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We Say - A New Participative Democracy Model for Ireland, Europe and the World

Irish writer, Gary J Byrnes, today helps launch We Say! on Facebook. We Say! aims to build a functioning, online, participative voting platform which will allow citizens to learn about, discuss and vote upon the issues that matter. The platform will allow for direct decisionmaking by the electorate on local, national and international issues.

We Say! will learn from the experiences of other nations in participative democracy and work to integrate Ireland's solution with solutions in other European Union states and, eventually, the World.

The democratic deficit has never been more pronounced in Ireland, the EU and worldwide. Our planet is being pillaged for the enrichment of corporations and banks. Religious ideology is driving too many politicians to the edge of global catastrophe. Austerity programmes are being inflicted on populations who never deserved them. The divide between rich and poor grows more pronounced by the day.

People feel powerless, justifiably. The political parties who rule on a platform of representation are disconnected from the realities of their electorates. The time is come for a new approach to democracy, one which allows the electorate to make the decisions that affect their daily lives and to choose the direction in which society should go.

We Say that change must come. We Say that we are smart enough to make decisions. We Say!

Join We Say on Facebook today:

We especially need computer programmers to help build our open source platform.

Find out more about Gary here:


Islamic Militants to Merge

The Mujaheddin - Islamic terrorists, armed to the teeth and with a 7th century mindset - were created by America in Afghanistan in 1979, to combat that country's first secular, democratic government. Perhaps surprisingly, it was good old peanut-loving President Jimmy Carter behind that decision, aided and abetted by Britain's then new prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Interestingly, recent American history seems blighted by Democrat presidents who appear benign but lead their nation into deadly, strategic cul-de-sacs, especially with militant Islamic forces. Carter was encouraged to support Afghan Muslim terrorists by his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is still pushing buttons in Washington, recently encouraging NATO expansion into Eastern Europe. You have to wonder about history repeating and all that.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Cater, who gave us Islamic State.
Carter's key Afghan ally was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a scumbag of the VERY highest order. Hekmatyar specialised in throwing acid in the faces of women who wouldn't wear the veil and growing the opium that poisoned the cities of western Europe, not least Dublin, where the heroin epidemic that has ripped the heart from the city can be directly linked to when the CIA began pumping billions of dollars into Hekmatyar's twisted operation. The CIA would likely call a junkie syringe stuck in a Dublin schoolboy on a bus to school blowback, collateral damage. Unless the destabilisation of Europe was an objective of what is obviously, in hindsight, an absolutely insane idea.

That idea: to work with the crazy, misogynistic mountain men of Afghanistan, with their medieval Islamic ideologies, against the atheistic, secular, modernising city dwellers of Kabul so as to weaken a Soviet influence that wasn't even there yet, then grab Afghanistan's mineral wealth and strategic location. That idea must rank with the stupidest, dumbest, most suicidal ideas of all time. The Afghan craziness (July 1979) followed the Iranian Revolution (February 1979) so I can only conclude that America jumped straight into the Sunni/Shia conflict that had been raging for centuries, opposing Iran's Shia because they'd had the cheek to depose the US-supported dictator Shah.

For it gave us the Taliban. It gave us al-Qaeda. It gave us 9/11. It gave us Islamic State. It gave us the shit world we live in today. That stupid idea gave us World War 3.

The Islamic Caliphate thrives in the cauldron of the Middle East, a region torn to pieces by US foreign policy. You actually couldn't make up a worse tale of incompetence, arms marketing, war starting, oil loving, dictator sponsoring, fundamentalist accepting and death dealing. America may, in a Fight Club kind of way, have decided that the occasional bit of blowback - the Twin Towers, Boston, Charlie Hebdo, Madrid. Benghazi, Bali - is worth it from a strategic perspective. But it is now certain that the militant Islamic armies will unite under the Caliph of Islamic State. The doctrine of divide and conquer cannot survive much longer and the Islamists know it. Islamic State will formally unite with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and all other Islamic terrorists. They will combine their resources, link their networks in the west, conduct simultaneous, complex, asymmetric attacks worldwide. The west will blame Snowden, WikiLeaks and the Russians. But we need to look much closer to home to identify and accept the root causes of this World War 3, and come to terms with the reality that this war cannot be won militarily. I just hope that we can do so in time to prevent the Islamic Caliphate of Europe.

