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Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North): Is the hon. Gentleman disagreeing with the remarks of his Front-Bench spokesman that the United States has been the guarantor of international security for the past 50 years? Is he suggesting that United States foreign policy over the past 50 years may have contributed to the growth of terrorism in recent years?
Mr. Horam: If the hon. Gentleman were to listen to my remarks, he would discover that I am trying to be even-handed. I am saying that we should consider, from an Arab terrorist's point of view, what blame we may have to accept. However right we might think we are, such terrorists feel that we must take the blame for some things that have occurred in the post-war period. Equally, there are things that the Arab and Muslim worlds need to look at honestly and begin to accept that some of their actions may have contributed to the terrible situation we now face.
Presumably, Arab terrorists adopt a fanatical and extreme version of the Islamic faith, which itself is posited on a strict and puritanical view of the world and a regard for the poor. In fact, those extremists see the leaders of their own countries as having given in to the materialistic
As I have said, I have considerable sympathy with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley on the humanitarian tragedy in Afghanistan, but the real epicentre of all this may well be Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. It was significant that a Saudi prince said recently that it was surprising that the planes were not flown into a skyscraper in Saudi Arabia rather than New York. In the mind of an Islamic extremist, those princes in Saudi Arabia are just as much the enemy as the citizens of New York.
All that is compounded by the oil situation, the historic ties between America and Saudi Arabia and the huge wealth that has come from all that. There has been a sort of Faustian deal between the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the extremists in their country. The provision of help for such extremists is how the leaders have attempted to keep themselves in power, and it has been highly dangerous
We support the leaders of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and so on because, whatever their faults, they are not extremists. I feel, however, that just as we have a responsibility to look at how we have conducted our diplomacy in the Arab world, they have a responsibility to look at how they conduct their Governments. I think that, however carefully and tactfully we may go about it, we have an obligation to try to make them realise that, even if they do not go as far as democracyI do not think that there will be much democracy in the Arab, or the Muslim, worldthey should examine their societies and see how they can conjure up an atmosphere that would at least diminish the possibility of fanaticism breeding in the terrible way in which it has bred over the past few years, producing atrocities such as those of 11 September.
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton): References have been made this afternoon to the Prime Minister's visit to the middle east. My own view is that my right hon. Friend was right to go there, because it was necessary for him to expose himself to the sheer brutal starkness of emotions in the region and, indeed, to the double standards evinced by leaders in that region.
Yesterday the President of Syria attacked the bombings in Afghanistan, and spoke of the loss of life there; yet his father was responsible for massacring 10,000 people at Homs, in his own country. Today the Prime Minister has had the dubious experience of meeting the Prime Minister of Israel, a war criminal who was condemned by the Kahan commission's judicial inquiry into the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which 800 people were killed. The commission ordered him to be dismissed from the Israeli Government.
My right hon. Friend was then due to visit Gaza to meet Yasser Arafat, himself a former terrorist who, in a supremely and dramatically foolish act, rejected Barak's historic offer last autumn and who, to a considerable
The sheer bitterness of the past is shown by the fact that today people in Gaza have marched on the 84th anniversary of the Balfour declarationas if they did not have a great deal more to think about than the 84th anniversary of a document handed to a man, Chaim Weizmann, who as it happens lived in my constituency.
All those things show that whatever the outragewhether it is the outrage of the attack on the World Trade Centre in September, or the outrage of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwaiteverything comes back to the existence of Israel. Let us be clear about the hypocrisy involved. Bin Laden does not care one jot for the Palestinians. Neither does Saddam Hussein; neither do the Syrians. When I visited Syria, as I did on two occasions as shadow Foreign Secretary, their loathing of Arafat emanated from their very being.
What these extremiststhese murderersdo is exploit the plight of the Palestinians as a cause round which they can rally, some sincerely and some certainly not. They would like to destroy the state of Israel if they could, but they know they cannot, so they do their best to disrupt it. Too many Israeli leaders, sad to say, play into their hands. They demand the world's sympathy, but themselves behave like bullies. The great Israeli novelist Amos Oz said on behalf of the Israelis:
There has to be a choice for Israel. The Israeli regime regards that choice as being between the danger of its destructionwhich has been an immensely serious concern ever since the state of Israel was set up in 1948and the sterility of not being destroyed. There are alternatives; there is simply not a choice between the extremist Arab wish to eliminate the state of Israel and the belief of right-wing Israelis that it is their job to fight back, regardless of the effect both on the lives on innocent people and the world. If the Israelis are not going to look for a third way, my own view is that there is no justification for a Nobel peace prize winner like Shimon Peres humiliating himself by sitting in a Cabinet alongside the likes of Sharon and Zeevi, whose murder, of course, was abominable, but whose views were unspeakable; he wanted to chase all Arabs, by force if necessary, out of
The right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) talked about Mr. Netanyahu. I cannot share the right hon. Gentleman's regard for him; the only thing that can be said for him is that he is not as bad as Sharon. People like Netanyahu and Sharon say, "Don't get at us, we're an independent country. We've a right to pursue our own policies." Okay, we should tell the Palestinians and Israelis, "Be independent if you want, but be completely independent of western economic and military aid." I suggest that we offer that choice, and I do so as a Jew and as somebody who has been a Zionist all his life, and remains a Zionist: as somebody who was brought up as a Zionist and has close ties to the state of Israel. I also do so as the first Front-Bench Member to support the establishment of a Palestinian state, which I still support.
