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The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that media speculation about the India cricket tour has, frankly, been quite absurd and irresponsible? Will she confirm through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that tours to India are as safe now as they ever have been?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we spent some time talking to the England and Wales Cricket Board about the proposed tour to India. Our talks included a meeting between our High Commissioner and the relevant authorities. The tour is scheduled to go ahead. Our advice in all such situations is always to contact the Foreign Office, either by telephone or by using our website. We are always available to give information and advice. At this point, our information is that the security situation is not such that we would advise against travel to India.

Northern Ireland: Terrorist Contacts

2.57 p.m.

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, it is long-standing government policy not to comment on intelligence matters. Noble Lords will

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know that I am obliged to reinforce that position, although I hope not with discourtesy either to the noble Lord or to the House.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for that Answer. I accept that it is very correct but somewhat briefer than I might have anticipated. However, does the noble and learned Lord agree that the 32 counties of Ireland are still awash with weapons and explosives, mainly in the hands of terrorists with international links? Does he also agree that the need for the highest levels of intelligence information, backed by the vigilance of a professional police force, is as great as ever in order to protect not only the people of Northern Ireland but also those of mainland Britain, as demonstrated in Birmingham at the weekend?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, there is a substantial body of weapons in the 32 counties, some of which are with loyalist terrorists and some with republican terrorists. Plainly that cannot be acceptable in any civilised society. The noble Lord is quite right. Of course, police work is absolutely essential and, to my knowledge, the police operate extremely closely with the appropriate agencies and with the Army. It certainly struck me at the weekend that vigilance is absolutely essential, not least on the mainland. I believe that sometimes we consider that terrorist activities will occur only in Northern Ireland. Quite plainly, as the noble Lord said, that is not so.

Lord Smith of Clifton: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, is uncharacteristically inappropriate bearing in mind that, at this particular time, it gives succour to the Pauline Armitage faction in the Ulster Unionist Party and assists in undermining Mr David Trimble?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I do not think that that was the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran. That was not how I took what he said, although I normally try to be as obliging as possible to the Liberal Democrats. The fact is that there is always a knife-edge in Northern Ireland. As it happens, the DUP applied to the courts in Northern Ireland this morning. In parenthesis, I say, with great respect, that we have an extraordinarily high-quality judiciary there—courageous, independent and honourable. As it happened, the Reverend Dr Paisley failed in his challenge.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it is therefore for Dr Reid to make these extremely subtle and careful decisions. We are fortunate to have a Secretary of State of that quality in post at this time.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, the Colombians have recently hosted various IRA members. To what extent does the noble and learned Lord believe that there is an association of terrorist groups linked together around the world?

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I simply do not know the full details of the Colombian connection. Her Majesty's Government made it plain that we will assist in any appropriate way. The judicial process, as the noble Viscount knows, is currently continuing in Colombia.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, further to the intervention from the Liberal Benches about my noble friend's Question, does the noble and learned Lord see any connection at all between what my noble friend asked and the very important and continuing need to track down terror and to use every weapon of intelligence to do so? Did we not learn from our personal experience 20 years ago in Northern Ireland that peace processes work only if at the same time one is bearing down on terrorism in every form and using every form of intelligence? Links with Al'Qaeda are an extremely important consideration. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will totally reject the implication of the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Clifton.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am not sure exactly what that implication was. I do not think that the question was meant to be unhelpful. As noble Lords know, I am always here to pour oil on troubled waters—and then not ignite it! The noble Lord, Lord Howell, is quite right. We are hopeful that we may gain the larger prize in Northern Ireland. We all know what an extraordinary achievement that will be. We have to be vigilant all the time. There are vicious and deeply malevolent criminal sections in Northern Ireland who wish to cause damage and to harm their fellow citizens. Many of them are deeply criminal and their actions have nothing to do with political activity at all.


3.2 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach) rose to move, That this House takes note of the situation in Afghanistan.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an important and timely debate. There have been several notable debates in this House, starting with the first on 14th September. The Government have sought to keep the House and noble Lords fully informed by offering briefings to Opposition spokespersons as well as to noble and gallant Lords. Today's debate comes one day short of being eight weeks after the atrocities in the United States and about four weeks after the commencement of military operations in Afghanistan. We are clearly entering an important phase of operations.

I should like very briefly to explain once again why we and our coalition partners have embarked upon military action against targets in Afghanistan. The events of 11th September stay fixed in the memories of all of us. The loss of innocent life was huge—perhaps 5,000 dead—and 80 British nationals are still missing. Nor was that the only crime of Al'Qaeda. The 1998 bombing of two American embassies in East Africa,

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which left another 200 innocent dead, and the plot—fortunately foiled—to bomb American airports during the millennium festivities give an idea of Al'Qaeda's ruthlessness and its exercise of terror on a scale that is almost beyond belief.

Almost as extraordinary is the idea that a government should shield any organisation such as Al'Qaeda. But that is exactly what the Taliban regime has tried to do. That cannot even be excused as a kind of misplaced patriotism. Al'Qaeda is as alien to the people of Afghanistan as it is to ourselves. Nor does it represent any true sense of a religious duty, whatever Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar may claim. Condemnation of the 11th September attacks have been as strong across Muslim countries as anywhere else. No; Al'Qaeda and the Taliban are inextricably linked by a breathtaking contempt for innocent life. They are also joined in their refusal to recognise the enormity of the crimes that were committed on 11th September.

The Taliban is a brutal, repressive and hypocritical regime that has a particularly appalling record of abusing the human rights of the women of Afghanistan. Despite that, our coalition still gave it a choice to resolve this situation without military action. By refusing to surrender Osama bin Laden, by refusing to renounce its support for terrorism and by refusing to release the foreign nationals whom it held, and by lying and prevaricating, it brought military action upon itself.

That, in brief, is why the coalition has taken military action in self-defence under the Charter of the United Nations. The action has, I stress, coherent and consistent aims. It is itself part of a wider strategy to defeat international terrorism—a subject to which I will return. Our military aims are: first, to destroy the terrorist camps; secondly, to pressurise the Taliban regime to end its support for Osama bin Laden; and, thirdly, to enable us to mount future operations in Afghanistan.

We know that our military objectives are being achieved. Since the air campaign began on 7th October, nine terrorist camps have been destroyed, including all those that were known to be in use when the campaign started. Al'Qaeda's ability to train has been severely limited and therefore so is its ability to carry out further attacks. The first military objective—the destruction of the terrorist camps—has been accomplished.

That is a considerable achievement and one that should serve the world well. But camps can be rebuilt or new ones constructed. Terrorists can hide and return later. So we continue to press home attacks on terrorist targets, including the caves where they live.

The coalition has also acted in support of the second military objective—to pressurise the Taliban to abandon its support for bin Laden and the Al'Qaeda network. We have attacked some 40 separate Taliban military facilities, with encouraging results. All are damaged and many are destroyed. In addition, Taliban forces that are deployed in the field are coming

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under increasing attack. The bulk of the coalition's military effort is now against such forces rather than against the military infrastructure. The coalition is thereby aiding the Northern Alliance and others who are fighting the Taliban regime. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State described in another place, the coalition has had considerable success in that regard—significant amounts of armour, vehicles, equipment and stores have been destroyed, including some 150 military vehicles and more than 50 artillery pieces.

