Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 137-160)




  137. I am sorry we kept you waiting. My colleagues will know that, a long time ago, you were the first academic adviser to the Committee, even before you were a Professor, if I recall, so you are used to sitting down and listening to useless questions—unless they were the ones you wrote. Thank you very much for coming. Firstly, obviously you have written extensively on nuclear strategy. In the light that we now have as a principal threat entities that are not states, is there any scope for revising nuclear strategy, or is there nothing you can do about it?

  (Professor Freedman) Clearly the sort of concerns that we had during the cold war are no longer the same concerns but the old nuclear arsenals, though diminished, still exist so I think it is wrong just to assume you have passed that stage of history by. There are still big issues and hopefully Presidents Bush and Putin will be addressing them today in terms of trying to ease them. Also, one of the concerns even during the cold war was the risk of a nuclear power in some internal disarray and, again, one of the major issues that has been around over the last few weeks has been the safety of the Pakistani nuclear facilities, and clearly the Pakistani authorities themselves take this matter, thankfully, very seriously. This particular conflict is taking place in an area where India and Pakistan, to some extent, have been writing their own rules of nuclear strategy and deterrence, so it has not all gone away. What you have been hearing about earlier this morning is the possibility of terrorist groups getting hold of nuclear materials, which is not necessarily the same as an explosive device, and using that either as a form of retribution for the ills that they see inflicted upon them, or as coercion. I do not think the basic principles change very much when you are thinking in those terms. The question is are we able to cope with such challenges: do our normal instruments of deterrence fail to work when you are not quite sure exactly who the threat is and where it is based, although I think that problem tends to be a bit exaggerated, but is there a political dialogue that one can establish as an alternative? Well, again, it is much more difficult than it seemed to be during the cold war. I think a lot of the old issues are still there: they are just recast in a very perverse and extreme situation.

  138. Will they need to revise the nuclear strategy? It is obvious, if somebody launches an attack from a rogue state, you know where to target a retaliation, but from a cave in central Afghanistan, how is bin Laden going to be threatened by deploying a Trident submarine 8,000 miles away?
  (Professor Freedman) I think you see our own nuclear assets, to the extent they have a role, are going to have a role in deterring those they always have deterred. There is still a Russian nuclear arsenal, there is still a Chinese nuclear arsenal, and though, I think rightly, we do not get as worried about them in terms of direct targeting, they still exist and roles can change so that is their role but it is not particularly relevant against bin Laden. This issue came up during the Gulf War when there was quite a lot of concern about potential use of chemical weapons: Saddam Hussein was trying to get—and was very close to getting—a nuclear arsenal and one of the standard exam questions in my department is what would have happened, what would have made the difference, if Saddam already had a nuclear arsenal. It is quite an interesting discussion to go through as to what difference you may think it makes. One of the conclusions, though, that I think came out of the discussions during the Gulf War is that, because of the sheer conventional military strength of the west, even if they are victims of some dreadful mass destruction attack, they do have the ability to respond in non nuclear ways. You do not have to do the same thing. Public opinion would possibly, in the event of some really ghastly attack, want retribution but I think would be content if we were able to target more accurately than our opponents. So that is the first point: that we have very many other means of responding other than having to use weapons in kind. But, also, the attacks tend to be much more ambiguous. The Israelis I know went through this discussion wondering how they would respond to a chemical attack, which seemed to be quite a reasonable possibility in 1991. If something awful happens in the middle of Tel Aviv that is one thing, but what happens if a SCUD suddenly drops in the middle of the Negev with some chemical release but nobody hurt, or that the attack misses Tel Aviv, falls short, and hits a town in the West Bank. How do you respond then? It becomes very difficult. All we know is that Iraqis themselves say that their concerns about Israeli and American nuclear retaliation was one reason that they held back. I am not sure that is necessarily the case but that is what they said.

