Ten years ago Dominic Raab wrote a paper for extremist think-tank Centre For Policy Studies called ‘Escaping The Straitjacket’ in which he described annihilation of workers’ rights. A year later he co-wrote a book for another extremist think-tank Institute Of Economic Affairs called ‘Britain Unchained’ that elucidated further destruction of society including the policy of for-profit schools. Raab’s objective in government is the pursuit of policies that enhance the wealth-generating opportunities for an elite few with the by-product of necessary obliteration of all rights (workers’, human, legal) and subjugation of all public services to the profiteering of privateers.
In his current role of Foreign Secretary Raab delivered a speech for Aspen Security Conference on March 17th 2021 entitled ‘A force for good: Global Britain in a competitive age.’ ‘Global Britain’ is a nonsense phrase but Raab used it to imply majesty and stature worthy of respect and fear, and the tone and content of his speech dwelled in that absurd implication.
“The UK has a central role to play on the world stage as an independent sovereign state,” began Raab and he talked about power and force. “That mission is to be a force for good in the world. Force – because let’s not be naïve about it, without power, economic, military, diplomatic, cultural clout, we can’t do anything.” These comments were made in the context of UK leaving EU with next to no agreements leading to exporters refusing to export to UK and businesses leaving, and with UK having the highest per capita Covid-19 death rate in the world.
“A force for GOOD in the world” is difficult to juxtapose with 80% cut in British aid spending on global efforts to tackle corruption and promote human rights, 40% increase in the number of nuclear warheads, unconditional support for Saudi bombing of Yemeni civilians, and legalisation of murder by British agents via the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Act.
Raab’s depiction of UK, globally, was the patter of an estate agent trying to sell an old house with “character” while neglecting to mention the extortionate ground rent payable to the owner of the estate upon which the house is situated.
“In the UK, particularly as we have come through Brexit, I’m not shy about saying we are a proud, independent nation” was as utterly meaningless as it is possible to be in a sentence. “Coming through Brexit” was an odd way to refer to empty shelves in shops accompanied by rising prices, major businesses locating elsewhere in Europe, absurdly large customs charges, and a de facto customs border within the UK between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“What is Britain’s comparative advantage today? Put simply, we’ve got clout. Britain has economic, military, diplomatic, cultural clout.” Does it?
- Economic: UK has hemorrhaged economic influence since January 1st this year. Over forty years of international trade deals via the EU were wiped out. Liz Truss’ excitedly portrayed “successes” replaced a fraction of what was lost instantaneously.
- Military: Does Raab envisage UK hiring out its ships and planes to a variety of despots around the world? (The answer to that is ‘yes.’)
- Diplomatic: The Tory government’s approach to diplomacy is as mature as a toddler. Commonwealth nations are eschewing the British monarch as head of state. USA’s ‘special relationship’ is much more likely to be with EU than UK.
- Cultural: The awful Brexit deal killed touring opportunities for British musicians in EU. All sections of the arts have been devastated by Covid with little government assistance.
Raab’s proof of “economic clout” contained one simple error. He used present tense when past tense would have been accurate.
On “military clout” he indulged in grotesque onanism. “We are one of only a small number of NATO allies who bring to bear nuclear [capability].” Raab described colonialism and imperialism via military power as “our tradition of internationalism.”
Bizarrely, despite UK’s long, long history of war, proliferation of conflict and arming other countries, Raab said “we have an unparalleled range of expertise to help resolve conflicts and disputes, from Cyprus to Yemen.” Yes, he really did say “Yemen.” “We are a problem-solving nation.” All over the world are millions of people who would have preferred if UK had not “solved” “problems” in their respective countries.
British culture, according to Raab, is TV, sport and youtube influencers. He mentioned worldwide success of the Premier League, a league where club owners are predominantly wealthy people from outside the UK and majority of managers and players are not British. He did not mention classical music, ballet, opera, film or fine art.
