British imperialism

Lockerbie: cynicism, hypocrisy and deceit

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Britain secures privileged access to Libya's oil riches; Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi claims a diplomatic victory on the eve of celebrations to mark his 40 years in power; Scotland's nationalist politicians get to strut on the international stage. That was the plan and it has gone wrong.

The release on compassionate grounds of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, has led to an outbreak of claim and counter-claim.

But Megrahi is innocent. Evidence produced over the years by journalists, including Paul Foot, and victims' families have demolished the case against him.

Interview: Mahmood Mamdani on Darfur

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In his new book Mahmood Mamdani puts the war in Darfur in historical context and challenges the Save Darfur Coalition's characterisation of the conflict and its call for international intervention. He talks to Charlie Kimber


You reject the label genocide and question overblown estimates of how many have died in Darfur. This can seem to trivialise the suffering. Why is this an important question?

One does not have to inflate actual suffering to take it seriously. In 2006 the US government's audit agency, the Government Accountability Office, got together with the Academy of Sciences and appointed a panel of 12 experts to evaluate the reliability of six different estimates on excess deaths in Darfur at the peak of the violence in 2003-4.

Nato's bloody history

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Sixty years after its formation Nato continues to be an important tool of US imperialism. John Newsinger traces the organisation's history from its first meeting on 4 April 1949 to today's war in Afghanistan and its expansion into the countries of eastern Europe.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) is, we are assured by New Labour, a defensive alliance dedicated to the defence of peace and freedom. The members of this "defensive alliance" between them account for 75 percent of the world's military expenditure, with the US alone accounting for just over 50 percent. This is a clue that all is not as we are led to believe. Indeed, Nato's overwhelming military might is all the greater when one recognises that a large proportion of the rest of the world's military expenditure is spent by "friendly" powers, such as Israel, India and Japan.

The Decline and Fall of the British Empire

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At a time when Gordon Brown is cynically taking up the cause of Darfur in a vain attempt to find some moral high ground for New Labour to occupy, it is worth remembering the British Empire's record in the same region.

According to Piers Brendon in his new history of the empire, "British punitive expeditions in the Sudan were even more brutal than those in Kenya, at times amounting almost to genocide. Certainly, as one district officer acknowledged, they produced a crop of 'regular Congo atrocities'."

A great British tradition

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Government spin on the role of British forces around the world portrays them as gallant beret-wearing chaps just trying to help. Writer and anti-war activist John Newsinger recalls the events of the Great Indian Rebellion 150 years ago this month, which show how far this is from the truth

The British Empire has always responded to any resistance to its rule with ferocious repression. In 1857 the Great Indian Rebellion posed a massive challenge to the British Empire. It was suppressed with unprecedented brutality. The British adopted a policy of "no prisoners", a policy which was enforced by means of massacre and mass executions. One officer, Thomas Lowe, later remembered how on one occasion his unit had taken 76 prisoners (they were just too tired to carry on killing and needed a rest, he recalled).

'The Thrashing Around of the Beast'

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American journalist and writer Mark Danner explains to Peter Morgan why support for the Bush administration is slipping.

You've recently written about the minutes of the meeting that took place between Tony Blair and his foreign policy and security advisers in the run-up to the war in Iraq, now known as the 'Downing Street memo'. How significant have these revelations been in the US?

The Downing Street memo has fit in with a general perception on the part of the US public that the war was begun on false pretences and the Bush administration was not honest about the reasons they were taking the country to war in Iraq. All of this results from the fact that the war is going badly.

By Jingo

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Britain's empire is nothing to be proud of.

If the strains of 'God Save The Queen' send a shiver of delight around your body; if you thought it was a good idea when Blair and Mandelson 'reclaimed' the British bulldog in an election ad; if the occupants of Henman Hill shouting 'C'mon Tim!' do not make you think, 'What a sad bunch of middle class losers'... then you might want to look away now.

Africa's False Friends

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Mark Curtis condemns the neo-liberal assumptions of New Labour's development agenda.

The New Labour government has had an amazingly good press on development issues. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are regarded throughout the mainstream media and liberal political culture as little short of champions of global poverty eradication. Their policies on aid, Africa and trade are routinely praised as demonstrating that, even though they might be liars and criminals over Iraq, on global development they are committed internationalists. It is an extraordinary view.

History of Imperialism: Brutality, the British Way

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British efforts to preserve empire in Kenya unleashed a wave of atrocities, says Ken Olende.

On 20 October 1952 a state of emergency was declared in Britain's East African colony of Kenya. It lasted until 1960, and was the most brutal campaign in Britain's attempt to hold on to its empire after the Second World War. The rebellion was crushed and it is significant that, while the rebels called themselves the Land and Freedom Army, they are remembered as the Mau Mau, the bastardised name given to them by the settlers.

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