Of course, we cannot yet say whether our success has been complete. We have not yet achieved the second military objective in full. The Taliban regime is still supporting Osama bin Laden and Al'Qaeda. However, the Northern Alliance is growing in strength and we know that the Taliban is short of food and military supplies and is feeling the strain. Why else would Mullah Omar demand, on pain of death, oaths of loyalty from leading Afghans? Why else would he permit Muslims whom his confederates have duped to fight in Afghanistan to cross its borders? He previously said that he did not need such people. Noble Lords will accept that I cannot give details of our intelligence but the evidence of severe pressure on the Taliban is growing.

As for our third military objective, the coalition has successfully created the conditions for future military operations in Afghanistan. Nine Taliban airfields have been put out of action and its air force has, to all intents and purposes, ceased to exist. The Taliban no longer has air defence and early warning systems that are worthy of the name. The coalition has air supremacy at medium and high altitude. Coalition aircraft can now fly lower and engage targets in the Taliban's front line. Moreover, ground troops can be deployed, as the United States proved in the raids on Kandahar more than two weeks ago.

We should not expect military action in Afghanistan to be either rapid or easy. Nor should we assume that it will follow the pattern that we saw in the campaigns to expel Iraq from Kuwait or to drive Milosevic's forces out of Kosovo. I do not say that there are no similarities—the early use of air power by a united coalition is an obvious example—but there remain some significant differences. The enemy is not a major and sophisticated standing army. In both of those previous conflicts we needed to make intensive efforts—much greater than we see today—to permit our forces to operate in safety. The targets were more numerous and more obvious.

By contrast, in Afghanistan 22 years of almost continuous war has taken its terrible toll, wrecking the country's infrastructure and creating enormous humanitarian problems long before the first coalition bomb fell a month ago. The leadership of the Taliban has a terrible record of reducing Afghanistan, a country that cries out for help, to a brutalised poverty, more reminiscent of the Middle Ages than the 21st century. Nor are either Al'Qaeda or the Taliban standing armies as we understand the term: one is a group of terrorists and the other its armed supporters. We cannot approach military action against such

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organisations as though they are conventional states or armies. We must be innovative and fresh in our thinking. Today, we must engage relatively small and often elusive targets, which is not easy. Good intelligence is always important but now it is indispensable.

I shall not speculate on when the campaign may end. What matters is that we are ready, as we are, for the long haul. In another place, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence remarked that the additional forces that we announced that we had assigned to the campaign against international terrorism on 26th October proved our resolve to see through the campaign. Noble Lords will recall that those forces consist of an amphibious task group with Royal Marines held at high readiness here and in theatre, and transport and maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Those are useful additions to the coalition's deployed military capability but, just as important, we can sustain them for a long period, and they will, of course, reinforce the submarine presence and specialised support aircraft already in place.

All that reinforces the point made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister when he addressed the National Assembly for Wales last Tuesday. The only hope that the terrorists in Afghanistan have of victory is that we lack the will or the courage to take them on. They hope that we will lose, and they count on us losing, our nerve. They could not be more wrong.

This campaign is much more than a military matter. Last week in Washington, the Secretary of State for Defence visited his American counterpart. He confirmed that the United Kingdom is steadfast in its commitment to the campaign against international terrorism. Many other nations, from north and south as well as east and west, stand with us. As the House is aware, many other nations have made significant offers of military support. I welcome, for example, the decision by Turkey to deploy special forces in support of coalition operations. There are many others.

The United States has made no secret of how much it values our support. Secretary Rumsfeld made that clear last week. He repeated that the United States values our involvement in the planning and prosecution of the military campaign. It welcomes the particular expertise that we have in a number of key capabilities and the considerable experience, talent, and skill that our Armed Forces provide.

I hope that noble Lords will understand that, as a defence Minister, I have naturally concentrated on the military aspects of the campaign against international terrorism and reported to the House, as best as I can, where we are now. But as I said before, that is only one part of the campaign. Our aims are wider. In the longer term they comprise the following: first to do everything possible to eliminate the threat posed by international terrorism; secondly, to deter states from supporting, harbouring, or acting complicitly with international terrorist groups; thirdly, to reintegrate Afghanistan as a responsible member of the international community and to help it end its self-imposed isolation.

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To achieve those aims we cannot possibly rely on military action alone. We must cast our net wider and think more broadly. So alongside the military action we have an active diplomatic strategy. The coalition against global terrorism is the fruit of that. It unites nations of all creeds and peoples across the world. Our task now—it will not always be an easy one—is to maintain and to nurture that coalition, to keep it strong and to allow the world the victory against international terrorism that is so vital for its future security. Without such a victory, what security can there be?

Nor have we neglected financial measures. Members of the coalition have frozen the bank accounts of terrorist paymasters all over the world. As the House has heard, we are examining what legal measures we may implement to prevent terrorists operating among us.

As important as anything else is humanitarian aid. The scale of the humanitarian tragedy in Afghanistan is so great as to make that essential in any case. My noble friend Lady Amos will say more on that when she winds up the debate today. However, I want to make a couple of points. First, a pause in the bombing would not allow more aid into the country. Mr Kenzo Oshima, the United Nations Under-Secretary for humanitarian affairs has made precisely the same point. Who would deliver that aid, and to whom? The Taliban is corrupt and steals food that is intended for the refugees to feed its troops. How would that help the refugees? Secondly, it should never be forgotten that under the Taliban 4.5 million refugees were already on the move before any military action began.

However, I know that military action will inevitably cause legitimate concerns about its impact upon civilians. We would all greatly prefer that no such action was necessary, that bin Laden and his associates gave themselves up and that the Taliban surrendered the terrorists and closed the terrorist camps, but it has refused. Therefore, the coalition had to resort to military action. But in doing so it takes extremely seriously its responsibilities towards the Afghan people. They are not our enemy. Our targeting processes are rigorous and focus upon only legitimate terrorist and military targets. Of course, I would never try to claim that they are perfect and, sadly, nor are the weapons that we employ. But we make every possible effort, and more, to minimise civilian casualties.

At this point it is important to sound a note of warning. The claims of the Taliban regime on this matter are hardly reliable.

The coalition is acting within international law, and it will not do otherwise. Our weapons are lawful, which brings me on to say a word about cluster bombs. Of course, noble lords may be concerned by their use, but I want to refute accusations that were made in another place last week. The cluster bombs used in Afghanistan do not include "CBU 89 Gator" devices. The cluster bombs do not violate the Ottawa convention. They are not armed with minelets fitted with delayed action fuses. They are armed with bomblets that detonate on impact. For certain targets

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they are the best and most effective weapons that we have. Where that is the case, the coalition is entitled to use them; otherwise we would be putting our own ground forces at unnecessary risk. Although I respect those who argue in an opposite direction, they have to face the dilemma that our own troops could be at risk.

