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Web Of Deceit: Britain's Real Foreign Policy

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In his explosive new book, Mark Curtis reveals a new picture of Britain's role in the world since 1945 and in the 'war against terrorism' by offering a comprehensive critique of the Blair government's foreign policy. Curtis argues that Britain is an 'outlaw state', often a violator of international law and ally of many repressive regimes. He reasons not only that Britain's In his explosive new book, Mark Curtis reveals a new picture of Britain's role in the world since 1945 and in the 'war against terrorism' by offering a comprehensive critique of the Blair government's foreign policy. Curtis argues that Britain is an 'outlaw state', often a violator of international law and ally of many repressive regimes. He reasons not only that Britain's foreign policies are generally unethical but that they are also making the world more dangerous and unequal. The Web of Deceit describes the staggering gulf that has arisen between New Labour's professed commitment to upholding ethical values and the reality of current policies. It outlines the new phase in global intervention, the immorality of British policy in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Indonesia and support for repressive governments in Israel, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Curtis also reveals Britain's acquiescence in the Rwanda genocide and economic policies in the World Trade Organisation that are increasing poverty and inequality around the world. Drawing on formerly secret government files, the book also shows British complicity in the slaughter of a million people in Indonesia in 1965; the depopulation of the island of Diego Garcia; the overthrow of governments in Iran and British Guiana; repressive colonial policies in Kenya, Malaya and Oman; and much more.


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In his explosive new book, Mark Curtis reveals a new picture of Britain's role in the world since 1945 and in the 'war against terrorism' by offering a comprehensive critique of the Blair government's foreign policy. Curtis argues that Britain is an 'outlaw state', often a violator of international law and ally of many repressive regimes. He reasons not only that Britain's In his explosive new book, Mark Curtis reveals a new picture of Britain's role in the world since 1945 and in the 'war against terrorism' by offering a comprehensive critique of the Blair government's foreign policy. Curtis argues that Britain is an 'outlaw state', often a violator of international law and ally of many repressive regimes. He reasons not only that Britain's foreign policies are generally unethical but that they are also making the world more dangerous and unequal. The Web of Deceit describes the staggering gulf that has arisen between New Labour's professed commitment to upholding ethical values and the reality of current policies. It outlines the new phase in global intervention, the immorality of British policy in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Indonesia and support for repressive governments in Israel, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Curtis also reveals Britain's acquiescence in the Rwanda genocide and economic policies in the World Trade Organisation that are increasing poverty and inequality around the world. Drawing on formerly secret government files, the book also shows British complicity in the slaughter of a million people in Indonesia in 1965; the depopulation of the island of Diego Garcia; the overthrow of governments in Iran and British Guiana; repressive colonial policies in Kenya, Malaya and Oman; and much more.

