A book review by Ronald

A former intelligence officer, Le Carre presenting a proposed corporate ‘Deep State’ is refreshing in and of itself. Le Carre’s proposal has individuals in the intelligence and diplomatic services fighting this cancer with a deep, personal conviction the rule of law should prevail. This is noble and patriotic. Le Carre’s implied extent to which this “Deep State’ cancer has advanced is not necessarily detached from reality. With his background, one must presume he knows what he is writing about.

As a former American intelligence professional who’d worked with Special Forces  veterans of CIA operations, I am not intimately familiar with the British services but the novel rings true nonetheless. If the assertions Le Carre lays out in his novel were sworn affidavits presented in a court of law, none of the assertions would surprise me. I would draw a comparison of the character ‘J Crispin’ to Erik Prince and his fictitious corporation ‘Ethical Outcomes’ could easily be Blackwater. Keith Olbermann’s four part series (exposé) of Blackwater is not dissimilar:


Le Carre’s implied portrayal of neo-liberalism (New Labor) being essentially indistinct from neo-conservatives, is actually not far off the mark. These two necrotic social phenomena, more often than not, share strategic goals in the Middle East, if for differing motivations, with narcissistic neo-liberal ‘humanitarian violence’ imposing western values on the one side, and a neo-conservative de facto war on Islam generating terror while pursuing the so-called ‘war on terror’ on the other. Both appear equally willing to subvert western democracies constitutional order to achieve their ends. When all is said and done, both serve the interests of a war profiteering motivated, corporate board based ‘Deep State’ imbedded throughout government via corruption. Despite the two sides differing philosophical motivations, when contrasted in reality in a practical sense, Le Carre is absolutely correct to conflate the outcome. The present day irony of the Bush/Blair partnership swapped for Obama/Cameron partnership, with seamless USA/UK policy continuity, fits LeCarre’s fused neo-liberal/neo-conservative ‘Deep State’ hypothesis quite well.

The Le Carre novel ‘A Delicate Truth’ is interesting for the right reasons and presents a superior counter-point to the neo-conservative David Ignatius’ visceral Islamophobia driven, false patriotism in the much inferior novel “Body of Lies.’ Le Carre treats the innocent Muslim victims of an illegal, botched ‘anti-terror’ operation with a compassion that demands respect for humanity via the rule of law, regardless of race, religion or creed; as opposed to Ignatius seeming to believe the CIA’s 2 wrongs, 10 wrongs or 100 wrongs violating the rule of law, can arrive at a ‘the end justifies the means’ or a ‘right’ outcome in the western democracies engagement of the Islamic world. The juxtaposition of the two is interesting to me, as one wonders how far removed from reality it might be to propose a competition within the British spy institutions, pitting ethics motivated personalities against a corporate board corrupt, ‘Deep State’ compelled control over institutions of government. Le Carre’s novel suggests precisely such a competition. Human nature alone would back his implied proposition and I would expect Le Carre had philosophical discourse on the subject with current British intelligence professionals and knows what precisely what this is about. As well, his descriptions closely match some dissident intelligence assessments in the American intelligence world. The character ‘Toby’ could easily be an Edward Snowden personality, were the novel a historical fiction set in the USA. In this sense, the book is very nearly prophetic. Insofar as British similarities described by Le Carre, to what I will call ‘neo-American’ corruption of the USA’s democratic institutions in reality, delivers a well earned irony to the term ‘special relationship.’ That Americans play a significant corruption role in his novel of a corrupted British state, pretty much says it all.

Separately altogether, the first chapter having no context, but brought into context by well paced following chapters, as a literary device, could lose readers who do not pick up a book again, when a first chapter seems to make little sense. For this reason and especially because of the needless, gratuitous violence in the beating (nearly to death) of protagonist ‘Toby’ at the novel’s close, I gave the book four stars rather than five. Heroes do not require brutal beatings to prove they will have done the right thing in any case. By this time the reader will already, as well Toby in the novel, quite clearly understand the evil nature of the people Toby is contending with.