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, 11th November, I am certain that the millions who sacrificed their lives during the two world wars and the other conflicts of the past century would salute the soldiers, sailors and airmen, men and women alike, who make up our Armed Forces today and who are prepared to put their lives on the line for their country and for civilised values.

Our Armed Forces have always fought in defence of civilisation—in the First World War against domination by one country; in the Second World War against fascism and Nazi totalitarianism; and now against the barbarism, for that is what it was, which revealed itself so grotesquely in the attacks of eight weeks ago.

In the past few weeks, I have been privileged to see some of those who may be called upon taking part in exercises on land, air and sea and to meet them personally as well. Your Lordships will not be surprised to hear that in my view one can only marvel at their skill, their good humour, their courage and their willingness to risk their lives for others.

It is not surprising that our Armed Forces are the envy of the world and the pride of our country. The very least that they can expect from us is to support them in what they are doing. Noble Lords will know that our Armed Forces will not fail us: let us not fail them. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of the situation Afghanistan.—(Lord Bach.)

3.20 p.m.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, for the fifth time we in this House are turning our minds to aspects of global terrorism. I am sure that all noble Lords are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bach, for setting out so clearly the current military situation and its context. I look forward to today's debate and to the maiden speeches, in particular that of my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater who can bring to our debates his direct experience of defence, security and warfare. I am sure that we shall benefit from his comments.

Again, I want to make it clear that we on these Benches are in firm and continuing support of the objectives of the Government and the coalition allies, as we understand them. They include the maintenance of the bombing and degrading of the enemy, opening the way for ground operations and ground assaults, and—I believe that it continues to be the objective—the end of the murderous Taliban and the capturing of Mazar-i Sharif so that ground troops can move more easily. We believe that those objectives should go forward with the utmost vigour.

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I want to raise only three issues today before noble Lords bring their own experience and wisdom to the debate. The first is the question of whether there is an alternative. It is perhaps not understood in the United States how total must be and is the commitment of the allies to the present course of events. As Henry Kissinger recently said, there cannot be an ambiguous outcome to what has been set upon. There must be, and I believe that there will be, a success. That point is important because any doubt strengthens the Taliban and holds back those who would otherwise unravel the Taliban coalition and move to the likely winner. In my view, there is not a likely winner; there is a winner. That will be the force of the commitment of the allies. Freezing rain or snow, Ramadan or not, sooner or later the operations led by the Americans in the coalition will succeed in their objectives.

Sometimes I think how lucky in another age the Duke of Wellington was that he could sit behind the Torres Vedras lines all winter without being lectured by armchair critics and tabloid newspapers on how he should rush out and hit the French early. He knew when to wait and perhaps our military leaders also know when to wait and when to go forward and could do with a little less armchair advice from those further back.

As the noble Lord, Lord Bach, generously said, some people are wobbly and are not sure about all the objectives. In no way do I want to raise doubts, but there was a hint of doubt in the comments of the Foreign Secretary as to whether the removal of the murderous Taliban is a policy objective or not. Some say that it is and some say that it is not, so perhaps that could be clarified later in the debate.

The noble Lord, Lord Bach, also said that he recognises but does not agree with—and nor do I—the unease with the continuing bombing operation. In the other place there were a small number of sincere doubters, particularly behind the Government on the Labour Benches. Perhaps they received too much publicity but they expressed their doubts. Having read Hansard I see that there are two views among the Liberal Democrats and perhaps we shall hear more about that today.

On these Benches there is only one view; that is, if the bombing stops it will help the Taliban. Helping the Taliban means helping one of the most cruel, killing regimes that has yet imposed itself on people in the past 50 years and it means death to more Afghans. Stopping the bombing will accelerate the killing and the misery, the executions and the deaths, the drought and starvation which cursed the Afghans for years prior to 11th September and will curse them still as long as the Taliban rules in Kabul. Those people have seized food, blocked convoys, stolen trucks and put troops in schools and mosques in the hope that the children and the worshippers will be hit by the bombs. They are people for whom "cruelty" and "moral standards" have almost no meaning. The reality is that the humanitarian help needed in Afghanistan on a massive scale cannot begin to meet that scale, although many brave people are involved and doing their best,

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until the Taliban and all its works have gone. The refugees will not cease flowing until then. That is the position as regards that matter.

The second issue I want to raise is the coalition diplomacy, which we support. I do not agree with those who criticised the Prime Minister's visit to Syria and I do not agree with critics elsewhere in Europe who described the Prime Minister's energies in gathering together European colleagues and in travelling around the world as "bellicose". I reject both points of view. If there were any losers from the Syrian excursion, they are the blinkered advisers of young Bashar al-Assad who do not understand the interests or potential of that wonderful and remarkable country which Bashar al-Assad's father ruled so fiercely for so long. Those people show that they are ignorant of the modern world.

If I have any worry on that front—and it is a widely shared worry—it is that perhaps the Prime Minister is trying physically to do too much. Perhaps the ministerial support he is receiving could in some cases be stronger and more vigorous. However, I have no doubt that the coalition diplomacy is being well led by President Bush and his advisers and by our Prime Minister.

The real task of the coalition is not only to keep the western allies in line and to keep the Atlantic narrow, but to strengthen Islam against the perverted, twisted versions of Islam, the nihilist versions being promoted as if they are the mainstream of Islamic thinking, which they are not. I would not even say that the battle is against the fundamentalists. That word is wrongly used; for instance, in today's Daily Telegraph. There are plenty of fundamentalists in Islam as there are in every religion and some of the fundamentalist Muslims are extremely wise men of God. The idea that all fundamentalists are extreme nihilists and killers is a ridiculous confusion and one that does not help identification of our true friends among the Muslim religion and the real enemies of anyone of any religion in the alliance and network of Al'Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

That is why we need to accelerate our efforts, for instance in trying to help to achieve a Middle East settlement between Israel and Palestine. That is why we need to find the justice of which the Prime Minister spoke, not as an appeasement for terror but to increase unity and strength against terror. For those reasons it is right to push harder than ever for a settlement in the Middle East which must be based on Israel's right to exist and Palestine's right to be reborn.

My third point concerns the question of a new government in Kabul. A great deal of thought has been given to that matter, none of which is yet very clear. Does the UN have a role at some stage in supervising a government in Kabul? Is the Northern Alliance the body on which we put all our chips? The Northern Alliance is a fairly loose alliance with many rivals, and it is not the only body in opposition to the Taliban. The Minister referred to the Northern Alliance and others. I presume that by "others" he meant the Pashtun in the south and people like the late Abdul Haq. He was

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seized and his life illegally and cruelly thrown away by the Taliban. There are other very important Pashtun leaders who could play an important part in a new government in Kabul. Is it envisaged that they will do so? I should like to hear more on that subject in the Minister's winding up speech.

