Wiping History

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present.” – George Orwell, 1984

On the day when Tony Blair has been made immune from prosecution in the High Court, we should remember also the words of his colleague Gordon Brown back in 2005. Returning from a trip to Kenya Gordon Brown announced that Britain should stop apologising for colonialism. We should be proud of our colonial history in Africa, he said, and praised “British values” such as liberty, tolerance and civic virtue.

Such values can be witnessed in Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire by David Anderson (Weidenfeld & Nicholson).

Anderson quotes one officers experience interviewing three enemy suspects. He says:

“One of them, a tall coal-black bastard, kept grinning at me, real insolent. I slapped him hard, but he kept on grinning at me, so I kicked him in the balls as hard as I could … When he finally got up on his feet he grinned at me again and I snapped. I really did. I stuck my revolver right in his grinning mouth … And I pulled the trigger. His brains went all over the side of the police station. The other two (suspects) were standing there looking blank … so I shot them both … when the sub-inspector drove up, I told him the (suspects) tried to escape. He didn’t believe me but all he said was ‘bury them and see the wall is cleaned up’.”

The British State is trying to wipe its own history. But it’s not very good at it.

It’s role in complicity with the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition programme’, Britain’s use of torture in supressing the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s and in Northern Ireland in the 1970s were just some of the thousands of secrets “lost” repressed and destroyed.

In fact we now know that theses things are connected, that the  “counter insurgency” techniques honed by the British Army in Africa were used in Ireland. This is a history of the British State and it is no accident it’s being destroyed at this time, at this moment.

None of this deletion of history is new.

As historian of the British Empire and author of Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in KenyaCaroline Elkins discovered:

“The overarching takeaway is that the government itself was involved in a very highly choreographed, systematised process of destroying and removing documents so it could craft the official narrative that sits in these archives. I never in my wildest dreams imagined this level of detail. I imagined it more of a haphazard kind of process.”

As freelance journalist Siobhan Fenton writes (“Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing?“):

“Many Britons have grown up believing their homeland saved and civilised the world, while atrocities, genocide and human rights abuses often go unmentioned. Successive governments have failed to narrow this knowledge gap, whether by setting up truth commissions, establishing a museum of colonialism or teaching schoolchildren about colonialism as part of the standard curriculum.

In 2014, a YouGov poll found that 59% of those surveyed thought the British empire was more something to be proud of than ashamed of.

The loss of these documents provides an apt metaphor for what colonialism means to many in Britain. Embarrassing facts are neatly filed away, labelled as “the past”, and on the rare occasions that the archives are inspected, damning evidence is nowhere to be seen.”

Dirty Wars and Countergangs

As we go out to create a “global Britain” this re-writing of history becomes more essential for myth-making and propaganda.

Writing in History Ireland in 2014 James Hughes (a professor of politics at the LSE) examines the key role of Frank Kitson in transferring the learning from the British Army abroad to Ireland, and how these ideas were then taken forward into Iraq and Afghanistan. In this sense Siobhan Fenton’s revelations complete the circle.

Hughes writes:

“Recent developments have focused attention on the nature of British counterinsurgency as ‘dirty war’, not only in Northern Ireland but also in several other anti-colonial struggles after World War II. In 2012 the British high court found that British troops perpetrated the Batang Kali massacre in Malaya in 1948. In 2013 Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, apologised and accepted that its security forces had tortured, mutilated and raped Mau Mau fighters, agreeing to compensate as many as 8,000 and to build a memorial in Nairobi. As a result of both of these investigations, an archive of colonial documents from Malaya, Kenya, Aden, Cyprus and other places of controversy, hitherto kept secret in breach of Britain’s Freedom of Information Act and amounting to 200 metres of shelving, was discovered. Meanwhile, the Saville Report (2010) into Bloody Sunday and the de Silva Report (2013) on collusion with loyalist paramilitaries led to two further ‘unconditional’ British apologies for the behaviour of its security forces in Northern Ireland. In November 2013, a BBC ‘Panorama’ investigation into British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s revealed that members of a special covert operations unit known as the Military Reaction Force (MRF) admitted to the murder of suspects and unarmed Catholic civilians. These admissions by the state or its agents confirm previous claims by critics dating back many decades. Such abuses were not merely low-level tactical excesses by undisciplined and racist troops but were institutional, systematic, and approved or covered up at the highest levels. Yet these conflicts were consistently interpreted almost universally by British academics as exemplifying the best practice of counterinsurgency. Even as the new revelations about atrocities were being made, new publications by British historians and political scientists were uncritically extolling the British ‘model’ or ‘way’ of counterinsurgency, asserting that the many positive lessons to be drawn, especially from Northern Ireland, should be applied in Iraq and Afghanistan. This conclusion is also drawn by the British military’s Operation Banner report (2006) into its role in the North, and the claim informs the new JDP 3-40 (2010) counterinsurgency doctrine for the British Army. To term a 30-year-long war that ended in military stalemate and political compromise a ‘success’ is by any benchmark delusional.”

