How the Anglo-American Elite Shares its “Values”

When Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke recently about his government’s devotion to the United States, “founded on the values we share”, he was echoing his Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, who was preparing to welcome the Saudi dictator to Britain with effusions of “shared values”. The meaning was the same in both cases. The values shared are those of rapacious power and wealth, with democracy and human rights irrelevant, as the bloodbath in Iraq and the suffering of the Palestinians attest, to name only two examples.

The “values we share” are celebrated by a shadowy organization that has just held its annual conference. This is the British-American Project for the Successor Generation (BAP), set up in 1985 with money from a Philadelphia trust with a long history of supporting right-wing causes. Although the BAP does not publicly acknowledge this origin, the source of its inspiration was a call by President Reagan in 1983 for “successor generations” on both sides of the Atlantic to “work together in the future on defense and security matters”. He made numerous references to “shared values”. Attending this ceremony in the White House Situation Room were the ideologues Rupert Murdoch and the late James Goldsmith.

As Reagan made clear, the need for the BAP arose from Washington’s anxiety about the growing opposition in Britain to nuclear weapons, especially the stationing of cruise missiles in Europe. “A special concern,” he said, “will be the successor generations, as these younger people are the ones who will have to work together in the future on defense and security issues.” A new, preferably young elite — journalists, academics, economists, “civil society” and liberal community leaders of one sort or another — would offset the growing “anti-Americanism”.

The aims of this latter-day network, according to David Willetts, the former director of studies at Britain’s right-wing Centre for Policy Studies, now a member of the Tory shadow cabinet, are simply to “help reinforce Anglo-American links, especially if some members already do or will occupy positions of influence.” A former British ambassador to Washington, Sir John Kerr, was more direct. In a speech to BAP members, he said the organization’s “powerful combination of eminent Fellows and close Atlantic links threatened to put the embassy out of a job.” An American BAP organizer describes the BAP network as committed to “grooming leaders” while promoting “the leading global role that [the US and Britain] continue to play.”

The BAP’s British “alumni” are drawn largely from new Labour and its court. No fewer than four BAP “fellows” and one advisory board member became ministers in the first Blair government. The new Labour names include Peter Mandelson, George Robertson, Baroness Symons, Jonathan Powell (Blair’s chief of staff), Baroness Scotland, Douglas Alexander, Geoff Mulgan, Matthew Taylor and David Miliband. Some are Fabian Society members and describe themselves as being “on the left.” Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is another member. They object to whispers of “a conspiracy.” The mutuality of class or aspiration is merely assured, unspoken, and the warm embrace of power flattering and often productive.

BAP conferences are held alternately in the US and Britain. This year’s was in Newcastle, with the theme “Faith and Justice.” On the US board is Diana Negroponte, the wife of John Negroponte, Bush’s former national security chief notorious for his associations with death-squad politics in Central America. He follows another leading neocon, Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the invasion of Iraq and discredited head of the World Bank. Since 1985, BAP “alumni” and “fellows” have been brought together courtesy of Coca-Cola, Monsanto, Saatchi & Saatchi, Philip Morris and British Airways, among other multinationals. Nick Butler, formerly a top dog at BP, has been a leading light.

For many, the conferences have the revivalist pleasures honed by American PR techniques, with management games, personal presentations, and a closing jolly revue to lighten the serious business. The 2002 conference report noted: “Many BAP alumni are directly involved with US and UK military and defense establishments.”

The BAP rarely gets publicity, which may have something to do with the high proportion of journalists who are alumni. Prominent BAP journalists are David Lipsey, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and assorted Murdochites. The BBC is well represented. On the popular Today program, James Naughtie, whose broadcasting has long reflected his own transatlantic interests, has been an alumnus since 1989. Today’s newest voice, Evan Davis, formerly the BBC’s zealous economics editor, is a member. And at the top of the BAP website home page is a photograph of the famous BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman and his endorsement. “A marvellous way of meeting a varied cross-section of transatlantic friends,” says he.

John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. His latest film is The War on Democracy. His most recent book is Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire (2006). Read other articles by John, or visit John's website.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. gerald spezio said on December 18th, 2007 at 5:56am #

    Values, values, and more values.

    “Shared values” are deeper values, and passed over the backyard fence like a cup of sugar.

    Values originate in the “zeitgeist.”

    What is the zeitgeist?

