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11 Mar 2003 : Column 217—continued

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. The hon. Gentleman must not refer to hon. Members in that way. He must use their correct parliamentary titles.

Mr. Tyrie: I meant the Prime Minister. I beg your forgiveness, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

In the past few weeks, the House of Commons has played a crucial role in international affairs. That has probably not happened often in the past 50 years, and it is to be commended.

Britain's stand now gives us greater scope for a privileged dialogue with the United States. For what should we press? Certainly not the foreign policy of George Bush. The US Administration's rhetoric to justify military action is dangerous for us all. They are adopting a foreign policy for creating a new world order, based on the twin doctrines of pre-emptive action and regime change. If that rhetoric becomes reality in the years ahead, we will put ourselves on the road not to a new international order but to new international anarchy. We all have a huge interest in orderly relations between states. That applies especially to America. Order is a value, and when it is put at risk, so are we.

The international system's stability depends on the mutual recognition of states' legitimacy. It is a common-sense principle: do not invade my house and I will not invade yours. George Bush is setting that doctrine aside. The doctrine of regime change advocates the removal, by force if necessary, of the leaders of states who do not share western values.

Mr. Kilfoyle: The hon. Gentleman and I have held conversations along similar lines. However, does he accept that matters are even more disturbing when one considers the military policy that underpins the developments that he describes? It includes "Joint Vision 20/20", which aspires to full spectrum dominance of air, sea, land, space and communications, and the repudiation of the no nuclear first strike policy. The latter policy had been in place for more than 50 years.

Mr. Tyrie: I am worried about many aspects of the new American foreign policy. The hon. Gentleman refers to a number that need careful attention. I want to concentrate on the two key new doctrines that the American Administration have espoused and articulated in detail.

The doctrine of regime change is inherently destabilising because it implies removing by force the leaders of states who do not share western values.

With the doctrine of pre-emptive military action, the Americans argue that they may take military action even in the absence of a clear and imminent threat to

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their interests or those of their allies. If pre-emptive strikes are undertaken without evidence of an imminent attack, we shall be in a global free-for-all.

The doctrine of regime change is just as corrosive. It prompts the question of who should decide whether a country's leadership should be changed. Other countries are on to this. The Foreign Ministry of North Korea recently suggested, using similar language to that of the American Administration, that it may need to engage in a pre-emptive strike. Even more recently, Vladimir Putin virtually read out part of one of George Bush's speeches on pre-emptive strikes to justify his recent bombing of Georgia. Militant Muslim fundamentalists also argue for regime change.

Mr. George Osborne (Tatton): Does my hon. Friend claim that the sovereignty of nations should always take precedence over humanitarian concerns? Were we therefore wrong to intervene in Kosovo and right not to do so in Rwanda, where most people believed that we should have intervened? Should vile regimes always be left in place simply because that preserves the nation state?

Mr. Tyrie: Shortage of time prevents me from developing a detailed argument in response, but humanitarian intervention can and should be justified when a very broad-based international coalition can be assembled in favour of it. That is what happened in the case of Idi Amin: all countries supported Tanzania's action to get rid of him.

Mr. Osborne: Kosovo?

Mr. Tyrie: Kosovo is a more complicated example, as in that case there was no such universal support. A crucial member of the Security Council dissented. It is actually not clear that the humanitarian intentions of those who invaded Kosovo—us, basically—secured an improvement in humanitarian conditions in the region. Nor am I certain that we precipitated the fall of Milosevic. That might have happened had we not intervened; in fact, as many leading Serbs argue, it might have happened more quickly. I am sorry that I cannot develop the point further, for it is a crucial point, but of course there is a role for humanitarian intervention in the world, both within and beyond what is prescribed by law under the United Nations.

What we must do now is also consider what effect some of these doctrines will have on weaker countries that do not share American values, and how they may react to the coercion implied by America's new doctrines. I believe that it will encourage them to seek protection in the possession of nuclear weapons. A protective proliferation would be a huge price to pay for America's new rhetoric. The difference between the treatment meted out to North Korea, which has just expelled inspectors, and the treatment of Iraq, which has just let inspectors in, sends a clear and dangerous signal about the value of nuclear weapons to small countries.

The long-run price of George Bush's new world order may well be the opposite of his intention: a new global disorder. President Bush does not seem to realise how unsettling his rhetoric is for much of the international community. He does not seem to see that pre-emptive

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military intervention and regime change can never become accepted doctrines of the international community. They are inherently revolutionary in scope, even if inspired by benign motives.

In justification of the new doctrines, the US Administration say, and the Prime Minister says, that the threats of terrorism and nuclear proliferation are new, and that a new order is required to counter them. I believe that both assertions are wrong, although I have little time in which to explain why.

What certainly has changed is the United States. The harsh truth is that the Americans have overreacted to 11 September. In dealing with terrorism they are on a steep learning curve, on which we have been for many more years. They seem not to have grasped the most basic point—that an overreaction is exactly what terrorists seek. Force has a role, but it can also be counterproductive. By alienating moderate Muslim opinion, and much western opinion too, George Bush's new world order may be playing straight into the hands of Muslim extremists.

