British Foreign Policy in the Middle East: A Secret History of Self Interest

The idea that Westminster is the “mother of all parliaments,” representing a democratic model for the world, is a cultivated myth, writes Mark Curtis. 

By Mark Curtis
British Foreign Policy Declassified

On Tuesday in the British parliament, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry asked an urgent question relating to allegations that British troops have been covertly fighting in Yemen and supporting the Saudi-led coalition.

As reported in the Mail on Sunday, five British special forces troops from the elite Special Boat Service (SBS) were injured while “advising” Saudi Arabia on their deadly campaign in Yemen.

The commandos were injured in gun fights as part of a top-secret campaign, and other reports have claimed British troops have been killed in such battles. British soldiers from the Special Air Service (SAS) have reportedly been secretly deployed and operate “dressed in Arab clothing.”

Responding to Labour’s questions, Mark Field, a minister in the U.K.’s foreign office, said that he would seek to get to the bottom of these “very serious and well sourced” allegations.

The presence of British soldiers in Yemen, secretly fighting a war that has brought death, famine and destruction to millions of innocent civilians, raises an age-old question: why does British foreign policy in the Middle East support dictatorships, abuse human rights and prioritize Britain’s power status?

Member of Women in Black, the global movement against militarism, Jan. 31, 2018, Central London. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

Member of Women in Black, a global movement against militarism, Jan. 31, 2018, Central London. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

It’s tempting to say the reasons are simply geopolitics, oil and other commercial interests. But there is a deeper explanation: Britain, far from being a true democracy, is in reality an oligarchy that promotes the interests of a privileged domestic elite. The idea that Westminster is the “mother of all parliaments,” representing a democratic model for the world, is a cultivated myth.

An Elite Few

The U.K. has elections every five years, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and association, and strong laws protecting the equality of all citizens and civil liberties. Yet real power rests in the hands of an elite few who control policy-making institutions and the dominant ideas in society.

British foreign policy-making is so centralized that it is akin to an authoritarian regime. A prime minister can send troops into action without even consulting parliament.

Britain is currently fighting several covert wars with no parliamentary authorization or debate. Away from Yemen, special forces are operating on the ground in Syria, despite parliament only having approved air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) group. The British covert war in Syria has been going on since 2011, with almost no discussion by elected MPs.

In 1976, Lord Hailsham famously termed the U.K. an “elective dictatorship” because parliament is easily dominated by the government of the day and faces few constraints on its power. But this was before former prime minister Margaret Thatcher centralized decision-making still further, regularly bypassing the cabinet and relying on a small set of advisers – a strategy continued by Tony Blair, leading to the disastrous invasion of Iraq.

While the government is saying it will look into the role the British military is playing in Yemen, the stock response to parliamentary questions on U.K. covert action tends to be: “For reasons of national security, it is the longstanding policy of successive British governments not to comment on intelligence and sensitive operations.”

Even minor information is withheld on “sensitive” subjects: when MP Alex Sobel asked the government last month how much the U.S. reimburses Britain for the costs of the defense ministry police at the spy base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, a government minister refused to say.

Radomes at Menwith Hill, Yorkshire, 2005. (Matt Crypto via Wikimedia Commons)

Radomes at Menwith Hill, Yorkshire, 2005. (Matt Crypto via Wikimedia Commons)

Even when asked parliamentary questions on overt foreign policy, ministerial responses tend to be minimalist, and are often misleading or deceitful. Anyone who has made a Freedom of Information request to the government will know that they are routinely denied on the pretext of protecting “national security.”

Operating with Impunity

Neither Blair nor former Prime Minister David Cameron has been held to account for the disastrous wars in Iraq or Libya. The British political system is so extreme that no minister has, to my knowledge, been held to account for crimes abroad – despite numerous wars, covert operations, coups and involvement in human rights abuses.

In Yemen, the U.K.-supported Saudi military has for four years been engaged in war crimes, over which British ministers have acted with impunity.

Government policies are meant to be scrutinized by all-party parliamentary committees, but they rarely hold the government to account. They tend to be packed with government supporters who fail to investigate key policies or grill ministers.

