Document:Maurice Tugwell, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry

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Disclaimer (#3)Document.png book extract  by Edward S. Herman dated March 1990
Subjects: Maurice Tugwell
Source: The "Terrorism" Industry

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Tugwell founded the Centre for Conflict Studies at the University of New Brunswick in 1979, and then in 1986 moved on to establish the Mackenzie Institute for the Study of Terrorism, Revolution and Propaganda, "to provide Canadians with a source of information on 'supreme excellence' in warfare." The greater part of Tugwell's adult life was spent as an intelligence officer and propagandist for the British army. He served in Malaya, Cyprus, Arabia, Kenya, and Northern Ireland, and was an instructor at the Imperial Armed Forces College in Iran during the rule of the shah in 1973. With a defense fellowship at Kings College, London, in 1976, he took a degree in "war studies;' writing a thesis on "the problems of dealing with revolutionary propaganda."

Tugwell was an active propagandist of considerable notoriety during his stint with the British army in Ireland. He became head of the Information Policy Department in September 1971 and worked as an associate of Colin Wallace, then a senior officer in public relations and intelligence, who later "blew the lid" on the dishonesty and subversive character of army "information" during the Tugwell period. Liz Curtis points out:

"Manufactured atrocity stories, often featuring women, children or animals, were common in the early years when the British army's 'Information policy' unit was in its heyday. A spate of stories in 1971 alleged that IRA leaders were ordering children to riot and even training them to kill, though none of the reporters responsible said how they had come by this information. . . . Also in 1972, popular papers seized on a story that IRA members had been using dogs as target practice. Again, the story was false: as 'Time Out' reported, dogs had been killed, but it was British soldiers who had shot them. They had done so while on night patrol in the nationalist Ballymurphy district of Belfast because they were afraid the dogs' barking would betray their presence. 'Time Out' attributed this and other horror stories of the period to army press officers Colonel Maurice Tugwell and Colin Wallace.[1]

Tugwell also regularly claimed at that time, and in an article published in Canada in 1973, that British interrogation procedures were productive of information but caused no injury or ill-effects to those so treated, claims that were asserted in the 'London Times' to be untrue.[2] Another, possibly more sinister feature of "information policy" [...] was the regular use of "information" to subvert government policy and discredit government leaders in the interest of clearing the ground for a hard-line right-wing strategy. That is, Tugwell's department "also used 'black' propaganda against their paymasters, the British government."[3] Colin Wallace later admitted that significant amounts of disinformation were given to reporters to discredit officials and force policy changes. He himself was even assigned the task of forging documents that would discredit Labour government leaders, although his project was never completed.[4]

When Tugwell arrived in Canada in 1978 to organize institutes concerned with terrorism, he brought to bear a background of service to the extreme right and experience as an active creator and deployer of disinformation, not only against an enemy of the British state but against elements in the British democracy that disagreed with his own views. His extreme right-wing sympathies were quickly evident in Canada. He became a director of the Canadian-South African Society, an apartheid government support group funded by South African businessmen. Tugwell has also lent his services to corporations bothered by environmentalists, regularly speaking on the best ways of coping with their "irrational" challenges. He is a "media consultant" to a Halifax-based group called CML, which advises, among other things, on methods of coping with environmentalists. In a workshop sponsored by Dow Chemical, CML representatives were introduced with the claim that "their military background in the Canadian and British army included extensive experience and training in counterintelligence and conflict situations. This has proven to be very effective in dealing with the 'antis' who as we have come to realize do not always play by the rules."[5] Tugwell has also taken up the cudgels on other issues of concern to the Canadian right, most recently the introduction of "peace education" into the Canadian schools. Among the Mackenzie Institute papers is one entitled "A Mythology of Peace" by Tugwell, and another, "Soviet Propaganda and the Physicians Peace Movement;' by Jack Rosenblatt. Tugwell and his associates share a common premise of the extreme right - anything that happens that they don't like can be explained by KGB penetration.

Tugwell's world-view - similar to that of many retired military officers who serve on the boards of far-right organizations- is simple, manichean, and conspiratorial. The West is under siege; a clever, insidious, and omnipotent KGB is always manipulating the Western public; and continuous vigilance, ever-enlarging armaments, and military force are necessary to "fight fire with fire." "Terrorism" is anything that stands in the way of Western aims and operations. Tugwell's world view was spelled out in a speech, "Political Warfare in the Age of Glasnost;' given before the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations conference in May 1988, where he shared the platform with Arnaud de Borchgrave.

According to Tugwell, the Soviets are committed to world revolution as their primary goal and "historical imperative,' whereas the West pursues peace. The Soviet Communist International, "the greatest Trojan Horse the world has ever known,' is continually able to penetrate the Western media and threaten subversive control; "through propaganda and deception, Moscow could come to control the West's agenda." This was evident in the Vietnam War era, where "deceptions. . . were instrumental in defeating U.S. policy in the region." And in Canada, "we see the peace movement expanding its operational area into support for Stalinist 'Just Wars' throughout the world." The answer to Soviet penetration and domination of the Western opposition movements and press is to expose this subversion, and, "to borrow a military phrase, the West must fight on grounds of its own choosing."

Glasnost frightened Tugwell, as it did his fellow warriors of the extreme right. But he assures his audiences that nothing has changed; pure evil remains pure evil; the good and virtuous West remains vulnerable; but under the guidance of people like Tugwell it must be prepared to use the enemy's sinister methods to fight evil. In this way the extreme right justifies primary and right-wing terrorism, all in the name of fighting "terrorism." This is the classic process of transference, by which the active disinformationist and proponent of Western terror attributes his own project to the enemy, thus justifying "counterterror." Although Tugwell and his institute are egregious propagandists of the far right, he has regular contracts to consult and do research on terrorism and low-intensity warfare for the Canadian police and military, and for the Pentagon. He is an old ally of Paul Wilkinson, having participated in Wilkinson's conference in Aberdeen in April 1986, as well as contributing a chapter to a Wilkinson-edited volume, 'British Perspectives on Terrorism.' [6] More important, he is the consultant on terrorism to a major Canadian broadcasting network and appears regularly on Canadian tall shows and in print as an expert on terrorism. Tugwell may be a right-wing extremist and disinformationist, but as we have seen, he has plenty of company among the authenticated terrorism industry experts.


  1. Liz Curtis, Ireland and the Propaganda War (London: Pluto Press, 1984). pp. 118-19.
  2. See ibid.. pp. 252-33.
  3. Ibid., p. 241.
  4. "Wilson, MI5 and the Rise of Thatcher."
  5. Robert Stanley, "Maurice Tugwell: The Art of Propaganda," New Maritimes, June 1986, p. 13.
  6. Paul Wilkinson, ed., British Perspectives on Terrorism (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1981).