Our Prime Minister has a difficult judgment to make. If by ensuring that there is not even a chink of light between us and the Americans he has acquired a greater leverage on the US Administration behind the scenes, he can do us all a great service. What worries me is that I have seen no evidence that he is clear about what he needs to tell the Americans, and about how to use that leverage. On the contrary, from time to time he seems to indulge in the rhetoric of new world orders that concerns me so much. I hope that he will use the extra influence that he may have over the Americans to remind them that America's current global ascendancy is not a result of sheer force, but the product of decades of careful alliance building and restraint in the exercise of power. The greatest casualty of all may turn out to be the western alliance—an awful prospect.

In that regard, let me read part of the letter of resignation written by John Kiesling, a senior American diplomat, to his boss. He said:

I believe that that American diplomat got it exactly right. That is precisely what concerns me most.

It was primarily by winning the argument about the superiority of open society values, backed by military containment, that the Americans won the cold war, bringing freedom and democracy to half the continent. It is by returning now to that policy of containment and deterrence—by returning to America's post-war global conservatism, rather than turning to messianic radicalism, that the world can be made a safer place.

4.5 pm

Ross Cranston (Dudley, North): In 1956, the then Government tried to justify their actions in the Suez canal. Led by Lord McNair, who had just finished serving on the International Court of Justice, international lawyers said that the Government were wrong, and they were right.

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Last Friday, The Guardian published a letter from some of the leading international lawyers in this country. They wrote:

After setting out the "only two exceptions" for the use of force that are allowed under the charter—self-defence, and action authorised by the Security Council—the letter continued:

In my view—I state it bluntly, even though some of the signatories to the letter are friends and colleagues—that is wrong. In my view, the Government have been, and continue to be, legally correct in the course that they are pursuing over Iraq.

The excellent Foreign Affairs Committee report that we are considering today provides a springboard for consideration of some of these important legal issues. That report and the Committee's fourth report on Kosovo, from the 1999–2000 Session, are a mine of information on the legal arguments. It is not at all clear that anyone who read those reports could reach the absolutist conclusion contained in the letter in The Guardian. Let me try to consider that letter in the light of the justifications in international law for the use of force, the first of which is self-defence.

Individual and collective self-defence are recognised expressly under article 51 of the UN charter. The Committee's report contains a useful discussion of the right of self-defence, and especially the notion of pre-emptive self-defence as set out in the American document entitled, "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America", which was published last year. Pre-emptive self-defence seeks to address potential, not just imminent, threats. On self-defence in general, I agree with the views of Professor Greenwood as set out in paragraphs 146 to 148 of the report. He argues that the law in relation to article 51 has to be interpreted in the light of the world that we now live in, which is different from that of 1945, and in the light of common sense.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Donald Anderson) mentioned the Caroline case. The world has certainly moved on from that 19th century decision in terms of the gravity of the threats that we face—from nuclear weapons, and so on—as opposed to the cross-border raids then contemplated. Secondly, the method of delivery of the threat has changed. It is now more difficult to determine the time scale within which a threat of attack by terrorist means will be launched.

So far as pre-emptive self-defence is concerned, the Committee pointed out the dangers of that doctrine. It cited the situation in India and Pakistan, and in China and Taiwan. It concluded that, if the Governments of the United States, Britain and other countries should seek to justify military action against Iraq by using the notion of pre-emptive self-defence, they would be in serious risk, and I agree with that. In responding to the Committee's report, the Government have taken the conventional view—which I agree with—that it is well established in international law that there is a right to take necessary and proportionate military action in self-

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defence, but that that applies only when an attack is imminent. Self-defence in that way does not arise in the current Iraqi crisis. There is some discussion in the report about that, but I shall pass over it and move on to the second justification in international law for the use of force: action authorised by the Security Council as a collective response to a threat to peace, to a breach of the peace, or to an act of aggression.

I dealt with that issue in my contribution to the debate on 22 January and set out the basics of chapter VII enforcement action. I asked two questions—what would happen if the UN did not explicitly authorise the use of force, and could one or a number of states take enforcement action to give effect to a Security Council resolution? I said that those possibilities could not be ruled out.

The example of Kosovo has been mentioned and is referred to in the report in paragraph 143. The signatories to the letter in The Guardian claimed that the UN charter outlaws the use of force with only two exceptions, as I have outlined. However, neither exception applied in Kosovo, although some Security Council resolutions were agreed. For example, resolution 1199 of September 1998 called for a ceasefire, recognised the impending humanitarian catastrophe and affirmed the threat to peace and security, but it did not authorise the use of all necessary means.

Resolution 1203 of October 1998 affirmed the existence of a threat to peace and welcomed the agreement that had been achieved through the threat of force. Resolution 1244 of June 1999 authorised the international security presence in Kosovo to use all necessary means to fulfil its responsibilities. However, there was no express approval by the Security Council of the action that NATO had taken. The reason was simple, and it was the threat of a Russian and Chinese veto.

How do we justify what happened in Kosovo?

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