From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:
British Library: Post-war American propaganda ‘belittled’ Britain
A cache of newly-released British Library documents discloses the lengths America went to “belittle” Britain in its post-war propaganda, reveals Tom Rowley.
7:00AM BST 10 Oct 2013
From Winston Churchill to David Cameron, British politicians have long boasted of the unlikely achievements of our small island.
But when American propagandists chose to demonstrate Britain’s relative lack of stature after the Second World War by sending the Bahraini royal family a map comparing the British Isles and the United States “to the same scale”, British mandarins were not amused.
In a series of letters published for the first time today, the India Office officials accuse the Americans of “belittling” Britain by sending the “offensive” map to Sheikh Khalifah, a member of the royal family and Superintendent of the Bahrain Police. They plan to confront their American counterparts to demand an explanation.
The map was sent as part of a pamphlet called This Is The USA, published by the US Office of War Information in an apparent attempt to win support for America in British-controlled areas of the Middle East. It showed that Britain would barely stretch from the tip of Florida to the top of South Carolina.
It has come to light as part of an £8.7 million project run by the British Library and the Qatar Foundation to digitise more than 500,000 pages from the archives of the India Office and the East India Company.
“I enclose a packet of American propaganda material which I have obtained from the addressee, Sheikh Khalifah, the Superintendent of Bahrain Police,” Lt. Col. Galloway wrote in January 1946. “I have not made enquiries regarding other recipients, but in all probability similar packets have been addressed to the leading sheikhs of Bahrain and possibly also to merchants.
“As regards the material itself it is in the usual American self-boosting style except in one instance in which the British Isles are shown on the same scale as the USA. The result of this on the local mind is a belittlement of the British.
“To bring this about is, from the Bahrain angle, offensive, over and above which the distribution of American propaganda material in Bahrain does not come within the scope of the Consul’s duties.”
Sir Geoffrey replied a fortnight later suggesting they ask an unknown American official, referred to only as Hart, about the booklet “to show Hart that his efforts do not pass unnoticed, and that they are viewed without enthusiasm”.
“The only publication to which we can take exception in the collection you sent me is the one in which the United Kingdom is shown on the same scale as the United States,” he wrote. “The purpose of this is obvious, and I suggest that next time Hart calls on you, you have the pamphlet open at this page and ask him what object the production is intended to achieve.”
The letters were discovered by Louis Allday, a specialist in Gulf history at the British Library.
He said: “The pamphlet was sent in the post to a member of the Bahraini royal family. The Americans directly targeted individuals whom they perceived to be dominant decision makers or people of influence.
“Underlying all of this is the transition from British global hegemony to US global hegemony. The Gulf is the one place where the US were happy for the Brits to get on with it, and that’s why they stayed until 1971.
“For a lot of people at this time, Britain was the beacon of modernity. The US wanted to supplant that position.”
But Mr Allday said the map proved unsuccessful. “It is quite telling that the guy they were sent to immediately went to the British,” he said. “If anything, it serves to show how entrenched, dominant and influential the British were in Bahrain.”
Mr Allday has found several other propaganda leaflets from the era and says the map “falls into a broader effort of raising [America’s] profile and sphere of influence” in the Middle East.
The British Library plans to put the propaganda material online next year, together with the rest of the India Office archives.
Bahrain anti-riot police used Buckshot, Sound Grenades and Tear Gas on Shia protesters: here.
For two years, as the United States has condemned massive abuses of protesters throughout the Middle East, it has largely turned a blind eye to equally horrific treatment in Bahrain, a small but significant ally. As the situation in Manama shows no sign of abating, the United States needs to step up its game — before it’s too late: here.
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