  139. We have a few questions on the SDR and, as you were one of the government trusties appointed to advise, you are very well-qualified to react to Mr Howarth's pertinent questions. Did you have much scope to give your expertise, or was it just window-dressing?
  (Professor Freedman) I think it was somewhere in between. We were asked to comment on particular things and we were involved in a number of discussions. I think the group as a whole did not develop a corporate view.

Mr Howarth

  140. Can we turn to the Government decision to review SDR? They have told us that they expect the review to set a course by which the UK will be able to determine concepts, policies and capabilities to, what they describe as, "deter, dissuade and defeat groups or states". The question is did we have a clear enough understanding of the motivation and aims of these groups to be able to do this with any confidence?
  (Professor Freedman) I think the difficulty is we have got a pretty good idea when it comes to Al-Qaeda because they have said what they think and it is not hard to work out the logic of their position, so in that case we can work something out. But this is not necessarily a generic problem. Different terrorist groups have got quite different motives and one of the things that we have learnt over the 1990s is that, just when you think you have the measure of one type of threat, another comes along. The problems I think the MoD will find—and it is not a matter of blaming them, it is just the nature of the problem—is you can do a taxonomy, categorise different types of threat and different sorts of responses, and then you have to weight them, what is the likelihood of these individual threats. Then I think you are coming into something really quite complicated which does not necessarily give you a particularly good basis for planning. So I think although it can be quite a useful exercise, I do not think it is necessarily going to come up with great surprises as to the sort of capabilities we need and the responses that we can develop.

  141. So how would you define "deter, dissuade and defeat"?
  (Professor Freedman) I think that covers all your bases. There is not very much else you can do with an opponent, other than those things!

  142. So what you are saying is it is a pretty impossible task?
  (Professor Freedman) I am saying that they have covered themselves. There are bad guys out there, the nature of whom we have some idea of but we cannot be certain about. With luck we will find them before they do anything awful, and that basically is an intelligence requirement. We may catch them in the middle of doing something and that requires the security forces to be able and basically the protections that we have, and the quality of the defences that we have set up. One of the things, however, I think that has come out of September 11 where I think it is fair to say very little thought had gone on in the United States or the United Kingdom, is what happens after an attack? How do you respond then, both in terms of retaliating in some way but also to prevent a recurrence? After all, the main problem with a terrorist group is not just the one-off incident but their ability to generate a sense of a campaign; that it is not just that you are being shocked by one event but more events are coming. That is what produces terror because, otherwise, the event itself has happened and you pick up the pieces but, if you know it can be repeated, then that is where the danger comes, and I think that is where possibly the least thought had gone in. What we have found so far is that it is not only the combination of police work and intelligence work that I think we always knew was involved in counter terrorism, but you may have to get involved in very traditional in some ways forms of military operations. That I think is the bit that has not really been thought through properly before, and I would say it is more of a problem for the United States than for the UK because I think there was a bit of this in the Strategic Defence Review already, and that it is precisely the sort of operation that we have categorised as being discretionary, higher levels of police support, problems of failed states, to be contrasted with the sort of operation that comes out of our core self-interest which we tend to think of as being rather a big war and a big campaign. What we found as a result of 11 September is that we may have to get involved in difficult, unpleasant, protracted sorts of campaigns. Whereas before we were really setting ourselves quite a severe test as to whether or not we got involved in them, because we did not think they would be central to our national interests. Now we find they are actually potentially central, so that is one area where I would see a lot more thought required than exists already.

  143. Do you think that Al-Qaeda is poised to make another attack, given what you were saying about terrorist organisations' propensity to undertake a series of attacks?
  (Professor Freedman) I think I would be unwise to make any predictions at all, and we are still not wholly sure what happened yesterday. Yes, Al-Qaeda is a group which, through the 1990s, has attempted to mount a series of attacks. In some cases it succeeded: in a number of cases, thankfully, it failed. It tried to do what it did on September 11 in 1993 by a different method. It has tried multiple attacks; it has used suicide bombers, this is its modus operandi, and we can presume it will try again. I think there are a number of questions that then arise. First, to what extent was anything planned before September 11 to follow on, because I suspect, given what has happened after September 11, communications between Afghanistan and the various cells in the field may not be so good. So it is a question of what has been happening.