In summary of his expositions of Britain’s various “clouts” he cited a poll that claimed “the UK is the most attractive country for young people in the world.” Again, he would have been less inaccurate if he had used the past tense. He forgot that UK closed it borders, is ejecting newcomers rapidly, and is ejecting EU citizens.
Raab’s celebration of Britain’s “FORCE for good” was a concoction of misrepresentation, convenient omissions, conceited hypocrisy and threats.
“There is a golden thread running through all of this. The UK is not afraid to act, but we prefer to act with others, to form alliances and partnerships that multiply the force, the impact, that we would otherwise be able to bring to bear if we acted on our own. More than that, Global Britain – our concept – is a creative disruptor willing and able to challenge the status quo but in the cause of good order and future stability.”
The words above have their roots in exactly the same imperialist manure that fed the verbosity of nineteenth century colonialists. Raab’s mangling of meaning continued with “[global Britain is] a mould-breaker but also a rule-maker, a disruptor for stability if you like. We have got a buccaneering spirit, but we also strive and yearn to build bridges. It is that unique combination of our hard power and our soft power that is so often a game-changer in those countries that we strive to support in a spirit of partnership.”
What Raab omitted is that “in those countries” land, property and businesses, including businesses providing public services, are often “owned” by foreign corporations, including British companies, and workers “in those countries” are paid low wages to produce goods for export including to UK. This exploitation is a feature of the vision of “free trade” pursued by the Tories whereby capacity for exploitation is increased massively by free trade agreements that elevate pursuit of corporate profits above everything else; in particular, governments and courts are not allowed to make any decision or judgement that interferes with profiteering.
In 2018 a paper for hard-right USA think-tank Cato Institute, ‘The Ideal U.S.-U.K. Free Trade Agreement’ (USUKFTA), discussed a post-Brexit USA-UK “free trade” deal with the view that such a deal would be expanded to any country willing to eschew its commitment to democracy.
USUKFTA was co-edited by Daniel Hannan and produced in partnership with Initiative For Free Trade, a think-tank run by Hannan and former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott. Last year, Abbott and Hannan were appointed to the Board Of Trade by the Tories.
The authors of USUKFTA noted that “in 2016, Cato Institute published a chapter-by-chapter assessment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement from a free trader’s perspective. Most of the chapters were deemed to be at least moderately trade liberalizing. [Cato] found that the agreement was ‘net liberalizing,’ and they were able to lend their endorsement to the pact, concluding that free traders should be able to support the TPP.”
Tory government intends to join TPP. Raab: “We’ve launched the UK’s negotiations to join the TPP to place a new anchor in a part of the world that will provide the most fertile ground for the expansion of UK manufacturing and UK services.”
Echoing the terminology of Hannan and colleagues in the USUKFTA paper – wherein they described government policy as “protectionism” versus “free trade” unrestricted by any government protections for the public – Raab said “we’re committed to unblocking the vested interests in protectionism, and unleash the power of global free trade.” He admitted that Global Britain is a tool to use “force for good” to ensure that people in other countries cannot elect governments that act in the interests of the public.
He mentioned Africa, the Gulf of Arabia and South America as “growth markets” for corporate control backed by UK military “clout.” “Our offer to Africa will be more liberal on free trade than the EU. We will do this by combining our trade, our aid, and our values.” Tory “values” are values of international corporate control, erased government and public renting their lives.
“We will offer the developing world a more compelling model of economic growth than debt servitude” was a threat. Raab meant that if countries refuse to accept corporate interests above democracy then the same corporations and financial associates will continue to steal vast wealth from those countries via unending “debt” payments.
New colonialism has the same aims and objectives as old colonialism, it has the same misrepresentation of intent and it is as equally tied to the enhancement of wealth of a few. Raab is an alumnus of think-tanks that develop, promote and protect philosophy of removal of democratic control and relegation of nation states to mere flags and statues. He is dogged in his pursuit of helping to create a political system of corporate fascism.
