A remarkable book upon the subject of 'realpolitik'. In this case, British power politics since the end of WWII, during the declononisation and dismantling of the British empire, and the apparent, wide-spread disregard for Human Rights. Curtis - a former Research Fellow of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House), uses the term 'Unpeople' to refer to those people that the British state has deemed 'unworthy' of life, whilst pursuing political and economic gain. Curtis argues that the 'Unpeople' have taken the place of the 'savage', a term and concept that was common during Britain's imperial expansion across the globe the last two hundred years or so. This group of people are not accorded basic human dignity - indeed, they are not perceived as fully 'human' at all, but much like the German notion of 'Lebensunwertes Leben' (life unworthy of life), this group is viewed as fully expendable, and their collective lives are seen as worthless, something to be thrown away, ignored or removed at the whim of a politician.
The paperback (2004) contains 377 numbered pages and is comprised of an Introduction, a Conclusion and is separated into four parts:
Part I. Iraq.
Part II. Propaganda, Reality.
Part III. Terror, Aggression.
Part IV. Coups, Dictators.
Although contemporary with the Tony Blair-New Labour government, this research covers British foreign policy over the years, including the British 'secret' support for US aggression in Vietnan, the war for oil policy in Nigeria, covert operations in Indonesia, the support of Idi Amin in Uganda, protecting a dictator in Chile (Thatcher's friend general Pinochet), and the dirty wars in British Guiana and Arabia. Much information is provided regarding the sheer scope of lying and dishonesty surrounding the second Gulf War in the first chapter, but Curtis, whilst working backwards in time, is infact, demonstrating a core of more or less continuous foreign policiy pursued by the British state. Curtis highlights three general areas of concerns in the British files, which he presents as trends:
a) British ministers lying to the British public is normal and routine.
b) Policy makers are frank in the secret files about their true intentions.
c) Humanitarian concerns do not, and have not figured in the rationale behind British foreign policy - the few times that they are mentioned, is purely from the point of view of 'spin' and 'public relations'.
Mark Curtis, in this book, presents previously 'secret', but now 'declassified' British government files. His logic is sound and his conclusions, although probably difficult for many to accept, are, nevertheless, equally difficult to argue with. The evidence speaks for itself. The world of politics 'behind the scenes' as it were, is often a mrky affair, Curtis' research sheds light on an area of British politics that many ordinary British people will find surprising, particularly as the events that Curtis explains are perpetrated in the name of the British people, who by and large, remain ignorant of them. A fine book.