Muhammad Burdbar Khan
It is said of nations that they look after their interests and further it by whatever means necessary. As Henry Kissinger once said: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”, the same can be true for every other nation not least United Kingdom (UK) and Russia.
The Intelligence and Security committee (ISC) report of British parliament on Russian influence came out a few weeks ago in UK in late July. Notwithstanding the indignation expressed over the findings of this long awaited ISC Russia report depicting the lack of attention given to the increasing Russian influence in British domestic affairs; it is now being realised that Russia and its influence on British politics is an inescapable reality. More naïve seems to be the UK reaction to the increasing influence of Russia in their affairs. The Kremlin is pursuing this clout elsewhere on the world stage including Russia’s reported meddling in the last American presidential elections, its annexation of Crimea, the involvement in Syrian affairs, and in Libyan conundrum as reported only this week. Every nation in history has worked for its interests; understandably, Britain, an erstwhile empire, comprehends this best!
Be that as it may, the Russia intelligence report calls for an interesting contemplation; were one to conjecture the Westminster’s reaction to Russians’ claiming that Britain, or for that matter United States of America (USA), is spying on them. It may perhaps be an exercise in futility to derive the truth of each posture: One ought to be justified as it is in UK or US interests whereas the other needs to be denounced as US or UK is the subject of same action. It is indeed an interesting moot point where one nation frowns at the shenanigans of a ‘rival’ nation albeit edifying it when committing the same ‘delinquencies’ on the ‘rival’.
Despite the ongoing blame game, one may dare to understand the issue of Russian intelligence on Britain with a pinch of salt not to say ‘objectively’- a luxury few of us can afford. If the Brits have every right to be indignant at the meddling in their affairs by the Russians, Russia has the right to look after its own interests while exercising its influence over world politics. Both are not mutually exclusive (to say the least!).
Was not London already known as the capital of money ‘launderers’ from all around the world who made a beeline for the now ‘Londongrad’ as the recent Russian report profusely lays bare? It is ironic the influence that Russian money is having on Britain. London is now being called the London ‘Laundromat’, the capital also of money laundering! Money laundering is a curse enveloping the whole world and there are people residing in London who have fled their countries often with wealth that is based on questionable sources.
The people of Pakistan can readily vouch to this reality as London is the favourite playground for its leaders to escape to once the home ground becomes too hot to handle. This is true of leaders of other nations as well, especially those from the Commonwealth countries.
Most rich Londoners are millionaires (some billionaires) with Russian origins, and many of them have links with the members in both the House of commons and the Lords. Hence, the Russian intelligence report entails the debate about broader links of democracy with the money and business.
This link touches the concept of ‘lobbying’ in politics that the big businessmen derive by their sheer money and the attending ‘influence’. Hence, not surprising is the funding that goes into British politics on either divide. It would be hardly believable that the aims of this ‘endowment’ being altruistic or charitable, without the hope of some ‘return’ in the future. Small wonder, that the information that establishes clear links, of sundry members of the House of Lords with Russian business interests as well as the names of politicians who received donations, was expunged from the public report besides other ‘sensitive’ information.
More worrying is that fact that the British leaders and the agencies were negligent in their responsibility in taking stock of the increasing foreign influence and this meddling in the British affairs. As true for others, they could do better to be vigilant at home and serve the national interest better by protecting against predatory elements, which in this case being ‘Russia’ but can be others also.
The writer is a UK based academic and researcher. He can be reached at email@example.com.