  144. Whether they had already pre-planned a package?
  (Professor Freedman) Yes, whether we have got a package coming. The other problem is whether or not, either as a result of the coalition campaign or because these people are fired up anyway, individuals or small groups, with no former connection with Al-Qaeda, nonetheless wish to follow its spirit and do things on their own volition which are possibly going to be even harder to trace, therefore. We have already seen some indications of very small-scale attacks with individuals in the Middle East and in central Asia, but this may turn into something quite big. Probably not, but that is also one of the things that we have to be anxious about. Of course, finally, even things that have nothing to do necessarily with Al-Qaeda, like the anthrax attacks, like what happened yesterday if it turns out to have been an accident, nonetheless contribute to a prevailing mood of anxiety and uncertainty that in a way reinforces the immediate political effects gained by the September 11 attack so, having generated that mood, it possibly can be sustained by means over which they have no control directly.

  145. You heard Dr Ranstorp's evidence earlier on to us. He implied that, even if we were to get rid of bin Laden, there would be others to take his place and we need to get the middle management, as he called them, rooted out. Would you agree with that?
  (Professor Freedman) Yes. I do not think it is wrong to focus on the senior political leadership of a group like this. To some extent he is the impresario of a lot of terrorist activity; he funded it and encouraged it and it is worth recording that it is not always what we would consider terrorist activities—sending fighters into civil wars to take one side against another in Chechnya or Kashmir or Bosnia. So there is a variety of things that have gone on and, if the head is taken away, I think that will have an effect on the rest of the organisation. Again, however, to the extent that these are people who are committed, sure in their beliefs, determined to hurt the west—perhaps even more determined if they feel they have suffered a conventional defeat, as they may well now do—then yes, we need to be working very hard to deal with those people.

  146. Are there other terrorist groups that you think are capable of mounting the kind of organised operation that Al-Qaeda undertook, and, going on from what you just said, do you think some of them might be attracted to Al-Qaeda now, given that they would see it in their terms as their success and, therefore, they might be tempted to rally to that particular flag?
  (Professor Freedman) I think a lot of people are watching to see what happens before they decide whether or not al-Qaeda has been successful or not. One of the difficulties with terrorism and one of the whole problems with talking about what is going on purely in terms of the tactics used rather than the politics that motivate the activists, is that we define success as to whether or not an activity has been undertaken and they have got away with it and people on our side have been hurt and killed. But they are doing it for political purposes and they want to see, essentially, the United States withdraw from the Middle East and to play no further part in the politics of the Middle East and, if that is not the case, then they have failed. They have caused—

  147. Can I stop you there? Do you think if we were, tonight, to be able to resolve the problems in the Middle East between the Israelis and their neighbours, that would so remove the cause of al--Qaeda that they would say, "That's it, boys, we will hang up our Kalashnikovs"?
  (Professor Freedman) Absolutely not. They want to be much more radical than that.

  148. So it would be a complete self-delusion on our part to imagine that, if we were to resolve the Middle Eastern crisis, we would thereby resolve the terrorist problem as well?
  (Professor Freedman) The importance of resolving the Middle East crisis is for the people of the Middle East. That is why you need to try to resolve that. It might have the incidental effect of removing one of the arguments used quite effectively by Al-Qaeda, and which animates many people who support them, but their objectives are much more radical. When I said that they want to see the withdrawal of the United States from the Middle East, I did not just mean from supporting Israel. More important to bin Laden has been the American presence in Saudi Arabia itself; they want the Americans out of Saudi Arabia; they want the Americans to leave Iraq alone; they want them out and they want them out largely because they do not like the regimes. So their objectives are very radical and in that sense, possibly, bound to be doomed to disappointment but, if they felt they were seeing real shifts in American foreign policy as a result of what had happened, then maybe that would be considered encouragement and encourage other groups to try more. There is also, obviously, the copycat element: things have now been put into the public domain by the sheer drama of the events that might have been there in the writings of academics before but had not gained mass attention: now people have got an idea of the sort of things that can be done if you put your mind to it so yes, you have to assume that groups unknown, groups loosely affiliated with Al-Qaeda, might try the same things in the future. But a lot of organisation and thought and effort went into those attacks: they were not crude and primitive acts of terrorism of the sort we used to assume was going to happen. These were well-planned over a long period, and that takes a particular sort of group and organisation to do.