Central to all of this were the theories of Brigadier Frank Kitson.

Hughes again:

“Kitson’s book Low intensity operations drew on the lessons of Britain’s colonial wars to elaborate a plan of action for coordinated political, military, legal and media operations against insurgents and subversives. Kitson’s main contributions to counterinsurgency theory are in essence fourfold.

Firstly, he stressed the centrality of controlling the population. The population-centric approach was a common lesson drawn by the RAND symposium of 1962. The approach is often concealed under terms such as ‘pacification’, ‘stabilisation’ or ‘winning hearts and minds’. It contains a core, flawed, assumption—that the insurgents’ number is small and that most of the population are neutral. This assumption has been replicated in the ‘Petraeus doctrine’ with disastrous outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kitson, however, reworked the Algerian lessons provided by French officers such as Trinquier and Galula. Like them, and following the experience of the Briggs Plan in Malaya in 1949 (when 600,000 Chinese rural ‘squatters’ were placed in concentration camps termed ‘new villages’), he concluded that population control was essentially about coercion and raising the costs for disloyalty, not winning by ideas: ‘conditions can be made reasonably uncomfortable for the population as a whole . . . to act as a deterrent towards a resumption of the campaign’. With regard to the classic Maoist formula that the relationship between guerrillas and their supporting community was akin to that between fish and water, Kitson observed: ‘If a fish has got to be destroyed it can be attacked directly by rod or net . . . But if rod and net cannot succeed by themselves it may be necessary to do something to the water . . .’. Conceivably, he surmised, this could extend to ‘polluting the water’. Moreover, the law would be ‘little more than a propaganda cover for the disposal of unwanted members of the public’.

Secondly, in his books Gangs and countergangs (1960) and Bunch of five (1977) Kitson stressed the value of covert operations, the ‘turning’ of insurgents through ‘carrot and stick’ measures, and what he called ‘countergangs’ or ‘pseudogangs’, which could infiltrate or deceive insurgents. He accounted for much of his tactical success against the Mau Mau by the turning of a resistance fighter code-named ‘George’. Kitson adapted other experiences, notably the infiltration tactics of Edward Lansdale and Magsaysay against the Huk rebellion in the Philippines, and the covert assassination ‘Q’ squads organised by Roy Farran in Palestine. Kitson proposed a ‘chain reaction system’ of intelligence-gathering whereby the accumulation of masses of low-grade ‘background intelligence’ (at this time kept in books and index cards but later computerised) would generate ‘contact information’, which would then expose the enemy for elimination. This intelligence would come partly from informants, harsh interrogation of prisoners (he is a source for the persistence of the ‘five techniques’ in the British Army) and turning insurgents, and partly from covert operations—in Palestine and Aden this meant dressing up like Jews or Arabs, in Africa it required ‘blackening up’, and in Belfast plain clothes and civilian vehicles for the MRF. Mostly, however, background information was to be gathered by cordons and mass ‘screening’ of populations, which required static fortified bases in occupied areas (what the French army termed ilôtage and quadrillage in their operations in Algeria from 1957). Fortified ‘forward operating bases’ (FOBs) were standard practice in Northern Ireland, and are a characteristic of the US-led interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kitson’s third contribution was to propose the use of ‘special units’ within the army to conduct counterinsurgency. He was a key proponent of incorporating the SAS into the army’s command structure, something that he advanced as a war office planner in 1958 through the use of the SAS in Oman. In his works he also envisaged the use of ad hoc special units using ‘special people and specialised techniques’ but did not elaborate further. In essence, Kitson envisaged the paramilitarisation of the British Army, switching its focus from conventional to unconventional warfare, training troops ‘to support civil power’ in mock-ups of Belfast streets, adopting the techniques of insurgents, and fighting ‘terrorism’ with state terror units in a form of gang warfare.

