Jerusalem

The tagline to my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is:

‘It’s all about Oil’

Certainly in my working lifetime in the 20th Century international oil industry that appeared to be true. But in the new Millenium, the brutal Palestine/Israeli conflict became ever more prominent, and then with 9/11, the Gulf War, the Arab Spring, and the Syrian Civil War, came the rise of Da’esh (ISIS), which seemed to be the ultimate in atavistic and barbaric behaviour.

But in Biblical terms, Da’esh are absolutely within the context of Middle Eastern history. For the past 3,000 years, ever since Abraham(Ibrahim), it has always been the scene of cruel, bloody and brutal conflict. And maybe it always will be, for this is the site of Armageddon.

‘It’s all about Religion’

I have just watched Simon Montefiori’s documentary JERUSALEM that traces the history of this, the most Holy of Cities, from Canaanite paganism, through Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And the number of times it has been besieged, destroyed and rebuilt – all involving unbelievable levels of cruelty and barbarism – is mind boggling.

And after each destruction they rebuilt the city and its temples and shrines over the ruins of the religious sites of the previous occupiers, sometimes using the same stones. In exactly the same way The Holy Bible built on The Torah, and The Holy Qu’ran built on the Old Testament and the New Testament – and is proclaimed as the Final Testament. Yet we are all ‘People of the Book’ – followers of the same one God.

I have to admit that the focus of my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is very narrow in terms of the religious strife that has riven the Middle East throughout the centuries. To try and correct this I am writing a sequel, GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”, based on the Biblical Quotation:

“And ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars: see that ye are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass – but the end is not yet. For Nation shall rise against Nation, and Kingdom against Kingdom: and there shall be Famine, and Pestilences, and Earthquakes in divers places. All these are The Beginning of Sorrows.”

In the meantime, if you want insights into the chaos and confusion in the Middle East from Britain’s neglect of its mandates in The Gulf, and the 5 fold increase in crude oil prices that funded the rise of Islam, until 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 (BCCI, Lonrho, Lloyds of London, IOS etc.) – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out-of-control, drug-crazed teenage children.

You can preview my book on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites for the USA and 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

Advertisements

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

Why am I a Sceptic/Cynic?

I had a happy childhood. I am by nature optimistic – and yet I am sceptical of everything I see and hear – because:

My first management role was as Group Leader of SHELL’s jet fuel lab near Heathrow. My first project was the field testing of a water detector that had been developed by SHELL’s prestigious Amsterdam Research Laboratorium – and I, and my 3 research assistants, could not make it work.

Under intense pressure from my boss – and feeling like a failure who had fallen at the first fence – and in the throes of a panic attack at 3 am, I thought the unthinkable. What if Amsterdam were wrong? It took me and my assistants a morning in the lab to show that they were wrong.

I rushed to my boss shouting “Amsterdam are wrong.”. He was aghast. “You can’t say that,” was his reponse. And I had to invent a bullshit technology invoking Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to explain the difference between lab results and field experience. The SHELL Water Detector is still in safe use at most of the world’s airports – thanks to my 3 am panic attack.

Very much later, I was the Manager of SGS Redwood’s Production Laboratory in Aberdeen that devised the crude oil Production Allocation scheme for the EKOFISK field with the Norwegain Petroleum Directorate; and for Occidental’s PIPER/CLAYMORE oilfields. On that basis we were invited to participate in the development of a scheme for the vastly more complex Sullom Voe Terminal project along with SHELL, ESSO, BP and ICI.

Test samples were sent to all the labs for analysis – and the results were sent to a Cambridge PhD for collation and analysis. He issued a report that made no sense to anybody. Les Berqvist from ESSO then asked the 64K question, “What is the baseline you have used to compare the results?” His confident answer, “My results, of course.”

Instead of applying well known statistical methods to analyze all results, including his own, he had made the vain and arrogant assumption that his results were the most accurate – and he was hostile, embarrassed and defensive when he was found out. Contrary to popular belief, scientists are human. They are frequently vain, intellectually arrogant, insecure and desperate for recognition. And under intense pressure to conform to orthodox beliefs in order to attract funding.

