Brian Crozier

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"The ultimate sophistication of subversion is to take over the government, not by unlawful but by lawful means." - Brian Crozier [1]

Brian Crozier, aged 21, in August 1939

Brian Rossiter Crozier (b. 4 August 1918 - d. 4 August 2012) was an historian, strategist, and journalist. He founded the Institute for the Study of Conflict, a right-wing propaganda group, reported to have been set up by the CIA and British intelligence in 1970. He is a veteran of the cold war and has provided advice to the British Secret Intelligence Service, the Information Research Department, and the CIA. He wrote for Reuters and The Economist, was an editor for The Sunday Times and a commentator for the BBC. He wrote a column for National Review. Crozier was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow on War, Revolution, and Peace of Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He died on his birthday in 2012 at the age of 94.[2]

Early life

Crozier was born in Queensland, Australia, in 1918 and came to England at the age of five. [3] He spent some of his youth in France and went to school in Montpellier. After his family returned to England he attended Peterborough College in Harrow before joining the Trinity College of Music in London. [4] Whilst still at Trinity College Crozier became associated with a new arts focused weekly magazine called COMMENT. He wrote articles on art and music for the magazine, which he says launched his journalistic career. [5] During this time Crozier says he had communist sympathies. He recalls in one of his autobiographies that two of his friends at Trinity College 'were both members of Britain’s Communist Party. Although I never joined the party, my sympasthies were on their side at that time, and these two friends impressed me by their outspokenness, their devotion to their principles...' [6]


In the summer of 1936, Crozier lost his scholarship at Trinity College but was urged to pursue a career in journalism. [7] This he did, and he subsequently held various journalistic and editorial positions during the 1940s including periods at Reuters, the News Chronicle and the Sydney Morning Herald. [8] In 1954 was appointed a leader writer, correspondent and foreign reports editor at The Economist. Crozier worked at the The Economist until 1964, whilst also working as a commentator for the BBC overseas services. [9]

Intelligence and Propaganda

Brian Crozier in 1957

During his time at The Economist, Crozier made his first intelligence contacts and used them for scoops. When John Hay "Jock" Whitney was ambassador to Great Britain from 1957 to 1961, Crozier was invited to his inner circle. He recalled in his autobiography that, "... in the late 1950s during my Economist years, ... I had been among the priviliged few journalists invited to his [Jock Whitney's] small lunches at the Connaught Hotel, and the more formal receptions at his residence in Regent's Park." [10] Whitney was a Rockefeller associate, a friend of the British royal family, a CIA associate, and a Pilgrims Society vice president. [11] A few years later, Crozier went to work for the Information Research Department, a covert anti-communist propaganda unit within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There he did studies on KGB subversion. He also started to work with the CIA, MI6, and the intelligence agencies of France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Morocco, Iran, Argentina, Chile, and Taiwan. [12]

The CIA's anti-communist front group Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) also approached him to reconstruct and commercialize their organization. Crozier, however, turned down this offer but later did a study for CCF, investigating its South American network.

Forum World Features

In 1965 Crozier was appointed chairman of a London based CIA propaganda operation called Forum World Features. Forum World Features was part of a world wide CIA propaganda operation overseen by Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA agent who had engineered the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran in 1953. Roosevelt approached wealthy American families asking for money to fund CIA propaganda operations abroad, asking: 'Are you patriotic?' [13] One man who agreed was Crozier's acquaintance John Hay Whitney. Whitney set up a CIA 'propriety' in Delaware called Kern House Enterprises which with the knowledge and co-operation of British intelligence, established a London subsidary Kern House Enterprises Ltd. Kern House Enterprises Ltd, which was based in London's Lincoln's Inn Fields, in turn established Forum World Features, the full title of which was Kern House Enterprises (Forum World Features) Ltd.

Forum World Features, was ostensibly a small commercial news service, selling weekly packets of stories to as many as 50 newspapers around the world, including at one time about thirty in the U.S. Its purpose was chiefly to smuggle in propaganda among the well-written and generally innocuous articles that Forum sent out each week. It also published a journal called Conflict Studies and established a subsidiary company called the Current Affairs Research Services Centre. According to The Guardian Forum World Features was closed down in 1975 after it was exposed by two former CIA agents, [14] although Crozier's entry in Who's Who states that he was chairman of the operation only until 1974. [15]

The Institute for the Study of Conflict

In 1970 the Current Affairs Research Services Centre became the Institute for the Study of Conflict, which also took over publication of Conflict Studies. Another billionaire CIA associate, Richard Mellon Scaife, who had taken over funding of Forum World Features from Whitney also funded the Institute for the Study of Conflict.

