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Mr. Bercow: I am listening to the hon. Gentleman with interest and respect. Surely the problem is that the United Nations needs to become an instrument of necessary change rather than merely a symbol of passive acceptance of the status quo. Does he accept that the United States has often felt inclined to go it alone not because it wants to be in splendid isolation, but because the United Nations continues to abdicate its responsibility to stand up for what is right? Will he at least acknowledge that it needs to do that?

Mr. Kilfoyle: I acknowledge that the United Nations needs change and reform, as Kofi Annan has said more than once. Many others would also agree with the hon. Gentleman. However, that is not quite the same as saying that the United Nations as an imperfect instrument is an excuse for unilateralism on the part of the United States. Individuals in a number of American Administrations, but in particular the current Administration, have argued that. There is a school of thought that looks for reasons to distance the United States from the UN. It will go so far as to manufacture reasons that it can add to those that he rightly highlighted, which require remedy. It is not good enough, however, for one country's interests—even if it is the only superpower—to ride roughshod over the views of the world community.

The Administration also believe in pre-emptive warfare and regime change, which are illegal. They believe in militarising space. Their military doctrine uses the marvellous phrase "full-spectrum dominance". That is not about parity or balance. The word that is used is "dominance"—dominance of air, sea, land, space and information. This is megalomania. I do not know any other word to use when one country aspires to dominate the world in every theatre of operations.

They are also an Administration who are developing bunker buster A-bombs. I wonder what will happen next year with the review of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Renewal of mutual defence agreements is coming up. Many might argue—I would love to hear what the Secretary of State for Defence or his spokesperson has to say on this—that that violates the NPT. If it does, where does that leave us in terms of a consensus on controlling some of the things that are happening?

The easy answer, which I have half-answered, is that we have to think long term and those are long-term strategies. As the sage has said repeatedly, the only thing we know is that in the long term we are all dead. We have to get through the next four years of a particular Administration in Washington who have a particular world view.

To give an insight into that Administration, I want to quote from an article in "The Weekly Standard" on 22 November. For those who do not know "The Weekly Standard", it is an in-house journal for the neo-cons
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in    the United States. Its contributing editor is a Dr. Strangelove character, Charles Krauthammer. The article is written by another interesting man, Irwin Stelzer. He has a formidable intellect and is amiable. I quite like him. His politics are off the scale as far as I am concerned, but they are at the heart of the neo-cons. He counts the members of the Bush family among his personal friends and also my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He is often a dinner guest with the Prime Minister. His thoughts have some resonance in the two arms of the relationship as it currently holds. I was taken by Mr. Stelzer's article. It states:

I do not hold to that, and I am sure that many colleagues on both sides of the House would take a different view.

Mr. Stelzer wrote that Colin Powell

"Aggressive" is his word, not mine. He says that an aggressive view is being taken on how the United States deals with the world.

It would please some people to know how anti-European the American Administration are. Perhaps it accounts for the official Opposition taking the view that they have, which is rather like that of Janus. I used to think of the Liberal Democrats in that sense—looking both ways at once. In this instance, it is the Conservative party that is taking that approach.

Mr. Stelzer adds that

Another paragraph of the article reads:

There we have it. It is a dilemma for the British Government in being a bridge between Europe and America when one of the two parties sees itself as diametrically opposed to the other.

My final quote is:

There we have a neo-con house journal arguing the case that there is a choice to be made. It is saying that there is not a bridge and that a choice is to be made whether one's destiny lies with Europe or with, perhaps, the 51st or 52nd state or whatever of the United States. It is an extremely difficult dilemma for any Government. I hope that unlike their approach towards supporting America in the Iraq war, the Government will exercise a great deal of caution before committing themselves either way.

4.43 pm

David Burnside (South Antrim) (UUP): I shall be in Washington before Christmas meeting many of my neo-con friends. I shall pass on to them the views of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle).

Before the war, in conversation with some neo-cons in the United States, I expressed concern that I think reflected general feeling on both sides of the Chamber.
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I am concerned about the United States, with the United Kingdom, trying to roll out by force democracy throughout the world. Although all of us in this place believe in democracy, would defend democracy and would vote in the House to fight for democracy throughout the world, it is a dangerously naive and unsophisticated policy to pursue. To roll it out as part of foreign policy, which is the essence of much of neo-con thinking in Washington, is superficially naive and dangerous.

David Winnick : Did not the United States play a fairly positive role during the Clinton Administration in trying to bring about a settlement in Northern Ireland? I noticed that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle)—I missed the early part of his speech—did not mention that.

David Burnside: I will come later in my remarks to the past, present and future contributions of the United States Administration to the peace process to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Iraq and the management of the war is now the Government's major foreign policy objective. We are where we are. The House voted, we went to war, we are in Iraq and we must manage it efficiently and effectively with as much all-party support in the House and as much co-operation with the traditional Atlantic alliance as possible.

