Robert Cooper

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Person.png Robert Cooper   Powerbase SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(deep state operative?)
Robert Cooper.jpg
Essex, UK
Alma materWorcester College Oxford, University of Pennsylvania
Member ofCentre for European Reform, Ditchley/Governors, Ditchley/UK, European Council on Foreign Relations, Königswinter/Speakers
UK diplomat with a string of interesting roles. "One of the top 100 "public intellectuals" in the world"...

Sir Robert Francis Cooper KCMG MVO is a suspected UK deep state operative. His roles have included being a "special adviser" to Tony Blair, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service, and Director-General of External and Politico-Military Affairs for the Council of the European Union. Cooper drafted the European Security Strategy for Javier Solana[1].

“A system in which preventative action is required will be stable only under the condition that it is dominated by a single power or a concert of powers. The doctrine of prevention therefore needs to be complemented by a doctrine of enduring strategic superiority — and this is, in fact, the main theme of the US National Security Strategy.”
Robert Cooper [2]

In 2005, Cooper was nominated by Prospect magazine as one of the top 100 "public intellectuals" in the world, about which David Keen notes: "his views throw disturbing light on what came to pass for respectable analysis".[3]


Cooper grew up in Nairobi and studied at Worcester College (Oxford). He holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (1st Class Hons.) and a Masters in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. [4]


Cooper joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1970. From 1971 to 1973 he studied Japanese, and then worked at the British Embassy in Tokyo until 1977, spending the following two years as Head of the Japan desk. From 1979 to 1982 he specialised in European issues, and was then employed by the Bank of England until 1984. From 1984 to 1987 he worked at the UK's Permanent Representation to the European Community in Brussels. Thereafter his career spanned being Head of Management Review Staff, of the Eastern Department and of the Planning Staff at the FCO.[5] While in the latter post he became a non-voting advisory member of the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.[6]

He became Political Counsellor and subsequently Minister at the British Embassy in Bonn and returned to the FCO in London as Director for Asia-Pacific in 1998. He was Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, and in 2001-2 Special Representative for the British Government on Afghanistan.[7]

In 2003, Cooper authored The Breaking of Nations: Chaos and Order in the Twenty-First Century. In a Foreign Affairs review of the book, John Ikenberry wrote:

The United States has Fukuyama, Huntington, and Kagan as its prophets of the coming world order. Who does Europe have? The answer is Robert Cooper, a former adviser to Tony Blair and an EU diplomat.[8]

The Postmodern Cooper

“The postmodern world has to start to get used to double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But, when dealing with old-fashioned states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era--force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle.”
Robert Cooper (April 2002)  [9]

Cooper's world view divides states into three categories: Postmodern states, largely in Europe, whose relationships are based on peaceful interdependence and mutual co-operation, modern states, (like the United States) are more militarised and still operating within a traditional realist balance of power network, premodern states are characterised by state failure and Hobbesian chaos which calls for "Defensive imperialism." [10]

Cooper has written several essays and books on this concept of post- and pre-modernism which have been promoted by new Labour think tanks, including: The Postmodern State and the World Order, published by Demos as part of their 'The New Public Diplomacy' project[11]; "The Post Modern State", published by the Foreign Policy Centre as part of their publication Re-Ordering the World: The long-term implications of September 11th;[12] and The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-first Century[13]

Of The Breaking of Nations, The Nation observed:

if it had been written by someone other than Cooper one might dismiss it as entirely too wacky. But Cooper, Tony Blair's foreign policy guru from 1999 to last year and now a senior adviser at the European Union, is a man whose opinions count, and his book falls into the same tradition of imperial advice-giving as Kennan's containment essay and Kirkpatrick's defense of embracing friendly authoritarians. By reading Cooper, we can better understand the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of Britain's prime minister, whose decision to support the war in Iraq was as deeply unpopular at home as it was admired in Washington.
And we can better understand European security policy. Blair needed someone like Cooper to articulate the liberal imperialism Blair sees as necessary to the post-cold war order and to the Anglo-American alliance. This position is suspect in England, where foreign adventuring inspires more alarm than pride and people are rightly skeptical of the Bush Administration's intentions. Cooper is Blair's Robert Kagan, but because he is a Blairite and not a neocon, he believes in Atlanticism and soft power; he feels that even imperial powers need the consent of their subjects, and that force alone is bound to fail.[14]

Cooper's work aims to tackle the problem whereby “large number of the most powerful states no longer want to fight or conquer":