  149. Obviously they have been going for twelve years now so they have had plenty of time to plan all this. Would you say the common thread here, the thing that knits them all together, is their Islamic fundamentalism, their rejection of western values? Do you think that globalisation has a part to play in this, and "globalisation" is shorthand for western/American/Coca Cola domination?
  (Professor Freedman) I think there are lots of different strands there. The common anti-globalisation protester has very little in common with the Taleban. By and large they are not homophobic and they are not misogynist and their values are traditional leftist/modernist, if you like, progressive, but not the same, so I think we have to be careful in assuming that the anti-globalist movement somehow has common cause. What you can say is that the Al-Qaeda and the sort of philosophy they represent is anti modernist, anti secularist, which makes it quite different from traditional Arab radicalism and many other Arab terrorist groups. Most of these associated with Palestinian terrorism in the past, not now, have been quite secular in inspiration and, if they had a model, it was Fabian socialism of the old sort, whereas now this is—


  150. I think most of us have drifted away from that!
  (Professor Freedman) It is amazing how things move on, but now the model is a resistance of western influences of all sorts, of which the Taleban was the most extreme example, and probably even a losing battle, from what one gathers, in Afghanistan even while they were being left alone. That is the inspiration, therefore, for what is called Islamic fundamentalism. It is a particular form of Islam. Many fundamentalists, people who consider themselves very pure and fundamental in their beliefs, would not resort to terrorism. The two do not go together. It is a particularly extreme view of Islam combined with a resistance to modernism. I think it is possibly the case that the collapse of the Soviet Union means that there is not a model around for many people in the Third World who have an instinctive distrust and dislike of the United States and American corporations and western corporations in general. They had that model in the past provided by the Soviet Union but that has failed and evaporated, so an alternative model which is now more religious than inspirational—

Mr Howarth

  151. Not the third way, I hope?
  (Professor Freedman) No. Even they do not call it the third way.


  152. There is the sniff of conservatism about it, harking back to ancient medieval philosophies of the state!
  (Professor Freedman) I think reactionary more than conservative!

  Mr Howarth: I think on that happy note, Chairman, I will conclude. Thank you.

Jim Knight

  153. How do you think other terrorist groups might change their tactics after seeing the attacks? Has it raised the ante?
  (Professor Freedman) It has raised the standard. If you look at past conventional attacks with bombs, I think Lockerbie was the worst, so you do not have attacks with conventional weapons that get you above 300 casualties. I think that was one way in which we had a dichotomy between the standard terrorist threat which was awful but in a sense something that was not that dissimilar from a normal aircraft accident, if you like, and the weapon of mass destruction attack which had been the focus of much of the literature prior to September 11. If you were worrying about super terrorism, you worried about weapons of mass destruction. I think what this attack has done has focussed attention on the things you can do, especially if you do not mind dying in the process, by using much more easily accessed conventional explosives. What is striking is that I have been spending some time looking at the writings on this issue, government reports in the US and elsewhere from before 11 September, and there is a sort of acknowledgement of this intermediate category. It gets very little attention. One just has to think that the first World Trade Center attack, if it had succeeded in 1993, was designed to topple one tower on to the other and would have been even worse, possibly, than the one we saw. It was not impossible that it would have succeeded. We know that one right wing militia in the United States had some horrendous plans to attack chemical-filled factories in the United States which, again, could have caused massive casualties. So I think what it has given a focus to, and where I hope the governments do not simply think about chemical, biological and nuclear threats now but pay attention to these other sorts of vulnerabilities as well, is second order mass destruction, where you use conventional explosive to generate something much worse.

