The Initial Years of the Information Research Department: The Organization and Strategy of Britain’s Political Warfare Effort

Part of the Global Conflict and Security since 1945 book series (GCON)


The series of decisions by the Cabinet in January of 1948 described in Chapter 1 finalized the new anti-Communist direction of Britain’s foreign policy. Among the decisions made by the Cabinet was the authorization of an anti-Communist propaganda campaign which was to be supported by a small section of the Foreign Office named the Information Research Department (IRD). The IRD did not stay small for long, and by the early 1950s it had become the key actor in the organization, planning, and coordination of Britain’s propaganda efforts, the middle level of Britain’s propaganda policy.


British Government Iron Curtain British Council Soviet Policy Communist Bloc 
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  1. 1.
    On the IRD and MI6 see Stephen Dorrill, MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service (New York: Free Press, 2000), pp. 70–80. The mistaken belief that the IRD was a re-creation of the PWE is widespread; see for example Taylor, British Propaganda in the Twentieth Century, p. 237.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    On the operational side of the IRD, see James Vaughan, “Cloak Without Dagger,” Cold War History, vol. 4, no. 3 (April 2004) pp. 56–84; Aldrich, The Hidden Hand, and Dorril, MI6; on the IRD’s relationship with foreign governments and organizations, see Defty, British, American, and Anti-Communist Propaganda; on the IRD and the British left, see Wilford, The CIA, The British Left and the Cold War, pp. 48–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 6.
    Frances Donaldson, The British Council: The First Fifty Years (London: Jonathan Cape, 1984) pp. 1–2.Google Scholar
  4. 72.
    Aldrich, The Hidden Hand pp. 160–80; Dorril, MI6, pp. 165–299; and Bennett Kovrig, Of Walls And Bridges: The United States and Eastern Europe (New York University Press, 1991), pp. 41–5.Google Scholar
  5. 73.
    Beatrice Heuser, “Covert Action in UK and US Concepts of Containment,” in Richard Aldrich (ed.), British Strategy and the Cold War 1945–51 (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 64–80.Google Scholar
  6. 111.
    Christopher Hitchens, Why Orwell Matters (New York: Basic Books, 2002), p. 161.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lowell H. Schwartz 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RAND CorporationUSA

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