Noble Lords will have noted that one world leader who has no doubts on the subject is Mr Putin. He arrived in Afghanistan and declared that the backing of Russia, which is still a mighty nation, was absolutely behind the Northern Alliance. That may be wrong, but at least it is clear. Are we to risk not being clear enough about whom we intend to back? Therefore, are we not as clear and straightforward as we should be in our dealings with General Musharraf, who is in a difficult situation and requires very clear intentions from us about how matters will develop if he is to hold his country together?

Incidentally, I add an expression of grief, which I suspect is shared by many noble Lords, about the 16 Christians who were shot down in their church in Pakistan. I agree that it may not be as dreadful a crime as the horrors of 11th September, but it was frightful in itself and one for which expressions of sorrow are needed all round, including from Muslim leaders. I hope that they come.

On past patterns in world crises impatience will grow. People are already asking why something is not being done, why we do not go in, or whatever. There will be big setbacks, then a kind of victory and, after that, years of patient police work—bank surveillance, as the Minister said—and endless vigilance. We have our part to play at home, perhaps a little more vigorously than so far. Too many people in the world still regard Britain as a safe haven. I believe that the French police refer to the capital as "Londonistan" because so many people who plot terrorist activities overseas are housed here.

I know that the Government have that in their sights, but I believe that to some extent they will have to replace the processes of legal evidence with the processes of intelligence, which by definition cannot be displayed publicly, if they are to identify and get rid of some of the worst offenders. That will mean reservations to the European Convention on Human Rights similar to those that our German and French neighbours have already made with quite effective results. More thinking of that kind will be needed. I ask the Minister when the Government will announce deployment not only of legal evidence but intelligence, which in times of war is needed, to nail the worst offenders.

In these kinds of situation often we seek to bury the past in search of harmony and peace. While that is commendable, as I believe the noble Lord indicated in his excellent speech, this time we should not bury the past but commemorate 11th September for decades to come. It may be that the Government have in mind—or it has been suggested that there should be—some way to commemorate 11th September because it will remain permanently in our minds and those of our children and grandchildren. Above all, the

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fundamental objective is to do everything humanly possible to prevent the dreadful events of 11th September ever happening again. If we do that at least no one can look back to these times and say that we lost heart and left the task undone.

3.35 p.m.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, it is good to have a further debate on this rapidly moving situation, but we are committed to a very long-term campaign. As we continue this campaign both Houses of Parliament must consider how to manage the regular process of reporting, consultation and advice which the Government have started very well. We hope that within the next few weeks or months we shall hear that the Taliban regime has been overthrown, or, more optimistically, that there is some agreement on a replacement regime in Afghanistan, but we all appreciate that that will not itself resolve the entire conflict. There is the short-term problem of what to do about Al'Qaeda's bases in Afghanistan and the regime which supports them. There is the much wider, longer-term problem about terrorist networks across the Muslim world in general.

We all need to be concerned that we do not drift from the larger issue into preoccupations with the immediate; namely, that we move from a war against terrorism internationally, with its base in Afghanistan, into what can easily become a war against Afghanistan. I read an excellent and very well judged article by William Pfaff in the Herald Tribune last Friday which suggested that the United States is very easily slipping from one to the other. It is important that America's allies remind the United States that this is a much more complicated situation.

The Taliban regime and its links to Al'Qaeda are only a part of the adversary we face. As we see from reports of volunteers from elsewhere who come to fight for the Taliban regime, this is not simply an Afghan problem. We know that the closeness of the links between Al'Qaeda and the Taliban regime are built around the number of non-Afghans who are fighting to preserve the Taliban regime and impose it on the rest of the Afghan situation. Al'Qaeda in effect has settled in Afghanistan, as communists from around the world settled in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s while their primary objective and interests lay elsewhere.

We must remember all the time the wider context: the delicate situation of Pakistan and its relationship with India; the implications for Indonesia and the Philippines, with which this network has active links, based on extremely good intelligence; above all, the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, and the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It will not count as a victory if the western-led coalition succeeds in crushing the Taliban regime only at the cost of destabilising, or even contributing to the overthrow of, regimes elsewhere.

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We need a broad response that is political, economic, ideological and educational, and the military instrument can be only one part of the response. The need for civilian control over the military is even more important when fighting is under way.

One of the major functions of an air force is to bomb. Once it starts it tends to go on, as I believe, in retrospect, Bomber Command did in World War II, rather more than it should be allowed to do. Political leaders must tell it when bombing has reached the point of diminishing returns with limited targets and it should stop, or at least pause. The British have been through terrorist and anti-terrorist campaigns and have learnt painfully that restraint in the use of force is a necessary part of resolving the long-term problem. I refer to the excellent campaign in Malaya years ago, in which I suspect the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, was himself involved. The problems of Northern Ireland, where in retrospect the mistake was to use force much too openly in the Londonderry riots in 1970, were followed by a learning process in which it was understood that military restraint and a wider political response was a necessary part of dealing with a much lower level of terrorist problem. It has, nevertheless, taken more than a generation to reach the point where we may at last be in sight of sustained peace.

What kind of response should we therefore be talking about? Over the weekend, I read again the famous article by George Kennan on The Sources of Soviet Conduct. In that he sets out the arguments for long-term containment of a not entirely dissimilar threat which he describes as,

    "the product of ideology and circumstances".

He said that it was led by men who were:

    "Frustrated, discontented, hopeless of finding self-expression ... in the confining limits of the [established] Tsarist political system, yet lacking wide popular support for their choice of bloody revolution".

So they found in Marxist theory, as these revolutionists have in fundamentalist Islam,

    "a highly convenient rationalization for their own instinctive desires".

He went on to say that,

    "it cannot be easily defeated or discouraged by a single victory on the part of its opponents ... but only by intelligent long-range policies on the part of Russia's adversaries".

He concluded with the clear message to the United States, that it is,

    "a question of the degree to which the United States can create [and maintain] among the peoples of the world generally the impression of a country which knows what it wants, which is coping successfully with the problems of its internal life and with the responsibilities of a World Power, and which has a spiritual vitality capable of holding its own among the major ideological currents of the time".

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That is still valid in these very different circumstances. We are talking about how to contain a threat to western values by a fundamentalist ideology without risking those values which we hold dear. I emphasise, as he emphasised, what steady nerves it took over an extended period to stay the course and to outlive the communist threat.

There was a wobble of panic within the United States in the early 1950s—the whole McCarthyite period. But by and large western societies won by sticking firmly to their liberal principles at home and abroad. Therefore, they gradually became more attractive both to the wider public and to leaders within the socialist world. Clearly, we must stick to those principles now.

We must remember that we should throughout observe higher standards than our opponents and hold ourselves within tighter constraints. That is why people in my party are critical of the use of cluster bombs. That is why we are sceptical about the continuation of large-scale bombing. That is the military instrument getting out of control, carrying on in its own automatic way and not thinking through how one wins the hearts and minds of those who are sympathetic to, and who might easily be tipped into active supporters of, the other side, not just in Afghanistan but throughout large parts of the world.

