Andy Owen

Andy Owen is a former intelligence officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the author of All Soldiers Run Away: Alano’s War — The Story of a British Deserter.

Will Britain now take the threat of Chinese espionage seriously?

The UK has long been aware of the risk of cyber-attacks emanating from China. Back in 2007, the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans warned hundreds of British businesses about Chinese cyber-operations targeting the UK. Yet the risk from Chinese spies operating in the UK is less well understood. This is why it came as such a shock

The EU’s naive response to China’s Belt and Road initiative

Britain’s top spy chief Richard Moore warned this week of the growing threat that China poses to the West. Besides the risk of cyber-warfare, the Communist country has been pumping huge sums across the globe as part of its Belt and Road strategy. Now, the EU has hit back: announcing a rival to the initiative

Andy Owen, Mary Wakefield and Toby Young

20 min listen

On this week’s episode, former intelligence officer Andy Owen gives his reflections on where we went wrong in Afghanistan – based on what he saw on the ground; Spectator columnist Mary Wakefield talks about the rise in neighbourhood crime; and Toby Young asks – why have my suits shrunk in lockdown?

What we can learn from our mistakes in Afghanistan

After two tours of Iraq as a soldier, I spent six months in Afghanistan in 2007 as part of Operation Herrick VI. My deployment came a year after the then Defence Secretary, John Reid, said we would be ‘perfectly happy to leave the country in three years’ time without firing one shot’. However, the very

Prisoners dilemma: should we pay kidnappers?

British-Mexican national Claudia Uruchurtu Cruz disappeared on the night of Friday 26 March in the town of Nochixtlan, Oaxaca State, Mexico. Claudia had been seen attending a rally protesting the beating of a local labourer, allegedly by security elements linked to the local municipal president. Unconfirmed witness statements claim she was grabbed and pushed into

Our shameful failure to commemorate black Great War heroes

A report by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has this week concluded that ‘pervasive racism’ was to blame for the failure to properly commemorate non-white troops who died for Britain in the first world war. It is estimated that at least 116,000 predominantly African and Middle Eastern first world war casualties ‘were not commemorated by name

Why are Covid conspiracies so appealing?

The recent decision by several European countries to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine will have thrown petrol on the bonfire of conspiracies surrounding the pandemic. These range from believing that vaccines contain microchips so that Bill Gates can track you, to believing that the virus is a global conspiracy to allow governments to

The terrifying development of AI warfare

The Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in France contains some of the earliest known Palaeolithic cave paintings, including those of lions, bears, and hyenas. Thought to be the earliest expressions of human fear, it is hard for us to compute today how frightened man once was to live alongside creatures who viewed us as prey. This primal fear