I shall concentrate my remarks on two peace processes that are sometimes complementary. Although I am not in the conflict-resolution sector of politics, as many of my fellow countrymen are in Northern Ireland, there are some lessons to be learned. The Government have an opportunity coming up to make a major contribution to a long-term, stable solution for peace in the middle east. There are a number of circumstances moving in the right direction.

The re-election of President Bush is good for the peace process in the middle east. A second-term president is always good for the management of international affairs. I believe that the instinctive concerns that some have about Bush and his priorities in the middle east will be allayed. He will deal with the middle east conflict, the problem of Palestine and relations with Israel. A strong American President in his second term is a great advantage.

The demise of Yasser Arafat is good for the future of the Palestinian people and will contribute to a more united, stable leadership that does not have the long-term legacy of terrorism or the freedom fighter image—whatever one's position and whatever one thinks—of Yasser Arafat. We all have our interpretations of the international links with Arafat in the early days of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and we all have our past. Arafat did not manage the Palestinian people firmly, fairly and in an honest and open way. His financial management of the state or statelet or yet-to-be state should be open to a great deal of scrutiny, and the international community must see that his type of management is not allowed in the future. The demise of Arafat is another circumstance that is good for a middle east solution.
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The third circumstance is that Prime Minister Sharon is showing considerably more flexibility than many had expected—flexibility on Gaza, the settlements and, hopefully, the Golan heights. He is a strong leader who will show flexibility at the right time.

The fourth circumstance that will help a solution in the middle east and be necessary in our allied relationship with the United States is the position of our own Prime Minister. He is a P45 Prime Minister: he has announced that he will stand for election and go some time after the next election. He is coming to the end. The Labour party is conspiring and working out who should be its next leader—and, it hopes, the next Prime Minister. Prime Minister Blair wants to have the hand of history on his shoulder in respect not only of Ireland but of the middle east, so he will make a major contribution, and his special relationship with President Bush is to the advantage of a solution in the middle east.

Those circumstances—President Bush, Arafat's demise, Sharon's flexibility, and our P45 Prime Minister going through for another one or two years until he is replaced—combine with other developments in the region. Syria has a new regime and there is reasonable peace in Lebanon, especially southern Lebanon. It is a stable country that has recovered from the worst times of the war. A new king in Jordan, King Abdullah, wants to play a major role in the middle east. In the long tradition of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, I believe that Jordan will play a crucial role in working towards a peace settlement based on the two states in the middle east.

We have passed the stage in foreign affairs where people even question the continuation of the independent sovereign state of Israel. That will continue. It will be supported, and the international community will respect it. We have passed the stage where people question whether there should be a two-state solution. The international community accepts that. We have the basis, with the world leadership, the presidents, the prime ministers and the support of the European Union, to establish a sound and stable peace solution through politics in the middle east. I am optimistic that the British Government and the Prime Minister will play a considerable role in achieving that objective.

I sometimes wonder whether British-Irish relations come within foreign policy or some other strange relationship that has developed from the 1985 Anglo-Irish agreement or the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday agreement, but the management of the peace process in Ireland, which again is a political process, is very much the joint management of Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Irish Republic. The British and Irish Governments have continually and abjectly failed to manage that process in a way that ends for ever the threat and continuation of terrorist organisations within Ireland, linked to the Irish republican movement and so-called loyalist paramilitaries.

The British and Irish Governments have played footsie with the republican Sinn Fein-IRA movement. They have compromised time and again. They have made it difficult for the democratic political parties within Northern Ireland—I include in that the Ulster Unionist party, the Democratic Unionist party and the SDLP, and one or two other small parties such as the Alliance—to play an active and continuing role in the
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political peace process because time and again they have appeased those who hold on to terrorist organisations and a vast criminal empire. That includes Sinn Fein-IRA led by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who are in and out of No. 10 Downing street with Jonathon Powell and other officials day in and day out, and never out of the Northern Ireland Office. They are still playing the double game of maintaining the terrorist threat without going the full route to becoming democrats and taking their place in a normal democratic society.

I read a statement earlier this week from the IRA president and Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams—that is what he is—saying that if we do not get the process moving ahead in the right direction, we should move to joint authority between the United Kingdom and the Irish Government. I fear such statements because they are deliberately provocative to those of us who are trying to stabilise and democratise politics in Northern Ireland for the long term and for ever. They are provoking Unionist people who feel that some form of British and Irish joint authority will be introduced over our heads, which would be against the so-called principle of consent that was meant to be in the Anglo-Irish agreement, and the so-called principle of consent that was meant to be in the Belfast agreement. We cannot have the principle of consent when some involved in the process are threatening a form of joint authority over us.

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