Think what George Orwell said:

“At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas, which it is assumed right-thinking people will accept without question.”(GlobalWarming) ”Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without any need for an official ban.” (think the late Dr. David Kelly, and Iraqi WMD)

Just like the scientists, the neo-Cons and neo-Liberals are so certain of their righteousness that they feel justified in spinning their half truths – and their outright lies. Tony B-Liar is still maintaining it was right to get rid of Saddam Hussein, in spite of the hundreds of thousands killed and being killed, maimed and being maimed in Iraq and Syria, the millions of refugees being displaced into Jordan, Turkey, and on into Europe – and the rise of ISIS, a far more terrifying and effective terrorist group than Al Qa’eda. He needs to seek asylum – in a psychiatric unit.

If you want more insights into the chaos and confusion that preceded all this 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 powermad 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

Stop the World – I want to get off

Am I the only sane person on this planet?

At the present moment there is 11 times more financial instruments being traded worldwide than the total World GDP. A massive bubble waiting to burst. Here in Australia private debt is 250% of GDP, and yet, in order to buy a house young couples are being encouraged to extend themselves, and borrow 8 times their joint incomes.

Yet the cause of the most recent Global Financial Crisis was the Banks and investment houses selling mortgages that they knew people could not afford (i.e. they committed fraud) and then bet against those toxic financial instruments so that they made billions when they failed. And nobody went to jail.

And the IMF have admitted that they allowed Greece to draw down 2,000 times more than the agreed safe borrowing limit. And, of course, nobody can find the papers on that, or who was responsible for signing it off.

Stop the World I want to get off.

Now the neo-liberal urban elite are decrying BREXIT, in spite of the fact that there are already 8.5 million immigrants in the UK, with more to come, in a country about a third the size of New South Wales, with a permanent population of 60 million. And the much vaunted trade with Europe is running at a Euros 89 Billion deficit per year for the UK. The EU is dominated by an anti-British bureacracy in Brussels, run by a drunken old fool, that has actively encouraged, and funded the transfer of British manufacturing and technology across to Eastern Europe.

Stop the World I want to get off.

And now on a global basis it is predicted that Robotics, and the “Internet of Everything” will be a new Industrial (Digital) Revolution that will throw millions of people out of work. And still we hear that Globalization – a euphemism for Americanization – the only way for mankind to proper.

Are we all going to emulate a society whose only philosophy is “Get rich quick”? A violent society riven by racism, where almost every citizen owns a gun: with 20,000 gun murders a year (including massacres in schools, colleges and gay clubs), with 200,000 aggravated assaults and 200,000 (reported) rapes a year – where 2.5 million citizens are in jail with a further 1 Million on parole – and where the President and Commander in Chief of 40% of the world’s miltary with his/her finger on the trigger is either going to be an ego-maniac jingoist with a ridiculous combover, or a crazed geriatric chipmunk with an adulterous husband: a Wall Street puppet whose CV is littered with shady business dealings who has shown ignorance of, or cavalier disregard for, even the most basic disciplines of national security.

Stop the World I want to get off.

But I guess it was always so. Look at the chaos in the Middle East, whose past is littered with fools, carpetbaggers, despots, religious zealots and power crazed politicians – and outright thieves. If you want insights into how it got into such a mess read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”.

It is a linked series of character studies of archetypal expatriates who wash up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf, victims of powermad politicians’ wars, greedy finance house excesses – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out of control drug-addled teenage children. Welcome to the modern world.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

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

Is the (male) Working Class Hero dead?

In the last three books I have read, the protaganists have been 23 year old, American, white, female college graduates out in the exciting and frightening wide world for the first time. Is this the new trope for the classic hero’s journey?

My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is also a classic hero’s journey – and my protaganist is indeed 23 years old and white; but male, and from the working class, and not college educated. Nevertheless he feels alienated and guilty because he has abandoned the hard life of his mates in the shipyard, and works as a journalist. He is a foreign correspondent out in the wide world for the first time. And it is probably this guilt that fuels his rage against Britain’s elitist foreign policies, and against his entitled University educated colleagues in the media.

For the working class male – and the cannon-fodder foot- soldier who fights not for Queen and Country, but for his comrades in arms – loyalty to your mates/comrades is central to your sense of masculinity. To rise above it, and break ranks is a betrayal.