For more by Gary J Byrnes, see

Photo credit: "MSC 2014 Brzezinski Kleinschmidt MSC2014" by Kleinschmidt / MSC. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons -

#JeSuisCharlie - Much Western Media Already Defeated

Charlie Hebdo, Survivors' Issue, Front Cover, 13/01/2015
Western media prides itself on its liberalism, openness and edginess but, in reality, it is generally conservative, Christian and owned by hedge funds. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo has put the European and US media in an uncomfortable place. They are afraid to publish the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo magazine published. Simply afraid. Afraid of any backlash  - from terrorists or Muslim media consumers or investors - that will negatively impact the bottom line.

Sure, the media will whine about not wanting to inflame the situation, nauseatingly bowing to the fear principle, but that does not excuse the need to report. Ireland's media is too afraid of its own shadow to rock the boat. Like in Britain, Ireland's media is owned by the state or by oligarchs, and will never take a stand on principle if a few quid can be found elsewhere.

But the media misses the key point:it it is impossible to effectively report on the issue of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and why they caused the religion-inspired slaughter of 17 innocents in Paris without showing the cartoons. Impossible.

Because when normal, balanced people see the cartoons they can really only come to one conclusion: What's the big frikkin' deal? So, if the western media is too afraid to report on reality, where does that leave us?

France is a shining beacon of secularism, anti-monarchism and progressive culture. France has also challenged the rise of Islamofascism with military force, unlike many of the west's key military powers. When Britain collapsed in the face of Syria's descent into inhumanity, President Obama hesitated, IS was born and the jihadists of Paris were emboldened. 

And here we are, after the al Qaeda/IS Charlie Hedbo attack, after the Taliban Pakistan school slaughter, after the latest Boko Haram massacre which killed 2,000, after 9/11, after 7/7, the list is endless, here we are and nothing has changed. Except that things have gotten worse.

It's a big question: what can we do in the face of such relentless attacks on our way of life?

The best we can do is to fight for our freedom of speech and challenge those in power who would dilute it. We must not appease murderers and censor ourselves so as not to attract hate from the Middle east, the cradle of civilisation, of our religions. The poison of religion has never been compatible with freedom of thought or expression. The west has woken up to this. France led the way, the rest of Europe followed, kicking and screaming. Ireland lags far behind, with religion enshrined in her Constitution and the Catholic Church - as fundamental and destructive as militant Islam - still in control of most of the country's education system. This must change.

So the world must catch up with France. If that means combating violence from those who would rather live in the Middle Ages, while we keep our focus on progress, then that is what we must do. If men, women and children are to have any hope of freedom, human rights and equality in the 21st century, we must all be Charlie.

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To Eat The World - My New Thriller

Now available in print and ebook formats.

Hanna's Bookshop, Rathmines - NOW IN STOCK

Everyone must die during dessert. Can Sophie save New York and the world?

In the dying days of World War Two, Nazi rocket scientists were spirited to America to give the United States a strategic edge in the atomic arms race. Some of the Nazis built a secret empire in New York, founded on looted art and gold.

Fast forward to today. Emboldened by the rise of right-wingers and the broken economy, the Nazis plan to take over the Presidency, destroy Wall Street and enslave the world, launching their coup at a King Louis XVI-themed art banquet. Sophie, a Manhattan chef, is asked to cook for the President at the feast. Her ex-lover, art expert Jacob, will be served as the main course.

A sexy, thrilling tale of great food, classic art and the meaning of beauty, love and life.

Extract to follow:

by Gary J Byrnes

That feeling, that good feeling at the end of a busy, smooth service. Uneventful but for the trainee chef dropping his spectacles into the pot of boiling water and the customer who didn’t want to pay for his steak. Sophie put her hand into the water to retrieve the glasses without thinking. ‘All the nerves in your hands will become numb over time. And get a cord for the spectacles, yeah?’ Steak guy said he didn't like it. ‘He should’ve realised that before he ate the whole damned thing. He even licked the T-bone clean! Now tell him that we’ve got police officers on the premises and I can get them to sort it out for us.’ So he paid and apologised. It reminded her of the time the diner complained that her Vichyssoise was simply freezing. This kind of stuff happens every single day. Part of the reason she loved the job. It was all about meeting the key primal need for food, which comes even before sex and shelter in terms of daily importance.

