Gwyn Prins

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Gwyn Prins

Professor Gwythian Prins is an academic who sits on the board of Britain's Charity Commission and is a senior academic adviser to the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. He is also a member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation's academic advisory council.

Background

From the Cabinet Office website announcing his appointment in May 2013 to the board of the Charity Commission:

Gwythian Prins is Research Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is also visiting professor at the University of Buckingham. For over 20 years he was a Fellow in History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and latterly University Lecturer in Politics. Much of his work has been in Africa or on strategic matters. During the latter 1990s he served as Senior Fellow in the Office of the Special Advisor on Central and Eastern European Affairs, part of the Office of the Secretary-General of NATO, Brussels. He is currently a member of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategy Advisory Panel. He has published on African history, medical anthropology, European politics and on military and strategic issues.

Education and career

From the University of Buckingham's website:

Professor Gwyn Prins, MA, PhD (Cantab), FRHS, took a Double First in History at Cambridge where, after election to his Research Fellowship he completed his doctoral research in African history and anthropology. His book arising (The Hidden Hippopotamus) won the Herskovits Prize for the best book on Africa in the year of its publication. Today, he is a research professor at the London School of Economics and the director of the LSE Mackinder Programme for the Study of Long Wave Events. He joined LSE in 2000 successively as Professorial Research Fellow and then (2002-7) took the first stint as the first Alliance Research Professor jointly at LSE and Columbia University, New York. For over 20 years previously, he was a Fellow, Tutor and the Director of Studies in History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was a University Lecturer in Politics.

Climate and energy consultancies

Prins was Consultant on Security at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research of the British Meteorological Office for four years to 2003. After the Velvet Revolution, he advised (unsuccessfully) the federal Czechoslovak government on energy and environmental policy in Prague.

Prins is a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation think tank[1] - a fact not included on either the UK Charity Commission's website, nor in the 2013 Cabinet Office press release on his appointment to its board.

Defence advice and analysis

In the latter 1990s Prins was a Senior Fellow in the Office of the Special Adviser on Central and Eastern European Affairs, Office of the Secretary-General of NATO, Brussels. Simultaneously he was Senior Research Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House and a Visiting Senior Fellow in the (former) Defence Evaluation and Research Agency of the UK Ministry of Defence, Farnborough.

He was also a foreign assessor of the US National Intelligence Council’s outlook studies and briefed senior Pentagon officials and flag officers. As of March 2014 Prins is currently a senior academic adviser to the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and is a member of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategy Advisory Panel. Since 1980 he has taught at almost all levels and for all Services of British military officer training, as well as for the Foreign Office.

His work rotates around the many framings of security. He publishes widely and simultaneously in all the fields of his interests. In War Studies he was co-editor of the centenary commemoration of the work of Jan Bloch (The Future of War), author of The Heart of War and of many studies on strategic analysis, European politics (Another Europe?), and maritime issues. He has most recently published 'The British Way of Strategy-Making' as a joint project between the Royal United Services Institute and the Humanities Research Institute (at the University of Buckingham).

Prins is fluent in French and also speaks Dutch. [2]

Views

On climate

Prins is also noted for his extreme views on climate change. In 2010, he co-authored a paper funded by the Japanese car industry, advocating the abandonment of climate policy and of a 2C "safe" limit. Charged with a conflict of interest, Prins rejected the entire concept, stating: 'any policy analysis of this sort which does not engage directly with industry is thereby diminished'.[3]

He told then-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne:

Personally, I believe that you can no more have a department of "climate change" than King Canute could have one of tidal reversal.

In 2013, the Charity Commission received a complaint from Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, citing clear evidence that the GWPF had misled the public and was engaging in political lobbying, violating its stated remit as an "educational charity". (The Commission has received written assurances from the GWPF that it has no conflicts of interest.) Despite this, the Commission has not opened a formal investigation into the GWPF, but is instead pursuing a 'regulatory case' – which simply involves a dialogue with its trustees.[3]

Climate denial lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation still lists Prins as a member of its 'Academic Advisory Board'. The foundation, which has been exposed as sharing offices with the Institute of Minerals, Materials and Mining, receives funding from Tory donor Michael Hintze, also a key donor to Tory MP Liam Fox and his former adviser Adam Werritty.