Fourthly, Kitson was a pioneer of psyops (psychological operations) and media manipulation by briefing and spin, and he established close relationships with British journalists in Northern Ireland, turning them into ‘useful mouthpieces’ (as one journalist told the Saville Enquiry).”

It’s worth thinking about the immense propaganda and myth-making around the SAS that has gone on in popular culture in the last forty years, and well worth reflecting on the importance of this in light of a re-reading of British history.

As the future is re-written and Brexit bile gets turned on Ireland, it is vital to remember record and disseminate this history. As Orwell told us: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

 

Comments (44)

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  1. Willr says:

    Yes and they’d do it again quick as look at you.

    And that is why the American Constitution allows its citizens to bear arms lest they get a bad government that turns against them.

    1. Rick Rennie says:

      From where I stand the American constitution doesn’t have much to commend it. Trump is moving America into an alternative reality which will create long term and possibly irreparable damage to its people and creating unnecessary problems for the rest of the world yet people making use of the right to bear arms have created their own problems without modifying Trump’s actions in any way.

    2. bebe bowles says:

      Actually, the purpose of the Second Amendment was to enable the citizens of the fledgling state to defend themselves if they were attacked by foreign, probably British, forces, or by the native populations trying to defend themselves against invasion and genocide. If the government you elected turned against you, a citizens’militia would have no chance, don’t be ridiculous.

      Nor was the UK government turning against its people, it saw itself in all these cases as putting down violent rebellions. Its methods left a lot to be desired, and all these happened when they really should have known better; in fact their actions turned many against them in those places who were originally their friends. But they were trying to find methods which worked against those who were themselves using terror and murder against innocent civilians; what they did and allowed was often inexcusable, and did not solve the problems – but we have not as yet got an answer to terrorism. Hopefully we have learned that the actions highlighted above are not that answer, but the problems remain in new guises. It’s very easy to point to what should not have been done, and what makes bad worse, far harder to say what their response should have been. Remember, both in Africa and in N Ireland there were significant numbers of the population who wanted to keep the status quo, only a minority were fighting for independence – how do you protect the rights of both sides when one side is unwilling to use democratic means and reasoned arguments?

      1. Breandán Mac Séarraigh says:

        While it’s true that many people in northern Ireland supported continuing British rule, this stems primarily from two historical facts. Firstly Britain either planted or encouraged their ancestors to move there, having exterminated or marginalised the original inhabitants. Secondly, when the UK became a democracy in 1918, a majority of Irish people voted for independence. Britain refused to accept democracy, only allowed a half-way house and partitioned the country by force and the threat of immediate and terrible war.

    3. Charles McLaughlin says:

      If you think that was the reason for the 2nd Amendment then your knowledge of history and the facts are sorely lacking

    4. Charles McLaughlin says:

      If you think that was the reason for the 2nd Amendment then your knowledge of history and the facts are sorely lacking,
      The intention was that in the event of another war, the working class, and at that time the largest majority were rural based, could supply not only the manpower but also bring their own weapons.
      This saved the new nation from establishing a standing army……..something they have radically change, thus making the 2nd Amendment irrelevant in today’s world!!!!!!

  2. Anne says:

    The last sentence is just what they are doing to Scotland

    1. Terry callachan says:

      I agree Ann

    2. Donald McGregor says:

      Are doing = have already done.
      To a great proportion of us who cannot conceive of challenging ‘the narrative’ as presented by the Existing Ruling State. The wilful refusal of many to even consider that the collective narrative is anything other than ‘the one great truth’ or ‘close enough to not bother me’ truly makes me sad.

    3. Richard Wickenden (ex Tory from the mid-ninetys) says:

      And Wales and Northern Ireland. Mind you, Northern Ireland will not be long before re-joining the Republic of Ireland once the reality of Brexit kicks in. Those few DUP / Unionist supporters in the north can always go and live in England to rot in Brexit stew.

