What is the Integrity Initiative? A short briefing paper
1. The Integrity initiative is part of a UK Government counter-disinformation and media development programme.
2. The Counter-Disinformation and Media Development Programme is run primarily by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in consultation with the Ministry of Defence, but it was authorised by the National Security Council, the recently-launched Cabinet committee that oversees all national security matters.
3. Integrity Initiative was founded by the Institute for Statecraft, a Scottish-registered charity with official headquarters in a disused mill in Fife. The Initiative’s ‘UK Cluster’ members were recently disclosed to include several journalists (The Times and other titles), several MoD heavyweights, and several former/current FCO researchers of former Soviet republics whose reputation is based on their supposed impartiality as British Civil Service country specialists.
4. The directors of the Institute for Statecraft include Chris Donnelly, who has advised four Secretaries-General of NATO and past and current Chiefs of the Defence Staff. He has held appointments as Specialist Adviser to three UK Defence Secretaries (both Labour and Conservative) and was a member of PM Thatcher’s Soviet affairs advisory team. He has also served as Specialist Adviser on the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee and is a Specialist Adviser to the Defence Committee. In short, Mr Donnelly is hugely influential in shaping Western top-level strategic thinking.
5. The ethos espoused by Chris Donnelly is reflected in top-level policy statements issued across the Western nations; it may be summarised as follows:
- The world is changing fast.
- We are locked in a Darwinistic struggle to adapt to these changing conditions.
- Our principal opponent is Russia.
- Russia is already at war with us, but it is warfare “below our threshold of attention”.
- We are in a world of hyper-competitive struggle against other nations, principally Russia. Hyper-competition means competition in all areas: cultural, religious, criminal, financial, economic, cyber and military—the information war is a key battleground.
- In the information war against Russia, the western approach is one of “perpetual engagement”.
- The battlefield is at home, across Europe and the wider world. But the main theatre is the “Eastern Neighbourhood” of the European Union, especially Moldova, Georgia and the Ukraine (these being the former Soviet republics which have most eagerly sought membership of NATO and the EU, not shirking from armed conflict and frozen conflicts over pro-Russian parts of their territory in their drive for this absorption).
- A secondary opponent is held to be Islam. The war on Islamic ideology has two main theatres of operations: the nations of the “Southern European Neighbourhood”, which stretches from Morocco to Syria, and the home front — Britain and Europe.
- The action is ongoing and the issues are urgent and existential.
6. The budget for the information war in the Eastern Neighbourhood was announced by Number 10 in November 2017: it is £100 million over five years. Much larger sums are being marshalled in related areas.
7. The military aspect of this hyper-competition seeks to unify the forces of Britain, Germany, France and the rest of Europe under a single-point command and control system. This programme is ongoing and will not be affected by Brexit, as Theresa May made clear in 2017 when she welcomed the “unified approach to tackle threats and attempts of destabilisation from other foreign powers like Russia”. The Prime Minister further stated, “The UK may be leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe, and we are unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security.”
8. The home front is seen as vital in this programme. The fight here, we are told, must tackle society-wide problems such as:
- The country’s lack of “self-confidence”, which is seen to be in stark contrast to “the implacability of its Islamist terrorist enemy, within and without”, and to the “newly confident Russian Nationalism”. (In reality, the Russian Government considers Russian nationalism, i.e. Slavic supremacism, a grave domestic threat to national cohesion, given the massive ethnic and religious diversity of the Russian Federation.)
- Party politics is seen as a weakness and the conclusion is reached that “Moves are needed to take defence and security, as far as possible, back out of the arena of short-term party politics.”
- The changes that are envisaged are far reaching: “The range of threats and risks facing the United Kingdom, together with the experience of the past few years, suggest that measures to achieve that should go beyond changes in policy.”
- The conclusion is that “Institutional changes are needed.”
9. Driven by Chris Donnelly, the view is gaining ground that “the distinction between what the military does in the United Kingdom, namely aid to the civil authorities, and what the military does abroad is now an anachronism.” This philosophy, a radical break with common law and the 1689 Bill of Rights, can be seen in practice in new-style military homecoming parades.
10. To summarise his view of the fabric of Britain, Chris Donnelly selected this quote:
“War… puts nations to the test. Just as mummies fall to pieces the moment they are exposed to the air, so war pronounces its sentence of death on those social institutions which have become ossified.” (Karl Marx)
(This briefing paper is available as a PDF for download and distribution.)