The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open, cooperative security. Among ourselves we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. In the prolonged period of peace in Europe, there has been a temptation to neglect our defences, both physical and psychological. This represents one of the great dangers of the postmodern state.
How should we deal with the pre-modern chaos?... The most logical way to deal with chaos, and the one most employed in the past, is colonisation. Today, there are no colonial powers willing to take on the job, though the opportunities, perhaps even the need for colonisation, is as great as it ever was in the nineteenth century. Those left out of the global economy risk falling into a vicious circle. Weak government means disorder and that means falling investment.... What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan imperialism which, like all imperialism, aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle. Postmodern imperialism takes two forms. First, there is the voluntary imperialism of the global economy. This is usually operated by an international consortium through International Financial Institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.... The second form of postmodern imperialism might be called the imperialism of neighbours.... But Usama bin Laden has now demonstrated for those who had not already realised, that today all the world is, potentially at least, our neighbour.[15]

Bashir Abu-Manneh in The Illusions of Empire, a review of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire, published in 2000[16] argued that in U.S. official parlance, the phrase "strong partnership" is code. In diplomatic language, it means strong U.S. leadership over 'Euroland' i.e. U.S. hegemonic leadership of Western Europe, a return to the "strong partnership" that used to exist during the Cold War (and emerged in the Gulf War. For Abu-Manneh the US world-view does not really concur with Cooper's:

The United States has [...] continued to resist what can be described as the European ultra-imperialist project of carving up the rest of the world equally. As Lenin emphasized early last century, uneven development and uneven distribution of power undermine any sense of equality in international relations. This has been borne out in international politics today. The United States does not accept what senior British diplomat Robert Cooper today calls postmodern or cooperative imperialism: "a framework in which each has a share in the government, in which no single country dominates and in which the governing principles are not ethnic but legal." This project, which includes the International Criminal Court and other institutions for mutual state interference, sounds very much like Hardt and Negri's juridical Empire. And it stands in sharp contradiction with the United States' strategy to attain unchallenged supremacy over the world. The United States continues to interpret "cooperative empire" as a direct threat to its own Constitution and national interest since it involves subjecting U.S. domestic law to international constraints.

This was contradicted by Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, who wrote in The Guardian, 3 March 2003, that Tony Blair had largely succeeded in "convincing the American hegemon to act within the international legal framework" on the basis of Cooper's ideas.[17]

Cooper's work in this context (quoting from Kagan op cit) was also touched upon by Alex Callinicos' (2002) The grand strategy of the American empire, in the International Socialism Journal, Issue 97 2002.[18]:

Kagan argues that these consequences of the differences in material power between the US and Europe were reinforced by the development through the process of European integration of multilateral institutions encouraging the reconciliation of national interests. But the taming of inter-state rivalries within Europe depended on the US military umbrella:
By providing security from outside, the United States has rendered it unnecessary for Europe's supranational government to provide it... The current situation abounds in ironies. Europe's rejection of power politics, its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations, have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil. Europe's new Kantian order could flourish only under the umbrella of American power exercised according to the rules of the old Hobbesian order. American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important.
On the basis of this thesis Kagan criticises the idea, put forward by Francis Fukuyama and followers such as the British diplomat Robert Cooper, that with the 'end of history' advanced capitalism has entered a 'postmodern', 'posthistorical' era in which war is obsolete within this bloc, even though it may still be a threat in the 'modern' or even 'pre-modern' parts of the world.54 Europe may indeed have gone beyond history, Kagan argues, but:
...although the United States has played the critical role in bringing Europe into Kantian paradise, and still plays a key role in making that paradise possible, it cannot enter this paradise itself. It mans the walls but cannot walk through the gate. The United States, with all its vast power, remains stuck in history, left to deal with the Saddams and the ayatollahs, the Kim Jong Ils and the Jiang Zemins, leaving the happy benefits to others.

Marc Glendening's (2005) The Battle for the Future Postmodern Europe: the silent revolution[19] argued:

Eurosceptics are wrong, therefore, to see the EU as a fiendish and stand alone foreign plot designed to enslave their own democracies. It is part of a bigger picture and involves national political elites coming together in order to restrict the scope for popular participation locally. Supranational government should be understood, as John Laughland (22.1.2002) has argued, in terms of the activities of a cartel. By transferring powers to Brussels and other international bodies, real political debate can be by-passed at home. Measures can be enacted that would be difficult to get past the voters. While the Euro postmodernists rhetorically profess great commitment to democratic values and human rights, the reality is that a section of the political class now sees entrusting the masses with the vote as extremely dangerous. Hence the widespread opposition to giving ordinary Europeans a direct say on the EU Constitution and the hysterical response to the ‘No’ votes in France and Holland. Neil Kinnock called these verdicts ‘a triumph for ignorance’; Chris Bryant MP, chair of the Labour Movement for Europe, said: ‘Although a referendum might be appropriate for Pop Idol it is unsuitable for examining a treaty’. Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the constitution’s author, speaking in London after the referendum, said that the result will be overturned and that, in any case, it was not really a rejection of it. Robert Copper, when speaking at the Battle of Ideas 2005, caused a certain amount of surprise when he said that one of the problems with the EU was that it was ‘too democratic’.