At the same time we must be actively concerned with the humanitarian disaster, about which the noble Lord, Lord Bach, spoke in his opening speech. We must make sure that our policy towards refugees, particularly Afghan refugees—there are many in this country and in the United States—remains consonant with our own civilised principles. If we are successful, the Afghans whom we have in this country may well be among those who go back to help rebuild their country in more peaceful and stable times.

We must be concerned about relations with our own Muslim communities in Britain, in France, in Germany and in the United States, to be sure that we show to them higher standards than they often show within their own countries from which their parents or grandparents came. We must also be concerned with related conflicts. There is the problem of Kashmir. That is extremely closely related to the Taliban regime and the various other revolutionary groups, some of which have been sponsored by Pakistani intelligence in the past, which are concerned to maintain the conflict with India over Kashmir. We also must appreciate that the Kashmiri conflict feeds immediately back into the internal politics of this country.

Furthermore, we must be concerned with the Arab/Israeli conflict. That is part of the jigsaw. It is not the whole of it, but it is a part which one simply cannot deny. Part of our message to our Israeli friends must be that our support for Israel has always rested on the assumption that Israel will continue to behave better than its adversaries. That support weakens with every occasion that it relies on power and might and forgets about justice and right over the

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assassination of opponents, over the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank, in Gaza and elsewhere.

After the last debate the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, recommended that I should look at the excellent article by Amos Elon in The New York Review of Books. It states:

    "If Israel had not annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 and planted 200,000 settlers there, it could have had peace with Jordan in the early 1970s. It chose not to. Ever since, Israel has been unable to resolve the painful paradox of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security".

That is part of the continuing paradox which we must persuade the Israeli population, even if we are unable to persuade its current government, must now be reversed.

I agree strongly with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that multilateral co-operation maintaining the current coalition is a necessary and important part of our response. I welcome the efforts which the British Government and, in particular, the British Prime Minister have put in in recent weeks into maintaining that coalition.

However, as we move on and think about where to go from here, we should also be thinking about how we can strengthen European co-operation to make sure that these values are promoted and how to use that co-operation to strengthen that weak global institution—the United Nations. There is room for much more effort to help reform the United Nations.

This is not a short-term war. It is a long-term effort to contain an attack on western values which we can successfully contain if only we stay true to those values.

3.47 p.m.

Lord Bramall: My Lords, once this country becomes involved in active operations, those of us with some military expertise—albeit a bit out of date—have to be careful over what we say so as not in any way to weaken resolve or, however unintentionally, to compromise what may turn out to be actual military plans or train of events.

However, in the context of this infinitely complicated and politically weighted operation now going on in Afghanistan, I make three largely military points. First, from a military point of view, I am much happier about the comparatively slow tempo of operations than I would be rushing in where angels and wise men fear to tread.

The early political hype, much of it for domestic consumption after the horrors of 11th September which so demanded action, quickly picked up and, embellished by some of the media looking for compelling eye-catching stories, encouraged the expectation of "heads on chargers" within a reasonable period of time whereas anyone who knew Afghanistan and the Afghan people and had studied military history would have realised that the task was going to be very difficult and lengthy.

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How much better, both from a military point of view and bearing in mind the vital importance of surprise as a principle of war, if perhaps we could have had fewer optimistic statements of intent, raising immediate expectations, so that the opposition could have been kept ominously guessing for rather longer. But we are where we are and the long haul is before us, perhaps through the whole winter and even beyond. During that time it will be most important to put in order our security affairs at home, while within the framework of the overall aim and based on ever-improving intelligence, we—that is, the Americans with ourselves at their side—should look for opportunities for relevant and profitable operations in the ground/air field. That would be a sensible way of going about it. Furthermore, as has already been said, it is most important that any such operations must end in success and not in failure.

It is my earnest hope that very soon the Americans will be able, and will feel strong enough, to select and undertake operations other than merely continuing with high-level bombing. Undoubtedly the latter will have inflicted damage and caused disruption to the Taliban, as noble Lords have heard. But an indefinite continuation of that type of bombing—sadly and inevitably causing further casualties among non-combatants—not only risks losing some of the moral high ground in the propaganda war; it also puts the coalition, already affected by the situation in Palestine, under increased pressure. Moreover, experience in World War II, in Vietnam and in Kosovo throws doubts on whether this kind of bombing does write down the military forces of the opposition nearly as much as initially it is always expected to do. To achieve that, it is necessary to get down to low-level, if not ground-level, tactics. In World War II, whether in Italy or in Normandy, when they were about to be carpet bombed the Germans were adept at moving out of the area. When the bombing had finished, they would move back in. I am quite certain that the Afghans will not have been slow in developing some kind of technique.

My second point concerns an equally important part of the entire exercise: the home front. Security is also a vital principle of war. If the Government are determined, as they must be, to do all that is necessary to protect this country from any possible increased terrorist threat, which it is clear must be taken seriously, I would ask them not to ignore the potential utility of the Territorial Army. Many individual TA volunteers even now are serving—on a purely voluntary basis—alongside their regular colleagues on overseas deployments. In fact, they constitute almost 10 per cent of all those so deployed. But should it look as though the terrorist threat continues to develop, which would soon persuade employers on side, some partial mobilisation of the Territorial Army to guard vital and vulnerable points and installations, or to cordon off and protect certain key areas, would act not only as a deterrent, but would show, as it has in America with the National Guard, that the Government really mean business. I suggest that it

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would also be a strong motivating factor for the Territorial Army and thus would encourage recruitment.

The regular Army, going back to Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, has often been slow to recognise the value of the TA. It hardly lifted a finger when damaging and quite unnecessary cuts were made by this Government, in particular to the infantry. I am sad to observe that in the context of an otherwise excellent Strategic Defence Review. But whenever the TA has been called out, in peacetime and in war, those volunteers have performed splendidly. Now that attention is turning back to the home front in a number of ways, and with the regular Army still significantly under strength, it is only right that we should consider urgently how best to use the Territorial Army in the present circumstances.

Finally, with our Armed Forces possibly having to face—according to the Chief of the Defence Staff, who from now on I shall refer to as the CDS—the most difficult and prolonged operation since the Korean War, I hope that the Prime Minister will ensure that he sets aside time to consult the Chiefs of Staff collectively. It is perfectly proper that the CDS, as the principal military adviser to the Government, should be the sole representative of the Armed Forces in a small war Cabinet. However, experience has shown that, quite apart from four minds—or five, with the vice-CDS—being better than one when military arguments and judgments on risks are finely balanced, as is invariably the case, it is invaluable for the Prime Minister to have a measure of direct contact with the professional heads of the individual services which are, or shortly are likely to be, primarily involved.

During World War II the Chiefs of Staff as a body were recognised as making a major contribution to victory, including setting the scene for the greatest combined operation of all time. The then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, consulted and articulated with all the Chiefs of Staff, as well as with their forceful and highly competent chairman, the then General Sir Alan Brooke.

