Some time ago I started writing a book about UK foreign interventions based on the following premise: if the UK were a person what would his memoirs look like? What would they reveal of his character?
This is the first chapter of the draft of this book. I am hoping for some feedback. Is it garbage? Should I give it up? Or what?
Let us begin with Malaya. Malaya had been mine for years. I had first begun to take control of the region early in the 19th century. Having acquired seeds from the Amazon region, I established in Malaya valuable rubber plantations. The young and the ignorant may need reminding at this point, that rubber does indeed grow on, or more accurately, in, trees.
At the end of the 19th century demand for rubber started to grow as the motor industry, with its requirements for pneumatic tyres, began to take off. There was no real man made alternative and I had put myself in an excellent position. Native and Chinese labour worked the plantations under the rule of my British managers and thus fed my wealth and power.
The 1939-145 war changed a few things around the world. For one thing it was expensive, especially for me who fought it all the way through. It also made a few people somewhat uppity. In China the population had backed the communists and thrown off the fetters of their previous masters. (Of course this didn't really help them, like myself China has been around a long time and quickly took control of the new elite). Well, my Chinese in Malaya seemed to think they could do the same.
I wasn't about to let that happen. In 1948, 371 000 tons of the 727 000 tons of rubber the U.S.A. imported came from Malaya. This was worth more than all the exports to the U.S.A. originating in Britain. From 1946 to 1950 I made US$700 million exporting rubber to the U.S.A. Was I going to let the local population take that from me? Hardly.
It started with small enough actions you might think. Labourers refused to stop and get off their bicycles when my managers went past, that kind of thing. But one can't let such disrespect pass, it just leads to further problems. Sure enough, egged on by the unions and the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), the trouble escalated with numerous strikes.
So I let my estate managers respond appropriately with floggings, banishments and hangings. The labourers got even more unruly and in June 1948 killed three of my managers. Enough was enough.
My prime minister of the time (Mr Atlee, wearing a red tie) declared a State of Emergency and sent in more troops. This was sold to the public, both in Britain and Malaya as a fight against communist subversion organized by the soviets. Of course there was no real evidence of this, but it's marvelous what one can achieve by constant repetition, a technique I and others continue to use with great success to this day. In July 1948 the MCP were outlawed and fled to the jungles.
Jungles are not good places to fight wars and the terrorists proved difficult to deal with. (Some might dispute the 'terrorist' moniker, but I find it to be a most useful label, instilling as it does in the hearer, a sense of unfettered and inhuman violence against reasonable and civilized authority.) Here my people further developed what came to be known as the 'hearts and minds' strategy. And this approach is what was emphasised to the public of the world. The idea was as follows: the insurgents relied upon the support of the villagers to keep them supplied with food and information. They also recruited from the villages. This support my people undermined by providing medical and agricultural assistance to the villages and by air dropping numerous propaganda leaflets.
Meanwhile, the less publicised actions were to move about 50 000 of the Chinese population to “new villages”, these were basically concentration camps; others were arrested or deported; bombs were dropped, as were defoliants and napalm in abundance and of course troops were sent in. Nearly 50 000 troops were deployed, comprising 21 infantry regiments, 2 armoured car regiments and one commando regiment. No mercy was shown. My forces set about killing as many insurgents as possible by any means available.
To help in the jungle warfare Dyak headhunters from Borneo were brought in. Naturally they were allowed to exercise their traditional techniques and my troops adopted some of these themselves.
By 1955 some insurgents were offering to negotiate, but my people pressed on. In 1958 the MCP demobilized, leaving only a few small groups of insurgents active on the Thai border. In 1960 the emergency was declared over. It was an expensive campaign, costing some £700 million, but I think the point was made.
A noteworthy incident occurred during the campaign which lead me to refine my control of the media. To identify their kills my troops often brought in the heads of the insurgents from the jungle. No point in bringing in the whole body after all. The picture of the marine holding a head in each hand, one male one female, really shouldn't have made it into the British press.
You see the general populace of Britain just doesn't approve of such things. Which is why they shouldn't know about them. Nowadays the media is fully a part of my system and generally know to say only what they are supposed to. This is an important point because to keep the British populace under control one must feed them the correct message. A carefully crafted message that builds up and reinforces their belief in British moral rectitude, benevolence, good will to all men, etc. etc. Thus one must control the media. The use of force to ensure this is, in this instance, crude and counter productive. The media have to want to purvey this message. Which means they have to be part of my governance, benefiting from it. And so they now are.