    Where you look for and “then find” the “completely explanatory values.”

    If you enjoy deep political discourse, keep focusing on the powerful values that are very valuable in “management.”

    You might even claim that political management is a value.

    Dana Perino, Pope Ratso Rizzo, and Joe Lieberman have values.

    “I like your values, baby!”

  2. Michael Kenny said on December 18th, 2007 at 1:51pm #

    I wouldn’t worry over much about these people. They are all at least in their 40s and the young, the truly young, on both sides of the Atlantic, (and an incredibly impressive bunch they are too!) are every bit as far from these ideas of the “old fogey” Right as they are from the marxism of the “old fogey” Left!

  3. hp said on December 19th, 2007 at 2:01pm #

    Just as Alisa Rosenbaum also changed her name.

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 19th, 2007 at 10:05pm #

    Pilger is the sort of journalist that would make you proud to be Australian, if only mindless chauvinism were not such a negative phenomenon. The same situation as the one he outlines applies in Australia, where the two Rightwing ruling parties, the markedly illiberal, racist and chauvinistic ‘Liberals’, and the quaintly anachronistically labeled ‘Labor’ Party, both parties of market fundamentalist orthodoxy, one with a vestigial social and human conscience, vie for the title of most assiduous arse-licker of the Yankee Reich. Right behind, so to speak, comes grovelling adulation to the Holy Zionist State, not unlinked to Jewish money power, political generosity and ferocious lobbying on behalf of Israel. It makes for a straitened public discourse, from centre Right to lunatic Far Right. These new generations wish to see the Anglosphere and its Israeli best buddy, continue to dominate the world, destroying countries at will, to ‘encourage the others’, looting rich assets that by divine right belong to the higher races and ensuring that inequality throughout the world continues to grow. As Gore Vidal said, ‘It is not enough to succeed-others must fail’. How else to indulge the manic sense of racial supremacism these creatures wear as a mark of honour. Particularly vital to the mind-set of this type is that the suffering of the untermenschen must elicit no sympathy. Therefore the fifty thousand odd preventable deaths of children under five every day in the poor world, has been left unadressed for decades, while trillions are spent on armaments. But this disdain for the lives of the savages must be accompanied by endless paeans to the West’s unmatchable ‘ moral purity’. There is something frantically, floridly psychotic about these people, if you cannot stomach the possibility of diabolic forces at work. The great test of the eternal triumph of ‘Western Civilization’ is looming. China, which crucially is not controlled by Zionist money, and which does not share the delusions of Western and Judeo-Christian superiority, is rising. It must be derailed, at any cost. Already you see signs in the criticism of China’s engagement in Africa, where they have refused to follow the West’s habitual neo-colonial, racist condescension and hectoring of the Africans. I’m pretty sure the Right will not be able to help themselves, and some candidate for US President is bound to shoot for the racist, anti-China, USA is No. 1 vote, and demand a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. Something must be done soon, or the long night of Western Imperial domination may finally draw to an end.

  5. gerald spezio said on December 20th, 2007 at 7:01am #

    Values are like guardian angels.

    Once you get the right values, like the right guardian angel, you are on your way to the “right” leftist representation in Washington.

    These reps with values will only take money from ethical lobbyists with values.

    And true ethical democracy with values will be “on the table” for your political and sexual pleasure forever …

    Solidarity with the people of Upper Volta, Bolivia, and Lapland, and all the poor and downtrodden everywhere in the name of Jesus-the-Christ and his Mum and Dad.

    Lyndon Johnson pronounced it, “valyahs.”

    Lyndon had his “valyahs.”

    All the presidential candidates have “valyahs.”

    Valyahs explain everything, although “finding” the valyahs are as difficult as “finding” the angels.” who eventually save you.

    Lawyer/judges “find” the law, so maybe lawyer/judges should “find” the completely causal valyahs in the Sacred Law.

    Where else?

  6. Peter Dearman said on January 25th, 2008 at 8:31am #

    Mulga Mumblebrain, that is quite a piece of writing there. I followed you all the way until the end. But you let show your own weakness for a saviour when you spring to deify China as anything but a cunning and diabolical monster itself. Look into organ harvesting or secret “black jails” in Beijing that are part of the effort to clean up before the Holy Olympics. Look into Taiwan, SARS and the WHO. China should be given no benefit of the doubt. Power to the downtrodden, not to the CCP.