      Hopefully, here in Scotland our people will wake up to reality, and vote for independence. Fingers crossed.

  3. David Macilwain says:

    Sure this is all true Mike, and very well said, but the “establishment” that committed these crimes of empire is no less active and malignant than at any time in the past. The case of the Manchester bombing is as far as we need to look to see just how malignant this empire still is, with its umbilical links to the CIA and Mossad and the DSCE. It seems incredible to me that the truth of MI6’s support for the “Manchester fighters”, formerly the LIFG, was able to be contained by the UK’s supplicant media. The father of Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, lived in the Manchester suburb where MI6 had put him following his role in trying to assassinate Qadhafi in 1996, along with Abdulhakim Belhaj. Under Blair these ex-terrorists for hire became persona non grata, until Qadhafi was murdered and MI6 facilitated their return to Libya to help fight for the jihadists to destroy the state. Only Belhaj discovered the records of his torture in the Libyan archives and began to pursue the UK, though being supported by John McCain and the CIA to run arms and fighters in the rat line to Syria from Benghazi.

    This is now history, but it’s already completely falsified. Perhaps Bella Caledonia, following in the footsteps of the Megrahi Scottish lawyers, could pursue this true crime of the English establishment, and bring down May and her corrupt regime?

  4. SleepingDog says:

    Yes; and its another purpose of the festive season to act as cover for selective release of information, possibly to minimise shock value of releasing 60+year-old secrets (“did we always know this?”) and put annoying journalists/historians off by indigestible presentation.

    I notice that any recent wartime biographies I’ve seen tend to fit a pattern framed in a traditional style (don’t say bad of the dead or their ghosts will get you) but really the hagiography is of the British Empire and elite, not the person. Service, sacrifice and duty (and obedience) are played up. The personal or idiosyncratic accentuated. Foreign villains vilified. But any criticism of, or involvement in, dark deeds utterly suppressed.

    I suppose we need to make history theft a serious crime, at least, and override official secrecy with a primary (constitutional) duty to informing the public.

    Anyway, we might have to look abroad for sources that more accurately detail our own historical record.

    1. Bebe Bowles says:

      30 year old papers are opened ahead of New Year, not 60. Only occasionally is something still held back, which may – or may not – be released at a later date.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Bebe, yes, 30- (and now supposedly 20-) year-old files are supposed to be turned over to the National Archives, but there are many official exemptions and some of those will themselves be secret. In practice, as the article somewhat mentions, there is extensive weeding and withholding, along with lost and hidden files.

        According to MI5, they have only got up to 1957 (nothing for the last 60 years), although their release cycle is allegedly spring and autumn:
        https://www.mi5.gov.uk/mi5-at-the-national-archives

        And the Georgian papers, which included correspondence between monarch and prime minister, were withheld for up to 300 years, thus royalty provides a cloak of secrecy for government (we may know of the existence of the privy council, not of every secret committee and executive order):
        http://gpp.royalcollection.org.uk

        I believe that some expert opinion contends that the shorter 20-year rule has led to more winnowing and redaction, more extreme covert countermeasures against public knowledge, and legal erosion of freedom of information (say, more exemption categories). Also, some records have been slipped into the national archives without fanfare, minimising their discovery (and discovery is really challenging without proper digitisation, full-text search, metadata and classification).

  5. Grant Munro says:

    What always continues to astonish me is the ability of the English elite, to seize territories, be it Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Kenya, Canada or India, etc and manipulate the story to say it is for the good of everyone.

    The story starts with the declaration that the English have arrived to stop internal war, protect or civilise. A section of society are bribed, then natural resources are extracted, cultural artefacts stolen and people enslaved for work or use in armed forces.

    At times the colonised will object, these protestors will be branded dark forces, terrorists, nationalists and separatists, they will be dealt with brutally by local loyalists troops overseen by colonial forces, thus perpetuating a divide that supports colonial rule. Any separatist leader will be demonised.

    To ensure support back home for these foreign forages and possessions, a tale is weaved that it is a noble deed that is being done in their name and your culture and values are being spread to educate the ignorant and downtrodden of the world. After conflicts, these deeds are spun as noble deeds of highest valour and a selcted few are awarded with medals and honours bestowed by royalty to seal the deal.