30 review for Web Of Deceit: Britain's Real Foreign Policy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The definition of diplomacy has been described as the ability to tell a person to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. When you think of a titled British ambassador, you have the image of a soft talking Sir Humphrey as a gentle ambassador for British interests abroad. Curtis has spent hours pouring over formerly secret government files released under the Thirty year rule; turns out the reality is very different from the image that they have cultivated… From the evidence th The definition of diplomacy has been described as the ability to tell a person to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. When you think of a titled British ambassador, you have the image of a soft talking Sir Humphrey as a gentle ambassador for British interests abroad. Curtis has spent hours pouring over formerly secret government files released under the Thirty year rule; turns out the reality is very different from the image that they have cultivated… From the evidence the he has amassed Curtis argues that the UK is an 'outlaw state', an ally of many repressive regimes and a frequent a violator of international law. He catalogues the shocking human rights abuses carried out by foreign countries with tacit approval of the UK government. The unpalatable details of historical events in Indonesia in 1965; Diego Garcia; Iran and British Guiana, Kenya, Malaya and Oman are covered in detail. The Uk has also supported repressive governments in, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. This policy of having a political elite in charge of a country to control the population purely so British business and economic interests can take precedence over that particular countries wishes is abhorrent. It makes for quite depressing reading and is a slamming indictment of the UK government and Foreign Office. Whilst this was primarily aimed at the New Labour government; who thought that inserting ethical before foreign policy would make it so. It doesn’t, if you have not changed the fundamental principles of the policy. Sadly, I cannot imagine that it is any better under the present encumbrances… It is a bit dated (I have had it sitting on my shelf for years!), but still an eye opening read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    This is another of our 'hindsight' reviews. It is simpler to write than the others. The book was written in 2003 by a radical liberal academic just as the UK was heading for war with Iraq and it is a coruscating polemic against British foreign policy as fundamentally unethical. No surprise there then! The fundamental thesis would probably be accepted by a large number of Britons - that British foreign policy is a matter of imperial self-interest and that New Labour, despite its liberal humanitari This is another of our 'hindsight' reviews. It is simpler to write than the others. The book was written in 2003 by a radical liberal academic just as the UK was heading for war with Iraq and it is a coruscating polemic against British foreign policy as fundamentally unethical. No surprise there then! The fundamental thesis would probably be accepted by a large number of Britons - that British foreign policy is a matter of imperial self-interest and that New Labour, despite its liberal humanitarian gloss, was no less unethical than its predecessor Governments. But then a similar claim could be made against all powers of consequence. This should not be a surprise. The British system is one of rule by the Crown (the State, not the Royal Family) where the Crown is influenced and guided by one of two or more similar political organisations that vie with each other, often bitterly, for the privilege. We are generally ruled by one of two factions of one State Party. The continuity of fundamental state policy under different parties, especially in foreign affairs and internal security, is often more noticeable than more contingent differences although Curtis sometimes overstates his case and he is not averse to giving us 'facts' that have not been fully evidenced or adequately contextualised. This is not a book of philosophy self-evidently but some deeper thought would not have gone amiss. The polemic is often overwrought and even sentimental. Some fair consideration of the constraints that create policies of economic and international relations 'realism' might have made it more persuasive. At no time are we told why the British people should be 'ethical'. The demand is not as self-evident as it seems. The survival of the British nation may require tough decisions and this should be recognised. What really should be argued here is whether the Government's 'moral turpitude' was actually in the interests of the British people at all. I suspect not. The truth is that New Labour in particular simply was more Crown than the Crown, based on an implicit theory that Leviathan could be turned towards the Good if only good people were in charge of it. Unfortunately, we got Tony Blair and the often rather second-rate quasi-establishment figures in his court. Is the book worth reading today? Probably not. The Pilgerist hysteria is tiring - after all, one can only live for a short term on a diet of constant outrage - even though the facts (undeniably serious charges against the hypocrisy, subservience to the US and Business and often incompetence and malice of Government) basically stand up. We now know that New Labour was a monster. We now know that British imperialism was ruthless when it felt it needed to be without consulting with its People. We now know that the British Crown acted as a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. We now know that our rulers have been greedy self-serving numskulls. We no longer need an old text to tell us all this. It is probably all on Wikipedia by now in any case. What we need is either for the Crown to square with the British people on why it does what it does or for the People to start deciding not to put up with this secretive and manipulative shite any more. But fundamentally it is not a useful text because while it tells truths, it tells truths unreliably. It asks no questions of the why of conduct or about the structures of class and administration. It is an unsophisticated scream of outrage from an intellectual liberal. It is certainly not a guide to a better future based on analysis. Oh, Lord, protect from outraged liberals and let us hope and prey that we get some decent analysis some day whether from imperialists talking their book or socialists offering us a viable alternative. Until then, such outrage reminds one more of an angry Rumpelstilskin stamping his foot than a guide to good policy-making in the future.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rich Dawson

    Recommended reading if you prefer a sober, honest look at British foreign policy and the modern manifestations of the British empire, largely revolving around the multi-trillion pound business of arms dealing and corruption - and an especially good chapter on our corrupt relationship with the Saudis, whose human rights record gives North Korea a run for its money.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Al Britten

    Incredibly well investigated and researched. Would recommend highly if this subject interests you. Frightening stuff.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Miss D D Kaur

    Brilliant and shocking account of the UK’s actions abroad.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dan Pye

