How many British people have an awareness of our government’s involvement, alongside allies France and USA, in organising, training and arming Islamic fundamentalists, right wing paramilitaries and other unsavoury groups with a track record of human rights violations? In the dynamic arena of foreign policy, today’s friend may rapidly mutate into tomorrow’s enemy or vice versa. Sometimes, both these scenarios exist simultaneously – the ‘enemy’ as portrayed in the media for public consumption receives clandestine assistance behind closed doors. Skeptics and dissenters risk facing the opprobrium of the elite. Recall David Cameron’s declaration in parliament that MPs who, following their constituents’ wishes, did not support airstrikes against Syria were “terrorist sympathisers”. An irony that one whose government helped manufacture said terrorists could have the gall to throw about such accusations.
TJ Coles’ Britain’s Secret Wars chronicles the extent to which our governmental institutions instigate conflict, terror, and dictatorship abroad for the purpose of ensuring access to foreign markets, geopolitical advantage, and compliant allies. The book’s content will likely surprise even those with a sound knowledge of Britain’s questionable foreign policies and practices. Coles’ writing is reinforced with multiple references for the doubtful, or those shocked into a state of denial, as we discover Britain’s role in fomenting several conflicts and civil wars currently decimating faraway countries. Moreover, the reader finds out that their taxes pay for this state of affairs. Whilst the mainstream media denigrates refugees seeking shelter, it seldom expresses outrage that our taxes fund the very wars and terrorism which creates these displaced persons.
Coles shows how the Department for International Development (DFID) further impoverishes destitute Bangladeshis to ensure they remain trapped in a web of debt, whilst our special forces train death squads whose role is to prevent the country’s citizens from rebelling against their predicament. Other examples include training units of the Columbian military known for their extensive involvement in committing human right abuses, aiding former Ukrainian President Yanukovich before rapidly switching support to those who would oust him, helping create the Islamist terror networks which overthrew President Gaddafi (and plunged Libya into a bitter civil war) before letting these militants loose on Syria, as well as aiding and abetting Saudi Arabia’s wholesale destruction of Yemen.
Those still harbouring delusions regarding the British government’s supposedly benevolent foreign policy, or its oft quoted desire to improve the lot of others via humanitarian intervention, will find this book rudely shatters their perceptions and painfully brings them down to earth. Coles quotes a 1997 Chatham House report – British Foreign Policy: Challenges and Choices for the 21st Century – “a successful foreign policy requires a degree of secrecy and duplicity, a willingness to employ spies, engage in bribery, threaten, even use force, compromise principles, pursue clandestine, sometimes illegal, operations, and support dubious regimes”.
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This post was written by Tomasz Pierscionek