During the Falklands campaign, in some ways a model of political and military co-operation and when again there was a most distinguished and respected naval CDS with the same powers as exist today, the then Prime Minister, now the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, met frequently with all the chiefs, both in Downing Street and at Chequers. Indeed, before the key decision was taken on whether a landing on the Falklands should go ahead, all the chiefs were arraigned individually to give their appreciation of the situation and their forecast of what would happen.

However professional the CDS may be, when active operations are imminent there can be no substitute for the depth of expert knowledge as regards operational detail which the professional heads of the services particularly involved at the time are in the best possible position to impart. That observation is based on a lifetime of experience in that environment, and on their constitutional responsibility to the men and women of their services, who will be laying their lives on the line and who, I know, we shall all be wishing God speed.

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3.57 p.m.

Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, I appreciate the opportunity to address your Lordships' House, and to thank my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford for his kind introduction, claiming that I will bring to the debate some experience. When addressing your Lordships' House I am conscious of the wealth of experience ranged about. It is not easy, even for a former Secretary of State for Defence, to find himself addressing four former Chiefs of the Defence Staff sitting on the Benches opposite. It is exactly that experience which this House can bring to bear on critical issues such as the subject of today's debate that is of great benefit, not only to our country but also to the wider discussion of the issues at a testing time for the world.

I claim some modest background of experience. I was involved in trying to tackle the problems of terrorism in Northern Ireland. I had the privilege of being Secretary of State for Defence during the Gulf War, involving as it did both American and British forces, along with Muslim and Islamic interests. Most recently I have had the privilege of serving as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. I am delighted to see a number of former colleagues from that committee present in your Lordships' House today.

Without question, we are facing an acutely difficult challenge. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, made clear the complications and difficult nature of the situation. It was I believe described very accurately on this morning's "Thought for the Day"; in the truest sense of the words, it is an "unholy mess". The scale of the outrages committed in New York and Washington, along with the obvious intention that those should not be the only outrages that will be committed if unchecked, demands the most positive and firm response.

Yet at the same time, as noble Lords have discussed on four previous occasions, we must consider the complexity of the environment in which that action needs to be taken. The political, religious, strategic and geographic all demand not only extraordinarily careful preparation, but the greatest sensitivity, in the knowledge that clumsy handling or even serious accident and misfortune could provoke the most serious consequences for the whole world. There could be the risk, perhaps, of the Talibanisation of Pakistan, a nuclear power, and the risks that that could represent. There is the suggestion that central Asia might be on the verge of becoming a permanent war zone, and the implications of the Caspian oil region, which now has the potential to take over from the Gulf as the major oil-producing region of the world. There is a cocktail of conflicting interests of the most serious nature. Once again, we must consider the fragility of the Gulf region and not least of Saudi Arabia, which is faced with a population of whom 50 per cent. are under 18 and which is very fertile ground indeed, with rising unemployment, to the attractions of more extremist propaganda.

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The failure to tackle the situation and achieve a successful outcome threatens instability not only to other countries, but, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall rightly said, to the security of our own country. As the United States has now learned from the tragedy of the twin towers, having thought that it was a world power that could operate in other countries—but that it would never come home to roost—we now know that no country is an island. Our island nation is, indeed, as exposed as any other to the threats of terrorism. We must not fail in our objective, not least for ourselves and the wider world, but also not least for the people of Afghanistan. The clearest evidence that we have had over recent years before this latest crisis overcame us of the pathetic refugees in Sangatte and the boat people drowning on their way to try to seek refuge in Australia showed the intolerance of the regime. It showed that Afghanistan, in a very real sense, was a failed state and illustrated a situation that has to be tackled in the interests of the widest world.

In the presence of former colleagues and Chiefs of Defence Staff, I shall not in this contribution discuss military strategy. I certainly believe that those who now have the responsibility are entitled to our full support in the very difficult challenges that they have. I must say that I do not think that they have a very easy task. My noble friend referred to the ability of the Duke of Wellington to maintain his position behind the Torres Vedras for the winter. I was wondering how Waterloo would have gone—one can look in the Royal Gallery to appreciate this point—if the Emperor Napoleon had had access to the Internet and had been able to get full information about the troop movements and intentions of the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Blucher and about their exact position at any particular time. I worry about the problem of freedom of information and a free society in which there is full reporting, which is not an easy one. We also had it in the Gulf War. I am sure that I am not the only one of your Lordships who has been concerned about the incredibly full reporting of the possible military developments on the allied front and the assistance that it can provide to our enemies. In any military campaign—I have had this point drummed into my head by certain noble Lords opposite—the element of surprise, if it can be achieved, is a very important ingredient in the military campaign. Indeed, I claim that, in the Gulf War, there was an element of surprise about the land campaign as it was launched. It is extremely difficult to see how that would be maintained in the current situation.

This may seem to be a slight paradox but none the less I want to emphasise the importance of effective communication in modern warfare and the television, radio and media age. It is absolutely vital. I welcome the fact that Mr. Alastair Campbell has, I understand, been in Washington. I welcome the fact that we are now making a bigger input into these areas. We learned a lot in the Gulf War and have moved on a lot from the days of Mr. MacDonald in the Falklands with his dictation-speed reports on our activities, which a number of noble Lords will remember. We

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studied that and tried to learn the lessons for the Gulf War. The noble and gallant, Lord Craig, will remember the efforts that we made to try to improve our presentation and communication. It is a vitally important aspect. Somebody who has certainly learned it is Mr. bin Laden, who is very much aware of that. His video productions are evidence that he understands the importance of communication. In this connection, we must be certain, as part of good communication and part of building trust, that we have got to be prepared to tell the bad news as well as the good and to tell the truth at all times. In that respect, I feel that the BBC World Service, which, I understand, is much respected in Afghanistan and is listened to very widely, has a very important role to play. Its role is not to report propaganda, but to report the truth and to carry conviction in that way.

I should like to add two other points. First, I had experience in the Gulf War of working very closely with the United States, as have other Members of your Lordships' House. The consultation and relationship were excellent. It started splendidly. I recall my noble friend Lady Thatcher being invited by President Reagan at the start to attend a cabinet meeting and speaking to the American cabinet at that time. It started splendidly, but it was difficult to sustain in some of the later moments. Indeed, there was not a great British input to the decision as to when the Gulf War finished. With regard to the importance of the role played by the Prime Minister, this situation has started splendidly in terms of consultation. I hope that that close consultation will be sustained. Of course, we are the junior partner in military terms and the United States is by far the greatest resource in this great undertaking, but the British contribution is real. It is absolutely vital that the United States has partners and allies. This is an alliance and the undertaking cannot be seen as US imperialism and a sole venture by a super power. We have a very important role to play. We have military capabilities that can help to fill certain gaps for the United States, but we also have independent experience of the people and territories concerned.

I spent my National Service in the Somerset Light Infantry. When ordered first to report to duty, I reported to the Jellalabad barracks in Taunton. I have in my pocket the cap badge of the Somerset Light Infantry—now the Light Infantry—which has the battle honour, Jellalabad. My noble Friend has been reading Hansard, if it was called Hansard in those days, of 1842, when Sir Robert Peel rose to propose a vote of thanks to Lord Ellenborough for the freeing of the hostages and the successful raising of the siege of Jellalabad at that time. He felt free to act because he had only just come into government. He left to the previous Liberal government the blame for the tragedies and disasters that had been the earlier part of that war. I would not want to introduce into my maiden speech any more controversial a note than that.

