasis, a proxy war between the USA and Britain fought in the Trucial States of the Arabian Peninsula to gain control of the massive oil deposits of The Empty Quarter.

        The second concerns Buddy, an American volunteer Marine who fought in VietNam. He went away a hero and returned to the booes and jeers of the anti-Vietnam college boy intelligentsia.

       All too soon these wars have been forgotten to be replaced by the futile wars of attrition in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      And without wanting to trivialize the horrors of war – was it only 2008 when the GFC happened? Already the stock market is being pumped to unsustainable highs, and the real estate market is booming because interest rates are low. What will happen when (not if) they rise: another toxic mortgage/banking scandal.

      And one of the stories in my book concerns Captain Bob (Robert Smith) a supertanker captain who lost his life savings in the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the Dubai based bank that went under in yet another banking scandal. And Dubai almost went under a mountain of debt in the GFC, and yet here it is again powering ahead with yet another property boom.

HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET

 

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

I hope you enjoy it.