    You have to hand it to them, they lived in, their descendants live in, lovely mansions in Belgravia or stately homes in Oxfordshire, etc, directly as a consequences of theft and murder on a global scale. On occassions, state sponsored drug running too!

    Even today, the press does not challenge how these elites obtained their wealth or how they have been able to cascade it down the generations. Then you look at the lords, the commons and the English royal family, it’s a complete con, they make the rules for themselves and we all look humbly on without complaint. A compliant press and media, including state broadcaster, support the elite to manipulate the people’s beliefs.

    In the case of reparations for India, Kenya or Malaya (not forgetting others, e.g. Iraq or Afghanistan), the government settles with tax payers money, why not charge those who continue to benefit directly, lord X, Y and Z, etc?

    Scotland’s elite benefited from empire, the price of which countries across the globe are still payimg, including Scotland. Our elites were bought off, no more subtlety than any other country colonised and exploited by England.

    “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    It’s critical Scots and Scottish institutions analyse what union is from a Scottish perspective, not a uk perspective. They will come to the conclusion they have been duped. unionism in a Scottish context, is colonialism by any other name!

    1. Bebe Bowles says:

      Read some history. The English did not seize Scotland; certainly they tried, after the Scots had been daft enough to ask Edward I who should be King of Scotland, but ultimately that attempt failed. Scotland joined England to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain at their own request, after the Scottish elite had bankrupted the country trying to get themselves an empire. Incidentally, the bulk of the English were very much opposed to it, as were the Scots – but in those days few people had the vote.

      Once the two had joined, however, Scotland had a flowering as never before in its history; their thinkers became luminaries of the Enlightenment, their engineers built the Industrial Revolution, their soldiers were the bulk of those who expanded the British Empire and far more Scots than English went overseas to take advantage of it. Pity that a country which was once a byword for education has now the worst results in the UK, and is peopled by whingers who think Braveheart is history, while living on money from the Home Counties.

      Canada was colonised, not by the British, but by the French – most European countries in those days had their empires – and many committed far worse atrocities than the British at their worst. (Try reading up on Belgium). Britain gained Canada by fighting the French. India was slowly bought as much as colonised, by the East India Company – it was only after things started to go badly wrong there, with atrocities being perpetuated both by and against the Europeans, that the British government took it over with the objective of restoring order. In some ways they did; in others they failed, and for the same reason that their descendants failed in Kenya and N Ireland – finding no easy solution to dangerous problems, they took such actions as to turn many of the local population against them when once they had been comfortable to be governed by London. We have been making that same mistake again in Iraq and Afghanistan more recently.

      Your idea that Britain went in with the idea of spreading civilisation only applies in parts of Africa, in fact.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        Ah! The old “the British Empire wasn’t so bad because King Leopold II of the Belgians did worse things in the Congo” gambit. Leopold was Victoria’s cousin and part of the same imperial enterprise of plunder and oppression.

      2. Grant Munro says:

        “Scotland joined England to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain at their own request”

        – Scotland was forced into union against the will of its people!

        “Scotland had a flowering”

        – That’ll be as the henchmen, armed forces and plantation owners as dictated by their London masters. I am sure that those at Culloden and the subsequent clearances, flowered like no others? We may have had an enlightenment, but as of 2017, who are more enlighten, Scots or Irish? And why?

        “Canada was colonised, not by the British, but by the French”

        – tell that to indigenous aboriginal population who your beloved british butchered destroyed their culture, seized their lands and pitted peoples against each other.

        “India was slowly bought as much as colonised, by the East India Company ”

        – Initially land was purchased near Mumbai, but ultimately control of India was secured through massacre, subjugation, plus divide and rule. The british were fully responsible for the genocide + 2M plus deaths that took place at partition.

        “it was only after things started to go badly wrong there, with atrocities being perpetuated both by and against the Europeans, that the British government took it over with the objective of restoring order. ”

        – so the british killed people in those peoples’ own countries to which the british had stolen from them to restore order. Order for whom, suppression of peoples so the English elite could maintain their lifestyles.

        british / English interference during empire was a poison that still lingers.