In the U.K.’s “mainstream” media, many key British foreign policies are not covered at all. There are perilously few articles reporting the extent of U.K. support for Israel or the Sisi regime in Egypt.

Even the war in Yemen has been little scrutinized; there is criticism of U.K. arms exports, but little if any mention of the air force maintaining Saudi warplanes and storing and issuing the bombs for their use. The Mail’s Sunday report on covert British action in Yemen is a revelation partly because such coverage is so infrequent.

Although mainstream articles do reveal aspects of U.K. foreign policy, it is more typical for reporting and commentary to amplify the policies of the state or to spread disinformation. False assumptions pervade the media, such as that U.K. policy in the Middle East is based on support for democracy and human rights.

The 1953 Anglo-American coup in Iran was about maintaining the interests of oil firms – in Britain’s case, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation, the forerunner of BP. Fifty years later, the 2003 invasion of Iraq was also mainly about oil, as was the 2011 war in Libya.

The U.K.’s support of Egypt’s Abel Fattah el-Sisi regime appears to be mainly about oil and gas interests in the country. The special relationship with Saudi Arabia seeks to promote BAE Systems and other large arms corporations.

The extensive revolving door of personnel between government and corporations plays a key role in ensuring that elite interests are aligned. David Omand, the former GCHQ director, went on to work for the arms corporation Babcock; General David Richards, the former army chief of staff, was tapped to chair the U.K. advisory board of the U.S. arms corporation DynCorp; and John Sawers, the former director of MI6, was appointed a non-executive director of BP, among other examples.

Westminster Palace, aka Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben, at night. (Maurice via Flickr)

Westminster Palace, aka Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben, at night. (Maurice via Flickr)

Private Club

In some ways, Britain resembles more a private club than a country. As author Adam Ramsay has noted, only five British universities have produced a prime minister, and more than twice as many have gone to Eton as to non-fee paying schools.

It is striking that there have been so few whistle-blowers revealing secrets about U.K. foreign policy. This is probably because those allowed access to the elite normally come from the same circles and can be relied on to be one of the chaps forever.

The very top of the U.K.’s privilege system – members of the royal family – are regularly deployed by the foreign office and ministry of defense to support U.K. policy and military interests abroad.

Royal visits help to build relations with key regimes and sell more arms to the Middle East. The system is built on patronage, highlighted by the House of Lords, a medieval anachronism that is packed full of appointees of the government.

There are few signs that British oligarchy will change anytime soon. The “permanent government” in Whitehall is deeply entrenched. The main challenger to traditional U.K. foreign policies – Jeremy Corbyn – is being attacked and undermined on all sides. But it is not clear that even Corbyn intends to challenge British oligarchy.

There is a real need for a transformation away from centralized, unaccountable governance to a system that is much more participatory, and where citizens are informed and empowered, something that would change both domestic and foreign policies. This would benefit not only Britons, but the Middle Easterners on the receiving end of British policies.

Mark Curtis is an historian and analyst of U.K. foreign policy and international development and the author of six books, the latest being an updated edition of “Secret Affairs: Britain’s CollU.S. ion with Radical Islam.”

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36 comments for “British Foreign Policy in the Middle East: A Secret History of Self Interest

  1. dean 1000
    April 2, 2019 at 22:47

    Sam F:
    I’m not a republican. I have never used Aristotle’s definition of democracy ( which one) to rationalize the republican system of bribery, or any bribery system.
    The Latin word for republic is “res publica” meaning the state or commonwealth. Literally the ‘public thing’ or public matter.’ Res Publica says nothing about government by the people( as you claim), voting, representatives, or a Bill of Rights. And that is why The People’s Republic of China can accurately define itself as a republic. It is a republic not altogether different than the one Plato proposed in “The Republic.”
    Aristotle’s great maxim is – ” the size of a democracy is limited to the range of a man’s voice.” Italian Guglielmo Marconi upended Aristotle by inventing the radio. Do you think the Roman Republic , or roman empire, was small enough for all the citizens to fit into one amphitheater? Rome would have had to build a much larger Coliseum.
    Ancient Greek historians inform that Athens was a republic before it was a democracy. The failure of politicians to actually represent the people sparked the democracy. One wag reportedly complained of the Athenian republic ” the rich buy and knaves smile their way into office.”
    The Microsoft Encarta Dictionary has the best definition of ‘republic’ I’ve seen.