    Detailed and informed. Invaluable in learning how the world has been shaped by Western power and how Britain behaves in world affairs.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    In Web of Deceit, Curtis draws extensively on formerly secret UK government files and archive press reports to rescue crucial details from the memory hole. Fastidiously researched and impeccably sourced, this is essentially the missing history book of postwar British foreign policy. From propping up repressive governments to toppling democratically-elected ones and crushing popular rebellions, it's all a far cry from the simplistic and childish narrative of 'Our Boys versus The Evildoers' propag In Web of Deceit, Curtis draws extensively on formerly secret UK government files and archive press reports to rescue crucial details from the memory hole. Fastidiously researched and impeccably sourced, this is essentially the missing history book of postwar British foreign policy. From propping up repressive governments to toppling democratically-elected ones and crushing popular rebellions, it's all a far cry from the simplistic and childish narrative of 'Our Boys versus The Evildoers' propagated by Whitehall, Westminster and Fleet Street. Well organized, including 50 pages of end notes and a chronology of main events, it comes across like a British version of William Blum's 'Rogue State'. As you progress through the chapters on Kenya, Malaya, Rwanda, Iran, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo, Indonesia, Diego Garcia and more, it becomes ever more apparent that our post-9/11 interventions in the Middle East appear to be little more than business as usual. Even recent shocking allegations of torture are essentially nothing new. This is quite a lengthy and comprehensive book; heavy on fact and quite wide-ranging in scope. Just a little repetitive in parts, but overall Curtis does a good job of preventing it all from becoming too dry, and for me at least, his writing seems to fall a healthy midway between the over-sentimentality that can sometimes threaten to diminish Pilger, and the dry convolution that can cripple Chomsky. Like those two writers, Curtis is not afraid to resort to the occasional caustic remark whenever words like 'ethical' or 'humanitarian' come into play - and in most instances, his sarcasm is justified. Ultimately then, this does what it promises: it provides concrete evidence of deceit. There are already plenty of books out there that tackle the hypocrisy of US foreign policy, and this is one of the few that focuses on Britain ( surprising, given our long and checkered history). However the blame shouldn't be levelled entirely at our elected officials; that all the information is publicly available yet has gone largely unmentioned by mainstream journalism is ultimately a devastating indictment on our much-hyped 'free press'.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beorn

    A glance at the cover will see that the foreword is by Australian journalist John Pilger and, though at the time of writing I'm only a few chapters in, you can appreciate why as there is an area of mutual coverage and themes as well as Curtis' style of writing being quite compatible with that of Pilger. This reads rather like a John Pilger level book though without as many individual stories and human elements, Curtis choosing to focus far more on the hard traceable evidence to pummel the reader A glance at the cover will see that the foreword is by Australian journalist John Pilger and, though at the time of writing I'm only a few chapters in, you can appreciate why as there is an area of mutual coverage and themes as well as Curtis' style of writing being quite compatible with that of Pilger. This reads rather like a John Pilger level book though without as many individual stories and human elements, Curtis choosing to focus far more on the hard traceable evidence to pummel the reader into dismay. Don't be fooled, this is a hard-hitting and eye-opening read, even to the most jaded & cynical follower of British politics over the last fifteen years. At times it can be shocking by slowly peeling away the cataract from the reader's eyes and exposing just how much of a Machiavellian enterprise New Labour really was - though as this was written during their time in office it's a little outdated as it (so far at least) doesn't cover the Brown years of dismay and downgrade, but that's hardly the fault of the author so shouldn't be used to detract from the book itself. Ideal shelf-mate for the Pilger, Monbiot and Chomsky tomes on anyone's shelves. Though if you choose to use it as an excuse to never vote Labour again in favour of voting Tory instead, I may just beat you round the head with the book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Griffiths

    a fascinating account of the deceitful role Britain has often played and in many ways still continues to play in the world, the book demonstrates many of the hypocrisies of British foreign policy. Particular emphasis is placed on how there is clearly one set of rules for nations in the developing world and another, particularly in the case of the US and the UK.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Allix Davis

    A must read for anyone interested in what the british governments foreign policies

  11. 5 out of 5

    !Tæmbuŝu

    KOBOBOOKS KOBOBOOKS

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Steele

    Only depressing if you think we can't do anything about it. We can! Real Democracy Now!

  13. 4 out of 5

    George

  14. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wood

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mark Bold

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ross Abell

  17. 4 out of 5

    Firoze

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  20. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wyatt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fred Fulford

  22. 5 out of 5

    Enric

  23. 4 out of 5

    Neal Brown

  24. 4 out of 5

    Saqib Muneer

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ovagsnes

  26. 4 out of 5

    goodreads

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  29. 5 out of 5

    Poppy T

  30. 4 out of 5

    Calum

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