WATCH: Former UK ambassador to Syria on how imperialism is being redefined as a liberal ideal

Peter Ford, former ambassador to Syria (2003-6) speaking at the “Imperialism on Trial” symposium in Derry, Ireland. He describes the weasel words and manipulative language used to redefine old ideas of imperialism as a liberal ideal. “Defending human rights”, he says, is simply a modern construct of the Victorian meme of the “White Man’s Burden” – the mendacious idea that the countries invaded by the British Empire needed and welcomed the invaders as a civilising and educational force.

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Big B
Big B
Feb 15, 2018 1:45 PM

Writing a century ago, Lenin exposed the relationship of Finance Capital to imperialism. He wrote that “imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.” Competition creates a financial oligarchy and an over-accumulation of capital that is exported to seek higher returns abroad (as opposed to funding social development and welfare at home?) Wherever the finance capital went: the military followed (to protect assets) …or, in the case of recalcitrant rulers who refuse to become comprador vassals – the military preceded to ‘humanitarianly’ persuade and neoliberally ‘democratise’. There can be no better single illustration of this than L Paul Bremer III’s infamous ‘Rule 81‘ that threatened to destroy Iraqi ‘cradle of humanity’ agriculture in favour of the monopoly profits of the likes of Bayer, Dow, Syngenta and Monsanto?
Thus, the relationship of capital and imperialism is clear. Neo-Classical (neolib/neocon) economics is codified exploitation and expropriation: imposed and maintained by financial terrorism (via the IMF, World Bank, WTO and when required, UN Sanction) …and back-stopped, if need be, by imperial military violence and invasion. Thus, the US and the UK are the established ‘Hollow Men’ of world finance: the Debt or Death Dealers to a brutalised debt-junkie global economy …the Pax Capitalis?
[…but there is a new, younger, more vigorous rival trying to steal ‘our’ territory in Asia-Pacific, Africa and South America. We don’t need Lenin’s analysis, or the historical rhyme with 1916 to see where that may lead?]
Meanwhile, we live in a hollowed-out ‘Tertiary’ service economy: that (used to) thrive and bribe our complicity off the appropriated resource wealth; enforced materialism and stolen (slave) labour value created by others. There was and is no free trade; there are no free markets; there is no Rules Based International Order – there is only an excess of (debt-fuelled and fictitious) capital, seeking a ‘guaranteed’ return elsewhere. We, the financial oligarchs, make the rules (via the BIS and the TBTF banks): you, the exploited vassals of the world, follow – by imperial order. And prepare to pick up the tab of the socialised risk?
[If you think that I am exaggerating the part of the UK, watch “All the Plenary’s Men” to see what gave lowly arseling George Osborne his financial clout.]
Absent an A-Z-C imperium versus Sino-Russian turf war as the global market gets further sub-divided: as the Long Depression gets longer; and the ’08/09 GFC debt-hangover – along with resource and energy depletion – begin to bite deeper into the nosebleed vertiginous heights of the QE-fueled markets and asset bubbles …imperialism will attempt to ensure the widening wealth gulf between the OECD ‘developed’ Global North and the ‘negative externality’ of the already impoverished and immiserated Global South. A huge surplus ‘reserve army’ of globally redundant, marginalised and migratory unemployed peoples will seek opportunity elsewhere: exponentially increasing wealth-class-ethno-religious and socio-cultural full-spectrum tension and divide; tearing at the social fabric and integrity of nation states …inviting a full blown nationalist fervour, and populist-fueled demagogical backlash …while the supranational already obscenely rich get richer?
Perhaps, in the form of militarised police, to protect their Private Property Rights and criminally expropriated wealth – imperialism is due to come home? Perhaps the thought of the potential rise of Fascism, coupled with the thought of impending societal and ecological collapse will be enough ‘shock therapy’ to bring the Masters of Carbon and of Mankind to enough of a realisation as to where the path of imperial capitalism is leading us? Perhaps?

Feb 16, 2018 10:17 AM
Reply to  Big B

Perhaps not.