  2. Mild - ly Facetious
    April 1, 2019 at 16:12

    AS RELATES A TO PRIOR POST … Who or What Is ‘The Council on Foreign Relations … ?…0.0..0.129.1870.21j4……0….1j2..gws-wiz…..0..0i131j0j33i10.iQ-j5qOvXBo

    [ are these inquires too audacious (or discourteous) for the gatekeepers of consortium … ? ]

  3. Mild - ly - Facetious
    April 1, 2019 at 14:35

    “The very top of the U.K.’s privilege system – members of the royal family – are regularly deployed by the foreign office and ministry of defense to support U.K. policy and military interests abroad.
    Royal visits help to build relations with key regimes and sell more arms to the Middle East. The system is built on patronage, highlighted by the House of Lords, a medieval anachronism that is packed full of appointees of the government.

    The “permanent government” in Whitehall is deeply entrenched.” – Mark Curtis

    >>> THE ANGLO-AMERICAN ESTABLISHMENT, a book written by Carroll Quigley, published c. 1981 — 337 pages explaining the history of UK / US imperialism established by the racist Cecil Rhodes, and carried on through The Royal Institute of International Affairs, which was aligned with US JP Morgan and the Carnegie Trust; these are hidden histories which must-be-recognised-and-understood within the realm of –

    “The very top of the U.K.’s privilege system – members of the royal family – are regularly deployed by the foreign office and ministry of defense to support U.K. policy and military interests abroad.” [Mark Curtis]

    – – – I would say the same rings true for the US M.I.C. and the ‘Council on Foreign Relations’ – both US corollaries (cousin) to the British ‘Royal Institute’. . .

    • Dunderhead
      April 1, 2019 at 17:44

      Right on man but have you read Carol Quigley’s first book, The Evolution of civilizations? Sorry if that seems off-topic but there is a bit in there about the origins of the Semitic peoples, read that then read Shlomo Sand, the invention of the Jewish people, that is some perspective.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    April 1, 2019 at 11:46

    As a Canadian friend of mine puts it in very simple terms: US/UK – asses of evil.

    • Mild - ly Facetious
      April 1, 2019 at 14:56

      I was an Army grunt at the pointy end of the American spear. But no longer

      MAR 31, 2019

      I was an Army grunt at the pointy end of the American spear. But no longer

      I’m one of the lucky ones. Leaving the madness of U.S. Army life with a modest pension and all of my limbs intact feels like a genuine escape. Both the Army and I knew it was time for me to go. I’d tired of carrying water for empire and they’d grown weary of dealing with my dissent and with footing the bill for my PTSD treatment.

      I entered West Point in July 2001, a bygone era of relative peace, the moment, you might say, before the 9/11 storm broke. I leave an Army that remains, remarkably, engaged in global war, patrolling an increasingly militarized world.

      In a sense, my early retirement is an ignominious end to a once-promising career. Make no mistake, I wanted out. I’d relocated 11 times in 18 years, often to war zones, and I simply didn’t have another deployment in me. Still, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I mourn the loss of my career, of the identity inherent in soldiering, of the experience of adulation from a grateful (if ill-informed) society.
      I hope more serving officers and troops gather the courage to speak their minds and tell Americans the score about our brutal, hopeless adventurism.

      I recognize that there’s a paradox at work here: The Army and the global war on terror made me who I am. Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in particular turned a budding neocon into an unabashed progressive, an insecure aspiring dealer in violence into a pacifist, or as near to that as a former military man can get. What the Army helped me become is someone whom, in the end, I don’t mind gazing at in the mirror each morning.