To achieve public support (votes) for annihilation of democracy the destruction must be described opposite to what is, and the world must be described opposite to what it is. According to Raab “democracy is in retreat. Tyranny is richer than freedom. Freedom-respecting, democracies are much less likely to go to war or to house terrorists.” Democracy is in retreat, in UK, most recently via the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill; tyranny is richer, as can be seen in democratic Indian government’s attacks on livelihoods of independent farmers to suit corporate agribusiness, democratic Brazilian government’s attacks on indigenous peoples’ land and lives to suit corporate agribusiness, and democratic USA government’s assistance to a violent military coup in Bolivia to suit lithium mining interests; no country has been involved in more military conflict than “freedom-respecting, democracy” of USA since 1945, and the participants in war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are the “freedom-respecting, democracies” of UK, France, USA and Israel. The war on Yemen conducted by the authoritarian government of Saudi Arabia is supported, assisted and enabled by the Tory government.
Raab said he wants to “build up better governance in countries abroad [via] an absolute commitment to be a force for good in the world, to help the global south, but also to expand British interests.” By “British interests” he meant financial interests of corporate elite; the “better governance” will be whatever subservience to business demands is required.
Raab continued to state disapproval of something he endorses while stating support for something he opposes.
“We see nuclear weapons technology proliferating, a very real risk that it could fall into the hands of people who can’t be reasoned with” was said in the context of Tory government’s intent to increase its nuclear weapons capacity by 44% and in the historical context of the USA being the only country ever to use nuclear weapons in conflict.
“We face the possibility of catastrophic climate change” was said in the context of the Tory government’s criminalisation of Extinction Rebellion and its investigation into them headed by peer John Woodcock.
“We face the possibility of catastrophic pandemics” was said in the context of the Tories’ woeful mishandling of Covid-19 pandemic in UK including using it as an opportunity for a multi-billion pound giveaway to their business friends.
Raab claimed he supported protests in selected countries – Russia, Belarus, Myanmar, China, Sudan – while his ministerial colleague and author colleague (Britain Unchained) Priti Patel continues to seek to stop all protests in UK. He didn’t mention protests met with extreme state violence in France (gilets jaune), Bolivia against the military coup, Palestine, India, Honduras against charter cities, Brazil, USA, etc.
March 5th (2021) was the seventy-fifth anniversary of a famous and important post-war speech by Winston Churchill in which he passed obsequiously the baton of imperialist power to USA. He declared the start of the cold war, quite correctly observing that it would be a war without military conflict. Churchill’s PR skills were strong. Gross misrepresentations of facts (for example, stating that USA’s control of nuclear bomb technology would mean people “slept easily” just seven months after two Japanese cities had been obliterated) were delivered pseudo-poetically with a homely tone. The build-up to his demonisation of communism was written with the expertise of a composer of symphonies. Churchill knew to speckle his performance with soundbites: His speech invented two lasting nonsense phrases: ‘Special relationship’ and ‘iron curtain.’
Raab’s political position is the same as Churchill’s, unsurprisingly, and strategy, tactics and methodology of promotion of conservative ideology have had no need to change since 1946. Equally, they cannot change because there is no successful technique for promoting conservatism other than deception, obfuscation and invention.
Raab does not compare as a peer to Churchill in quality of manipulative oratory but his speech did tend toward matching the latter’s mendacious depiction of UK’s intent. “If we galvanise those countries that share our core conviction, together we can and we must wrest control of history once again, and shape a better path ahead. Our approach to international collaboration [is] a sense of international civic spirit if you like.” Lies are as easily emitted by Tories today as they were during Churchill’s long tenure.
Tory government’s management of Covid-19 pandemic has been reckless and uncaring, and contrasts with the magnificent dedication of NHS nurses and doctors but Raab chose to claim that he and his government are as worthy of commendation as everyone else; everything in the following quote from his speech is true for all except the government: “Our strongest asset is our people. I feel that same spirit has marked our country through this pandemic. Our national commitment to the NHS and to carers, a broader spirit of neighbourliness.” Tories are systematically destroying the NHS.