Feb 17, 2018 7:45 AM
Reply to  Big B

@BigB. I date the decline of Great Britain to 1899 — the Boer War. Imagine how the Mother Country would have prospered if all that investment capital had stayed at home, instead of being used to build up the A-Z-C financial empire in South Africa. Followed by WW1 where British “blood and treasure” was again flushed abroad to build up the A-Z-C financial empire in the ME. The gentle but perceptive Max Beerbohm drew a memorable cartoon series showing John Bull’s increasingly battered and patched progress up till a little after WW1. But it was Mad Maggie Thatcher’s over-inflated Pound and her call to invest in the Asian Tigers which finally did for John Bull and replaced that sturdy old fellow with an effete Company yes-man called UK PLC.

Big B
Big B
Feb 17, 2018 11:34 AM
Reply to  vexarb

@Vexarb: I would put the decline of the UK from when we first went agrarian! Not that Paleolithic man was particularly special: only they were limited by numbers as to the destruction they could cause! [Not that I proscribe in any way to the Bill Gatesian overpopulation psychopathy.] As for imperialism, you must include the East India Company of London …which was bigger than the contemporaneous state, and had its own private Blackwater-style private army to protect its capital investment? That takes us back to 1600?
I would disagree with Peter Ford that the UK is strong militarily. China must be quaking to think of our single frigate on its way to conduct FONOPS? With an aircraftless aircraft carrier to follow. The Russians must be similarly afeared by our 6-800 troops in Estonia? But I would not underestimate the global power of the supranational self-maximising capital flowing through the City of London? It appears the East India Company did not disolve: it evolved into a stateless superstate?

Peter Grafström
Peter Grafström
Feb 25, 2020 3:15 PM
Reply to  Big B

“imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism”

And the british monopoly capitalists held their protective arm around Marx for the most productive part of his career when he wrote that.

George Mc
George Mc
Feb 25, 2020 4:28 PM

Except that Marx didn’t write that. It was Lenin. But who cares about the facts, eh?

Peter Grafström
Peter Grafström
Feb 25, 2020 5:50 PM
Reply to  George Mc

I agree but the commenter I quoted is right about communicating the same meaning as Marx.
But who cares about logic eh?

George Mc
George Mc
Feb 25, 2020 7:26 PM

I hardly think so. The imperialist age came in the 20th Century.

Peter Grafström
Peter Grafström
Feb 25, 2020 9:19 PM
Reply to  George Mc

That is an original view. The british imperial efforts began in the 1500s and are sometimes dated to the gun powder plot in 1604 ( a false flag aimed at the catholics)
The year 1763 was the time the East India Company formally obtained the character of an empire. Some consider that empire to have been virtually synonymous with the british empire.
And that you would even consider jumping past the Victorian era placing the imperial era later is humorous.
For I cant believe you are quite serious.

George Mc
George Mc
Feb 26, 2020 8:30 AM

Hardly an original view. Since you are discussing Marx and Lenin, I assume you are referring to the Marxist definition of imperialism which can be read at


Imperialism: An advanced stage of capitalism, attained by some nations in the 20th-century.

The epoch of imperialism opens when the expansion of colonialism has covered the globe and no new colonies can be acquired by the great powers except by taking them from each other, and the concentration of capital has grown to a point where finance capital becomes dominant over industrial capital.

Peter Grafström
Peter Grafström
Feb 26, 2020 10:27 AM
Reply to  George Mc

No I dont use that definition. Imperialism is what empires do.
And Marx defended british imperialism as a mediation of communism since the economy would have to first pass through a period of capitalism.

But this just illustrates how dependent he was of his wealthy supporters.

Socialists have a blind spot about it and fear the truth of it all being a deception to control the opposition. Which it was and still is.
And to aid the ruling class in battling the middle class rivals.

Usual case:They expand their territorial reach and subdue the targeted peoples.
Like previous empires. The roman empire etc.

But the venetian empire is a special case and the british empire became its continuation.

Current british leadership, at least a few years back still referred to Venice in a positive way in connection with britains plans to dominate the world trade.