      Should I thank the Army then? Maybe so. It’s hard, though, to thank a war machine that dealt death to so many for making me who I am. And no matter how much I tell myself I was different, the truth is I was complicit in it all.
      I wonder whether something resembling an apology, rather than a statement of pride in who I’ve become, is the more appropriate valediction. Some peers, even friends, may call me a heretic — a disgruntled former major airing dirty laundry — but I plan to keep explaining that we are engaged in Orwellian forever wars that professional foot soldiers make possible while the rest of the country goes to work, tweets, shops and sleeps (in every sense of the word).

      I am not sorry to leave behind the absurdity I witnessed.

      Farewell to the generals who knew tactics but couldn’t for the life of them think strategically. Who were unwilling or unable to advise policymakers about missions that could never be accomplished. Who shamelessly traded in their multi-starred uniforms for six- and seven-figure gigs on the boards of corporations that feed the unquenchable appetite of the military-industrial beast.
      So long, too, to the chauvinism in the senior ranks that asserts a messianic American right to police the globe. Farewell to the faux intellectualism of men like former Gen. David Petraeus who have never seen a problem for which improved counterinsurgency tactics wasn’t the answer and are incapable of questioning the efficacy of force, intervention and occupation as ways to alter complex societies for the better.

      Goodbye to the devotees of American exceptionalism who filled the Army’s ranks, and to the hypercapitalism and Ayn Randian conservatism among officers in what is the nation’s most socialist institution. Godspeed to the often-hypocritical evangelical Christianity and the rampant Islamophobia infusing the ranks. Ciao to the still-prevalent patriarchy and homophobia that affects everyone in uniform.

      Ta-ta to officers who put “duty” above “ethics,” and to the troops who regularly complained that the Army’s Rules of Engagement were too strict — as if more brutality, bombing and firepower (with less concern for civilians) would have brought victory instead of stalemate.

      Sayonara to the adrenaline junkies and power-obsessed freaks atop so many combat units, folks who lived for the violence, the rush of nighttime raids without a thought for their often counterproductive and bloody consequences. It’s a relief to leave them behind as they continue to feed the insurgencies the U.S. battles far faster than they kill “terrorists.”
      Toodle-oo to the vacuous “thanks-for-your-service” compliments from civilians who otherwise ignore soldiers’ issues, foreign policy and our forever wars.

      Maybe it’s hopeless for a former Army major to fight American militarism. Still, I plan to keep attacking in that lost cause. I’ll be here, speaking up, as a counterpoint to a system that demands compliance. And here’s the truth of it: I’m not alone in my views; as supportive texts and emails to me have made clear, there are more silent dissenters in the ranks than you might imagine. I hope more serving officers and troops gather the courage to speak their minds and tell Americans the score about our brutal, hopeless adventurism.

      I was one of them, an obsequious grunt at the pointy end of the spear fashioned by a warlike government ruling over an apathetic citizenry. But no longer. The burdensome, the beautiful, the banal and the horrific — that was my war story and it is still the nation’s. Goodbye to all that, and hello to what’s next.

      Danny Sjursen retired from the Army in February, after tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and teaching history at West Point. He is the author of “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Twitter: @SkepticalVet. Podcast: “Fortress on a Hill.” A longer version of this essay appears at TomDispatch.

  5. Republicofscotland
    April 1, 2019 at 09:34

    Thank you for that very interesting information. Its also good to know who own London for that matter, for undoubtedly they call the shots.

    • Mild - ly - Facetious
      April 1, 2019 at 15:28


      Train spotting/

      A Film
      into the streets
      this masterful
      revelation of
      as the
      spoils of poverty . …

  6. Larry
    March 31, 2019 at 19:58

    “The U.K. has….an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and association, and strong laws protecting the equality of all citizens and civil liberties.”

    I think the author forgot to mention that being true in some fantasy land in a parallel universe. In the reald world, the UK has of course none of the above.

    • Mild - ly - Facetious
      April 1, 2019 at 21:15

      God Bless America !

      Where the flag

      Means More

      Than Human Life !!