    2. Doug MacLeod says:

      Don’t blame the English, Grant, it’s not them wot dunnit! When William of Normandy arrived in 1066 the Normans turned the whole of England into a slave camp. They annihilated local leaders, raped and stole at will, parcelled out the land amongst themselves and redefined the local language and culture as second class. They then dished out the same treatment to Wales, Ireland, Scotland and, eventually, most of the world. This is why English nationalists can’t work out who they really are. When they bang the drum for “England” it sounds wrong. They don’t realise that England was the first colony of the (Norman) British Empire and that the “establishment” in London and the South East of England are the descendants of their conquerors. Sounds far fetched? What language did the queen approve the Brexit bill in. As she always does, she did it in …Norman French.

      1. Moscow says:

        Not sure the English look that deeply in to their Nationality. I think that narrative is something you use to disparage them to make yourself feel better.
        My impression is that the English masses are not at all confused between their current nationality and their racial mixing over previous millenia and are very comfortable with their Old CelticBritish/Anglo-Saxon heritage. The Bloodlines of the aristocracy and royalty have a different concoction but no-one in England worries about it. It’s all North European

        1. Doug MacLeod says:

          “no-one in England worries about it. It’s all North European”. One word dispels this argument BREXIT.

  6. Anne Cadwallader says:

    Hi Mike, Could you give me a reference for the Kitson quote that starts: “If a fish has got to be destroyed …”. Thanks. Anne Cadwallader (author “Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland”.

    1. Jim Butler says:

      Anne,
      Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping
      By Frank Kitson K.C.B. C.B.E. M.C.
      Chapter 3

      1. Anne Cadwallader says:

        Thanks, will go looking for it on return to work. Very useful.

    2. Willie says:

      I think the fish, water and poison quote used by Kitson and referred to in his book about Gangs and Counter Gangs was in fact a restatement of a dictum from a much earlier time in ancient China.

      Of course for anyone who has read his works, Bunch of Five, Gangs and Counter Gangs, Low Intensity Operations et al, one can see how the colonial Kitsonesque doctrine of infiltration, misinformation, control and influence was extant throughout all of Britain’s colonies.

      Outright symmetrical warfare, the least preferred option, is only to be used when all else has failed.

      Kitson did of course get it wrong when in or around 1969/1970 he said that Northern Ireland would be over in eighteen months.

      But of course he’s a colonial Brit who despite brutal imperial British military interventions around the globe, failed to retain the Great British Empire.

      But he and his kind gave it a good try, continue to do so today, and it does beg the old question as to which British colonies got away without the use of the gun.

      The founding fathers in America certainly knew that when they drafted their Constitution with a right for citizens to be entitled to bear arms in protection against a government that might turn against them. Wonder exactly who they had in mind.

      And of course with the guns out of Northern Ireland, or at least the Republican guns out of the province, and direct rule re-established, one can see the UK’s renewed attitude.

      Unlike the IRA the British colonial military have not gone away. Far from it and there are many who would like to give it another imperial go.

      This time though there is the EU to contend with, and one does wonder if a fight with Europe and a fight with Irish Republicans, and recalcitrant Scots would be economic suicide for the UK.

      We shall no doubt see.

  7. Graham says:

    Ian Cobain’s book “The History Thieves..” is a thoroughly researched account of how huge numbers of documents pertaining to Britain’s colonial past, and which contained incriminating evidence, were simply “lost” – incinerated, dumped at sea or buried beneath landfill, while others were and are kept in secret locations unavailable for examination. Hence, those of an unenquiring disposition, such as Brown or Niall Ferguson can report that the British Empire was beneficence itself.

  8. florian albert says:

    This article vastly exaggerates the influence of Brigadier Frank Kitson. (His ‘fame’ dates from a long article in the Sunday Times hailing him as the ‘Guru of the New Model Army.’)
    In practice, he had very limited influence on the way events unfolded in Northern Ireland. (I accept that in this, as in most ‘dirty’/guerrilla wars, there were atrocities committed by both sides.) The reason Kitson was peripheral is that, in Northern Ireland, the battle for security supremacy was won decisively by the RUC under Chief Constables Jamie Flanagan and Kenneth Newman between 1973 and 1980. This meant that the British Army was reduced to a secondary role. After a while, the army came to see this as a blessing in disguise.

