First We Took Afghanistan. Then We Gave Them Iraq

First we took away Al-Qaeda’s base in Afghanistan. Then we gave them a new one in Iraq. Strip away the treachery and deceit, murder and mayhem of the last twelve and a half years, and that’s all that remains. In 2001, we went to war to chase Al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan. I was there. I watched the bombs fall, and I saw the bodies. Al-Qaeda were holed up in the poorest country on earth. They practically had to run their global jihad out of a cave. They were out on the fringes, cut off … [Read more...]

Last Thoughts on Conchita Wurst & World War III

There’s nothing new about bearded ladies. They had them in the freak shows that worked the roads long before there was a Europe or television. Not that I’ve got a problem with Conchita Wurst—he seems an admirable young lady, and anyway, who wouldn’t be on the side of the freaks in a world run by the likes of Vladimir Putin? But to listen to some of the commentary on his victory in the Eurovision Song Contest you’d think it was a sign of some great social upheaval. As if no one had ever done … [Read more...]

Freddie Starr Was Eaten Alive by British Injustice

As yet another Operation Yewtree investigation of a celebrity collapses, isn’t it time for some one from the police or the Crown Prosecution Service to be held to account? When Freddie Starr shambled before the cameras, a stumbling, shaking shadow of the man who first denied the accusations against him a year and a half ago, mouthing at the empty air, it was hard to escape the feeling that what we were witnessing was a grotesque failure of British justice. Mr Starr has been publicly … [Read more...]

“Vivid and Utterly Convincing”

The Burden of the Desert is reviewed in The Guardian this week. "Tense, affecting and informative, this is an old-school thriller powered by humane, liberal values," the reviewer wrote. "Vivid and utterly convincing." The Guardian's review follows earlier praise for The Burden of the Desert. "This tense, thought-provoking and extraordinary book is an absolute must" -- Daily Mail "Relentlessly gripping" Independent on Sunday "Exciting and terrifying, wondrous and sobering" ForeWord … [Read more...]

MH-370, Vladimir Putin and the Kansas City Shuffle

Strange tales are emanating from Russia about the fate of the vanished Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  First came a report that Russian military intelligence knew where the plane was. The Americans had "captured" the missing 777 and "diverted" it to their military base on the remote island of Diego Garcia, the story went, in order to prevent some "mysterious cargo" from falling into the wrong hands. Improbable as this sounds, it so captured the imaginations of conspiracy theorists that even … [Read more...]

Looking for the New Iron Curtain in the Second Cold War

When I was 15 years old I went on a school trip to the Soviet Union. As well as Moscow and what was then Leningrad, we were supposed to visit Lithuania--only the Baltic republic declared its independence and seceded just before we arrived, so our itinerary was hastily rearranged, and we were bundled on a plane to Latvia instead. We arrived in the capital, Riga, to find it in the grip of independence protests of its own. Huge crowds were marching on the streets outside out hotel, demanding … [Read more...]

The Syrian Civil War – Made in Britain and the USA

  We started this. That's what I can't help thinking every time I hear about the latest death and suffering in Syria. When the US and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, we set off a chain of events that led inexorably to the killing fields of Damascus and Aleppo. I watched it begin when I was working as a reporter in Iraq. I remember going to an interview at a hospital south of Baghdad: the moment I stepped into his office, the doctor told me "You have to get out of here. They're … [Read more...]

The Burden of the Desert

  NEW EDITION OUT NOW "This tense, thought-provoking and extraordinary book is an absolute must" Daily Mail  The new edition of The Burden of the Desert, published by Short Books, is available now in all good bookshops  Zoe Temple, a young British journalist who dreams of being a war correspondent... Lieutenant Rick Benes, an American officer trying to get his platoon home alive... Adel, an Iraqi, who wants revenge for the death of his father... Mahmoud, an Iraqi … [Read more...]

It’s Time To Stop Watching English Cricket

There's a time to draw a line and move on. And, quite frankly, I've had enough of English cricket. It was bad enough to sit through the Ashes, the worst tour in the history of English cricket. Now the "management" has decided to sack the most talented player, Kevin Pietersen, without a word of explanation. And they expect us to keep watching? Unless I get a proper explanation, I'm cancelling my Sky Sports subscription, I've made my last journey to Lord's. I don't see why I should waste any … [Read more...]

An Encounter with Peter O’Toole

They say you should never meet your heroes. In 1996, I was 21 years old, an age for believing in heroes, and Peter O'Toole was as big as they came. Lawrence of Arabia wasn't just my favourite film, I was obssessed with it. I'd watched my old VHS copy so many times I'd worn out the best scenes; I'd trekked to a revival showing in a cinema just to see it on the big screen; I'd hunted down copies of O'Toole's other films in obscure video stores in London: The Night of the Generals, The Stuntman, My … [Read more...]