      Discover the
      relationship of

      Fellow Travelers
      BW Griffith

      and U S President
      Woodrow Wilson

      In Adaptation of
      “Star Spangled Banner”

      As Creedal Worship/
      of Bombs Bursting

      As “2nd Amendent
      Rights” mean more

      Than LIFE/LIBERTY and

      !!! — $ – -?

      • Tiu
        April 2, 2019 at 03:04

        Woodrow Wilson was so dim he didn’t even realise he was a Marxist Socialists enabling the Bolshevik revolution and leading the world on the path toward One World Government. He was little more than a hand-puppet to a cabal of bankers (the same ones who financed the Bolshevik revolution).
        A great President he was not, mind you there’s a long line-up of those, but that’s what happens when you have an oligarchy. The mind boggles at how “democracy” has been distorted.
        “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” and phrases like them, are used by the cabal to destroy societies and lay them open to plunder, not to mention that they are the antithesis of the laws of nature, and more generally an oxymoron. I’d concede they appear appealing, but I’d recommend you read up on the history of such phrases.

  7. dean1000
    March 31, 2019 at 13:07

    Antiwar7 March 29, 2019 at 13:13:

    Definition of a sociopath: A person with a personality disorder that manifests itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior, and a lack of conscience.

    Definition of Democracy: Where the people (voters) make and repeal all the laws and are the supreme politico/legal authority.

    Definition of a Republic: Where politicians, elected or appointed make the law and purport to represent the people, but usually don’t according to historical evidence.The northern European republics may be the most representative republics to date.

    Some people claim that the US is a democracy because Americans, is their capacity as state citizens, can make and unmake laws by initiative or referendum. The initiative and referendum are really democratic but do not make the states that have them democracies as the state legislators can amend the voter made laws and judges can declare them unconstitutional and make it stick. In a democracy there are no legislative bodies beyond the people. Judges are creatures of the law and cannot issue dictats or opinions that override the will of the democracy expressed as law.

    In addition article 4(4) of the federal constitution “guarantees” every state a “republican” form of government. In other words democracy is outlawed by the constitution. Also read article 1(9) of the constitution. There are other provisions that two-block democracy. I can’t list all of them now.

    In order for a democracy to be “government by sociopaths” as you claim, a majority of voters actually voting would have to be sociopaths. Someone claiming that a majority of a society was sociopathic might be the real sociopath.

    • Larry
      March 31, 2019 at 20:00

      Somebody denying the clearly sociopathic (and outright criminal) nature of the anglo-saxon world is a sociopath.

    • Sam F
      March 31, 2019 at 22:20

      Democracy(Greek) = Republic (Latin) = government by the people. All modern democracies are constitutional republics. They are not all corrupt. The Repubs erroneously use Aristotle’s definition of democracy as a small direct-vote government, to rationalize their bribery system. Don’t fall for it.

      The use of elected reps does not necessitate corruption: that proceeds from our unregulated market economy, and lack of Constitutional controls on the political/media influence of money.

      • Larry
        April 2, 2019 at 16:41

        Sorry Sam, I have to disagree. All governments are corrupt. And yes, politics does necessitate corruption. And no, there’s no unregulated market economy in sight. The market is highly regulated, by politicians, to favor special interests.

        And yet you want me to believe that completely corrupt politicians are the poor victims of the ‘market economy’? Please =) – Politicians are 50/50 partners in crime of the industrial/financial ruling class.

  8. Eddie S
    March 31, 2019 at 12:57

    Very interesting article for many of us US readers. This brings home the point that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, as we here in ‘America’ are our mother’s children and we have learned our imperial lessons well, to the extent that we now exceed our mentor. Reagan was a noted devotee of Thatcher, and one could no-doubt construct a short-list of prestigious universities that our political elite attend (ie; Harvard, Yale, etc), though sometimes those institutions must collectively cringe when they have to admit to graduating the likes of GW Bush or DJT. And as far as ‘over-classification’, I still recall reading in the 1970’s how investigations in the US found that at least some US government files would contain public newspaper articles stamped “Top Secret”. Historically speaking, given their more developed class-system, I suspect that the British have a stronger peer-group pressure system vis-a-via the US, to enforce conformity due to the remnants of that era.