As Home Secretary and other ministers proceed with dismantlement of access to justice and legal protections Raab stated more falsehoods from his imaginary opposite world. “Our greatest contribution is the rule of law.” Ahistorically, he said “[rule of law] is a particularly British tradition.”
Raab’s comfort with his relentless dishonesty was pre-nutrified by the fact that his intended audience for his speech shared his conservatism and also by his knowledge that his stream of lies would be ignored or fortified by newspapers and broadcasters.
He conflated advances in technology with greater military power. “We can do even better in deploying and adapting our lead in science, tech and research to bolster the defences of our business, citizens and our government” was followed by celebration of £24,000,000,000 increase in defence spending in the next four years. A translation is that the government’s false claims of investment in new technology are used as cover for a massive welfare payment to the arms industry at the public’s expense. His declaration that “we will restore Britain’s position as the foremost naval power in Europe” elicits the response of “why?”
“We will be spending nearly £7 billion over next 4 years in R&D, in new areas like space, cyber, AI, quantum tech, and directed energy weapons” showed further how sex appeal of shiny futuristic tech is merely a ruse to rose-tint gross theft of billions from the public into the bottomless pit of arms industry offshore accounts. As atom bombs are not an exciting new invention Raab covered the money drain for them with bunkum. “We will maintain our nuclear deterrent to counter the most extreme threats to our national security and our way of life.”
Militaristic posturing has a long history as a common twofold strategy for enhancing exploitative economic policy: 1) A distraction and 2) persuasion of support for public funding of arms industry. Bereft of Churchill’s adept verbosity and long-winded directional narrative Raab relied on emotive adjectives. “We will continue to adapt to meet the frankly predatory opportunism of states such as Russia, Iran, North Korea and some others” was uttered against a historical backdrop of the last conflict between UK and Russia (or USSR) being in the nineteenth century and no war ever between UK and Iran (or Persia) or UK and North Korea (or Korea). Neither North Korea nor Iran occupies any other country’s territory.
Raab’s most nonsensical statement – “We will adapt our defence posture to the new shift in the balance of world power towards the Indo-Pacific region. You’ll begin to see that this year, with HMS Queen Elizabeth leading a British and allied task group to the region.” – was an admission of acute immaturity by the Tory government: He declared that the rise of economic “clout” of India and China should be countered by sending a massive aircraft carrier thousands of miles from UK. His proposal was UK should mug countries that have greater talent in making money.
His summary of “Global Britain” was a concoction of lies, division, threats and laughable arrogance.
“We believe that we can and should help alleviate the worst suffering in the world” was a statement of precisely the intentional opposite of what Cato Institute’s and Initiative For Free Trade’s “free trade” model will achieve.
“It has never been plainer that the UK’s raw national interest, is inextricably bound up in tackling the international challenges that touch us all” was true, and is true of any country in the world, but Raab’s perspective is that of a new colonialist, working for wealthy elite, backed by big guns and missiles, who sees potential for exploitation on a scale that his nineteenth century idols could not envisage.
“We do it because it is the right thing to do but also because bitter experience shows us that strengthening fragile countries and their people is essential to reduce the terrorist threat and to reduce the migratory flows that arrive in the UK” was an expression of sheer selfishness. By “strengthen” he meant interfere in and control to ensure that “their people” don’t do anything rash like elect a socialist government that might challenge the exploitative behaviour of international businesses.
Raab returned to his claim that UK government will be “leading on climate change” despite its aggression toward climate change activists, and “phasing out coal” despite the plan to open a new coal mine in Cumbria. Predictably, he blamed China. “Let’s be honest that none of that will be possible without at least some constructive cooperation with China.”
One theme of how he presented his fallacious “Global Britain” ideology was a plea that UK’s interests are dependent on international cooperation. “UK’s raw national interest, is inextricably bound up in tackling the international challenges that touch us all. We also see the direct gains that we can yield if we can reduce tensions between allies, resolve global problems and bring stability to regions whose prosperity will contribute to our own.” This plea was aimed partly at the behemoth of inward-looking pseudo-patriotic world of gammon that Tories helped nourish, to try to retain their votes, and partly at the cross-border racketeers led by Grover Norquist and Barbara Kolm, to assure them that Tories’ rampant head-up-own-rectum nationalism, signposted by daft worship of symbolism of statues and flags, is just a political ruse.
