The New Mandarins: How British Foreign Policy Works

The New Mandarins: How British Foreign Policy Works
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  • New Mandarins : How British Foreign Policy Works by John Dickie (2004, Hardcover).
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View Comments. More from Foreign Policy. Argument Milia Hau. Will the Sun Set on the Boris Empire? Argument Edoardo Campanella. Argument David Klion. September 25, , PM. Trending 1. The Realpolitik of Greta Thunberg. In April, when asked in parliament about allegations published in the Mail on Sunday that British special forces were fighting in Yemen alongside Saudi-backed child soldiers, foreign minister Mark Field called for an investigation , while refusing to confirm whether British troops were in the country at all.

In short, UK arms sales buy Britain influence with Saudi Arabia; influence that it can use to sue for peace. But the notion that Britain is a benign influence on the air war is betrayed by the stark fact that the rate of civilian attacks has risen throughout the war, according to a report analysing air-strike data, authored by Larry Lewis for a US government-backed thinktank and published in May. Other British officials with first-hand experience of Saudi military operations dismiss suggestions that our role on the ground in Saudi Arabia makes any difference.

He was in a hurry, and surrounded himself by people who are not prepared to question his judgment. It is this commercial relationship that is keeping Britain firmly ensnared in the Yemen war. Its foundation is an multi-billion pound, government-to-government arms deal signed in called al-Yamamah. This guarantees British maintenance, training and rearmament of any British aircraft sold to Saudi Arabia, in war and peacetime.

BAE depends on this state contract for its survival, but it also wields enormous sway with the government as the principal executor of this multi-billion dollar deal. Although al-Yamamah does not generate any income per se for the British treasury, it is the bedrock of a deeper financial relationship between London and Riyadh.

A former Conservative minister told me that just before Saudi Arabia started bombing Yemen in , Riyadh privately communicated that it would squeeze Britain financially if the government wavered in its military cooperation. David Stirling, the founder of the SAS, used his sway with the Saudi King to broker a deal for the kingdom to buy British Lightning jets, radar systems and in-country services.

A decade later, events swung Saudi Arabia and Britain even closer together. Meanwhile, Britain was in financial disarray. It could not afford to buy the Tornado combat jet it had developed in a consortium with Italy and Germany. If Britain wanted an independent air deterrent, it would need a rich foreign buyer to subsidise the cost of its fleet.

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The Manifesto of a Revolution. Even where the minister does not initially trust his PPS, he comes to rely upon and form a close bond with him. Their role is to guide the minister in his understanding of crucial issue. Suicide Bombing Dossier. At a time when we are more than ever at the mercy of world events and foreign powers, Dickie has written an indispensable and cogent guide. Password required Remember me? Skip to main content.

Saudi Arabia wanted the best aircraft money could buy: the American F Iran had the next model down, the F, but Israel was vehemently opposed to an Arab country getting planes that could challenge its own Fs. The US found a workaround. Under a Nato framework, it would back the export of British Tornados to the House of Saud, which would keep the Soviets out of the Gulf and bring down the cost to Britain of upgrading its own fleet.

Al-Yamamah was the result. It was the biggest arms deal in the world — and one that would save arms manufacturing in Britain. I n March, I attended a government-organised convention in Farnborough for arms companies that want to break into lucrative export markets.

Executives talked shop with government officials in the Export Growth Zone over chicken paprika sandwiches. But Cable told me that he quickly came under pressure from the then defence secretary, Michael Fallon, and prime minister David Cameron, to release the shipment. During the early phases of the air war, the British government replied to critics of its involvement by explaining that it conducted investigations into allegations of Saudi attacks on civilians in Yemen.

Instead, when pushed on the use of British weapons in alleged war crimes in Yemen, the government pointed out that the Saudi-led coalition investigates itself. For the British government, however, the JIAT provides a convenient figleaf for the continued licensing of arms exports to Riyadh. In the case of two particularly deadly attacks in May and July — in which more than people were killed by airstrikes on outdoor markets in the town of Zabid and Fayoush, a suburb of Aden — the JIAT assessment simply insisted that the coalition had not bombed either location, in spite of reports by the UN, the BBC , Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, as well as camera-smartphone footage from the sites making it clear that an airstrike had taken place.

Elsewhere the JIAT has justified strikes by flatly asserting that the targets were military ones. But when the UN and the Yemeni human rights group Mwatana made independent visits to the site, they discovered that the victims were a woman driving with her two sisters-in-law and their 12 children.