  154. So it is almost trying to predict the unpredictable: that terrorist organisations may be thinking laterally along the lines of how to achieve similar results using similarly unpredicted means?
  (Professor Freedman) Yes. Again, it depends what people are trying to achieve. Most terrorist incidents do not involve anybody being killed at all, if you look at the American statistics on this. There is a statement by one of the American scholars going way back to the 1970s when attention first started to be given to the idea of nuclear terrorism. Brian Jenkins commented that terrorists want people watching, not dead. They want an audience. That has been one of the assumptions why there was not necessarily a great interest in mass casualty and that possibly was true with the IRA and ETA and other groups like that; they had clear political aims that required terror, anxiety, a constant background of insecurity, but did not necessarily want to create such a political crisis by killing so many people. So to the extent that these groups want to kill a large number of people, yes, it has put ideas in their heads and it is always difficult for us, who do not spend most of our waking hours trying to work out how to kill large numbers of people, to get ourselves into their minds and work out what they may see. Finally, following on from that, one of our temptations is to look at our own societies and think where are we vulnerable and put a lot of effort into areas where, if we were terrorists, we would have another go. So there has been a mass of literature on cyber terrorism, attacking information systems, yet very little evidence that much of this has been attempted on a big scale. Lots on a secondary scale by disgruntled employees or extortionists or whatever, but nothing of a scale that would actually threaten the equilibrium of our societies. It fitted in with our picture of, if we were terrorists, what would we? Do not necessarily kill large numbers of people but just cause a disruption but it is always going to be hard for us to get ourselves in the mindset of people whose starting point is how do you kill a large amount of people. My guess is they are now going to look at the facilities, buildings, plants, that, if they could be attacked in some way, could generate something far worse, and they could do it with the original means at their disposal.

  155. Following on from that, if we cannot easily get into the mindset of the people, then we move over to intelligence, and there was much criticism in the immediate aftermath of the attacks that our intelligence services internationally failed us in not picking up that this might be happening. How well placed are we in the UK to generate intelligence when we need to deal with such threats, and is it a case of making improvements by simply throwing more resources at it or do we need to make some more fundamental structural changes?
  (Professor Freedman) I am not sure I am fully competent to comment on that. With the IRA, it took quite a while before our intelligence services worked out how to get a grip and what the proper structures were but you could see from the mid-90s that there were real improvements taking place. A lot of the time it required good human intelligence which requires infiltration. Now, it is one thing to think about how you can do that with an Irish group speaking our language with which we are quite familiar and know a lot about, but to infiltrate groups with different languages, different mores, different backgrounds, it is much more difficult. Clearly human intelligence has been the real difficulty here and I think this is one area where there is not a relationship about the way you go about your intelligence collection and the overall political context in which it is taking place because essentially you are dependent on upon defectors, upon people who are starting to become uneasy. A lot of the intelligence we have on Al-Qaeda came from people who baulked at the last minute at what they were being asked to do, and they are the sort of sources that we are going to need in the future, and you need a political climate that makes these sort of people feel able to come forward, and that is part of the political process of isolating Al-Qaeda. So though I could not really comment on the organisational side, I do not think one should lose sight of the link between intelligence collection and the overall foreign policies being pursued, because if you get that right then you make intelligence collection easy.