I must tell my right hon. Friends, the American authorities, the Israelis and the Palestinians that we have lost too many opportunities for peace in the middle east; it is sad that this too has become an opportunity, but it is an opportunity nevertheless and we must not lose it.
Mr. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester): I agree with every word of the speech by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman); I also agree strongly with what my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Horam) said. I shall not go over that ground, as I have only 10 minutes.
The Prime Minister deserves enormous credit for helping to put together the international coalition against terrorism after 11 September. He deserves even more praise, if the newspaper reports are to be believed, for having tried to dissuade the Americans from acting precipitately. This week he was right to narrow down the war aims and to make clear exactly what our objectives are, now that the air campaign is under way. However, I am concerned at one aspect of the Prime Minister's handling of the situation. The rhetoric from George Bush, such as
I should like to make several suggestions to the Government on the conduct of the diplomacy and handling of Muslim opinion over the next few crucial weeks. At the heart of the west's strategy is a dilemma: while military activity in Afghanistan may succeed in eliminating al-Qaeda in an organised form, at the same time it may generate sympathies in parts of the Muslim world which could make terrorism more likely. Worse, it could destabilise Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and make it more difficult to protect western interests there. It could
The truth is that we are not engaged in a war on terrorism. Inasmuch as the language of war is appropriate, the outcome will be decided by a battle for the hearts and minds of Muslim opinion. Are we confident that our action in Afghanistan, particularly if it becomes prolonged, will not create the conditions for more extremism? That is the heart of the matter.
The Prime Minister, among others, was right to urge the Americans not to succumb to the pressure of public opinion for early action. But public opinion now may be right to argue that if the intervention becomes too prolonged, it may not be in the west's long term interests. I should like briefly to suggest some ways to put in train several diplomatic initiatives to assuage Muslim concerns about our intentions and to give us a bigger window of opportunity for action.
First, we need to make it clear that we have no intention of establishing an indefinite and permanent military presence in Afghanistan, still less an occupation, and we need to say so. Secondly, we should be negotiating with Afghanistan's neighbours to secure agreement that once the terrorist networks are removed, there will be no interference by her neighbours or us in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. Cambodia provides a precedent. We should say that loudly now. Thirdly, we need to set out in detail what we are prepared to do to assist the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan in terms of money and resources. We have not yet heard that package described accurately or with numbers. Fourthly, we should apply some more realism to an earlier stated objective of the Prime Minister, which was to create a "broadly based Government" in Afghanistan. By that I think we should mean only any government structure capable of expelling, and willing to expel, bin Laden and the terrorist networks. We do not mean that we are intending to construct a western style democracy in Afghanistan. Fifthly, we need to lead public opinion so that people grasp that when western leaders talk of an indefinite war against terrorism, they do not mean indefinite action in Afghanistan. That just worries public opinion at home and Muslim opinion abroad and at home. The purpose of the military action is, I hope, limited to closing down the terrorist networks harboured by the Taliban, as the Prime Minister has made clear. It is not the precursor to an endless deployment of military force against as yet unspecified threats. Nor is it our purpose to extend the war aims to Iraq.
The plain fact is that, ghastly though the prospect may be, terrorism is likely to remain with us, as is the war against drugs and crime. I fervently hope that at least the campaign against bin Laden and his groups can be won. I support the Government in their efforts to try to win it, although I realise that it will be difficult.
In the time that remains, I want to discuss my concerns about the Government's rhetoric. There is a growing contradiction between what the Prime Minister does and what he says. That contradiction, if sustained, could erode the credibility of British foreign policy. On the one hand, he has rightly played a crucial role in forming the coalition against terrorism, bringing together international society and drawing together all states in a coalition that rejects terrorism. On the other, he has called for a new international order.
The coalition that we are building is a coalition to uphold international legitimacythe legitimacy that derives from the notion that only states have the right to use force in international society. Terrorists are revolutionariesoutlawsin international society. That legitimacy is sustained by the principle that states should not interfere in other states' affairs. In that sense, the coalition that we are building is a coalition of the existing order.
We are forming a coalition against terrorism with states with whose human rights records we disagree and which, in some respects, we find repugnant, but it is a coalition of the current international order, not some putative one. But the trouble is that the Prime Minister's call for a new world order conflicts directly with that coalition building. In that new order, he has asserted the primacy of his and of western values. Of course I agree with him about those values, but he has suggested not just making a rhetorical case for his values, but intervening in other states.
The Prime Minister wants much greater intervention around the world to impose our notion of justice and freedom. He says that globalisation means that anyone's internal conflict may affect everybody and that that justifies interference, even military intervention. It is worth quoting exactly what he said at Brighton:
We are saying, "Either adopt western values or we may be round to see you." We are saying that we carry sticks as well as carrots. Let me make my position clear: the west can and should be a huge force for good in the world. I share the Prime Minister's values, but if the west goes beyond persuasion, and acts of humanitarian intervention, and tries to reconstruct a new world order in its image, many countries in Africa, the middle east and elsewhere around the world that do not share our values will feel threatened. If we do that, we will be treading the path towards not a new international order, but a new international anarchy, for we have neither the military capacity nor the political will to make western values the values of the whole globe.