Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy

ISBN : 9780198784609

Rory Cormac
416 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jul 2021
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Disrupt and Deny is the untold story behind Britain's secret scheming against both enemies and friends from 1945 to the present day. British leaders use spies and Special Forces to interfere in the affairs of others discreetly and deniably. Since 1945, MI6 has spread misinformation designed to divide and discredit targets from the Middle East to Eastern Europe and Northern Ireland. It has instigated whispering campaigns and planted false evidence on officials working behind the Iron Curtain, tried to foment revolution in Albania, blown up ships to prevent the passage of refugees to Israel, and secretly funnelled aid to insurgents in Afghanistan and dissidents in Poland. MI6 has launched cultural and economic warfare against Iceland and Czechoslovakia. It has tried to instigate coups in Congo, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere. Through bribery and blackmail, Britain has rigged elections as colonies moved to independence. Britain has fought secret wars in Yemen, Indonesia, and Oman - and discreetly used Special Forces to eliminate enemies from colonial Malaya to Libya during the Arab Spring. This is covert action: a vital, though controversial, tool of statecraft and perhaps the most sensitive of all government activity. If used wisely, it can play an important role in pursuing national interests in a dangerous world. If used poorly, it can cause political scandal - or worse. In Disrupt and Deny, Rory Cormac tells the remarkable true story of Britain's secret scheming against its enemies, as well as its friends; of intrigue and manoeuvring within the darkest corridors of Whitehall, where officials fought to maintain control of this most sensitive and seductive work; and, above all, of Britain's attempt to use smoke and mirrors to mask decline. He reveals hitherto secret operations, the slush funds that paid for them, and the battles in Whitehall that shaped them.


Introduction: Covert Action
Part I - Cold War
1 False Starts: From Counter Attack to Liberation
2 Operation Valuable: Defending Greece
Detaching Albania
3 Pinpricks: The Early Cold War
4 A Long Game: Exploiting Rifts Behind the Iron Curtain
Part II - End of Empire
5 Operations Boot: Regime Change in Iran
6 Expansion: Covert Action Before Suez
7 Interdependence: Covert Action After Suez
8 Decolonisation and Drift: The Battle for Influence after Empire
9 Militarisation: Secret Wars in Yemen and Indonesia
Part III - Age of Illusions
10 Operation Storm and Beyond: From Latin America to Oman
11 Troubles: Covert Action in Northern Ireland
12 Containment: The Second Cold War
13 Transition: The New Agenda
14 Counter-Terrorism: Disrupting Threats
Managing Risk
Conclusion: The British Way

About the author: 

Rory Cormac is a Professor of International Relations specialising in Secret Intelligence and Covert Action at the University of Nottingham. Alongside Richard J. Aldrich, he has researched and fronted two documentaries for Channel 4: Spying on the Royals (2017) and D-Day: The King who Fooled Hitler (2019). Rory has spoken at the UK Cabinet Office, Home Office and Ministry of Defence, as well as the US State Department and Pentagon.

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