Daily Archives: April 25, 2018


The Noisy Frenchman

In the summer of 1975 I was sixteen years old and sitting on the edge of the fountain in the Aviemore Centre, waiting to fix a kiddie kart when it broke down or the coin mechanism jammed, and reading a Penguin edition of The Quiet American by Graham Greene. It detailed the origin of the US entry into the Vietnam conflict as the French colonial hold weakened, and of course the plot revolved around a false flag bombing incident designed to facilitate American intervention. The introduction to that edition made very clear that the novel was closely based on true events by Greene – who was there in Vietnam at the time – and in my memory across 43 years it actually named and discussed the real life false flag bomb incident on which the book was based. I do not think the existence of the real false flag bombing at the heart of the story has ever been seriously disputed. The novel was quite startling to a sixteen year old boy.

It was impossible not to recall The Quiet American while watching Trump and Macron give their presser at the White House yesterday. Reinstating the role of France, the former colonial power, in Syria though a continuing US/French military presence was the main theme, under the guise of “preventing hegemony” – clearly aimed at Iran. The haunting parallels to Indo-China are striking. So too is the fact that Graham Greene was a deservedly admired figure in British culture and society. The BBC and the Times never attacked him as a “conspiracy theorist” or a lunatic for writing passionately of a false flag attack. This was partly because everybody understood these things actually do happen, and partly because in the early part of my life political dissent was permitted without social ostracism. The latter is no longer the case and an orchestrated media is trying to eradicate the former knowledge.

My personal dislike of Harvey Weinstein dates from 2002, when he acted successfully to minimise the release and the publicity for the excellent film of The Quiet American starring Michael Caine. Weinstein thought the film was anti-American. It was perhaps Caine’s greatest performance and he was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars, but Weinstein helped ensure he did not get it.

The reason that I know this is interesting. The film rights to my own memoir, Murder in Samarkand, have been continuously owned by a series of major producers for twelve years. In that time film scripts have been written of Murder in Samarkand by some very big names. There have been four finished scripts including one by Sir David Hare (which is still owned by Paramount) and one by Michael Winterbottom. But a film producer sat me down and explained to me that a film about the “War on Terror”, in which the Americans are the bad guys and the main protagonist is nowadays known as a pro-Palestinian campaigner, is never going to get financed. And he cited what happened to The Quiet American as an example.

Macron is frequently described as a French Tony Blair, but to me he seems more a French Margaret Thatcher, seeking to use a jingoistic military policy to distract from very unpopular neo-liberal destruction of worker protections at home. It is hard to believe his peculiar love-in with Trump is going down well in France. The danger is that he will feel obliged to commit to more military adventurism to live up to the hype. I know that those close to Merkel look on all this posing with dour disapproval.

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Finally, a change of policy on this blog.

For thirteen years now it has operated with a policy of not accepting donations, except for occasional legal funds. It has now reached a size and cost, not least because of continual attacks, that make income essential. It is also the case that due to change in personal circumstance I am no longer in a position to devote my time to it without income – the need to earn a living caused the blog to go dark for almost five months last year, and the last six weeks this journalism has stopped me doing anything else to pay the rent. So, with a certain amount of pride swallowed, here is your chance to subscribe:

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