  9. Pamela Maklad
    March 31, 2019 at 06:56

    Elitism is an ancient concept and difficult to dislodge . It is also a global problem and tackling this country by country may cause mayhem and just creates different elite group who think they know everything..
    Where is the elite power coming from ? Probably the MNCs . They bear no responsibility for their maximal profit policy. Start with them.

  10. Godfree Roberts
    March 31, 2019 at 00:07

    Britain’s foreign policy has always followed the Roman tradition, as has American foreign policy.

    Now they are competing with Confucian statecraft…and losing handily.

  11. Theo
    March 30, 2019 at 13:41

    Interesting article.Is it true that most British farmers don’t own the land they cultivate? And is it true that a large part of the Scottish highlands is private property of Arabian and other foreign oligarchs and of course British aristocracy?Most forests in the hands of a few?Unbelievable.

    • Republicofscotland
      April 1, 2019 at 09:43

      Very true Theo, in Scotland Green party MSP Andy Wightman, is attempting to put together a register of who really owns the lands of Scotland.

      Anonymity seems to be what’s going on at the moment, shell companies within shell companies etc makes it difficult to find out who really owns the land.

  12. AnneR
    March 30, 2019 at 09:31

    Yes, Mr Curtis, all very, too true. Little to nothing has changed over the centuries of Westminster’s existence. I do find it interesting, however, in your mention of BAE Systems and other like MICorporations, that you do not raise the issue of the Maybot’s husband’s direct, senior executive status within Capital Group which has a large number of shares in Lockheed Martin, apparently the world’s largest military materiel manufacturer (I refuse to name it a Defense corporation because most of its output, if not all, is used offensively and usually, as in Yemen, against civilian populations).

    My question is: How is it legally possible the PM, the leader of a political party, to have and maintain such a direct personal interest, herself, through her spouse, or through any relative, in a corporation which will/does benefit from the political decisions made and actions taken? A further question would be: Why is the MSM not all over this complete lack of ethics – not to say morals – this corruption? So far as I am aware not a dicky bird has been whispered about this.

    Even the suggestion of ethical impropriety, even a hint of personal (in this case through her husband) gain attaching to the decision to sell arms, military materiel to Saudia and the UAE, let alone sending British armed forces to support this pillage, plunder and rape of Yemen (or Syria, or as in the past, Libya, Iraq and on and on), should require the PM (and her relatives/spouse) to either step down or divest themselves of all interest in such companies (not simply shift departments within the same profiteering company).

    Meanwhile Russia (both sides of the pond) is blamed for everything – a certain distraction from what is really happening, what “our” politicos are really up, what the western corporate-capitalist-imperialist plutocrat-aristocrat-oligarchs are really doing.

    • Mike Sokolowski
      March 30, 2019 at 16:26

      I completely agree with what you say but I believe you are in denial if you still think you live in a democracy or believe in the existence of the rule of law? As a Canadian with a basically identical system to yours, I see the same type of corruption and blatant disregard of the many for the obvious benefit of the few. I see it in the UK (as you have mentioned), Australia, France and of course the USA. What I believe we are witnessing now are the final few steps towards total Fascism that has been allowed to creep in ever since the 9/11 false flag operation!

      • Tiu
        March 30, 2019 at 20:15

        Yes, sadly “democracy” is nothing but a pantomime for the little peoples’ distraction. I’d also push back your suggested starting point as 9/11 to well before WW1 (to me 9/11 is when they simply became blatantly obvious). It has been a long, inter-generational operation that is hard if not impossible for normal citizens and families to enact – especially given the turmoil of the 20th century. Here’s a 1924 quote from a powerful banker describing a continuing operation…
        “Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When, through process of law, the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of the government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers. These truths are well known among our principal men, who are now engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voters through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance. It is thus, by discrete action, we can ensure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished.”
        Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, addressing the United States Bankers’ Association, New York, Idaho Leader, 26 August 1924.

