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How Britain Broke the World : War, Greed and Blunders from Kosovo to Afghanistan, 1997-2022 - Arthur Snell

How Britain Broke the World

War, Greed and Blunders from Kosovo to Afghanistan, 1997-2022

By: Arthur Snell

eBook | 7 June 2024

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Non-fiction Editor's Choice in the Bookseller

'In this engrossing and frankly deeply troubling book, former senior British diplomat Snell explains how Britain's often incompetent, inconsistent and sometimes downright greedy foreign policy has played a pivotal role in rendering the world a more dangerous place.'

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

Description

Turmoil in the 2020s.

  • Russia is destroying Ukraine.
  • China threatens Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
  • Endless war in the Middle East sends waves of migrants and terrorists washing around the world.
  • And the biggest nations on Earth cannot agree effective action to stop the worst effects of global heating.

Instead of being a global force for good, Britain has often fostered instability and division. In fact, the UK's careless 'humanitarian' interventions, grandiosity and greed have helped to fracture the global order built after World War II.

Why is the world so dangerous now?

How Britain Broke the World is by former senior British diplomat Arthur Snell.

It critically assesses UK foreign policy over the past 25 years, from Kosovo in 1998 to Afghanistan in 2021, while also scrutinising British policy towards the powerhouses of the USA, Russia, India, and China.

Far from being unimportant, Snell reveals, Britain has often played a pivotal role in world affairs. For instance, London supplied the false intelligence that justified the Allied invasion of Iraq and plugged Russia's corrupt elite into Western economies.

Then come the bungled humanitarian interventions in foreign states.

Without the UK's marginal but key role, the author argues, it's likely that wars would not have blighted the Balkans, Iraq, and Libya, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved, and the world would be a safer place in the 2020s.

Taking in Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Snell charts the key political, economic and geographic factors that drive the behaviour of the most powerful and populous countries.

Like a diplomatic version of Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall, How Britain Broke the World reveals the ignominious reality of UK foreign policy and the true state of world affairs. It is a must-read for anyone interested in Britain's role in international affairs.

Review

'In this engrossing and frankly deeply troubling book, former senior British diplomat Snell explains how Britain's often incompetent, inconsistent and sometimes downright greedy foreign policy has played a pivotal role in rendering the world a more dangerous place.

'Not only in regard to Russia, where successive British governments have helped to plug Putin's oligarchy into the Western economic system, but also when it comes to the wars in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya and more'

Caroline Sanderson, awarding an 'Editor's Choice' for Non-fiction, The Bookseller

About the Author

After graduating from Oxford with a first class degree in history, Arthur Snell joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A fluent Arabic speaker, he served in Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Yemen, and Iraq.

He headed the international strand of the UK Government's Prevent counterterrorism programme.

He is currently a geopolitical consultant and host of the hit podcast Doomsday Watch.

Extract

There was a brief silence after the bomb blast. Then shouting, and nervous laughter. The Iraqi official gestured to the shattered window and stammered: 'Shay 'aadi,' a 'normal thing.' We were both uninjured, but I learned later that several guards had died outside the office where we were meeting. It was 2005 and I was in Baghdad, working as a British diplomat. Car bombs were normal. As I left the building I noticed a charred hand on the ground, probably the bomber's.

...That day, in the bombed building, I could no longer deny to myself that the Allied powers had unleashed a terrible whirlwind. Now, as I write in the early 2020s, the existence of Islamic State is a direct consequence of the 2003 invasion. But the impact of that terrible mistake stretches far wider: from regional chaos in the Middle East, to shredding the credibility of Western governments, to the renewed power of autocratic countries, chiefly Russia and China.

A FAILING WORLD ORDER

The unsteady rules-based international order finally collapsed on 24th February 2022, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Under stress for some time, this system - international law, accepted national borders, with the United Nations as global police chief - had delivered peace and security for most Western democracies from World War II into the 1990s. Admittedly, many countries, particularly in the Global South, missed out on the upsides. But a world without this framework is volatile. We are living in a period of global disorder, conflict and uncertainty. As I write in 2022, major conflicts are laying waste to the large and geopolitically sensitive states of Ukraine, Libya and Yemen, and civil wars are raging in the large countries of Ethiopia and Syria. In addition, an arc of instability runs across the entire Sahel region of Africa and widespread civil strife continues in Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq. Running alongside these flashpoints is the spectre, once more, of great power conflict.

Contents

Introduction

  1. An 'Ethical' Foreign Policy

  2. Kosovo: War in Europe

  3. Iraq, MI6 and a Botched Invasion

  4. Afghanistan: 'Government in a Box'

  5. Libya: Creating a Power Vacuum

  6. Syria: A Conflict Without End

  7. Russia and the London Laundromat

  8. China: the Golden Error of Kowtow

  9. Saudi Arabia, Oil and Influence

  10. India and the Politics of Empire

  11. The US and the UK 'Special' Relationship

  12. Brexit: Isolation in Europe

Conclusion

Acknowledgements

References

Index

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