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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deterring Democracy for the U.K., 30 April 2008
This review is from: Web Of Deceit: Britain's Real Foreign Policy: Britain's Real Role in the World (Paperback)
Web of Deceit, a quite rightly impassioned study of the last fifty years of British foreign policy, not only exposes the cynicism at the heart of U.K. realpolitik but also the mainstream mass media's easy acceptance of officialdom's rhetoric. Author Mark Curtis argues convincingly and with careful attention to the documentary record, that post-World War II, there has generally been an elite consensus around the fundamentals of British policy abroad and that this has largely gone unquestioned by journalists who have a far too close relationship with the dominant power structure.

A key strategy of Curtis' is to compare the bipartisan government proclamations of noble intent with the internal planning record, often drawing on recently declassified files but quite as often using publicly available material. The result is jarring: the British government (Conservative or (New) Labour, there are more similarities than differences) will loudly announce that we are at the fore-front of a new humanitarianism, combining fair trade with human rights, for the betterment of the world's poor. In reality, we turn a blind eye to genocide - or actively sell arms to the most cruel and repressive of regimes - and we impose a form of corporate dominated globalised capitalism that impoverishes many of those already living on two dollars a day.

Such inflammatory writing might seem hyperbolic, but Curtis keeps it all thoroughly grounded, with case after case of Britain's actual footprint in other countries: in Iran, Kenya, Malaya, British Guiana, Indonesia, East Timor and Diego Garcia, we have intervened to overthrow democratic governments or propped up murderous dictators. We have crushed democratic independent nationalists under the pretext of preventing communist subversion. We sell arms to the worst regimes in the Middle East and ignore their barbarism because their terrorism supports our 'war on terrorism.' We think of ourselves as a calming influence on the excesses of United States policy but in reality we unstintingly support it, providing a fig-leaf of multilateralism. We call on others to obey international law when it suits us but then block effective peace keeping action by the United Nations. We condemn (rightly) North Korea but we cheer on atrocities committed in Chechnya and Turkey. And the list goes on...

With Web of Deceit, Mark Curtis has written an indispensable book on the true nature of British activities abroad; we have no excuse for not knowing what has been done and is being done in our name. His language resembles Noam Chomsky's but Curtis is a far more accessible writer. In many ways, this book is a fine companion piece to Chomsky's Deterring Democracy, full of facts inexpressible within the doctrinal system. If this country wants to reduce the level of terrorism in this world, an excellent starting place would be to stop committing it.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Aug 2009 19:23:34 BDT
Steve says:
Good review. Just a small correction: last paragraph - it's Mark Curtis, not Adam. (Adam Curtis did The Power of Nightmares, so easy to mix up!)

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2009 19:52:07 BDT
Thanks for pointing that out, Malpas; duly corrected!
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