      • AnneR
        March 31, 2019 at 08:00

        Mike, I do not believe there is, in existence, any true democracy, if by that term is meant rule by the demos (people). We are all ruled by, what in Europe at least are understood to what they really are: Aristocrats. And this true in almost all countries around the globe. And they are determined to maintain their sway because, as the founding daddies of the US recognized and so worked to prevent, should they lose their grip on the power controls of governance they might be in serious danger of losing their property (and I do not simply refer to real estate), and their continuing ability to expand their power wherever they so choose. Thus, in the States the Electoral College, the enormous clout of the legalized corruption of lobbying groups representing the the financial, corporate elites (including that really egregious collation of them, ALEC, which writes the legislation for Congress), and the revolving door between major corporations, Wall Street, the Pentagon, and members of Congress.

        Thus the US is no different in reality to the UK, for instance, in its form of so-called democracy. Nor was US ‘democracy’ ever intended to be. The American Revolution – or War of Independence – wasn’t a revolution to install a Marxist or Diggers style (a bit previous for the former) communist-socialist nirvana, but another, separate, aristocratic government, one without “titles” but like in form, structure and (well considered) outcome.

        The welfare of the many has never been, except when expedient for the ruling elites (during the Great Depression for instance; FDR consciously set out to save capitalism with his programs to ameliorate the effects of that economic earthquake on poorer Americans, though not all: Southern Dems had to be kept happy), a consideration. Indeed usually quite other. I recall reading ages ago (in one of E.P. Thompson’s works I think) an extract from a letter written in the 16th or 17th century by someone from the bourgeoisie in which was made clear the perspective of this class (and I would say remains their view): that the laboring classes “need the pinch of poverty to make them work.”

        Frankly, IMHO western governments should take care of their own countries (mind their own business, remember that they live in glass houses) and stop interfering in and destroying the lives of those in other countries.

        So no, I’m under no illusions about what form of governance I have lived under for many decades.

        I haven’t lived in the UK since 1988, having wandered the world with my late husband – an American – before once again and finally, living on the same side of the Atlantic as you but further to the south.

        • Tiu
          April 1, 2019 at 17:52

          I think you’ll find the closes example of “true democracy” is you go to Iceland – a small, homogeneous country.
          The two-horse race promoted as democracy in most countries is a complete hoax. I’m not sure democracy is overly practical in very large countries like the US, although it could be based on the original State-centric constitution.

      • Dunderhead
        April 1, 2019 at 18:13

        Or this thing might just fall apart, everyone paints these inbred Nazis as being some kind of Superman but how hard is it really to launder money and lied to everyone. Half the world has already left the swift system and the fact that the oligarchs are trying to shutdown alternative media simply point to the fact that it actually does threaten them. Even the Normie’s don’t believe the TV anymore and this thing just doesn’t go without people believing the propaganda. Whatever happens it’ll be ugly but at the same time the technology will allow more individuals to be autonomous things could conceivably turn out alright.

  13. mike k
    March 30, 2019 at 07:43

    Beneath the veneer of bragging about “democracy” etc. lies the vast realm of ugly truths that are the real England. Most people don’t want to look at that reality, hence the empty charade of righteousness continues unabated.

  14. Eric32
    March 29, 2019 at 20:52

    It’s a sham, and we’d be better off recognizing it, and getting off the kabuki show treadmill.

    Democracy means informed voters electing people who put the voters political desires and aims into practice.

    Most voters don’t know much about even important issues for which open information is available, and most have minimal analytical abilities to apply to what little they do know about.

    Most countries engage in all sorts of activities that they keep secret from their voters, for decades or centuries. These activities often cost a lot of money, some are dangerous, some lead to wars, some bring death and destruction to people. Voters can’t get informed about these issues in any time frame that matters.

    “Democracy” in modern countries is just a marketing game by politicians, corporations, intelligence services, aimed at managing voters’ perceptions, emotions, “thinking”, and habits.

    The truth is, a moral government that allowed a serious decline in living standards due to loss of oil, food, water, etc. supplies, would be quickly replaced by a government that would do whatever it needed to remedy the situation.

    What might be possible is stop individuals and corporations from bribing politicians to take actions for purely profit motive, versus national good.