Existence of imperialists’ expensive weaponry is presented as it always has in language of good versus evil. From the perspective of a conservative government in Western Europe, a large modern armed force is presented as it always has in terms of self-appointed good in “The West” fighting against unknowns elsewhere in the world.
Raab, clumsily, regurgitated the above. On “foreign policy” he said “British people expect their government to stand up for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.” He seemed to think there is public interest in adherence to maritime law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Knowledge of that law’s effect (or its existence) is likely to be miniscule.
Raab’s preference to claim to speak on behalf of British people extended to assumptions on how China’s expansionism is viewed. “We identify with those countries lining the South China Sea whose legitimate claims have come under recent threat from China.” The identification manifests itself as a huge royal naval aircraft carrier thousands of miles from UK. Why was Raab concerned about how many Chinese naval vessels or man-made islands there are in the South China Sea? There are dozens of USA air bases in southeast Asia, surrounding China.
Emotive phrases, appeals to intangible concepts of British philosophy loaded with casual xenophobic aspects, and cheerleading of might were marinated by Raab in a gloop of faux liberal do-goodery. “Global Britain is imbued with a desire to help.” It is a multi-layered cake of deception. One layer is brazen guttural yelps for billions of pounds to be handed to arms industry; a second layer is othering as a distraction to divert attention from bad government in UK; a third layer is inveigling support for pan-global exploitative “free trade” and “charter cities” via use of liberal language about “openness,” “freedom,” “liberty” and “democracy.” Raab said “we” must “safeguard the international order that reflects a set of progressive liberal values.”
His othering focussed on what is and what isn’t “the West.” “The UK is a leading member of the western alliance.” “We in the West cannot afford disunity.” “We are going to need a concerted effort to bridge the old dividing lines between the West and the G77.” “We in the West have got to broaden our reach and appeal.” His definition of “the West” appeared to be Western Europe, USA and Canada but he didn’t explicitly explain how such a collection of countries was allied nor how it was separated from everywhere else (“the G77“). He appeared to separate European and North American nations from South and Central America, Africa, Asia and Arabian Gulf as a decreasingly accurate indicator of economic power. His use of “the West” was almost a lament. As a hook to garner public support for arms spending “the West” no longer has the success it had during Churchill’s cold war. It was necessary for Raab to imbue his use of the phrase with association of cultural superiority. “It’s in our DNA, because it’s our compact with the world.”
The dwindling “West” asked some of the bigger boys to come to their party. “Under our Presidency of the G7 that we’ve invited India, South Korea and Australia to join this year’s summit.” China uninvited.
Raab tilled the same field as his conservative predecessor Churchill did in 1946 and, as Raab noted, as US Secretary of State Dean Acheson did a few years after Churchill. All three chose to depict the epoch in which they were speaking as just beginning and malleable. All three described their respective countries as likely leaders of new international alliances and as guides for other countries’ political and economic development. All three created spectres of large threatening enemies. The key objectives of all three were/are continuous enormous funding of arms industry and imposition (by military force if needed) of exploitative economic systems on other countries’ peoples.
Every word in his speech was dishonest and every point he made was opposite to his government’s intent. This expression of exact opposite to Tory intent was displayed brazenly in his final sentence: “if these islands have a particular destiny it’s surely to act as a beacon of hope at home and abroad, to fight for peace and prosperity, to defeat the enemies of mankind, and to act as a force for good.”
Full transcript of Raab’s Aspen speech: Raab Speech
Escaping the straitjacket
The Ideal U.S.-U.K. Free Trade Agreement
Analysis of Cato Institute paper
Winston Churchill’s ‘Sinews Of Peace’ speech March 5th 1946