In his book Free Agent Crozier summarized the purpose of his ISC as 'exposing the fallacies of 'détente' and warning the West of the dangers inherent in a policy of illusion.' [16] In establishing the Institute for the Study of Conflict, Crozier enlisted the help of Sir Peter Wilkinson who was, at the time, the administrative head of the Foreign Office and a former chief of the Information Research Department and would later become coordinator of intelligence and security in the cabinet office. Wilkinson, because of his position in the Civil Service, did not join the board of the ISC. He did, however, recommend to Crozier the man who would become the ISC's fundraiser - a retired Major General called Fergus Ling. [17]

Crozier's co-founder at the Institute was the Russian expert Leonard Schapiro who had worked at the Intelligence Division of the German Control Commission immediately after the Second World War. [18]

The Economist describes "a palace coup [which] ousted Mr Crozier from his institute in 1979", [19] a description later echoed by Crozier who wrote in 1999 that: 'I was ousted from the ISC by what could be described as a mini-coup.' [20] Sources suggest that Louis Le Bailly was the main figure responsible for ousting Crozier. Le Bailly complained that Crozier’s ‘personal crusade against the forces of evil emanating largely from Russia’ was harming the Institute's reputation. [21] Crozier’s own account in Free Agent however does not point to Le Bailly in particular. Of his dismissal Crozier stated:

I could hardly rule out a KGB hand, since the Soviets had tried to destroy me and the ISC during the preceeding years. The fact that the whole affair had clearly been masterminded by Leonard Schapiro, one of the world's leading Sovietologists, suggested however unlikely it might seem, that the distinguished professor was himself a 'mole' working for the KGB. This hypothesis turned out to be untrue, however. So did another, equally improbable.[22]

Crozier's other hypothesis was that the CIA "sought to destroy me," and then having gone round the houses he deduces that because Le Bailly's 'political boss' when he was Defense Secretary was Lord Carrington who had blocked funding for Crozier's 'Shield' organisation and its plans for a 'Counter-Subversion Executive'. A friend also informed him that the Foreign Office wanted him 'out of the way' and that the ISC was to become "an arm of the Foreign Office," adding:

There had been much low-key rejoicing over the Callaghan government's decision to kill off the IRD. With me at its head, however, the ISC was seen as a potential thorn in the Foreign Office's side, ever ready to expose and criticise appeasing words or gestures. With me out of the way, the Institute for the Study of Conflict could be made into a pliable adjunct to HMG's policy: an unembarrassing junior partner to the Royal Institute of International Affairs."[23]

Later in 1999 Crozier suggested in a letter to The Times, that his involvement in his "private sector operational intelligence agency" The 61 was the reason for his departure. He wrote that: 'Rumours of this enterprise reached Schapiro, who presented me with an ultimatum: stop running The 61 or resign as director of the ISC. I chose to step down.' [24]

The Shield Committee

In 1976 whilst still head of ISC, Crozier and other intelligence connected right wing activists set up a secret committee to brief the opposition leader Margaret Thatcher on ‘subversion’. They called the committee 'Shield'. According to Crozier, Shield was set up in 1976 at the instigation of his friend the MI6 operative Stephen Hastings. They were joined by Nicholas Elliott, also an MI6 operative and Harry Sporborg of Hambros Bank, as well as two young researchers, Peter Shipley and Douglas Eden. [25]

The committee’s first project was to commission a report on the current state of ‘subversion’ and on the existing official counter-subversion agencies. The report, which ran to about 100 pages, was drafted by an unidentified former senior member of the Secret Intelligence Service, an old friend of Stephen Hastings and Crozier. The final draft was completed in May 1977. The report proposed the reorganisation of the intelligence and security services, arguing that ‘MI-6 (foreign intelligence) was basically in good shape whereas MI-5 (security) was not.’ Between May 1977 and July 1979 (by which time Thatcher was in government), Shield produced 15 strategic papers on similar themes and three papers on contingency planning for the forthcoming Tory government. [26]

The 61

In his book Free Agent, Crozier says in 1977 he was invovled in setting up a "a private sector operational intelligence agency" called The 61 to "provide intelligence in areas which governments were barred from investigating" and "to conduct secret counter-subversion operations in any country in which such actions were deemed feasible." [27] Crozier has maintained that this organisation was international (or at least transatlantic) in scope, although details of its activities and personnel are vague.

