A US B-52 drops a load of 750-pounds bombs over a Vietnamese coastal area, 5 November 1965. (Photo: USAF)

Britain’s secret propaganda campaign in the Vietnam war

The British Foreign Office provided key propaganda support to the US during its war in Vietnam, chiefly through its Cold War propaganda arm, the Information Research Department (IRD). Throughout the 1960s, this support involved helping the US-backed South Vietnamese regime to set up its own propaganda unit, and whitewashing Washington’s image over civilian bloodshed. It […]

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Britain’s secret role in the brutal US war in Vietnam

During its war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s the US dropped more bombs than in the whole of World War Two, in a conflict that killed over two million people. The wholesale destruction of villages and killing of innocent people was a permanent feature of the US war from the beginning, along with […]

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When Britain backed Iran’s dictator

“Iran is an autocracy and all power flows from the Shah”, the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) wrote in an internal file of April 1975. At the time, the UK had an array of military training teams in Iran and a contract to sell its ruler, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, over 1,500 tanks. Before the 1979 […]

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‘Bang – just like that’: How Thatcher backed Bush in Panama

Shortly before 7:00am on 20 December 1989, Margaret Thatcher received a call from US President George H.W. Bush. Bush informed the UK prime minister that Washington had just launched an invasion of Panama, declaring that there had been “no alternative but to intervene”. After decades on the CIA’s payroll, Panama’s military leader Manuel Antonio Noriega […]

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Britain’s covert war in Yemen

The brutal war in Yemen, which has raged since 2015, is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. A delicate truce since April has reduced some of the horror, but that deal seems to be breaking down.  It should be time to reflect about who, on all sides of the conflict, including in Britain, might be indicted […]

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British intelligence predicted Ukraine war 30 years ago

When British intelligence warned that Vladimir Putin was about to attack Ukraine earlier this year, the spooks’ foresight won many plaudits. Yet their prediction mirrored a scenario Whitehall had long known might unfold. In May 1992, just six months after the Soviet Union broke up, Britain’s then Prime Minister John Major was being briefed by […]

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A wounded man is held at gunpoint by British forces in Malaya. (Photo: Ministry of Information)

Britain’s forgotten war for rubber

The so-called “emergency” in Malaya – now Malaysia – between 1948 and 1960 was a counter-insurgency campaign waged by Britain against the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA).  The MNLA sought independence from the British empire and to protect the interests of the Chinese community in the territory. Largely the creation of the Malayan Communist Party […]

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Recommendation X: Shell’s secret plan for a Cold War propaganda unit

British oil corporation Shell hatched plans for a secret Cold War propaganda unit, recently declassified documents reveal. In 1960, Shell commissioned a report into “communist efforts to disrupt the operations of major oil companies” across the developing world, and what private industry should do about it. The report was authored by Sir George Sinclair, a […]

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Exclusive: How Shell and BP financed Britain’s Cold War propaganda machine

“Handsome” sums were provided by BP and Shell to the Information Research Department (IRD), which was Britain’s Cold War propaganda arm between 1948 and 1977, declassified files show.  The IRD used the secret subsidies to fund British covert propaganda operations during the 1950s and 1960s across the Middle East and Africa, where Britain’s oil interests […]

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Britain ‘immediately’ supported U.S. over shooting down of Iranian airliner

The attack occurred during the Iran-Iraq war, which had begun in 1980 with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran. The US government backed Saddam, and sent warships to the Persian Gulf to support the Iraqi war effort.  One of those warships was the USS Vincennes which, on 3 July 1988, fired two missiles at Iran Air […]

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‘A possible coup’ against the Labour government?

A file released on Tuesday by the National Archives, titled “Allegations concerning a possible coup in 1968”, reveals how rattled MI5 and the Home Office were many years later about conspiracies that have never been properly investigated. The declassified file refers to discussions about how to topple the then Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson. Wilson […]

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Exclusive: Secret cables reveal Britain interfered with elections in Chile

Declassified Foreign Office files show that Britain conducted a covert propaganda offensive to stop Chilean leader Salvador Allende winning two democratic presidential elections – and helped prepare the ground for General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal military regime.

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Exclusive: Why Britain wanted to ‘kill’ a United Nations ban on mercenaries

Following recent revelations that UK mercenaries fought on the same side as Vladimir Putin’s forces in Libya, Declassified exposes how Britain has blocked international efforts to ban private armies – partly to protect its own use of Gurkhas and other foreign fighters.

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How Britain’s Labour government facilitated the massacre of Biafrans in Nigeria – to protect its oil interests

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On the 50th anniversary of the end of the Biafran war, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in the late 1960s, declassified British files show that Harold Wilson’s government secretly armed and backed Nigeria’s aggression against the secessionist region.

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Torture ‘for your amusement’: How Thatcher’s government misled MPs and public about its dealings with the Pinochet regime

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The British government under Margaret Thatcher misled the public and MPs about its dealings with the Pinochet regime in Chile while it tortured and killed thousands of people, declassified British documents show.

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Britain’s hidden ‘information’ policy in the Middle East

British policy centred on maintaining internal ‘stability’ in the Gulf states and on retaining access to key resources upon which its global power relied.

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Margaret Thatcher’s secret dealings with the Argentine military junta that invaded the Falklands

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British ministers and diplomats sought to enhance commercial and political relations with the Argentine dictatorship which took power in Buenos Aires in a military coup in March 1976. The then-prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, held a friendly meeting with a leading member of the junta in Downing Street in 1980 while Britain’s ambassador in Argentina regarded […]

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‘The benefits of doing nothing at all’: Why Britain is unlikely to support a ban on Russian mercenaries 

The rise of Russian mercenaries in conflicts across Syria, Ukraine and numerous African countries is concerning the UK’s Ministry of Defence, yet Britain appears unlikely to support a ban on such mercenaries because of its own private security industry.

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How Britain helped Iran’s Islamic regime destroy the left-wing opposition

The UK’s secret intelligence service, MI6, worked with the CIA to provide a list of alleged Soviet agents in Iran to Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic regime, which took power after the overthrow of the UK-backed Shah in 1979. The information was used by the regime to execute leading members of the Iranian communist party, the Tudeh. […]

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Explainer: British collusion in Northern Ireland’s dirty war

Various sources — including declassified government files and official police and parliamentary reports on both sides of the border in Ireland — suggest that collusion between British security forces and loyalist paramilitary groups was systematic and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. The so-called “Troubles” in Northern Ireland began in the late 1960s. […]

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