Glendening goes on to ask basic questions of Cooper's thesis:

They simultaneously argue that the EU must be more than a mere free trade area (otherwise how can they explain the need for Brussels to legislate in areas that go way beyond imports and exports?) but nevertheless less than an actual state in the process of being created. Giddens says, rather conveniently, that the EU is almost impossible to define, as it is ‘pioneering forms of governance that do not fit any traditional mould’ (Giddens 1998: 32). Cooper writes confusingly that it has ‘become a highly developed system for mutual interference in each other's domestic affairs, right down to beer and sausages’, but goes on to assert that ‘the dream of a European state is one left from a previous age’ (Cooper 7.4.2002). Anything to avoid the ‘s’ word. So what precisely does Cooper see as being the physical mechanisms and capacities by which Brussels is going to enforce its decisions, ranging from the permitted curvature and dimensions of the bratwurst to the invasion of failed ‘pre-modern’ states?

For a new imperialism

Cooper’s 2002 call for the development of a “new imperialism,” came as the UK government, involved in Afghanistan (Where he was the UK's Special Representative until mid-2002) was negotiating with the Bush administration on renewing its war against Iraq. Julie Hyland argues that the controversy that greeted this call was disingenous given that Cooper's views had been in circulation since at least 1996. She suggested that they represented a rehashing of old ideas, such as Francis Fukuyama's "end of "history" thesis, in new postmodern packaging.[20]

Similarly, Taizo Yakushiji argues that "there is nothing new when Cooper maintains that the UK would bypass the UN for new liberal imperialism. Like it or not, the US has always bypassed the UN."[21]

Hyland questions whether Cooper's comment that “Land and natural resources (with the exception of oil), are no longer a source of power for the most technologically advanced countries, ” is compatible with the postmodern relationship he describes among the western powers:[22]

“…he relies on a readership that is more concerned with Cooper’s pro-colonial propaganda message than with an attempt to honestly come to grips with political reality. But high level think tanks such as Demos and the Foreign Policy Centre, as well as Cooper himself, are fully aware that control of oil supplies has not only been the major factor in Western intervention into the Balkans, the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea region, but is the key focus of potential conflict between the major powers.”

Hyland notes Cooper's warning that "The establishment of internal cohesion has often been the prelude to external expansion."[23] She concludes that "any of those countries outside Cooper’s “postmodern” orbit are damned whatever they do."[24]


Hyland noted that Cooper "is prolific in a way not usually allowed for foreign office advisers" and saw echoes of his ideas in a number of speeches by Government Ministers[25]: Blair’s 2001 Labour Party conference speech in support of the US 'war on terror', in which he exhorted that the “kaleidoscope had been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us” (a speech which demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how a kaleidoscope actually works: any order is an illusion accomplished by mirrors);[26]a Jack Straw speech before the International Institute of Strategic Studies, which borrowed heavily from Cooper is also cited as evidence that Cooper’s “new imperialism” had become the official ideological underpinnings of Labour’s foreign policy.[27]

The influence of Cooper's 'The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century' is evident in Dorfer, Ingemar (2005) Old and New Security Threats to Europe, Swedish Defence Research Agency. It is also reflected in a 2004 piece on Turkey and the EU by Heather Grabbe, deputy director of the Centre for European Reform, which states:

“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.”[28]

European Union

In 2002, Cooper was appointed Director General, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, External Economic relations, Politico-Military Affairs.[29] He has said that: “The title is ridiculous. I work for the Council and Javier Solana in trying to help Europe have a foreign policy.”[30]

Peter Van Ham suggested Cooper's influence on the European Security Strategy approved in 2003, A Secure Europe in a Better World, had led to a shift of emphasis away from 'soft power':

Cooper believes that Europe can no longer wait and hope that the rest of the world will soon recognize and emulate the bliss of its own oft-heralded model of Kantian peace and prosperity. Instead, the EU has to become an active and, if necessary, forceful global player prepared to fight for its own interests.[31]

Cooper contributed to European Union - the next 50 years. He also spoke at a European Commission- funded LSE debate marking the launch of the book on 14 March 2007. The other speakers at the event, chaired by Howard Davises, were Timothy Garton Ash; Gérard Mortier, Charles Grant, Katalin Bogyay.[32]

"Accidents happen"

In March 2011, Cooper was criticised for supporting Bahraini government crackdowns against protesters, waving off suggestions of police violence and saying "accidents happen."[33] His comments came a week after a video[34] surfaced showing a Bahraini police convoy performing drive-by shootings against unarmed protesters.



