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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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

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

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

Brave New World

With BREXIT, and the election of Donald Trump, I hope we have finally shaken off the 20th Century, and it’s 1960’s Civil Rights Industry philosophy of entitlement – and (16 years too late|)  we are finally ready to embrace the 21st century, and an era of democracy of the people, for the people, by the people.

     It is a shame that this movement has had to be led by people like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, and I sincerely hope that it does not lead to ultra-nationalism, – but the neo-liberals and neo-Cons have brought this on themselves. The excesses of libertarianism and globalization have led to an autocracy with a narcissistic obsession with wealth and celebrity, and has led to the destruction of millions of lives – and is the root cause of the present refugee crisis.

I have decided to issue a revised edition of my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” because its message, issued in 2011, is starkly relevant today. In the climax of the book the protaganist says:

“New Labor, and the neo-liberals, had lost the plot. He hated these upper-class toffs with their Nanny’s milk still in their mouths. They were not Socialists or Liberals – they were high Tories with a social conscience addicted to their entitlement to rule. And the aphrodisiac of serious wealth had become their ultimate addiction.”

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, 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 (IOS, BCCI, Lonrho, Lloyds of London 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

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

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