    • Tiu
      March 30, 2019 at 20:44

      “Want and opinion are the two agents which make all men act. Cause the want, govern opinions, and you will overturn all the existing systems, however well consolidated they may appear.”
      Abbé Barruel commenting on revolutionary Freemasonry from his “Memoirs of Jacobinism”, late 18th century.
      Edward Bernays (Sigmund Freud’s nephew and an early 20th century leader in modern advertising) perfected the art and changed society from a predominantly “needs” based society to a “wants” based society. Very openly there for all to read in is book “Propaganda” from the 1920’s.
      A point on Yemen, Britain also undertook clandestine operations in the Yemen (including organising arms drops from Israel) aimed at blocking Nasar’s intention for a Muslim Brotherhood take over of the Yemen in the lead-up to the ’67 war – it’s not their first secret war in the country! You can read about that one in the Duff Hart-Davis authored book “The War That Never Was”.

  15. Hobson's query
    March 29, 2019 at 20:44

    How is the following clash of interests within the British ruling class likely to be resolved? On one hand, some mainly want to do business with Chinese capitalism and are willing to overlook the problems around Huawei. On the other hand, some clearly understand that letting Huawei into British 5G will give China another tool of domination over them in a few years.

    • Jeff Harrison
      March 30, 2019 at 11:24

      Why worry about that? They are already a US vassal state. Maybe they could play China off the US.

  16. Jeff Harrison
    March 29, 2019 at 18:47

    Hear! hear!

  17. KiwiAntz
    March 29, 2019 at 17:35

    Great Britain? The very word is a oxymoron? There’s nothing great, at all, about this Country, this sad little, vassal state lapdog of America & the European Union, that like a obedient dog, follows its masters wherever its lead, into Foreign lands it has no business to be in? And the self flagellating over Brexit & its Politicians purposely sabotaging it to deny the will of the British people, who voted to leave the EU, is breathtaking in its arrogance & Corruption! The Brexit debacle shows how irrelevant this Country of England has become on the World scene? Britain is a complete joke & a laughingstock, so grab some popcorn & enjoy the Punch & Judy show provided by Theresa May & her merry band of incompetents idiots from the formerly know Country called Great Britain!

    • Josep
      April 2, 2019 at 04:32

      Little question: what the feck (pardon my language) is preventing New Zealand from becoming an independent republic? Why is New Zealand still being ruled by a queen that lives over 10,000 kilometers* away from Wellington?
      As an American, I have yet to learn why New Zealand is still kissing Lizzie’s arse (sorry again) after all these years. I’m assuming that you as a Kiwi would know better than I do.
      *I don’t see much irony in how the biggest troublemakers here, the USA and the UK, continue to use miles when every other developed nation has switched to kilometers decades ago.

      Once the dust settles, Britain will have to accept responsibility for all this gobshite (yet again, sorry) going on in the world right now. Consider this: the Industrial Revolution allowed other countries to compete in the worldwide economy that the British controlled through their “Free Market” slave labor in India and their control of the shipping industry. Germany was making products that were superior in quality and cheaper due to changes and innovation in the manufacturing process. The British, seeing this as a threat to their monopoly, felt the need to deal with the “Huns” before they got richer and more powerful. (think of Microsoft’s smear campaigns against Linux.) And at the end of WWI, Germany was raped by Britain. Keep in mind that Britain covered a quarter of the Earth’s surface and Germany was a relatively young country whose colonial presence in Africa, if I’m not mistaken, was minuscule. To this day, American and British public schools continue to paint Imperial Germany as the aggressor.

  18. DENIZ
    March 29, 2019 at 14:15

    The actions of the UK monarchy is perhaps the most underreported subject of all. You can always find something about US misdeeds or even Israel, which is almost transparent in comparison, but the activities of the UK Monarchy is untouchable and is so far from people’s minds. There is also the City of London, an unaccountable banking fiefdom in the middle of London.

  19. Antiwar7
    March 29, 2019 at 13:13

    Working definition of democracy: government by sociopaths.

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