We had certain problems in the Gulf War—there is no secret about it—but I also believe that the United States was not always as sensitive as it perhaps should

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have been to some of the local custom, practice and Islamic concerns. We have a very long history of experience in those countries. That history and experience can be of great benefit in the consultation that needs to be sustained.

I have one particular concern that I would like to leave with the House. It is clear to us all that the tragedy in response to which it has been necessary to take the current action was a failure of intelligence and security. Of course, that is not to say that intelligence and security can always anticipate any terrorist outrage. That is the major challenge that they face. None the less, everybody working in the intelligence field bitterly regrets the failure to anticipate this particular event.

General Henry Shelton, who retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 30th September, said that, in his judgment, one of the failures of the United States was that it had tended to cut right back on its human intelligence and had made a much greater investment in technical intelligence—in satellites, interception capability, imagery and so on. To a very large extent it had deliberately got out of the "human intelligence business", and had paid a very high price for it. As he rightly said—the message comes through clearly—you cannot create human intelligence only when you need it. If you want human intelligence you have to build it and establish it against the time when you may need it in the future.

Colleagues who served with me on the Intelligence and Security Committee will remember that we were challenged when we first started to consider the expenditure levels of our intelligence and security services. The Cold War had ended and the press comment at that time was, "The Cold War is over. That is why we used to have spies. That is why we wanted intelligence and security. Now we ought to have our peace dividend. Why should not there be a substantial cut in the intelligence and security budgets?". That was the theme.

Our persuasion at that time was that the awfulness of the Cold War in its frozen state provided a kind of security. In a very real sense, the world in which we currently live is a more dangerous and unstable place, and the need for intelligence is all the greater.

Perhaps I may seek your Lordships' indulgence and quote what was said in the 1998-99 Intelligence and Security Committee report. It stated:

    "Last year we spoke of the scale of terrorist attacks around the world, which averaged 60 a week, and of increasing concern over Islamic terrorist threats. This year saw the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam which killed 220 people and wounded 5,000 and which confirmed the scale of the threat posed by Usama bin Laden and other Islamic groups".

That was a repeat of what was said in an earlier Intelligence Committee report.

We need to ensure that we sustain and enhance our intelligence and security capability. That will need leadership and co-ordination. No longer do we have separate domestic intelligence and foreign intelligence; the threat that we now face is global. Governor Tom Ridge, who has now been made responsible for

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homeland security, has the daunting challenge of co-ordinating the work of no less than 50 agencies involved in intelligence and security in the United States. We have rather fewer, but it is vitally important that their work is co-ordinated and well led.

I make one plea to the Government, which has been a constant plea in the committee's reports. I have here an excellent document on the national intelligence machinery. It all comes together in the Ministerial Committee on Intelligence Services under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. It is very impressive; it has a very good structure. It needs leadership; it needs evidence of its presence. The only snag is that it has never met. Our committee's modest plea to the Prime Minister was that it should meet at least annually to give a message about the importance of co-ordination and leadership from the top.

I apologise for straying seriously over my time. It is often said that the events of 11th September were a wake-up call to the United States, to the world and to this country. When I conducted Options for Change—which reduced our forces to what would now seem a very attractive figure, if we still had them, of a quarter of a million men and women in uniform—I was challenged by a BBC reporter, who asked why we had reduced the Armed Forces to that level and not reduced them much further. He said, "Why do we need all these people in uniform? The Cold War is over. The Warsaw Pact has gone. What is the threat against which you are seeking to sustain such a high level of forces?" I answered, "It is the threat of the unexpected". That was a fortunate answer because a week later Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and another unexpected event had happened.

We must have the defences and intelligence capability to enable this country to protect itself and to play its part for good in the world against any other threat of the unexpected that may arise.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Judd: My Lords, one of the great things about our parliamentary democracy is that across the Floor and across the party divide it is possible to form genuine respect for those of other parties. I had the privilege of being in the other place with the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, some time ago, but even then I had come to admire him as a person who never spoke unless he had something serious to say, and who, when he did speak, spoke profoundly and in such a way that we all felt it was essential to listen. The noble Lord's speech today has been wise, reflective and based on real experience and expertise. It was full of promise of what we shall enjoy from him in our deliberations in the years ahead.

I should at the outset, as I have before, declare an interest as a member of the Oxfam Association and because of my professional work with the independent charitable think tank on security affairs, Saferworld.

Towards the end of his remarks, my noble friend the Minister referred to the message that we should be sending to our Armed Services. I am glad that he concluded on that note. I am certain that, throughout

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the debate, all speakers will be thinking of our armed services and the immense burden and responsibility they are carrying on our behalf. We shall be thinking also of their families, their friends and their local communities.

No one can fault the Government on their readiness to come to this House and the other place to discuss with Members of both Houses what is happening in this campaign. I am glad that they are ready to do so because there is much to be discussed. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, spoke—we perhaps have not spoken enough about this in our deliberations—of the domestic implications; of the role, for example, which the Territorial Army may or may not have in ensuring security at home. It is security at home about which many people are thinking very seriously.

I am sure that I speak for the whole House when I say that there is, across the party divide, great admiration for the courage and energy our Prime Minister has thrown into his leadership in this desperately demanding situation. The decisiveness of his actions has been striking. He has shown courage, for example, in making his recent journey to the Middle East. I can imagine that plenty of people advised him that he should think very hard about undertaking such a journey. But his courage in undertaking that journey, and his statement that it is better to talk to the people with whom you have differences than to stay at home and agonise about the difficulties, is the kind of leadership we need.

The Prime Minister's instinctive understanding of the dimensions of the trauma through which the United States has passed has been very important in this role. If we have a special relationship, he knows what that special relationship demands of us in this situation—close and loyal friendship. But close and loyal friendship involves candour—in our personal lives, let alone our political lives. Relationships become of little significance if we gloss over differences, if we suppress our anxieties, and if we do not talk openly and sincerely to our friends. As the crisis progresses, there are anxieties which we hope the Prime Minister and the Government are honestly discussing with their colleagues in the United States.

The vocabulary and language used are important. I believe that these have become much better as the campaign has progressed. The language used today by my noble friend the Minister illustrated that. However, there are grounds for anxiety about the use of the word "war" in the earlier stages. Immediately the word is used, we find ourselves in a position of qualifying what we mean by "war". We say that, of course, we are not at war with the people of Afghanistan, or with Islam. On reflection, it would have been better from the beginning to talk about criminality, terrorism, unspeakably wicked action and our determination to bring those responsible to justice. That is the language that we now seem to be using, and I believe that that is progress.