The venetian imperialism took place by proxy.
Their intelligence was used to support foreign invaders like the mongols from the east and the turks from the south.

And Venice could pit them against the rivals.
Venice also redirected the crusaders against christian targets.

And after Venice was nearly crushed they patiently planned and brought about the split of the church and the 30-years war.

Britain has later repeated that kind of success.
Manipulating the perceptions of all concerned parties to manoever them into bleeding against each other.

Eliminating peace-oriented reformers and substituting warmongers within the rival nations.

Winning and shaping the hearts and the minds in Britains interest and making sure to completely distort the truth about it by controlling the historical narrative.

And by capturing national archives from defeated nations.

After WW2 when the physical british empire changed character evolving into a commonwealth, the british monarchy still technically owns 1/6th of the worlds land territory.

But now the empire is the City of Londons offshore financial empire.

It assists criminality in the form of money laundering and tax evasion, thus depriving many nations of needed resources.

It is like piracy and this role is a bit reminiscent of the era of piracy and people like Sir Francis Drake, before the british empire emerged.

Some say 1604 and the fake flag gun powder plot was the beginning of the empire.

Niall Fergusson and Robert Cooper refer to imperialism in a positive way and were both encouraging the US before the last Gulf war to go for it.

Paul Johnson with his Modern Times had already encouraged them before the first Gulf war

Niall Fergusson told the neocons to empty the US prisons and use the resulting millions of ex-convicts to colonise Iraq like Britain did to colonise Australia.

Cooper, who also influenced the EU, suggested to divide the world into postmodern vs jungle nations.
The latter were to be treated with the law of the jungle.

But it would apply to the postNWO-plans.

And the globalists are like an extension of the british East India Company which was an empire in itself.

I saw mention of the City of London being associated with 5000 raw materials corporations.

Before Brexit british analysts from the Chatham House circles of think tanks had ambitious plans for expansion of the EU into what they named a Grand Area.

Including the area Hitler attempted to conquer in Russia and everything south of Russia all te way to but not including India, and North Africa and northeast Africa.

Where the arab spring fake revolutions took place and where the west has been preventing economic development.

An important tool for the british imperial methododology was and still is, to foster radicalism.
Such as Islamism and to put it to use against Russia.

Karl Marx was likewise manipulated against Russia by David Urquhart.
Urquhart could use his insights to provide Marx with biased literature and intel.

Craig Murray writes about one british agent, ‘Iskander’ Burnes, being part of the use of muslims in the 1830s already.

And the method has been refined further during the 20th century and has played an important role to create the current mess in the ME.

Likewise zionism and nazism were created with significant british participation in order to play the parties against each other and to expand the territory.

Israel is like a colonial outpost from the point of view of the surrounding peoples.
And behaves like the pioneers of the british empire used to: killing the host, grabbing the land.

Peter Grafström
Peter Grafström
Feb 26, 2020 2:32 PM

I must add that there ought to have been a question mark behind my suggestion that Stalin was trained in London, since I have no reliable source for that and wasnt able to confirm it right now.
However Britain coordinated most of the radicals by proxy handlers on the continent for over a century, including for example Mussolini, so it wouldnt be surprising if even Stalin in younger years had received some kind of training outside Russia.

But Stalin hasnt been confirmed to be a freemason, unlike Lenin and Trotsky.

And the search engines are sensitive to your capacity to intelligently choose search phrases, in particular, I think, regarding such matters.

George Mc
George Mc
Feb 26, 2020 6:20 PM

Lenin and Trotsky are confirmed freemasons? I read Isaac Deutscher’s three volume biography about Trotsky and don’t recall anything about freemasonry. Wiki doesn’t mention freemasonry for either figure. But I daresay your sources are far more reliable.

Peter Grafström
Peter Grafström
Feb 26, 2020 8:41 PM
Reply to  George Mc

Socialists like Deutcher, (and I hold no grudges against them, but often agree about their critique about the western malicious bias against the USSR etc)
hate to admit the truth about the freemasonic character of all revolutions as well as the fact that the freemasons generally constitute a special force for the wealthy classes ever since political freemasonry took shape.