In 1999 Crozier suggested in a letter to The Times, that his involvement in The 61 was the reason for his departure from the Institute for the Study of Conflict. He wrote that: 'Rumours of this enterprise reached Schapiro, who presented me with an ultimatum: stop running The 61 or resign as director of the ISC. I chose to step down.' [28]

Other operations

Following the Time Out exposé Paddy Prendeville, a press officer with the Troops Out Movement, wrote to The Guardian alluding to another Crozier operation called ‘Ambassador News Service’. He stated in the letter: ‘Perhaps when Messrs Crozier and Janke next write to the Guardian concerning alleged malpractice by journalists, either or both might care to explain what relationship, if any, exists between them and a body called ‘Ambassador News Service’. [29]

Counter insurgency and terrorism expert

Crozier wrote extensively on counter insurgency and terrorism and along with other contemporary counter insurgency writers was an important influence on modern 'terrorism experts'. In 1959 whilst working at The Economist he wrote an article entitled ‘The Anatomy of Terrorism’ published in The Nation in which he described Terrorism as the first stage of resistance – the second being guerrilla warfare and the third all out war. In the article Crozier discussed anti-colonial struggles or ‘insurrections’ in Algeria, Vietnam, Malaya, Cyprus, Iran, Palestine and the Suez Canal. [30] In 1960 he published The Rebels, which explored similar themes. [31]

Crozier's understanding of what constitutes 'terrorism' was explicitly biased in favour of Western states then facing resistance from nationalist liberation movements in the former colonies. As Alex Schmid and his co-authors have observed, Crozier's approach represents one of the crudest of the ‘actor based typologies’ in the field - i.e. where the identity of the actor rather than the act itself defines the designation of terrorism. [32]

Crozier was a featured speaker at the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism organised by the Jonathan Institute and held in July 1979. He "implied repeatedly that the Soviet Union was behind most, if not all, of the world's political unrest, including the troubles in Northern Ireland." [33]

Works and Influences

Crozier's latest politcal book to date, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire (1999) is an 800 pages "massive account of the evils of communism, from its inception under Karl Marx and Valdimir Lenin to its eventual demise on Mikhail Gorbachev's watch," according to Insight on the News, a magazine that interviewed him for the occassion.

Crozier began his career as a member of the notorious Left Book Club, organized by Communists and Marxists, and was deeply influenced by Arthur Koestler's book Spanish Testament, written during Koestler's time as a Communist. Later he learned from Koestler that the book virtually had been dictated by Willy Muenzerberg, the head of the Soviet NKVD (secret police) in Western Europe.

In the meantime, Crozier's views had been turned around by a book written in 1947 by Soviet defector Victor Kravchenko titled I Chose Freedom, an early account of Josef Stalin's atrocities in the Ukraine. The second book which he says "taught me to think about politics" was James Burnham's The Machiavellians, Defenders of Freedom. Many years later he was to become Burnham's successor at National Review, carrying on "The Protracted Conflict" column for 18 years.[34]

Brian Crozier was a self-acknowledged disciple of James Burnham, according to David Rees, seeking political and strategic truth through a search for the "real" as distinct from the "formal" meaning of political utterances. Crozier himself explained his debt most thoroughly in a 1976 article in the Lugano Review, later condensed and updated for NR (April 15, 1983).

David Rees devoted a long article in National Review in 1985 to Crozier's 'immense contribution to modern strategic thought':

If Crozier's realism owes much to the Burnham influence, it owes much as well to his fifty years of working journalism, nearly forty of which he has spent as a foreign reporter. Born in Australia in 1918, Crozier was brought to France in 1923, at age five. He spent his early school years there, and was fully bilingual by the time he moved to England. In 1935, Crozier won a scholarship to study piano and composition at Trinity College of Music in London. Within a year he was drawn into journalism, writing not about terror and subversion but about music and art. He joined the London staff of Reuters in 1943, soon moved to the now defunct News Chronicle, and then, in 1951, returned to Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald. A year later he was in Southeast Asia as a foreign correspondent for Reuters.

He hasn't stopped traveling since. In 1953 he joined The Economist. For ten years he wrote that magazine's confidential bulletin "Foreign Report," during which time he traveled constantly not only for The Economist but for the English, French, and Spanish services of the BBC. He left The Economist in 1964. But leaving neither lightened his schedule nor reduced his output, as he continued to work under contract for print and electronic media organizations too numerous to list. Over the course of his career he has interviewed 56 heads of state or government, an achievement that has been accepted by Guinness as a record for a journalist.