    With regard to Iraq and Afghanistan, the British Army did not have the numbers
    to conduct any sort of coherent strategy. In each country, the army became trapped in an entirely defensive position, trying to get out without losing face.

  9. MBC says:

    Hugh MacDiarmid always called the Britnat native Scottish elite collaborators who controlled the masses of their fellow countrymen whom they despised, ‘the loyal Kikuyu’. Taken straight from the Mau Mau rebellion and no exaggeration either.

  10. Willie says:

    FA I don’t think you can say that this article greatly exaggerates the influence of Frank Kitson.

    Kitson was one of many in a long line who expounded the principals of what he later described low intensity operations, counter insurgency and all of the other techniques extant in retaining colonies..

    He was a young army officer when he was blackening his face to undertake covert operations against the Mau Mau and a much more senior one later on when he reached the position of Brigadier General.

    However, he is as I say one of many in a long line who intervene actively at all levels of society from the shop floor up to full blown symmetrical warfare.

    And if you can’t control the media, create your own, even if it involves dropping pamphlets from helicopters, as has been done.

    Of course the BBC does a good job of feeding the line. No one should be under illusions about that and why..

    In fact look at the hell hole that was Northern Ireland and on occasion mainland Britain too. An absolute failure where the UK did not win.

    Thirty rotten years with very few knowing what actually went on.

    But I suspect that blimpish blustering pride in some quarters would now love a rerun. Nothing has changed and their a scores to be settled, pride to be recovered.

    And so whilst folks in NI, like others in Kenya, will be well aware of the British colonial tactics, very few by comparison in Scotland will not.

    As one US senator was reported to have said that he could tell the difference between a root blade of grass and astro turf,

    Well good for him but I’m not so sure that all too many here can.

    But folks are learning.

    Argylls behaviour in Aden anyone?

    1. Angela Gallacher says:

      Never forget kincora, a special way to keep people in line is to have something over them. They do it in all walks of life from MPs to terrorism suspects.

  11. MBC says:

    For 300 years the British have dealt with growing domestic inequality through empire, through theft, just as the USA has. As long as there were new lands to settle and resources to exploit, the pressure from below to redistribute power at the core was removed. The poor could find opportunity abroad. Hard work paid. There was social mobility. The rich could get richer without it endangering the overthrow of the social fabric because the poor could also get richer. Dissidents and the troublesome could be transported abroad. In that way they avoided violent revolution at home.

    But now that safety valve has gone these counterinsurgency techniques will be used on the domestic population who challenge inequality. Control of the press being one of them to create a passive populace.

  12. Rab Alexander says:

    Was Frank Kitson not the originator of the theory of limited massacre as carried out by the Brits on Bloody Sunday. His theory was that shooting prominent members in a demonstration terrified the others into sublimation. The bastard lost his son in another colonialist wa.

  13. w.b.robertson says:

    ref the Argylls and Aden. Noticed on a visit to the regimental museum in Stirling Castle that there was no picture of battalion hero Col “Mad Mitch” hanging among the famous on the gallery wall. Anyone explain?

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      In the 1960s when I was a student, I had a summer job working on the Kingston Bridge construction site. The bulldozer driver in the squad had been a soldier in the Argylls and had served in Aden. Looking back, I can see that he was severely traumatised by his experience. In these preH&S at work days he charged around the site with his bulldozer with little concern for his mates. Indeed, there was a look of glee on his face at times. I was once whacked in the stomach by the tailgate of a tipper truck which he clipped with the blade of the bulldozer as he passed. At tea breaks he would sometimes tell us of things in Aden. I suspect there was a bit of fantasy and exaggeration at play, but, the dehumanising of the Adenis was a constant. He spoke of occasions when after a soldier was killed how he and others would go into residential areas and shoot up houses.

      This is anecdotal and recalled after more than 50 years and with interpretations based on the benefit of hindsight. However, I think there are aspects of British military conduct in places like Aden, Malaya, Cyprus that have still to be revealed, and there is still the full story of the north of Ireland.

      1. Willie says:

        You certainly hit the nail on the head Alisdair Mac when you say that many of the Argylls stationed in Aden came back severely traumatised.

