Mark Curtis (British author)

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Mark Curtis is a British historian and journalist who has been involved with several developmental charities. He has written many books on the foreign policy of the United Kingdom and the United States mainly concerning the period since the Second World War.


He studied at the London School of Economics and then was a researcher at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He is a former director of the World Development Movement.

Following many years of involvement in the NGOs Christian Aid and ActionAid (he was director of the branch "Policy and Advocacy" of Christian Aid and the political director of ActionAid),[1] he now works as a writer, journalist and independent consultant. He is a regular participant in political debates and has written articles for such publications as The Guardian, The Independent and Red Pepper in the United Kingdom; Znet in the United States; Frontline in India; and al-Ahram in Egypt.[2]

He is an honorary professor at the University of Strathclyde and was formerly appointed to visiting researcher posts at l'Institut Français des Relations Internationales in Paris and to the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Auswaertige Politik in Bonn.[3]


The Great Deception[edit]

In 1998 Mark Curtis published The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order, a work whose stated goal was to shed light on various myths of Anglo-American power in the post-Cold War era. Curtis attempts to demonstrate how the United Kingdom remained a key partner of the United States' effort to enforce their hegemony in the world. He analyses what he refers to as the special relationship between the two countries and concludes that quite serious consequences exist for both states.[4]

Trade for life[edit]

Trade for Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People appeared in 2001. The book is a strong critique of the function of international organisations, especially the World Trade Organization (WTO). Curtis analyses the decisions taken by the WTO in developing states and concludes that these decisions were seldom without bias against the poor countries; he claims that certain of these decisions, notably certain structural adjustments, caused their intended benefactors more harm than good. Further, Curtis regrets that some rules are lacking when their need is called for, noting the relative lack of regulation checking the growth of power of multinational companies. A partner of Christian Aid in Zimbabwe has said that "the manner in which the WTO functions, is like placing an adult against a child in a boxing ring, like Manchester United against a local Zimbabwean team. The WTO judges all countries on the same level, while they are not the same. The WTO must help create a situation where countries are more equal." This is a quotation that Mark Curtis recycles throughout his book.

Curtis concludes by saying that market forces can be used in a different, more egalitarian, manner than the one currently employed by the WTO. He believes that it could benefit developing nations if this goal was pursued.

His book was edited by Christian Aid while Mark Curtis was "Policy and Politics" Director and is freely available.[5]

Web of Deceit[edit]

In 2003 Mark Curtis published Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World. This book has been his most successful to date. It offers a new academic approach to the role of the United Kingdom in the post 1945 world until the current the War on Terrorism. It further criticises the foreign policy of Tony Blair. Curtis, defending the idea that Britain is a rogue state, describes various relations the United Kingdom undertook with repressive regimes and how he thinks these actions made the world less just.

Moreover, the book analyses various recent actions of the British Army in the world, describing not only what he characterises as the immorality of the War in Iraq, but also of the War in Afghanistan, and the Kosovo War. Curtis denounces equally strongly Britain's alliances with states he categorises as repressive, such as Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he details and criticises the non-intervention of Britain in the Rwandan Genocide.

Curtis draws most of his research from recently declassified documents by the British secret service. He attempts to demonstrate the role and complicity of the British in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians in 1965, the toppling of the governments of Iran and British Guyana, and what he describes as repressive colonial policies in the former colonies of Kenya, Oman, and Malaysia.[6][7]


In 2004, Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses was first published. This book followed a similar line of thought begun in Web of Deceit. Unpeople is based on various declassified documents from the British secret service.

Curtis "recounts the British backing of repressive and brutal regimes in Iraq from 1958 until 1968, and its complicity in Iraq's use of chemical weapons and aggression against the Kurds." Curtis asserts that these documents further indict the British government in their role played in the Vietnam War, the coup d'État against Milton Obote[8] in 1971, the coup d'État against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, and coups in Indonesia and Guyana.

Curtis estimates that Britain bears "significant responsibility" for the direct or indirect deaths of 8.6 million to 13.5 million people throughout the world since 1945.[9]

Secret Affairs[edit]

In Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam (2010) Curtis explores the support and accommodation of Islamic terrorist groups by British Governments and intelligence services in the pursuit of short-term policy goals.


  • Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam. Serpent's Tail. 2010. ISBN 1-84668-763-2. 
  • Dirty Wars: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam, Verso, 2008 ISBN 1-84467-131-3
  • Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses, Vintage, 2004 ISBN 0-09-946972-3
  • Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World, Vintage, 2003 ISBN 0-09-944839-4
  • Trade for Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People, Christian Aid, 2001
  • The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order, Pluto, 1998
  • The Ambiguities of Power: British Foreign Policy since 1945, Zed, 1995

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Mark Curtis Retrieved 22/09/12
  2. ^ Mark Curtis Profile The Guardian,Retrieved 22/09/12
  3. ^ Mark Curtis Retrieved 22/09/12
  4. ^ The Great Deception 1 Feb 7, Retrieved 22/09/12
  5. ^ Trade For Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People 1 Feb 7, Retrieved 22/09/12
  6. ^ Unpeople, Dirty Wars and a Web of Deceit – Britain’s Foreign Policies 6 January 2005. Retrieved 22/09/12
  7. ^ Caroline Lucas,The Guardian,Perfidious Albion Saturday 5 July 2003, Retrieved 22/09/12
  8. ^ British role in Amin coup:
  9. ^ Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses 4 Feb 7. Retrieved 22/09/12