Her dad, who brought his French culinary skills over during the War, always impressed on young Sophie the importance of food as a business. People can put off buying a new car or a coat. They can never put off eating lunch and dinner. And, in the end, hunger will make them kill for food.

So just some desserts going out, then a gushing sliced thumb, ‘You using my Global knife again, Jimmy? So don’t. Back in my knife bag before you get the first aid kit. And never cut towards yourself. Really’. Definitely a first generation cook. The busboys fiddling with the fancy coffees, the waiters counting out and divvying up the tips, the kitchen staff eating the family meal at the table by the kitchen, a hot Thai curry tonight, or drinking Peroni beer from coffee cups or smoking cigarettes or grass joints out in the back alley by the stinking trash and the sodium street lamps and the fat rats and the pure, clean night air.

Sophie pointedly ignored the drug and alcohol abuse that went on among the staff. It was defined by economic class, from the crack-smoking dishwashers to the pot-smoking busboys to the alcoholic waiters to the coke-snorting managers. It came with the territory. When you go out to a restaurant on a quiet night, you will likely deal with a staff that’s collectively off its face. Busier nights are better. Less boredom, less time to be filled with narcotics.

‘Table four sends their compliments, boss,’ says Ramon, a good waiter, union rep.

‘Four? Okay, thanks,’ she muttered. Odd. And he hasn't been out for his smoke with the help yet. Something’s up.

She washed her hands, slapped some cold water on the back of her neck, dried off. Then she carefully applied some lipstick, poured a glass of house red, a decent Californian Pinot Noir - Ingrid’s - good berry and chocolate tingles. And so, to meet her audience.

The restaurant was still full of customers but calmer now, all baked New York cheesecake, Colombian coffee and French brandy. The congressman spotted her and stood, grinning broadly. That spark in his eye, that curious, irresistible molecular reaction in her, like strawberries meeting balsamic vinegar. How did it happen, the two of them? He loved his food and the restaurant was near his campaign office. Was that it? Was that what brought people together, the coincidence of the mundane? No. Her food was definitely not mundane. That’s why her stake in Oral Pleasures was worth at least a million, so the accountant said. She glanced at the couples sharing desserts with single, long-stemmed spoons. Eight out of ten would certainly get in the neighbourhood of sex tonight, the condom machines in the bathrooms proved that. The minds would be willing, the bodies less so. Have more sex, then you won’t get so fat. One hundred and four covers, two seatings per night. Sometimes three. Hundred bucks a head. Do the math. Turnover last year: eight million. Surely this was something to be proud of?

So why the unease, the slithering emptiness?

Sophie’s typical day: Lie in bed awake until the alarm bings at 7.30. Green tea and salty olives and French cigarettes on the terrace, feed the dog, the Bijon Frise in her little house outside on the balcony (she rarely gets in the apartment), morning noises and smells, honking cabs and muffled shouts and the aromas of toasting bagels and street coffee drifting up from Bleecker Street below. The Village. The pulsing heart of Bohemian New York. Nigella sniffs the air, cocks an ear. Beautiful. Okay, she gets inside when Sophie's home. Shower. More tea, more smoke. Set up Nigella’s feeder, top-up her water. Then stroll up to West 4th St, catch the E up to 50th Street or, more often than not, walk, walk fast. Impossible to do that now without thinking back to that day, that crazy rush uptown with the bewildered thousands on The Day The Planes Came.
In the restaurant by 9.30, checking that the night cleaners had done a perfect job. Oversee the prep for lunch and dinner and the deli counter. How many potatoes peeled and diced? How much pesto today? Ten gallons, ten! It also sells by the half-pint to take away out front, nice little side earner. Sophie helps out a little during lunch service, but doesn't run the show. Her assistant, Carl, a little rough around the edges but talented and getting better, he manages lunch. She monitors, rolls her sleeves up when required, say when a tour bus with thirty jaded Japanese tourists turns up unannounced, all facemasks and Nikons. This happens. It's the pesto and the Facebook page.