In 1970 he founded the Institute for the Study of Conflict, the first private think-tank devoted to the study of terrorism and subversion. Under his direction (he left it in 1979) the institute specialized in the study of the "peace-time" strategy of the Soviet Union. Its analyses, including the Annual of Power and Conflict it published for ten years, have been used in war colleges throughout the West. Lately, Crozier has taken up writing realistic spy thrillers. The first, The Andropov Deception, will be available in the U.S. next spring [1986]. [35]

Free Agent?

Crozier’s autobiography confirmed that, Time Out and other mid-1970s research published in the Leveller and State Research and more recently Lobster was accurate: Crozier was working for the British and American intelligence services, but he still paradoxically maintained that he worked “with” and not “for” the CIA, MI6 and IRD[36] The briefings he received from an MI6 officer secured the job as editor of the Economist's Foreign Report, he had a 'part-time consultancy for IRD'; and they 'put an office at [his] disposal.' As Robin Ramsay put it:

”As early as p. 20 it is hard to avoid concluding that Crozier is describing how he was recruited by MI6; and his 'independence' is finally revealed as simply a cover story on p. 92 when he writes of contacting his main 'case officer' in the CIA. Independents or genuine free-lance journalists don't have case officers.”[37]

Ramsay’s review notes several key passages in the book (and its omissions) including the observation that when Labour won the election in 1974, IRD dropped its briefings on subversion in Britain. This may explain why Colin Wallace was in such demand post February 1974. With the IRD briefings stopped, Wallace's Information Policy unit in Northern Ireland was the last official U.K. source of unattributable briefings on the British left. [38] One can also assert that this was part of ISC’s mandate

The 1970s and 80s were the years when Crozier was engaged full-time in pyschological operations, running a large network in the UK. Forum World Features in which, 'with the full agreement of SIS [he] would deal directly with CIA personnel' [39] was succeeded by the ISC.

”After Sir Dennis Greenhill, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, vetoed British state money for ISC and the CIA felt obliged to follow suit, 'the Agency came up with' Richard Mellon Scaife, who provided $100,000 a year (p. 90). After the formation of ISC came the so-called Sixth International (6I) (sic), most of whose activities remain undisclosed; his domestic counter-subversion agency The Shield; and, of course, the Freedom Association.” [40]

Ramsay observes that in the 1970s and 80s Crozier claims to have run: Peter Shipley (last seen at Conservative Party Central Office); Douglas Eden of the Social Democratic Alliance; Dr Julian Lewis (last seen at Conservative Party Central Office); Tony Kerpel and Edward Leigh (now an MP).

Crozier also claimed to have created the psy-ops outfits of the Coalition for Peace through Security (anti CND), the Campaign Against Council Corruption (anti Labour-controlled local authorities) and the Media Monitoring Unit (anti BBC).

So who were the communist threat? Crozier tells us [41] that MPs Stan Newens, Jo Richardson, Joan Lestor, Frank Allaun and Joan Maynard were identifed by a 'senior KGB defector in London' as 'confidential contacts' of the Soviet embassy. As examples of 'extreme' left-wing (everyone from the CPGB to the WRP, are lumped together) Labour MPs he cites Sidney Bidwell, Ron Thomas and Eddie Loyden, Eric Heffer, Arthur Latham, James Lamond and Tony Benn. The other reds-under-the-bed organisations were the World Peace Council, and WPC's British off-shoot the British Peace Assembly.

Ramsay also notes:

”1979/80 was a some kind of watershed. Mrs T. got elected and Private Eye reported — accurately, it turns out (who leaked this?) — that Shield members Crozier and ex MI6 officer Nicholas Elliot had triumphantly gone to see her at Chequers. What the Eye didn't say was that, on Crozier's report, Mrs T. said 'thanks but no thanks'. She didn't need Crozier now she had the British secret state to brief her. He and Moss resigned from the Freedom Association — job done. Now even the ISC council began to flex its hitherto dormant muscles and forced his resignation.”


  • The Rebels: A Study of Post-War Insurrections (1960)
  • Neo-colonialism (1964)
  • South-East Asia in turmoil (1965)
  • The struggle for the Third World : a background book (1966)
  • Since Stalin : an assessment of Communist power (1970)
  • The future of communist power (1970)
  • The Ulster debate - report (1972) with James Camlin Beckett and Robert Moss
  • Soviet pressures in the Caribbean : the satellisation of Cuba (1973)
  • The peacetime strategy of the Soviet Union - report (1973)
  • Soviet objectives in the Middle East - report (1974)
  • The conflict of information : "detente", freedom & constraint (1975) with Leonid Vladimirov et al.
  • The Soviet presence in Somalia(1975)
  • The surrogate forces of the Soviet Union (1978)

Crozier also wrote three biographies:

  • Franco: A Biographical History (1967)
  • De Gaulle, 1. the Warrior, 2. the Statesman (1973, reprinted 1990)
  • The Man Who Lost China: The First Full Biography of Chiang Kai-shek (1976)

The most revealing book Crozier wrote about his intimate contacts with (heads of) intelligence and heads of state in the Western World is:

  • Free Agent, the Unseen War 1941-1991 (1993)

Subtitle of this book is the autobiography of an international activist; the red banner on the cover: "The book MI5 and MI6 tried to ban." In this book Crozier sheds some light on his involvement in international affairs, and his stories are often just a slightly different version of what has written about Crozier, his contacts, his views and his influence by others.




