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The merchants of war and corruption behind the Liam Fox scandal

Lindsey German
Stop the War Coalition
11 October 2011

One aspect of the Liam Fox/Adam Werrity scandal that hasn’t received as much notice as it should is the whole issue of Atlantic Bridge.

This ‘charity’ - actually a sort of think tank established by and for a very rich group of US and British neocons - was apparently run out of Fox’s parliamentary office by its only employee, Adam Werrity.

It has recently closed down following criticism from the Charity Commission, its website bereft except for its logo of a joined union jack and stars and stripes over the slogan, ‘Strengthening the special relationship.’

Atlantic Bridge’s patron was Margaret Thatcher. The advisory board has had as members three of the most gung ho of David Cameron’s cabinet: George Osborne, William Hague and Michael Gove. Osborne and Gove in particular were especially keen on the Libya intervention to overthrow Gadaffi. Gove is one of the most hawkish of all cabinet ministers, following the warmongering views of his erstwhile employer Rupert Murdoch.

He was moved to claim as late as 2008 that ‘the liberation of Iraq has actually been that rarest of things – a proper British foreign policy success. Next year, while the world goes into recession, Iraq is likely to enjoy 10% GDP growth. Alone in the Arab Middle East, it is now a fully functioning democracy with a free press, properly contested elections and an independent judiciary’.

These fantasy justifications for a war which few would now regard as anything but an abject failure are typical of the people who have brought us war without end over the past decade. You have seen them and their allies on television programmes defending the US over Iraq, Israel over Gaza and drone attacks over Pakistan. They have written hundreds of articles justifying war, sliding over uncomfortable facts as the failure of their projects become more apparent.

The aim of Atlantic Bridge was to bring together politicians, journalists and academics to promote and develop the right wing ideas that have spawned not only war but neoliberalism, privatisation and inequality throughout the world. The ‘special relationship’ was about promoting US and British business, military and economic interests throughout the world.

No wonder that Werrity was such an asset as he toured the world meeting businessmen, setting up deals and flashing his seemingly official card proclaiming himself Fox’s adviser. How could it happen that the House of Commons and the Ministry of defence could be so compromised?

The truth is that Werrity’s conduct was irregular but not exactly out of the ordinary. Thatcher herself helped broker the biggest ever arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Defence and the arms trade are very closely intertwined, and Britain’s record of selling arms to dictators is common knowledge. The lobbying around parliament is part of the political fabric of Westminster. 

The role of Atlantic Bridge was to give an intellectual gloss to the arrogant wealthy warmongers and arms traders who have marked the past decade. The real scandal goes much further than Fox and his friends.

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