        It may not be widely pushed but the levels of suicide, alcoholism and PTSD in ex Aden veterans was absolutely huge.

        Many of these vets who went out there as young men just could not live with what they had done when they came back.

        Indeed, I know of one vet who bitterly confessed his never ending guilt at having pulled a demonstrator under the path of an oncoming army truck as part of the hearts and minds teach them a lesson.

        But that is the way of the British Army when it comes to suppressing colonial dissent. Brutality to the dissenters and a lifetime of remorse to the squaddies whose murderous sadistic repression comes back to haunt them in their later years.

        Kenya. Aden, India. Northern Ireland, Bloody Sunday, Coalisland, nothing changes. And yes, they’d do it Scotland if needed.

        The exposure of Scotland in Union, indeed some of the posts now landing on this site defending and or denying colonialism are the thin end of how the British Establishment operates.

        Post Brexit, and freed from the restraining influences of the EU we in Scotland may see the gloves truly come off.

  14. Jo says:

    The articles here are interesting in their own right but I never fail to be amazed at the amount of additional information regularly provided in the comments.

  15. Chris and Mary Fogarty says:

    As to State terrorism: When will the Omagh bombing atrocity be investigated? Why were FBI Agent Patrick “Ed” Buckley and life-long criminal (per a NY State Police Affidavit) David Rupert sent to Ireland about 1995 until demobilized 15Aug1998 by MI5 eMail? If the 15Aug1998 Omagh massacre wasn’t “mission accomplished” why were they demobilized that evening?

    The transcript of the 2003 Special Criminal Court, Dublin “trial” of McKevitt will show that Witness David Rupert testified that he was left “alone in Ireland” once while Agent Buckley flew to the Atlanta Olympics bombing murder site. In Atlanta, Agent Buckley and his FBI colleagues performed Buckley’s FBI specialty; they framed the Security Guard, Richard Jewell, for it.

    Before Chicago FBI Agent Buckley was deployed to Ireland, 1) He had incarcerated my wife and me and tried to imprison us for the rest of our lives, and 2) He framed me for the murders of the Langert Family in Winnetka, Illinois. I was doomed for those murders, but Murderer David Biro (whose weapon belonged to FBI Agent Lewis) blabbed through Buckley’s cover for him, into Life Without Parole. I had never heard of the murderer nor his victims prior to that crime.

    In Buckley’s other frame-up of us (Case US91CR911) the only evidence against us was an FBI audiotape; it took us fifteen months of expensive pre-trial litigation but on 15Jan1993 U.S. Prosecutor James Fleissner was forced to plead U.S. Judge George Lindberg to be allowed to abandon all charges against us. Fleissner had no choice the evidentiary FBI audiotape had proven to be a criminal fabrication.

    Weeks before the beginnings of these crimes FBI Agent Joseph Doyle alerted my wife and me that some of his FBI colleagues had been bribed and subverted by MI5 and were consequently planning crimes against us to “silence” us. We couldn’t believe his story of a criminal FBI.

    We were mystified for years, due to:
    A: Our relatively very minor human rights accomplishments did not warrant such MI5/FBI homicides, nor such expenditures of MI5/FBI time and money, and
    2) Once the two sets of FBI crimes were proven in court, we had a “slam-dunk” case of damages against them; but we couldn’t find a lawyer or law firm in America willing to take our case; a windfall of $millions.

    The mystification is dispelled. We recently learned the long-term purposes of all of these MI5/FBI crimes. Please get law enforcement to examine our evidence.

  16. MBC says:

    This article of newly released information says that M15 wanted the UVF to assassinate Charles Haughey as late as 1987 but the UVF refused and warned Haughey.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/29/mi5-urged-uvf-to-kill-irish-pm-claim-newly-released-state-papers

    The UVF told Haughey they had no love for him but refused to be the British Dirty Tricks arm.

    The same article claims that new information released recently says that the government got wind of the fact that Gerry Adams had concluded that the armed struggle was proving politically fruitless.

    Both suggest that the peace process may have come from the paramilitaries themselves concluding that this route was toxic.

  17. Tim Shugrue says:

    Keep the people distracted, then do as you wish.

  18. WillD says:

    “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” – Winston Churchill

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