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Spies in ArabiaThe Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East$
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Priya Satia

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331417

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331417.001.0001

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Seeing Like a Democracy

Seeing Like a Democracy

(p.287) 9 Seeing Like a Democracy
Spies in Arabia

Priya Satia (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains that the British state also wanted to hide the covert empire from its own public. Besides opting for cheap schemes that would escape the check of taxpayers (air control and an informal intelligence network), it also used censorship and the literary skills of its agent-bureaucrats to control information about the region. The public became increasingly suspicious of the state's betrayal of wartime promises of redemption in the Middle East, suspicions expressed in an emerging critique of state secrecy. At the center of this contest between the state and the public were the famous intelligence agents associated with the Middle East: to the public they were proof that the state possessed an effective covert arm and propaganda machine, and to the state they were proof that criticism of British activity in Iraq was the result of conspiracy by renegade agents.

Keywords:   democracy, state secrecy, propaganda, postwar politics, anti-imperialism, the press, scholarly societies, public opinion, anti-semitism, security state

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