  156. Just to follow on, we have talked about the global nature of Al-Qaeda and the threat and what follows from that is what the western alliances, particularly NATO and the EU, should be doing in terms of intelligence gathering and then crucially sharing. Coalitions are built on trust.
  (Professor Freedman) That is the key phrase: trust and intelligence sharing have not always gone together because, essentially, you have a piece of information which has a value attached to it, and the matter can be traded amongst intelligence agencies. Like any commodity you are being offered, you ask what is the quality, how reliable is it, what am I supposed to provide in return, and that is traditionally the way a lot of intelligence has been traded. As soon as you find that what you have been told is not quite true or important things have been withheld, then the trust can go, so building up trust amongst intelligence agencies is very difficult. Of course, you are always going to suspect. If you get, let's say, for example, a certain sort of intelligence from Israel, it may well point, to a connection with Iraq. Now, are you sure you are getting other intelligence that might discount that connection or have certain things been exaggerated in the telling because Israel would really like us to have another go at Iraq? Even if the intelligence is perfectly decent and honest, those nagging doubts are going to be there, so there are structural problems that you have to be realistic about when you are talking about intelligence co-operation. If you can build up the trust: if people do think that stuff is not being withheld: that they are being allowed to see what they need to see: then it is surprising how far you can get, but clearly between the Anglo Saxon countries there is considerable trust and a lot of sharing that goes on. Elsewhere it is not so good. There is another point about intelligence co-operation which relates to what you are talking about with previous witnesses. One of the problems is not enough intelligence is shared with emergency services. They are not considered to be part of their problems; and I know in the United States this has been one of the key concerns: that if you want to get the emergency services to respond, it is no good just saying, "The FBI thinks there is real danger today". You have to trust local officials, local councillors even, sometimes with quite sensitive stuff and that is not a thing that most intelligence agencies are going to feel very comfortable about doing. But you cannot expect local organisations to get themselves prepared if they feel completely in the dark about what they are preparing against.


  157. Here is the examination question. In three minutes, if you had to write this additional chapter for the SDR, what do you think in broad outline should be in it, particularly in relation to homeland defence? I suspect they got it wrong in the SDR?
  (Professor Freedman) Homeland defence has become more important because there was a tendency—well, let me go back, if I am allowed to start my exam question again! The problem with the way we were looking at things a few years ago, as I indicated before, is we had this idea there were big threats that produced major wars which threatened the homeland which were not a concern too much any more but we had to maintain some capability just in case. Then there were the problems in the rest of the world, well distant from these shores, that would require intervention, expeditionary forces. There were problems over there, not over here, and that tended to play down the problem of homeland defence. Though a lot of people spoke of the problem of asymmetric warfare, which almost became a cliche, they were not really I think always thinking through what that meant. What it meant was that the victims of our intervention would wish to respond in ways that would make us desist. Either that would involve killing large numbers of our troops, or it would involve hurting us at home. I think that is the basic point that has now come through. When they hurt us at home, then it does not become an intervention in somebody else's quarrel—it very much has become our quarrel as well—in which case you are going to have to use more forceful means than you might have been prepared to use if you just thought you were engaged in something like peace support operation. We need to think through, therefore, sets of conflicts which draw us into parts of the world where we might not otherwise wish to go and, in drawing us in, do potentially in some ways create terrorist threat or any other sort of threat. The Americans were mainly worried about long range missiles. I am not so sure that has been such a big threat but they were worried about it. But a series of possible responses at home. They are the issues that have to be reflected upon. I am not sure, other than the problems of homeland defence, that it necessarily produces a dramatically different force structure to the one we have now, but—and maybe I would say this as an academic—I do think the framework in which we think about problems does influence our immediate responses, and our ability to get a grip on them. After all, one of the great benefits of SDR 98 was that it provided a conceptual framework for making sense of forces that by and large had already been developed, and I think this may well be what the new chapter does as well.

Patrick Mercer

  158. Before you came in we were talking about counter terrorist doctrine and really how this fitted into British defence doctrine. Last week we heard from the Director General Joint Doctrine and Concepts about the manoeuvre warfare way of thinking and how there would be challenges to this concept to try and adapt it to particularly the psychological element of the terrorist threat. Do you think that current British defence doctrine will stand us in good stead as the threat has evolved or, maybe, changed?
  (Professor Freedman) I am reasonably comfortable in many respects with the way it has developed. The British—more than the Americans I think—have understood that in a lot of these conflicts in failed states, weak states, whatever you want to call them, what happens on the ground is critical, and the ability to influence what is going on on the ground probably requires your own people there. It requires your own forces and your own military presence, and I think that is well understood by the British forces, and they are more ready than the United States' forces to accept the risks that that may involve. The Americans will have force protection as their first priority and, clearly, at some points you cannot do that if you want to have the political influence that we are talking about. The sort of conflicts that nobody wants to get involved with—dirty, prolonged, physically unpleasant in many respects, involved in quite complicated political cultures and social structures—all of these things require well-trained junior officers and NCOs, capable of operating sensitively in these situations, using force only when they need to but understanding how to use it robustly when they do need to do it—I think that is the way that British thinking has been going for some time. So although there are always things to learn, I am reasonably comfortable with the way the British forces, particularly the Army, have been thinking about this over the last decade, not just since 1998.

