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Trouble at the FCO

Jonathan Steele, 28 July 2016

... were underestimated.’ A good deal of the blame for this has to be laid at the door of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Chilcot listed four possible consequences that many people had identified before the war was launched: the risk of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional ...

Monuments to Famine

Alex de Waal, 7 March 2019

... and absolutely uninhabitable. War and famine are, even now, inextricable. Two years ago, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance called for urgent attention to four famines: in north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. A fifth candidate, Syria, was excluded only on the technicality that the UN’s standardised food ...

Benetton Ethics

Nick Cohen: Treachery at the FO, 2 July 1998

First Annual Report on Human Rights 
by Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
56 pp., April 1998
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The Great Deception 
by Mark Curtis.
Pluto, 272 pp., £14.99, June 1998, 0 7453 1234 9
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... When New Labour took office on 2 May 1997, supporters who had watched the Party’s rush to the right had already learned to put their faith in the God of Small Things. True, they sighed, Blair and the rest had accepted social authoritarianism, ‘flexible’ working practices, rampaging inequality and Conservative taxation and spending programmes ...


Pankaj Mishra: India’s New Class, 19 June 1997

... of the previous five years, which ‘liberalised’ the economy, making it attractive to both foreign and local investors. The most remarkable fact about India in the last five years is the relative stability it has achieved despite the rapid turnover of governments and political formations. The Hindu nationalist movement, the cause of such dark fears ...

Cocoa is blood and they are eating my flesh

Toby Green: Slavery and Cocoa, 11 April 2013

Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery and Colonial Africa 
by Catherine Higgs.
Ohio, 230 pp., £24.95, June 2012, 978 0 8214 2006 5
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... coffee plantation in northern Angola in 1902, he described the situation there in a report to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He found that contract workers known in Portuguese Angola as serviçais were being brought in from the Congo Free State, sold to plantations, and then forbidden to leave the estates that ...

Not Iran, Not North Korea, Not Libya, but Pakistan

Norman Dombey: The Nuclear Threat, 2 September 2004

... In March 2002 I attended one of the regular Foreign and Commonwealth Office meetings on nuclear non-proliferation. We were told by a senior official that Iraq had reassembled its nuclear scientists and was reconstituting its nuclear weapons programme, which had been completely disbanded by UN inspectors after the 1991 Gulf War ...

Arms and Saddam

Norman Dombey, 24 October 1991

... military occupation of Kuwait? According to the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, these are the only reasons which, in international law, could justify an attack by British forces against an Iraqi facility. But of course the attack was carried out by US, not British ...

Was it like this for the Irish?

Gareth Peirce: The War on British Muslims, 10 April 2008

... of the Irish. As good a place to start as any is 19 December 2001. On this date a dozen men, all foreign nationals, were interned in this country. Recognising the connotations of the term ‘internment’, discredited and abandoned in Northern Ireland, the government insisted this was not equivalent to arbitrary detention without trial, a practice forbidden ...

At the CHOGM

Sadakat Kadri, 21 November 2013

... Sri Lanka’s authorities are in buoyant mood. As Prince Charles prepares to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, the Defence Ministry is helping to organise celebrations. But it isn’t the queen they are honouring. The CHOGM is gathering to acknowledge the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, as chairman of the Commonwealth, a position he will occupy for the next two years ...

Our Flexible Friends

Conor Gearty, 18 April 1996

Scott Inquiry Report 
by Richard Scott.
HMSO, 2386 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 10 262796 7
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... exports to Iran and Iraq for the duration of the war. The ‘Howe Guidelines’ (after the Foreign Secretary) were as follows: 1. We should maintain our consistent refusal to supply any lethal equipment to either side. 2. Subject to that overriding consideration, we should attempt to fulfil existing contracts and obligations. 3. We should not in future ...

What’s it for?

Martin Loughlin: The Privy Council, 22 October 2015

By Royal Appointment: Tales from the Privy Council – the Unknown Arm of Government 
by David Rogers.
Biteback, 344 pp., £25, July 2015, 978 1 84954 856 4
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... to modernise using replicas made with imported moulds. Think of Tony Blair abolishing the office of Lord Chancellor by press release in 2003. The Lord Chancellor’s department was immediately reformed and replaced by a Department for Constitutional Affairs, which lasted only until 2007, when it morphed into a Continental-style Ministry of Justice. It ...

Old Europe

Jeremy Harding: Britain in Bosnia, 20 February 2003

Indictment at The Hague: The Milosevic Regime and the Crimes of the Balkan Wars 
by Norman Cigar and Paul Williams.
New York, 339 pp., $24.95, July 2002, 0 8147 1626 1
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Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia 
by Brendan Simms.
Penguin, 464 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 14 028983 6
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Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo 
by Fred Abrahams.
Human Rights Watch, 593 pp., £18, October 2001, 1 56432 264 5
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Milosevic: A Biography 
by Adam LeBor.
Bloomsbury, 386 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 7475 6090 0
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... the ethnic separation the Bosnian Serbs wanted all along. Simms is convinced that British foreign policy played a crucial role in the destruction of Bosnia. He has drawn up a brilliant archival reckoning of the Major Administration’s handling of the war, from 1992 to that long-awaited moment at the end of the summer of 1995 when Nato planes finally ...

Europe or America?

Ian Gilmour, 7 November 2019

... States or the Soviet Union, but still perceptibly great. None of them had the percipience of a Foreign Office memorandum which, in 1945, pointed out that Britain could only be treated ‘as an equal’ by her ‘two big partners’ if she made herself the leader of Europe as well as of the Commonwealth; nor the ...

Europe could damage her health

William Rodgers, 6 July 1989

The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79608 9
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... relations with Britain’s European partners have been one of the characteristics of her period in office. For a while it appeared that a settlement to Britain’s budgetary problem, together with steps to control the Common Agricultural Policy, had diminished her antagonism to the Community. But her Bruges speech of last autumn, her opposition to full ...

Lacking in style

Keith Kyle, 25 February 1993

Divided we stand: Britain, the US and the Suez Crisis 
by W. Scott Lucas.
Hodder, 399 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 340 53666 7
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Blind Loyalty: Australia and the Suez Crisis 
by W.J. Hudson.
Melbourne, 157 pp., £12.50, November 1991, 0 522 84394 8
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... he had been by an encounter he witnessed on the 17th of that month. He had accompanied his Foreign Secretary, Selwyn Lloyd, to the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to visit the American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who had been discovered to have cancer during the week of the Suez war. Towards the end of the conversation, Dulles suddenly ...

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