External Resources


  1. cited in Richard Norton-Taylor, 'With the right on his side', The Guardian, 4 August 1993
  2. Richard Norton-Taylor, Brian Crozier obituary, Guardian, accessed 9 August 2012
  3. Michael Evans, 'Freelance spy was KGB's enemy No 1', The Times, 28 June 1993
  4. ‘CROZIER, Brian Rossiter’, Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2008
  5. Brian Crozier, The Other Brian Croziers (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002) p.10)
  6. Brian Crozier, The Other Brian Croziers (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002) p.11)
  7. Brian Crozier, The Other Brian Croziers (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002) p.12)
  8. ‘CROZIER, Brian Rossiter’, Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2008
  9. ‘CROZIER, Brian Rossiter’, Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2008
  10. Brian Crozier, Free Agent, (Harper Collins, 1993) p. 62.
  11. Project for the Exposure of Hidden Institutions, Le Cercle and the struggle for the European continent.
  12. Michael Evans, 'Freelance spy was KGB's enemy No 1', The Times, 28 June 1993
  13. Brian Freemantle, CIA: The Honourable Company (London: Michael Joseph, 1983) p.189
  14. cited in Richard Norton-Taylor, 'With the right on his side', The Guardian, 4 August 1993
  15. ‘CROZIER, Brian Rossiter’, Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2008
  16. Brian Crozier, Free Agent (Harper Collins, 1993) page number needed
  17. Mike Hughes, Spies at Work - Rise and Fall of the Economic League (UK: 1 in 12 Publications, 1994) Chapter 8
  18. ’SCHAPIRO, Prof. Leonard Bertram’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007
  19. 'Anti-communism; The life of Brian', The Economist, 31 July 1993
  20. Brian Crozier, 'Does Jack Straw still support communism to the extent of being blind to its sickening acculmulation of crimes against humanity?', The Times, 13 September 1999
  21. Robin Lustig, ‘Books: How I Won the Cold War for the West’, The Observer, 25 July 1993
  22. Brian Crozier, Free Agent, (Harper Collins, 1993) pp. 174-175
  23. Brian Crozier, Free Agent, (Harper Collins, 1993) pp. 176-177
  24. Brian Crozier, 'Does Jack Straw still support communism to the extent of being blind to its sickening acculmulation of crimes against humanity?', The Times, 13 September 1999
  25. Brian Crozier, ‘A secret shield for the Lady’, The Times, 28 June 1993
  26. Richard Norton-Taylor, 'With the right on his side', The Guardian, 4 August 1993
  27. Joseph C. Goulden, 'Crozier, covert acts, CIA and Cold War', The Washington Times, 15 May 1994
  28. Brian Crozier, 'Does Jack Straw still support communism to the extent of being blind to its sickening acculmulation of crimes against humanity?', The Times, 13 September 1999
  29. Letters to the Editor, The Guardian, 24 July 1976
  30. Brian Crozier, ‘Anatomy of Terrorism’, The Nation, 21 March 1959, pp. 250-252
  31. Brian Crozier, The Rebels: A Study of Post-war Insurrections (London: Chatto & Windus, 1960)
  32. Schmid, Alex Peter, Jongman A. J., and Stohl, Michael Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, & Literature (Transaction Publishers, 2005) pp.43-44
  33. Extract from Edward S. Herman and Gerry O'Sullivan, The "Terrorism" Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror (New York: Pantheon, 1989)
  34. James P. Lucier, 'Cold warrior Crozier Details Soviet Terror', Insight on the News, 20 December 1999
  35. David Rees, 'Student of subversion', National Review, 31 December 1985
  36. Brian Crozier (1993) Free Agent: the unseen war 1941-1991, p. xvi, HarperCollins
  37. Robin Ramsay (1993) Crozier country. Lobster 26.
  38. Free Agent, p. 108
  39. Free Agent, p. 71
  40. Robin Ramsay (1993) Crozier country. Lobster 26.
  41. Free Agent, p. 115