Split shift. The afternoon is all about the accounts, with Wang, who runs the back office for her. Numbers, account balancing, debtor and creditor management, payroll, taxes. The dullest but most important part of the restaurant business. Sophie enjoyed it. As much as cooking even.
This was why she was so successful, why she was sometimes hard to live with. She cared passionately about the little details, wouldn't let stuff slide. When things were in a smooth groove, she'd have some time to work with Lucy, the young marketing graduate who looked after the ads, the coupon deals so-loved by the rich, the public relations, the website. Green tea and cigarettes and a bowl of fresh pasta with butter and black pepper at six. Maybe a few prawns fried in olive oil on top.

On sticky summer days, she would sneak up to the rooftop herb garden and sunbathe naked for an hour. This made her feel like she was being naughty, a feeling she relished. Of such tiny revolutions are interesting lives made.

5pm. Send a busboy out for another pack of Marlboro Gold, then sleeves up and dinner service. Four manic hours, wind down, maybe sit with some guests for a while, depending on who's in: movie star, politician, fashion designer, or anyone old rich. Sip a glass of wine. Maybe another. Pass the baton to her business partner Rod, the general manager and maitre d’, the perfect front of house man, who was rich (old money, very old), interesting and had the connections that mattered in business. Cab back to Greenwich Village. Balcony. Cigarette. Shower. Cigarette. Bed, to lie there, stare at the cracks in the ceiling, process the day. It seems like her eyes just slow-blink and she's awake again, waiting on the alarm.

‘Sophie!’ called Congressman Sam Walsh, the third most powerful man in American politics.

‘Mr Speaker. Enjoy your meal?’

‘Did you get my compliments?’

‘You normally do it in kind. What's up?’

‘Later, honey. Don't bust my balls, okay?’

That vague edge of menace to his syrupy voice, not strong enough to put a finger on, just the subtle ring that made you do what you were told. The congressman was not a super-wise man, not especially charismatic, so go figure how he became so powerful. Family. Tradition. Wealth. Connections. No real ability, yet just two heartbeats from being the most powerful man in the world. Sophie felt this enigma from the beginning, chose to ignore it. And here she was, his piece on the side when he was up from Washington, typically at weekends. No doubt he had a woman, maybe more than one, down there too. She often wondered whether he’d make a good president, wondered if she’d get to see the Oval Office.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said then. ‘It’s all this war talk.’

He embraced her and kissed her cheek wetly, caused her glass to lose a drop or two of red, which trickled down her grubby whites. Then he turned to his party. Sophie knew them all, especially the congressman's permanent detective escort, Danny O'Brien, a decent Irish-American cop from Woodside, over in Queens. Those wet lips proposed a toast to the best chef in New York City.

A wild-eyed man eased off the bar stool.

They sat and talked and spooned dessert and drank and then the guy showed up at the table. He wanted to keep both fifties. Everything slowed down as the congressman’s security got to their feet and reached inside their jackets. The congressman grabbed a wine bottle by the neck. Sophie's crazy alarm went off as the guy loomed over her. He looked familiar, somehow. But how could a guy like this be familiar, with his shining blue eyes, his shaved head and his tattoos? The street, he's off the street.

‘This is for you, sir,’ he said in a strong voice, more of a bellow, as he thrust a little parcel towards the congressman. Sophie thought that it looked like a lover’s gift, wrapped nicely in golden paper with a white bow. Maybe a pearl necklace inside.

The background buzz of slurred conversation stalled, died.

One of the other plainclothes cops grabbed the guy from behind while Danny snatched the parcel from his outstretched hand. A tableful of drinks went flying crashing. Sophie instantly calculated the replacement cost. Bastard.

The package fell apart, exposed its contents. The congressman saw the flash of gold, remembered, knew. It has to be a real surprise.

End of extract.


The Irish and Water

Shannon Estuary, County Limerick, Ireland, July 2014.
At last. The Irish people, in their tens of thousands, are standing up to their Government and its endless austerity/tax mantra/delusion.

The Irish have a deep connection with water, something that was obviously underestimated by the bean counters who spend every day thinking up crazy new tax-generating schemes. For starters, Ireland is an island and the water around us has been the key driver in our national evolution, our very psyche. From the Ice Age glaciers that carved out the landscape to the Atlantic Ocean that pounds holes in the Cliffs of Moher every day and the mighty Shannon, the biggest river in these islands, we are defined by water, fresh and salt. Our new blood (and blood-letting!) has come by water, from the Vikings to the Normans to the armies of Cromwell. St Patrick was brought over by seaborne raiders and holy water is still revered by many to this day. We call whiskey 'uisce beatha', the water of life. Water is key to our brewing tradition and we are the only country in the world where the law requires the addition of the neurotoxin fluoride to the drinking water supply. Let's not forget the rain. We get a lot of that.

The Romans called Ireland Hibernia, the land of winter. Not bad. The land of water would've been better. Aquania.

It's not just about paying twice for water, or the cronyism endemic in the creation of a new utility which will be privatised ASAP, or the imposition of endless new taxes on the Irish people by the international money overlords. It's really about the unending incompetence of the politicians who have put party political interests above the interests of the people since independence. In my opinion, the only viable solution is not a general election, but a participative, secular democracy and the dissolution of politics as we know it.

Meanwhile, the unholy mess that is Irish Water can be solved with three actions. Firstly, the Constitution needs to be changed to make clear that Ireland's natural resources, including water, will always be owned by, and used to benefit, the people. This could be done as part of a complete, crowdsourced overhaul of the Constitution which would give the Republic back to a battered and disillusioned people.

Secondly, the metering of water consumption by every household should begin immediately, but with no bills whatsover for at least a year. People should be given regular statements of how much water they've used in excess of allowances and how much their bill would be if their habits remain the same. This would give everyone the opportunity to improve their usage of water.

Finally, with a measurement of the amount of water leaving the treatment facilities and meter readings of how much water is being consumed at the far end, we will know exactly how much water is being lost along the way. Until new utility 'Irish Water' gets wastage down to less than 10% nobody should face a water bill.

Ireland's salvation will not come from Bono or Bob Geldof, who hold little sway with the people, or even Russell Brand, who does actually appear to walk the walk. The hope for a better, fairer future can only come from within, from the population as a whole, through mass participation in the decisionmaking process, a process which has been an utter failure to date.


Vampire Story - #FREE Full Spectrum Entertainment


When I had the idea for Vampire Story a couple of years back (that idea being to tie Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, in with modern vampires living in Stoker's hometown of Dublin), I didn't realise how big the project would become. Making a film, even a short one, is a piece of work. Dozens of talented people, location permits, equipment hire, the weather, the script - all these have to come together at the right time for magic to even stand a chance of happening. But the magic did happen and we have a showcase available now for all the world to see, for free.

I figured that a story about a novelist needed to be expressed in its literary form also, so I wrote Vampire Story the book, taking the intimacy of text as an excuse to push back the boundaries of the story, create some new worlds within the world that was captured so well by Canon 5D cameras.

Then I contacted the musical geniuses who made the movie soundtrack, Carol Keogh and Aidan Casserly, and asked if we could release the Vampire Story music to the people of the world to enjoy as their own, personal soundtrack to life. They said Yes! and, within days, the original soundtrack was available globally.

Vampire Story is now full spectrum entertainment, and all for free (except on Amazon - they don't do free). So go and enjoy it and spread the vampire love...

Download the ebook from Smashwords here:

Listen to the OST, for free, on Soundcloud here:

You can also find the OST on BandCamp here:

Please share widely - the perfect soundtrack to life. Even if you live forever...

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So, How's World War 3 Going For You?

"Destroy IS - God does not exist - All people are equal"
It will be interesting to see what future historians make of us and these days. When will they set as the start date for this great conflict that is slowly eating the world and our hopes for the future? Will it be September 24, 2014, when President Obama told the UN that the war against IS/ISIS/ISIL was just the beginning of a wider struggle against fundamentalist Islamic ideology? Will it be June 29, 2014, when the new caliphate was declared (caliph means successor, the first caliphate declared in the Arabian peninsula back in 632, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad).

Will the start of WW3 be dated at September 11, 2001, when the al-Qaeda attacks on the US punched the liberal western world in the gut, almost causing the collapse of society, but leading directly to the financial crisis that has made the 99% so tired, miserable and hopeless? Or will it be back in August 1996, when Osama bin Laden issued his Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places (US troops were deployed to Saudi Arabia by President George HW Bush in 1990, enraging Muslims. Most were withdrawn in 2003.) Is it only a declared war when the superpower decides to name it so? Or did it really get serious with al-Qaeda's second declaration of war, fatwa, on February 23, 1998?

The second fatwa states that three facts that are known to everyone compel war against the United States. First, the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places. Second, the crusader-Zionist alliance has inflicted great devastation upon the Iraqi people. Third, the United States' goal is to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. It concludes with instructions to all Muslims everywhere:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it. Every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded should comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.

Or should we go back a little further? Perhaps to 1095, when Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to holy places in and near Jerusalem. Two centuries of war ensued. Two centuries. Or should we go back to 636, when Muslims forces defeated the Byzantines at the battle of Yarmouk (in Syria) to take control of the famed Levant? Or back again, to 610, when Muhammad first started receiving revelations from the archangel Gabriel? (Of course, these early options for dating WW3 precede World Wars 1 and 2, creating a paradoxical conundrum for another day.)

Let's just go with the reality that we are where we are. So, what's it all about? I have three possible answers:

1. This is just the latest chapter in the clash of cultures between Islam and Judaism/Christianity (remember Yarmouk*?).
This is credible, but strange, because all three religions are monotheistic (believing in a single god, as opposed to, say, Hinduism, which believes in many gods) and all their god stories derive from Abraham, an ancient figure from Canaan who was 'ordered by god' to kill his son and was about to do so until 'told by god' to kill a goat instead. Really. So it's all a big, stupid, endless game: Which of these related religions is the most mental? As an atheist I am both horrified and confused by how religious fervour on both sides seems to underline the entire conflict.

*The Battle of Yarmouk happened in Syria in 636, when the first Muslim Caliphate destroyed the army of the declining Byzantine Empire, effectively forcing the West from the Levant until the Crusades. The parallels with the current sutuation are uncanny and IS is really pushing the historical precedent of Yarmouk. Find out more at

2. This is all about the American Empire in decline and IS wanting to fill the vacuum.
WikiLeaks, the diplomatic cables, Edward Snowden, the NSA. Our understanding of American strength has changed in recent years. Duplicity, conspiracy and hypocrisy led to the Arab Spring and the downfall of US puppet dictators across the Middle East. Some of them, anyway. The most powerful US-allied dictators, the Saud dynasty in Saudi Arabia, still reign supreme, still control the flow of oil, upon which the US economy and the US war machine depend. The Saudi brand of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism, birthed al-Qaeda and Saudis piloted the 9/11 jets. Many assume that the Saudis also created IS, as a counter to Iranian (Shia) influence in Iraq. Maybe they saw their American proxy army having its political limitations so they decided to create their own?

3. This is really a war between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam and the west is being used as a pawn in a bigger struggle.
Saudi Arabia leading the majority Sunni Islamic sect against Iran leading the minority Shia Islamic sect. The Sunnis and Shias have been at each others' throats virtually since the dawn of Islam. Consider the Catholic V Protestant Christian wars that have consumed Europe for centuries, most recently in Northern Ireland, and you get the flavour of what hatred pathetically minor religious differences can generate. Some say that the disastrous Iraq War which began in 2003 was caused by Iranian agents leading the US into an unwinnable conflict so as to remove Iran's greatest regional and religious enemy, Saddam Hussein. The very first caliph (Sunni), who ruled after Muhammad from 632-634, was named Aby Bakr. The leader of the Islamic State caliphate is named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In my opinion, the real answer is a bastard mix of all three scenarios and the only way to effectively deal with IS and this never-ending conflict is to address the three main issues from bin Laden's 1998 declaration of war: Get all US troops out of Saudi Arabia, while replacing the horrific Saud monarchy with a secular democracy. Place the religious sites of Mecca and Medina apart from Saudi Arabia, controlled by a coalition representing all Muslims everywhere. Then fix Iraq. A secular, participative democracy must be created. Throw as much money at this problem as was thrown at the war that destroyed the place (about $6 TRILLION, including future veterans' benefits). Fix Palestine, a two-state solution, ideally without Netanyahu, recognising that Orthodox Judaism is as much part of the problem as Fundamentalist Islam.

It is my dream that atheism and secularism can replace the religions that have poisoned the Middle East and spread like a virus into the world. Without religion, can you genuinely see this mutating conflict, from Iraq and Syria to Gaza and Afghanistan, sustaining itself?

In 2014, in 13 countries, all members of the United Nations, and all Muslim nations, being an atheist is punishable by death, typically by beheading - so shocking when carried out by IS. These nations are: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Is this a clash of civilisations? I think so.

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