Lobster Review of British Covert Actions

Lobster is a website and former small press print journal devoted to real conspiracies and clandestine plots by secret groups seeking to influence politics covertly. Much of its material concerns the secret political and economic manipulation of the British and American intelligence and security services to contain and combat Communism during the Cold War. It has also covered the disinformation and secret assassination policy carried out by the British secret state and the SAS in Northern Ireland, as well as the various secret business organisations and political groups that campaigned to bring Britain into the EU. I’ve cited numerous articles from the magazine on my blog here, including those about the way New Labour handed the running of this great country’s economy over to financial sector and big business, establishing close links with Thatcherite think tanks and pressure groups rather than listening to its own working class core.

In Lobster 76, founder and editor Robin Ramsay has written a fascinating review of Rory Cormac’s Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press: 2018) £20.00, h/b.

It has been a constant complaint of genuine conspiracy and parapolitics researcher – not the people, who believe that the US has signed a secret pact with evil aliens from Zeta Reticuli, or those, who believe the vile and malign conspiracy theories about the Jews manipulating the banking system and encouraging non-White immigration to destroy the White race – that this aspect of domestic and international politics is comprehensively ignored by mainstream historians. Hence Ramsay’s delight at the publication of this book, which he states he never imagined would be written in his lifetime. Cormac states that this is a history of things that officially did not happen using sources few realise exist. It’s theme is the way Britain, as a declining military power, sought to combat the Soviets in Europe and rising nationalism in the rest of the former British Empire, or manipulate these nationalist movements into forms which would serve British interests. It has sections on Iran, Suez, Oman, Yemen, Malaya, Indonesia, British Guiana, now Guyana, Northern Ireland and other countries and regions familiar to students of British covert imperial politics.

The tactics used were bribery, propaganda, and manipulation. Fake political parties and organisations were founded, and fake news and disinformation published. The book alleges that this continued into the 1980s, when the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) funded one of the Islamic groups in Pakistan to publish and distribute Islamic literature to the Soviet republics with large Muslim populations. The British intelligence services, in particular the IRD – the Information Research Department, which hovered between the Foreign Office and the SIS, set up fake radio stations, newspapers, pamphlets and spurious literature of every kind. This got so bad that with the addition of propaganda from the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, genuine journalists were bewildered and left wondering what to believe.

The book also shows that the massive corruption in many of these countries after independence is not at all surprising, as the British were intent on corrupting them before they gained their autonomy. There were attempts to steal or manipulate elections in the Gold Coast (Ghana), Sudan, Tanganyika, Nigeria, Zambia, and British Guiana (Guyana).

Under Thatcher in the 1980s, with her infatuation with private industry, the lines between the state and the private sector were blurred, with Le Circle, previously the Pinay Circle, Brian Crozier’s Shield Committee and Keenie-Meenie Services entering the field. Cormac notes that this has complicated the field to the point where it is a conspiracy theorist’s dream and impossible to separate fact from fiction.

The majority of these operations were failures, such as those in Albania, Egypt and Syria. The SAS operation in Oman and the overthrow of President Mossadeq in Iran were successes, but had disastrous long term consequences. He also sees British operations in Indonesia as successful, if this is defined to include the massacre of half a million people. He notes that the operation against Colonel Gaddafi created the vacuum for international terrorism. Cormac states that these covert operations in the Middle East only masked British imperial decline, with Ramsay adding in his review that it also resulted in a lasting distrust of Britain in these regions.

Despite this, Ramsay has some criticisms of the books. It does not discuss any possible connections between the British state and private industry, despite the probability that British business would not be satisfied with being excluded from influencing covert politics. Nor does he discuss British funding of Islamist movements in Libya and Syria. He has a conventional view of covert politics during the Cold War, and accuses the Soviets of breaking treaty after treaty. But Ramsay cites revisionist historians like Gabriel Kolko, who argued that the Soviets were instead sticklers for keeping the terms of international treaties. Ramsay concludes

So: although the author has written an account which supports all the left critiques of imperialism and colonialism since WW2, he is not on the left. He began this book as a post-doc researcher at King’s College, London, whose Defence Studies Department is the only university department I have been to which had armed guards at its doors, thanks to its Ministry of Defence funding. Nonetheless, this is a tremendous piece of research and an essential book.

See the review of the book at Lobster 76 for Winter 2018. This is at https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/issue76.php. Scroll down the contents and click on the article, and then open it in your browser.

I found Ramsay’s review fascinating as it is a mainstream treatment of the conspiracies and clandestine plots this country made against its former colonies and other nations, plots that explain the horrors that have occurred in some many of these countries. I’ve recently published a book myself with Lulu, Crimes of Empire, about how we have been misled into supporting a series of wars and interventions in a plethora of foreign countries, all presented as humanitarian missions to overthrow tyrants and given them democracy. The reality has been that these have been waged for geopolitical and corporate reasons, which have frequently resulted in chaos and the installation of brutal dictators.

Most of the material there is about America, through authorities like William Blum and his Anti-Empire Report. It’s very good indeed that a book’s been published on the crimes the British empire has also committed in its attempts to cling on as a world power.

2 Responses to “Lobster Review of British Covert Actions”

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