US Covert Action in Britain today – Front Organisations

Agents of influence | Index | Propaganda

Another covert political tool is to influence institutions that effect either the balance of power in a given region or the key political decisions of local actors. (Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards, p145)

As with agents of influence, it is relatively easy to channel money to favoured organisations. One method is to conduct business transactions at inflated prices. According to Godson, this method was used by the Soviet Union to subsidise the Italian Communist Party through its agricultural co-operative.

Support can also involve technical assistance and media and political training. Perhaps the best example of this kind of thing is the wave of colour revolutions in Eastern Europe, which were heavily influenced by American expertise in non-violent direct action.

It’s notable that Godson argues that state sponsors should not be too fastidious about the ideology of the organisations they support in order to achieve their geo-strategic objectives.The example he gives is German support for the Bolsheviks in the First World War. One might equally cite US support for various left-wing opponents of the Soviet Union and for the Afghan Mujaheddin during the Cold War.

Godson also clearly envisages covert support for non-governmental organisations as a tactic that can be applied to democratic societies, a stance which raises the question whether the US is using such tactics in Britain today.

Godson is himself the president of an overt organisation that takes a close interest in NGOs around the world.  The National Strategy Information Center was founded in 1962 by a group including future CIA director Bill Casey. According, to the center’s website, "working with educators, government planners, the media, and non-governmental
organizations, NSIC helps to devise and implement international programs that
strengthen democracy through citizen education.

There’s not a lot of information out there about the NSIC’s activities in the UK. One suspects however that Roy Godson picked up where his father left off:

Godson’s foremost British associate in this CSIS/NATO work was SDP
founder member Alan Lee Williams, a former Labour MP and junior defence
minister who was treasurer of the European Movement from 1972 and 1979.
From his office as director of the English Speaking Union he had chaired
Godson’s Labour and Trade Union Press Service operation and, with the
renewed rise of CND in the late 1970s, had become a central figure in the
government-funded Peace Through NATO. (Who Were They Travelling With, Lobster 31)

Professor Alan Lee Williams is today director of the Atlantic Council of the UK, a member of the advisory board of the British American Project, and a signatory of the statement of principles of the Henry Jackson Society.

Professor Lee Williams would be a good starting point for a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-style social network analysis of the elements in Britain closest to the US security establishment. It does not, of course, follow that he or anyone else in the resulting group is a conscious agent of the US Government.

Nevertheless, just as Professor Godson describes Soviet active measures being passed on to Moscow’s fellow travellers, any American propaganda themes being run in Britain would be most easily observable in this group.

Agents of influence | Index | Propaganda






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