Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fact is indeed stranger than fiction

This is an idea for a thriller.

In the late 1960s, a young Army Officer of 28 joins with like-minded young officers to overthrow the King in their Middle Eastern country. He seeks to establish a modern republic in the place of the corrupt and archaic monarchy. The British Secret Intelligence Service organizes a plan to depose this new leader by using a group of mercenaries and ex-SAS soldiers but at the last minute, the US Government asks them to back down, since they feel that this new, young leader is someone they can work with to act as a counterfoil to Soviet ambitions in the Middle East.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and it is but a matter of time before this young leader transforms into a despot. He surrounds himself with cronies, amasses great wealth, and starts harbouring delusions of global influence and power. With no checks and balances to rein him in, he starts supporting terror groups around the world, including a bizarre plan to train Australian Aborigines to wage a war of terror against the Australian government. In general, his behaviour does not win him too many friends and the same US Government which had let him stay in power now finds itself on a collision course with this dictator. There are several skirmishes in the sea off the coast of this country, and after this leader is found guilty of sponsoring deadly terror attacks against US interests, the US, which at the beginning of his career had literally saved him by asking the British to put on hold their plot, launches air strikes against him to kill him. The dictator escapes unhurt, but his adopted infant daughter is killed, sparking an even more intense period of confrontation. His secret services fund and launch several more terror attacks against the West, including the bombing of an airliner that kills hundreds.

With the world changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 9/11 and the War on Terror, the dictator realizes that his days may be numbered and he starts to make peace with the West. He pays $10 Million to each family bereaved in the airliner bombing, and opens up lucrative oil contracts to Western companies. The same British SAS, which at the beginning of his career, was planned to be used to remove him, now comes to his country to train his elite forces. He even gives a speech at the UN General Assembly, and his westernized son is paraded as the new face of his nation, someone the West `can do business with.’

An uprising in his country and his brutal crackdown on civilians suddenly brings him to a collision course with the West again, and the US and NATO decide to support the rebels and start an air campaign against his forces. In a twist of fate, one of the leaders of the rebels fighting under Western air cover is a member of Al Qaeda who has spent time at Guantanamo Bay, and the government special forces fighting him have been trained by the British SAS.

If I were to send this to a publisher as the synopsis of a new novel, they would most likely laugh at me and reject it- calling it too convoluted and with too many implausible plot twists. However, this is not something I’ve conjured up in my imagination- this is the true story of Gaddafi and his love-hate relationship with the West. You won’t get this story from a Tom Clancy or Frederick Forsyth thriller, you just need to turn on CNN. When reality is as screwed up and convoluted as this, I wonder what fiction writers can possibly bring to the table?

Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing,