Maurice Fraser is senior counselor to “APCO” Europe and advises APCO clients on European and international public policy issues. He is a teaching fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Science and director of “Agora Projects Ltd”.
Fraser was a special adviser to UK Foreign Secretaries: Sir Geoffrey Howe, John Major and Douglas Hurd, between 1989 and 1995, and London correspondent of the French politics weekly, Valeurs Actuelles, between 1996 and 1998. A former chairman of the Communications Committee of the European Movement and the “Forum for European Philosophy” , a council member of the Federal Trust for Education and Research and the Britain in Europe campaign, and a member of the advisory committee of the Centre for European Reform.
According to an online biography at the LSE, he is also a member of the Events Committee at Chatham House, a former consultant to Merrill Lynch, BBC World Service and the European Commission. He was the head of the Political Section and Assistant Director, of the Conservative Research Department (1984 – 89) and has “chaired conferences for, inter alia, the British Council, the European Commission and the Economist Intelligence Unit.”
Glossing over neo-liberalism
Fraser produces lobby material and propaganda on mainly European issues with a neo-liberal orientation, and is the editor of the glossy brochures for summit meetings of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. These are produced via Newsdesk Media Group who describe themselves thus:
“We are a broadly based communications group comprising complementary media companies. Headquartered in London and Washington DC , we deliver bespoke customer publications and digital activity in support of our clients’ strategic brand and marketing objectives.”
They add that they were founded in 1995 by Alan Spence, the Chief Executive, who worked with the FT group, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. He was assisted by Anthony Hilton, the financial editor of the London Evening Standard who today is Chairman of the company. The US operation was launched in Washington DC in 2005, and their US Board of advisors is something of a mini-military-industrial complex and includes Eugene Rotberg, former Treasurer of the World Bank; General (Retd) Jay Garner, the former Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Iraq following the 2003 invasion; Lt. Gen. (Retd) Ronald Hite, the senior military advisor to the Army Acquisition Executive and the Army Chief of Staff on all research, development and acquisition programs (and also a signatory with R. James Woolsey, Michael Ledeen of the JINSA-inspired ‘No U.S. Aid to Syria’) and Anne Van’t Veer, formerly with the export insurance business, also with Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest privately owned bank and AMRO Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Both Garner and Hite advise Eurocontrol Technics Inc., who state that:
Jay Garner and Ron Hite bring extensive backgrounds and unique insights into military and commercial operations and opportunities that exist for Eurocontrol’s industry leading Petromark(TM) hydrocarbon marking technology within the American industrial military complex.
Hite is a member of Vast Exploration Inc., an oil and gas company, focused on the exploration and development of its principal asset, the Qara Dagh Block, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Newsdesk Media Group’s client list (which includes PR work) includes: AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe, Airbus, Asia Society, Atradius (formerly NCM), Bankers’ Association for Finance and Trade, Barbican, Berne Union, Defence Export Services Organisation, Defence Logistics Organisation, The Defence Manufacturers Association, Disposal Services Agency (MOD) Eurex, Eurocontrol, Eurofighter, European Banking Federation, European Climate Exchange / Chicago Climate Exchange, Export Credits Guarantee Department, Federation of European Securities Exchanges, The Futures & Options Association, German British Forum, Government of Kazakhstan, International Capital Market Association, International Finance Corporation, International Underwriting Association, London Fashion Weekend, London Metal Exchange, Ministry of Defence UK, NASDAQ, National Association of Pension Funds, New York Board of Trade, New York Mercantile Exchange, PEP & ISA Managers’ Association (PIMA), Royal Bank of Scotland, South Atlantic Medal Association, TeleManagement Forum, The Trafalgar Weekend, UK.
The Defence Industries and Banking would appear to be the main sectors there with some sensitive work involved. The site has links to various case studies on the above mentioned.
Fraser is also the Director of Agora Projects who publish support material for the G7/G8 Summits namely its glossy brochures , and he is the editor of ‘Shaping a new global economic order’, G8 Summit 2008: Growth and Responsibility, Agora Projects and Newsdesk Communications Ltd., London, 2007.
Agora Projects Ltd, share its address, Adam House, 7-10 Adam Street, London WC2N 6AA with LINKS the London Information Network on Conflicts and State Building, which is a ‘Democracy promotion’ venture run by Elizabeth Smith who formerly worked for the MI6-linked spying firm Hakluyt. In addition to its publishing work Agora have managed international summit meetings of the UN, NATO, OECD, the editors of Agora Projects have also been responsible for three editions of The World Trade Brief, produced in association with the WTO and distributed to delegates at Seattle, Doha and Cancun.
Agora Projects work in partnership with Whitehall departments (notably FCO and DTI through the Global Opportunities Fund) including for the State Visit of The President of The People’s Republic of China in October 1999 in partnership with the China Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Publishing House. Agora Projects recently opened an office in Hong Kong. They also work in partnership with the Federal Trust, with, for example, ‘ENHANCING TRADE POLICY-MAKING IN CHINA A capacity-buyilding partnership in Guangdong Province’, the result of a collaboration between The Guangdong WTO Affairs Consultation Service Center in China and the Federal Trust for Education and Research, the International Trade Policy Unit at the London School of Economics— here Agora is a consultancy.
Fraser is a trustee of the grand sounding Franco-British Council along with BP’s Nick Butler, former Euro-lobbyist Nick Clegg MP, the director of Demos Catherine Fieschi, David Goodhart the editor of prospect magazine and François Heisbourg, Dominique Moïsi two well-connected members of the Centre for European reform. The Franco-British Council was set up:
…on the joint initiative of President Georges Pompidou and Prime Minister Edward Heath, when Britain joined the European Community. Its setting up was formally announced in a communiqué issued in May 1972 at the end of the State visit by the Queen to France. Basic funding is provided by the two governments.
Although he mentions an advisory position with the Centre for European Reform (CER), this is most likely back in its early days, as he is uncredited in the CER’s own account of itself, and bears more relation to his position with APCO, who fund and lobby with the CER. This normally takes the form of a breakfast meeting with a European Commissioner (or Douglas Alexander or Sir John Grant) or a seminar on whatever APCO and others are hired by Fee-Paying clients to promote: such as the 5 October 2004 CER seminar on EU-Turkey sponsored by the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation Turkey, APCO Europe and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
There is a 1998 example of Fraser’s writing ‘Transparency is no panacea?’ which stylistically mirrors the “mind-numbing tedium” and “anodyne and the banal” performance of the EU’s politicians it describes, by predictably (given his work for APCO) stating that “the policy of so-called openness would diminish the credibility of the Council”. This paints a picture of a “horse-trading…stitched up…eerie consensus” where “Greater transparency would simply lead to easier identification of the losers”. This is parodied (or parroted) with his observation that:
“In a post-ideological world, the goods which for generations looked inherently contentious (like free markets, tax cuts, deregulation and privatisation) have seen their universal validity affirmed in much of the world.”
Why Fraser bothers teaching at the LSE is a mystery since everything is explained by the free market. But then again this ‘post-ideological world’ most surely needs policing — what if someone started to argue that the free market was causing problems. In Fraser’s LSE CV he lists his research interests and expertise as including:
“Influences on policy-making in the European Union […] development of common European policies in the areas of foreign policy, defence […] and the validity of Left and Right as explanatory concepts in European politics.”
Since 1998 Fraser has perpetuated some tens years worth of “mind-numbing tedium” and “anodyne and the banal” in his journal ‘EU Policies and Priorities 2008’ which communicates the ‘eerie consensus’ of what Peter Sutherland, Katinka Barysch, the European Round Table of Industrialists, International Crisis Group, KPMG Europe and the Economist Intelligence Unit have to say about how the world should be shaped. If you don’t have the inclination to read it, it can be summed up by Fraser’s earlier bit about post-ideological, free-market privatisation — without even much of a ‘New Labour’ spin.
To add to the air of futility that wards off the intruder like an amulet, APCO conducted a survey which revealed that:
“Professional “communicators” of all kinds are wasting their time trying to pitch stories to the European press, concluded APCO consultants in a survey carried out in co-operation with Journalists at Your Service (J YS), a help centre for Brussels-based reporters.”
APCO gained a little notoriety themselves in Ken Silverstein’s 2007 article for Harper’s Magazine. “Their men in Washington:Undercover with D.C.’s lobbyists for hire”, Harper’s Magazine This presented lobbyists as the “crucial conduit through which pariah regimes advance their interests in Washington”, stating of APCO specifically that
“…it has experience working not just on behalf of authoritarian regimes in general—the dictatorship of General Sani Abacha in Nigeria, for example, which employed the firm in 1995, the same year it hanged nine democracy activists—but for Caspian regimes in particular, having done P.R. work for the oil-rich kleptocracy of Azerbaijan.”
Silverstein provides the make up of the APCO team he met while posing as a private group up to no good in Kazakhstan:
“There was Elizabeth Jones, a former assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia until 2005 and an ex-ambassador to Kazakhstan; Robert Downen, a professorial type in a shirt and tie who had previously served as a senior aide to Senator Robert Dole and was a fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies; and, in a pinstriped suit, Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, a former spokeswoman for the CIA (where, I later read in her biography I received that day, she “initiated the agency’s first coordinated corporate branding and advertising strategy”) and for Vice President Dick Cheney.”
In the process outlined by APCO think tanks are used to build “coalition support,” which meant developing seemingly independent and therefore more credible allies to offer favorable views through ‘events.’ One possibility outlined was to hold a forum preferably built around a visit to the United States by a official. Possible hosts suggested include The Heritage Foundation, the Center for Strategic & International Studies, and the Council on Foreign Relations, APCO’s Barry Schumacher is quoted as stating:
“”Last week I contacted a number of colleagues at think tanks,” Downen went on. “Some real experts could easily be engaged to sponsor or host a public forum or panel that would bring in congressional staff and journalists. […] If we can get a paper published or a speech at a conference, we can get a friendly member of Congress to insert that in the Congressional Record and get that printed and send it out [..] So you take one event and get it multiplied.”
The Economist are specifically mentioned as amenable to this work (they work with the CER) and one can see APCO’s Elizabeth Jones (mentioned by Silverstein) at a Center for Strategic & International Studies ‘The Future of the EU and its Relations with the United States’ along with representitives of the CER.
One can find this APCO approach deployed in the deputy director of the Centre for European Reform, Heather Grabbe’s, writing at the behest of APCO Europe on Turkey and the EU in 2004, From drift to strategy: why the EU should start accession talks with Turkey, where
“Turkey is best described as what British diplomat Robert Cooper calls a ‘modern’ state, in the sense that its political culture is unused to ‘post-modern’ ideas about pooling sovereignty or political integration in a wider entity like the EU accession and the strength of the Erdogan government mean that there is a window of opportunity for the EU to help transform Turkey into a more democratic, stable and economically competitive country.”
One can also see the working methods of APCO, a business partner with the US in what Robert Cooper would term ‘post-modernising’ Iraq as a ‘hidden hand’ in the 2007 ‘European Union: the next 50 years’ edited by the CER and APCO’s Maurice Fraser and published via Financial Times Business with Agora Projects (Fraser’s outfit and he worked for the FT) in association with LSE (also his place of employment). The work boasts contributions purportedly by such busy individuals as:
Angela Merkel, German chancellor
Jose Manual Barroso, president of the European Commission
Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics
Javier Solana, EU high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Olli Rehn, EU commissioner for enlargement
Danuta Hubner, EU commissioner for regional policy
Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, finance minister of Italy
Carl Bildt, foreign minister of Sweden
Peter Sutherland, chairman BP, former director-general of the WTO
Richard Descoings, director of Sciences Po, Paris
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, president of Latvia
Theodora Bakoyannis, foreign minister of Greece
Bernard-Henri Levy, philosopher and writer
Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of UMP Party, France
Robert Cooper, director-general Politico-Military Affairs, Council of the European Union and writer on international affairs
Gérard Mortier, director of the Opera de Paris
Ernest-Antoine Seillière, president of UNICE
The London School of Economics with the truth
The LSE is also used to host ‘a major public debate’ (a shocking arithmetical and terminological miscalculation on the part of a school of economics although it was funded by the European Commission) to spread the propaganda with a panel including Robert Cooper, Professor Timothy Garton Ash (who aided in the formation of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy with Cooper) and Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform. Grant engaged in further promotion in Prospect Magazine.
One anomaly (easily explained by the public diplomacy of Demos and the Foreign Policy Centre) is the unusual license to publish afforded to a senior member of her majesty’s diplomatic service given to Cooper. His new liberal imperialism was initially termed ‘voluntary imperialism’ or ‘cooperative imperialism’ —there seems to have been an understandably inexact terminological in its early incarnation till the buzz words stuck thanks to all the publicity.
Other conferences where we see Grant, Leonard, Fraser and Cooper (or similar alignments) gather include that of May 2006 at St Antony’s College, where one could go to see Leonard on “The debate about the embargo on arms sales to China” or Grant on “Iran and the broader Middle East” and Cooper on “Superpower Europe?”.