But a sense of honour, comradeship, and betrayal is archaic now. We have moved so far away from the social revolution of the 1950s,(when the working class gained “free” access to higher education, and upward mobility), that feelings of guilt and alienation are riseable? And the anti-Viet Nam war riots of the 60s, and the Sexual Revolution, succeeded in putting women and under-25s on an equal footing with their Elders and Betters (who proved to be just older, and not better). And the feminist movement has succeeded in making it possible for 23 year old white females to be heros – and not heroines?

At least, for me, one benefit would be we no longer hear about John Lennon – the working class hero who never did a day’s work in his life.

The female protaganists do feel guilt, but it is because once the adrenaline rush of being out in a violent, unpredictable and squalid world has died, they come to realize that they are not connected. They are priveleged, affluent, healthy and hygenic, and wear nice expensive clothes – and always have a return ticket back to suburbia. This isolates them from the Third World residents they mingle with – for a while.

My protaganist Mick, coming from an underclass that has suffered the consequences of the blunderings of the ruling classes, and dying in the thousands in politicians’ wars, identifies all to easily with the Wretched of the Earth. So my stories are from the bottom up, while these new stories are top down.

Mick’s rage is a primal howl against the possibility of living a decent and honourable life in an increasingly squalid, corrupt and tawdry globalized world. As he says “The World is OK – it’s people who are pricks.”

I make no claim that my stories are better – but they are authentic, and felt, rather than observed. And it is my belief that any art form benefits from being an emotional journey – not intellectual. Perhaps in my next book the protaganist should be a 23 year old Liberalized Muslim woman? But then it would not be authentic. I am not a Muslim or a woman

THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is a linked series of character studies of the archetypal expatriates who wash up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf, victims of powermad politicians wars, and greedy finance houses excesses – and in some cases just victims of shopaholic wives, and out of control teenage children. Welcome to the modern world.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

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

Tribal Weaving

One of the criticisms levelled at BREXIT it that it will encourage the rise of nationalism in Europe. The irony of the European Union is that it has already presided over the rise of nationalism, and a descent into tribalism.

First we had the breakup of Yugoslavia, with only Serbia, Slovenia, and Croatia as viable economic entities, and the remainder as dependent entities for the forseeable future. Then Czechoslovakia broke up with Slovakia heavily dependent.

Now it seems that the UK might break up – with Scotland and Northern Ireland wanting to stay in the EU – and leave the UK. The EU encourages disintegration, with its promise of huge regional grants to support peripheral economies that actively encourages ethnic differences.

I am, on my Mother’s side, Anglo Saxon from Middle England, with surnames like Brown, Jackson and Washington, and possible distant realtionships with American Presidents. But on my Father’s side I am a Celt with grandparents from Greenock on Clydeside, and Wrexham, North Wales. I even have a Manx great grandmother, so there is some Viking in there. (And this raises the issue of The Shetlands, which are as much Norwegian in their thinking – UP HELLY Aa festival with Geizer Jarl and a procession of Vikings. And remember, The Shetlands were a gift from the Norwegians to the English Crown so legally does not belong to Scotland).

Where I was born and raised in England our neighbours were predominantly Irish – the Brandons, the Braddocks, the Burkeys and the Hollingsworths – and Welsh, the Williams, the Roberts and Jones’s. And where my grandparents lived they were mostly Scottish – the Lawsons, the McTaggarts, the McCallisters. And the Anglo, Irish, Welsh and Scottish children all freely intermarried. The idea of racial purity is atavistic.

The British are a mongrel nation of Anglo-Celts with dashes of Viking, Norman and even Roman blood – and it was this broad gene pool that produced the hybrid energy and dynamism that changed and enriched the whole world. It is unthinkable that we will go back to the atavistic extremes of nationalism, tribalism and ferocious clan loyalties.

We have just recently emerged from 25 years of the blood letting and brutality of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. A battle between two Celtic tribes with the English as “piggy-in-the-middle”. Imagine if Sinn Fein get their wish, and Northern Ireland stays in the EU, and the EU supports the unification of Ireland. How will the Protestant Celts respond? I forsee a civil war with Scottish Protestants joining the fray. It will be The Balkans all over again, with the Americans and the UN joining in and turning a crisis into a disaster.

It is exactly this sort of outside interference and intervention that has caused the sectarian rivalry and tribalism and the apocalyptic and brutal conflicts in the Middle East.