At the Charity Commission Prins now helps preside over peace, human rights, pro-democracy and environmental charities; assess conflicts of interest; and sits on the board of a regulator supervising a group he himself has worked for.[3]

On defence policy and security

Prins has been described as an 'adventurous thinker on international security' - [4] in his role as director of the Mackinder Centre for Long Wave Events at the London School of Economics. [5]

In 2008 Prins co-authored an article published in the RUSI Journal called 'Risk, Threat and Security: The Case of the United Kingdom' with Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. The article expressed concerns that the 'politicisation' of defence policy and a national 'lack of confidence' made the UK vulnerable to security threats. It suggested therefore the partial removal of defence policy from democratic control. In assessing the supposed security threats to the UK, the article expressed a concern that the country was ‘soft’ and lacked a cohesive identity which made it vulnerable to enemies. It complained of a ‘lack of leadership from the majority which in misplaced deference to ‘multiculturalism’ [has] failed to lay down the line to immigrant communities’. [6]

In his book The Heart of War Prins argued:

that the risks run during the cold war remain after the conflict itself has ended. There is a physical legacy of nuclear waste and unsecured weapons and weapons materials, of materials and techniques related to other weapons of mass destruction and of pollution and environmental damage. There is also a psychological and political legacy of supposedly realistic thinking about security that constricts the future. Such thinking needs not so much to be discarded, since it still prepares us for some problems, but absorbed into a larger vision of the good future which Prins finds in Immanuel Kant's vision of perpetual peace.
This bad past, one which we do not fully recognise as yet, constrains us. But the future, he argues, is not as frightening, or as non-existent, as we think in darker moments. Careful analysis suggests that terrorism will increase in quantity but that deadly unconditional terrorism of the al-Qaida variety may not. It may also suggest, even, that the world could absorb a nuclear use or accident. The real danger lies not in particular actions or events but in what he calls "risk cascades", in which one bad event triggers others in a vicious sequence. Hope lies in exploiting the cascade effect in reverse, and in creating such effects, what Prins labels "virtuous intervention" and others liberal imperialism, has an important part. [7]

Prins was a supporter of the Iraq war, advocates large military budgets and supports the west's right to wage war generally. He accused critics of the Iraq war of "anti-Americanism" adding that '[s]ome are beyond reasonable discussion'.[8]

Rebuffing criticism about the Charity Commission's board

Prins 'discounts observations' from some in the charity world that the Charity Commission's new board [appointed May 2013] has insufficient experience of the sector. In an interview with Third Sector magazine he argued that:

Its members are there because of a personal commitment, he says, and are well able to understand the charitable activities of the country. It's a very vigorous board," he says. "Few of us know how it was before, but the commission is back to being what it should be - an intelligent and humane regulator. Done properly and effectively, regulation is the single best way to protect and comfort traditional charities. We have to deter the bad guys and thereby reinforce the good guys."
The commission has been through a stressful and confused period, including budget cuts, he says, but is now being rebalanced to make sure it is "on the front foot for front-line tasks". The board has set its priorities, including action against terrorist infiltration, fraud and those who exploit the privileges of being a charity or predate on vulnerable beneficiaries.
"We will also take a view about charities keeping their campaigning within their charitable objects and purposes," he says. "Problems arise when charities push the envelope, and some have recently been in the public eye because of this. If a charity campaigns about matters that appear to be outside its objects, then naturally we will look at it.
The weather has changed on this front. The public expects charities to stick to their knitting, to use an old-fashioned phrase. There's huge affection for charitable activities involving the giving of time and money. I agree with my neighbour in the village coffee shop: this is something that has to be protected and cherished." [9]

CV

Affiliations

Publications

Prins is the author of several books including Heart of War, Understanding Unilateralism in American Foreign Relations, Global Security, Top Guns and Toxic Whales, Threats without Enemies, Environmental Security, Hidden Hippopotamus, Defended to Death, Choice and Strategy, Force Planning and Diplomatic/Military Operations (DMOs). [12]

  • 'European Horizons of Diplomatic/Military Operations' (1999)
  • 'Coalition Aspects of Operations' (date)
  • Edited books on Understanding Unilateralism in American Foreign Relations (2000), and (with Hylke Tromp) The Future of War (2000).

External resources

Notes

  1. The Global Warming Policy Foundation Academic Advisory Council, organisational website, accessed 11 March 2014
  2. LSE Experts Professor Gwyn Prins, accessed 14 February 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tim Holmes, The Charity Commission's Board: an impartial watchdog?, Spinwatch, 12 March 2014
  4. Martin Woollacott The future need not be as bleak as it was The Guardian, Friday September 13 2002, Accessed 14 February 2008
  5. LSE Experts Professor Gwyn Prins, accessed 14 February 2008
  6. Gwyn Prins & Robert Salisbury, 'Risk, Threat and Security: The Case of the United Kingdom (PDF)', RUSI Journal, Feb 2008, Vol. 153, No. 1
  7. Martin Woollacott The future need not be as bleak as it was The Guardian, Friday September 13 2002 Accessed 14 February 2008
  8. Tim Holmes The Charity Commission's Board: an impartial watchdog? Spinwatch, 12 March 2014, accessed 26 November 2014
  9. Stephen Cook, Interview: Gwythian Prins, Third Sector, 30 September 2013, acc 11 March 2013
  10. Moynihan Institute Personal Information, accessed 14 February 2008
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Professor Gwythian Prins Buckingham.ac, accessed 26 November 2014
  12. Books Gwyn Prins Author Publications List accessed 14 February 2008