  159. Why, then, does defence doctrine not articulate that? We had a mantra trotted out to us last week that appeared to be inflexible. The fact that there was not a proper understanding, as I saw, of the fact that our rear operations were the enemy's deep operations. Exactly that sensitivity?
  (Professor Freedman) Well, maybe I am reflecting too much on the training and discussion that goes on amongst the office and people doing the planning. I am talking more about military culture, if you like, than doctrine. I think the difficulty with doctrine is that I think probably too much weight tends to be put on it by military organisations. It is like religious organisations: you must have something to which everybody must follow at all times, and because of that it often gets rather convoluted and bland. It is not necessarily the best way to get over your understanding of the conflict in which you are involved. I think the understanding is pretty good, and the training. Whether you can articulate this—well, maybe that is what we need this extra chapter to do and to be much more honest, facing what is still likely to be facing us in Afghanistan and to be honest about just how difficult these problems can be and how long it takes.

Rachel Squire

  160. Can I ask you whether you think that the crisis we have experienced since 11 September has brought about a fundamental long-term change in the security situation in the Gulf in the Middle East and the relationship between the US and Russia and, if so, what effects do you think it is going to have on UK in particular and Europe in general?
  (Professor Freedman) I would say in the first instance this has yet to be played out. A lot depends on how this concludes. First, I think it is being played for very big stakes indeed. I do not think one should underestimate the political stakes. Basically the United States was attacked. A very small group took the offensive against the world's greatest power to dissuade it from being a great power and, if it succeeds, then the United States will have to come to the conclusion it cannot be a great power; that it has to withdraw from a lot of its international commitments and interest. That, in an extreme sense, is the stake that is being played for. I do not think it will come to that but that is what Al-Qaeda would have liked to achieve. Certainly if this turns out to be very difficult, as we saw with Vietnam which turned out to be very difficult, it had a long-term effect on American readiness to engage with the rest of the world, and how they engaged with the rest of the world. So it is important in those ways. We are hoping most of us at the moment that how this has worked so far will encourage the United States to be much more multilateral in its foreign policy and appreciate the importance of allies and realise the need to engage with very difficult parts of the world, and if that is the case it is the opposite of what Al-Qaeda was hoping for and could produce a beneficial effect. I think we are already seeing beneficial effects in relations if you like within the non-Muslim world, a much improved relationship with the US and Russia, better than we had reason to hope between US and China, quite good trans-Atlantic relations—that I think is all so far on the positive side. At the same time, tensions within the Islamic world and between the non-Islamic and Islamic worlds have been aggravated, and that again is something that Al-Qaeda would have hoped for and that requires considerable political attention. As I said to Mr Howarth before, it is much more than the simplistic view that if only we had a Middle East initiative it would all be OK. It is part of it, because the Middle East is something that is picked on, but it is quite low down, I think, Al-Qaeda's concerns and things like Chechnya, Kashmir, Daghestan and all sorts of places like that are higher up their concerns, as well as, of course, Saudi Arabia, so there is a lot to be done there. I think that is understood, and the Prime Minister has been speaking of the possibilities that have now opened up when so much is in flux, and I think there is some truth in that, but I think it possibly requires not only a series of foreign policy responses but some institution-building as well to look hard at the international institutions as they have developed over the period of the cold war, not modified that much since the end of the cold war, and maybe, if we are going to get real answers to these long-term problems, they have to be looked at even harder.

  Chairman: Thank you so much. We do hope we can resume this in a not-so-formal structure.

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