In my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” there is a story, TRIBAL WEAVING, that appears to support tribalism. In a way it does, because the yearning to return to the simpler nomadic life of a hunter/gather, (the Noble Savage), and escape the boredom of sedentary and tedious suburban living, is very strong, particularly in the hard-pressed Western male. But the story is more serious than that.

Iran had a democratically elected government under Mossadeq – but he was socialist, and so the Americans deposed him and placed the despicable Shah and his cronies in power. They tried to drive the nomadic tribes to settle in towns and villages so that they could seize their lands. And the people revolted and threw out The Shahinshah and replaced him with the Ayatollahs. Out of the frying pan and into . . .

If you want authentic insights into the chaos in the Middle East from 1960 that lead to the events of 9/11, 2001 then read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Based on 40 years working in the international oil industry it is a collection of stories about expatriates washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Flotsam and jetsam trying to survive in a rapidly changing and frequently violent world. You can preview it at:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

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

Second time Farce

The Chilcott report has confirmed what most of us suspected – that Bush and Blair were determined to go to war, and “sexed up” dubious intelligence to justify it. I hope that Dr. David Kelly’s widow gets millions in compensation – of course the relatives of the military personnel who died or were wounded, are not far behind.

Blair’s repeated assertion “I did not lie” is on a par (although much more serious) with his mate Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman”. Blair is either the biggest liar that ever existed – or his lying is pathological, and he is unable to distinguish lies from truth. And his assertion that the Middle East is better for his getting rid of Saddam is denial of the highest order. He needs to be sectioned and given electric shock treatment at a very high voltage. Or maybe he should just be “water-boarded”.

But Blair is not only a liar – he is also incompetent. Chilcott points out that the UK had no coherent plan for reorganising Iraq after the war was won. And the same goes for the Americans. If you want to put flesh on the bones of the Chilcott report then read Rory Stewart’s OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS (he was a British interim regional governor in Iraq after the war), and Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s IMPERIAL LIFE IN THE EMERALD CITY. He reports on the delusional triumphalism of State Department Yahoos inside the safety of the Green Zone, while they carefully ignore the chaos and danger outside the walls.

But why be surprised? The Middle East is littered with the delusions of Western politicians causing chaos, and the death and maiming of innocents. The Great Game; Britain’s disastrous forays into Afghanistan; Sykes/Picot; the Balfour Declaration; Suez; the Shah of Iran; the Iran/Iraq war when we backed Saddam – and the First Gulf War.

There was some moral basis for that war – after Saddam invaded Kuwait. But there is strong evidence that the US State Department gave Saddam the green light to invade – and evidence that they wildly exaggerated (sexed up) the strength of Saddam’s Imperial Guard giving them the excuse to massacre hundreds of Iraqi conscripts and civilians (including women and children) as they streamed out of Kuwait towards Baghdad along the “Mile of Death”.

Read the story ‘IF YOU DON’T, SOMEONE ELSE WILL’ in my book THE GULF  “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Very little of that story is fiction. I met the US Colonel who was responsible for re-supplying Desert Storm – and I was working for ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia during that war responsible for jet fuel quality. My description of the helicopter Forward Operating Base is from personal experience. And my description of the sickening massacre along the “Mile of Death” comes from TV footage shown in Saudi Arabia – and the reports of one of the few journalists allowed in.

The tag line for my book reads “It’s all about oil…” but that really only applies to the 20th century. The Middle East is the cradle of our civilization, and the crossroads of our world – and has always been the scene of conflict. Mesopotamia, The Fertile Crescent, The Silk Road, the Ur of Chaldea, the birth of monotheastic religions, Jerusalem and the rise of Islam and the bloody Christian Crusades. And I am quite sure that those atavistic struggles have always been littered with the lies and incompetence of vainglorious and narcissitic politicans. History repeats itself – first time tragedy – second time farce.

If you want authentic insights into the chaos in the Middle East from 1960 to the events of 9/11, 2001 then read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Based on 40 years working in the international oil industry it is a collection of stories about expatriates washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Flotsam and jetsam trying to survive in a rapidly changing and frequently violent world. You can preview it at:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

and download it if you have a Kindle. Or if you prefer a real book order the paperback direct from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com