Events Participated in

Brussels Forum/2007Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA and NATO-close German Marshall Fund.
Brussels Forum/2008Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA and NATO-close German Marshall Fund.
Brussels Forum/200920 March 200922 March 2009Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA and NATO-close German Marshall Fund.
Brussels Forum/201125 March 201127 March 2011Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA and NATO-close German Marshall Fund.
Brussels Forum/201223 March 201224 March 2012Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA-close German Marshall Fund.
Munich Security Conference/201612 February 201614 February 2016Germany
The 52nd Munich Security Conference


Event Witnessed

Munich Security Conference/2015Munich
"400 high-ranking decision-makers in international politics, including some 20 heads of state and government as well as more than 60 foreign and defence ministers, met in Munich to discuss current crises and conflicts."
Many thanks to our Patrons who cover ~2/3 of our hosting bill. Please join them if you can.


  1. Timothy Garton Ash, America and Europe: The Future of the West, Council on Foreign Relations, 11 November 2004. Accessed: 3 September 2007)
  2. CounterPunch Breaking the Nations
  3. David Keen, An Occident Waiting to Happen, CounterPunch, 1 Sept 2007.
  4. Battle of Ideas Robert Cooper, 31 August 2005.
  5. Battle of Ideas Robert Cooper, 31 August 2005.
  6. Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Hansard, 29 June 1992.
  7. Battle of Ideas Robert Cooper, 31 August 2005.
  8. John Ikenberry, Review: The Breaking of Nations, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2003
  9. Guardian The New Liberal Imperialism
  10. Robert Cooper (2002) The Post Modern State, in Re-Ordering the World: The long-term implications of September 11th edited by Mark Leonard, Foreign Policy Centre
  11. Robert Cooper, The Postmodern State and the World Order, Demos, 1 January 2000
  12. Robert Cooper (2002) The Post Modern State, in Re-Ordering the World: The long-term implications of September 11th edited by Mark Leonard, Foreign Policy Centre
  13. Robert Cooper (2003) The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-first Century, Atlantic Books.
  14. Malcomson, Scott L. (2004) Advise and Consent, The Nation, July 5.
  15. Robert Cooper, The New Liberal Imperialism, 7 April 2002
  16. Bashir Abu-Manneh (2004) The illusions of Empire, Monthly Review, June.
  17. Robert Kagan, The Healer, The Guardian, 3 March 2003.
  18. Alex Callinicos, The grand strategy of the American empire, International Socilaism Journal, Issue 97, Winter 2002.
  19. Glendening, Marc (2005)The Battle for the Future, Postmodern Europe: the silent revolution, Battle of Ideas, 2005.
  20. Hyland, Julie (2002)British foreign policy adviser calls for a new imperialism, April 27, World Socialist Web Site.
  21. Taizo Yakushiji, Formulating a joint Japanese and US Security Concept in the aftermath of September 11, GLOCOM Platform, Japanese Institute of Global Communications, 20 May 2002.
  22. Julie Hyland, British foreign policy adviser calls for a new imperialism, April 27 2002, World Socialist Web Site.
  23. Robert Cooper, The Postmodern State and the World Order (pdf), Demos, 1 January 2000.
  24. Julie Hyland, British foreign policy adviser calls for a new imperialism, April 27 2002, World Socialist Web Site.
  25. Julie Hyland, British foreign policy adviser calls for a new imperialism, April 27 2002, World Socialist Web Site.
  26. Tony Blair's speech: full text, 2 October 2001.
  27. Full text of Straw's speech,, 22 October 2001.
  28. Grabbe, Heather (2004) From drift to strategy: why the EU should start accession talks with Turkey, Centre for European Reform.
  29. Robert Cooper CV, Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, accessed 20 March 2009.
  30. Arthur Krebbers, Robert Cooper, Working Hard for the EU,, 12 October 2005.
  31. Peter Van Ham, Europe Gets Real: The New Security Strategy Shows the EU's Geopolitical Maturity, American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, 9 January 2004.
  32. European Union: The Next Fifty Years - LSE Public Lectures and Events, LSE, accessed 20 March 2009.
  33. Bahrain protest crackdown defended by European Union envoy
  34. Bahrain police carry out drive-by shooting