Lenin was a member of a number of different european lodges and I think Trotsky had the grade sometimes described as ‘Grand Inquisitor’.

That particular detail I think I found partly confusing with different definitions but the one I cite is kind of fitting.

I think I got some of that from Oleg Platonov who had access to the red army’s captured freemasonic archives which were in turn taken from the nazis who confiscated Grand Orients archives in France. Under Yeltsin those archives were returned.

Platonovs books were available online the last time I looked and if you dont read russian, yandex translate is good enough.

And of course Trotsky was an agent for the western liberal capitalists and wanted to prevent Russia from industrialising and to remain a farmland – in complete alignment with the malthusian imperialists.

Such agents are probably always masons so it isnt a big deal.
Its part of the trade of revolutionaries.

Motto for the 33rd grade, who handle international matters for the brotherhood:
Permanent Revolution!

The roots of british freemasonry were probably planted by Venice and happened in the 1500s.

Interestingly Craig Murray believes he may have debunked a myth about the Knights Templars having brought freemasonry to Scotland at an earlier era.

He points to the origin of the myth as one of Murrays ‘colleagues’ from the 19th century.

Harry Stotle
Harry Stotle
Feb 15, 2018 11:02 AM

I have mixed feelings about this.
Its great to hear Peter Ford speaking up but all those in the British and US diplomatic service must be well aware that their job requires them to put an acceptable spin on the beligerent imperialism that has gripped the Middle East, and elsewhere?
The unreasonable behaviour of the US demands that people take sides – so unfortunately you are either with them, which would appear to include most of those working in the diplomatic core, or against them, which in the case of diplomats only becomes apparent after they have retired.
The head of the snake is the most culpable but all oppressive regimes rely on a network of underlings to do their masters bidding.

Feb 15, 2018 8:40 AM

Wonderful talk. Thank you so much. A breath of fresh air to hear truth spoken amidst the sea of lies we float about on each day in the West.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
Feb 15, 2018 1:52 AM

Lookout Peter.
There may not be any more spare rooms at the Ecuadorean embassy.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
Feb 15, 2018 1:46 AM

Lookout Peter.
There may not be anymore spare rooms at the Ecuadorean embassy.

Feb 14, 2018 10:45 PM

He paints a very interesting picture mounting a question of should we or should we have not got involved.
It’s a mess now , it was a mess then and if we hadnt have got involved – maybe it would have been someone else’s mess to sort out.
There are so many sides in all this, it’s almost like a rubix cube of political problems – that will never be solved.

James Graham
James Graham
Feb 15, 2018 4:07 AM
Reply to  Angela

Come on Angela…that is a defeatist cop-out. Who is abusing their military might? Who is abusing their economic power and control? Who are the imperialists? Who puts profit before people? Who enshrined that in law? Who except the British ruling class, originally? Class politics rules. Which side are you on?

Feb 14, 2018 8:03 PM

Now if Stella Creasy stepped aside this is the sort of person who would ornament Parliament.

Feb 14, 2018 5:24 PM

The amazing thing is that people still fall for it ………
“Defending human rights” by bombing their country …… a bit of a disconnect don’t you think?
Tubularsock has always loved the “White Man’s Burden” trope.
It almost makes one feel “Imperialism” is a good thing. And of course it is UNLESS it’s those Russians!

Feb 15, 2018 4:41 AM
Reply to  tubularsock

“The White Man’s Burden”… “The White Helmets”. All the same trope tubularsock.
That nice Mr Bomb. Please…give it to us in the name of freedom.

Feb 15, 2018 5:21 AM
Reply to  tutisicecream

Right on the money, tutisicecream!

Feb 14, 2018 4:48 PM

Very good that Peter Ford would open up and tell it like it is , I guess he would have been sacked unceremoniously quickly had he done so while still an ambassador for the UK .
Too bad that we don’t have many more of this caliber to open up to the public.

Geneva Washington
Geneva Washington
Feb 14, 2018 4:22 PM

Thanks. He is a very decent and sincere man who has been an insider and walked away from it. Not easy to do. Kudos to him.