There has also been anxiety about the extent to which attention has focused on bin Laden. Perhaps that is related to the language of war. There has been

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a growing feeling among some who support the Government in their commitment that it would perhaps have been better to talk about dealing with the system and the arrangements that the terrorists have in place, and about bringing the operational terrorists to justice and isolating bin Laden, rather than seeing the war aim exclusively in terms of capturing bin Laden. That has not been what the Government have said, but it is an interpretation that has gained momentum.

Reference has been made to the issue of intelligence. There are, of course, anxieties regarding the fact that the events of 11th September took place, and that there was no warning that events of that order were likely. There is anxiety about how much we really know about the whereabouts of the terrorists and how they operate. The question that we must address—it was rightly emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater—is whether we are putting enough resources into our intelligence services.

Then there is the issue of the military action itself. I am one of those who believe that once military action has been decided upon, one must do what is necessary. But what is done must be in keeping with the objectives as spelt out, in this case by my noble friend the Minister. It must also be in keeping with the demands of the civilised values that we say we are fighting to defend. In that context, perhaps I may put some specific questions to my noble friend Lady Amos in the hope that she will be able to deal with them in her reply.

Do the rules of engagement spell out not merely the minimising of civilian casualties, but the protection of civilian populations at all times? Does proportionality—as well as careful targeting at all times—remain central to strategic and tactical operations? Here it may be relevant to mention the anxiety about cluster bombs. I heard my noble friend's remarks, but the anxiety regarding such bombs relates to their high failure rate and the fact that they bequeath a big future problem for civilian populations.

Before it is undertaken, is every bombing or missile operation, without exception, rigorously tested in terms of precisely how it will assist the land operations without which success cannot be achieved? Are we certain that the bombing is not developing its own momentum, as we have seen too often in the past? The point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire.

Is there effective co-ordination between the military and humanitarian operations? It is difficult to over-estimate the horror of what may lie ahead for all the refugees, the displaced people and those who will be in a desperate plight as the winter overtakes us. I say candidly that I have never yet heard a convincing answer that there is the closest possible co-ordination between those master-minding the humanitarian operation and those master-minding the military operation.

Military action in itself will not bring stability or a solution. We must work at the politics. Is there convincing and close co-operation, therefore, between

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those working on the political solution and those responsible for the military operation? What elements and political groupings does the coalition believe will have to be involved in a future government of Afghanistan; and how does it see that government being established with real roots and authority in Afghanistan, as distinct from being imposed from outside—a certain recipe for failure? What does the coalition see as the role of the Northern Alliance? And what of the Taliban itself? Are there elements in the Taliban who could be involved in a political solution?

What is the role of the United Nations? We talk about our commitment to the UN and the role that it must play; but what exactly do we see as its role, both on the political front and on the humanitarian front? We are extremely fortunate to have Mr Brahimi leading the United Nations operation. But are we certain that the resources that it will need will be guaranteed, and that we shall not again land the United Nations with a task for which it is not properly resourced?

We know that the terrorists are trying to provoke. We know that they are trying to engender cynicism about what they want to demonstrate as the difference between our rhetoric and our actions. I repeat, therefore, that we must be very careful about the language that we use. I worry a little about the loose interchange between the phrases "bringing to justice" and "bringing justice to them". There is a big difference in the two concepts. What exactly do we mean? The world is watching closely to see how we acquit ourselves by the values and principles for which we say we are fighting.

Out there is a huge constituency of ambivalence. We should be foolish to underestimate the size of that constituency. It is not just the 1.3 billion people in the world who are living in dire poverty; it is the highly intelligent, well educated, young, up-and-coming people in many of the excluded countries who feel angry with a world which they believe is being run by a small minority of nations. If we are to win the battle for hearts and minds, we must address that issue. It is not merely a question of the redistribution of wealth or of social justice in the terms in which we normally use the phrase. It is also a matter of the redistribution of political power in the world. These points must be addressed.

If we are to find a solution, the Middle East crisis is highly relevant. I am glad that reference has been made to that. People want to see justice for the Palestinians. Of course there is also anxiety among many intelligent people in the countries to which I have referred about some of the regimes with which we are collaborating. How do we reconcile that with our principles? Are those regimes not themselves living on borrowed time? Can they be sustained into the future? We have big questions to face in the long-term approach.

I hope that I shall be forgiven for mentioning this issue at the end of my remarks. New negotiations on world trade are about to start in Doha in Qatar. I am sometimes a little surprised that Ministers sound hurt at the suggestion that in those talks they will not be

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concerned for the poor of the world. That is not the point. The point is that many articulate people in the countries which represent the poor of the world want the agenda to which they have to respond to be their agenda and not that of someone else. In that context, are we tackling the redistribution of power? If we are to win the fight to which we are committed, all these issues are highly relevant to the constituency of ambivalence and to winning the battle for hearts and minds.

I have referred to this issue in the House previously; I apologise for mentioning it again. Over the past two years I have visited Chechnya on a number of occasions. I have seen for myself the abuse of human rights. I have seen the indiscriminate bombardment. I have seen the disproportionate action; and I feel deeply disturbed by that in terms of everything we stand for in the Council of Europe and beyond. One matter which has always upset me most is counter-productivity: that instead of winning the battle for hearts and minds, people are being driven into the arms of the extremists who are determined to exploit the situation. Whatever we do in this campaign, we must not give the terrorists the victory they seek by driving people into the their arms by a failure to discriminate, to see the nuances, and to play the subtleties which may be the most challenging of all the issues.

4.32 p.m.

Lord Jones: My Lords, I offer sincere thanks to all parts of the House for the kindness and thoughtfulness shown to me. I couple my gratitude to your Lordships with appreciation for the help given to me by members of the staff.

I believe that we must constantly remind ourselves of the atrocities committed on 11th September. They were merciless. But it is encouraging that the House, on all sides, has a unity of purpose. For my part, partnership with the United States is paramount. When my noble and learned friend the Lord Privy Seal stood at the Dispatch Box on 8th October he referred to the United States. He used the phrase,

    "She has been ... for all of us the shining city on a hill".—[Official Report, 8/10/01; col. 286.]

He said it with undoubted feeling—if I may say so, like a Welshman—and I for one took his point. Britain's relationship with the United States is a special one. I once visited the World War II memorial to the United States fallen at Madingley in Cambridgeshire. On a vast, apparently never-ending wall, there are thousands and thousands of names of those United States servicemen and women who gave their lives. They washed the shores and skies and fields of Europe with their blood. British parliamentary democracy survived, thanks to the United States.

I am reassured that today a British Prime Minister and a United States President are united in facing up to an unprecedented and evil challenge. That does not mean that any of us should forget the misery of the hungry and the frightened in much-troubled Afghanistan. I was glad to hear the views of the noble Lord, Lord Bach, on humanitarian aid.

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Secondly, the extent to which intelligence informs British foreign policy has surprised me. I say that in the context of previous membership of the Prime Minister's Intelligence and Security Committee of which I, like other noble Lords, was an original member. Ahead of that membership it was my role to chair the Standing Committee which legislated the Intelligence and Security Committee into being.

With that background, I wish to say a few cautious words on intelligence. It may not have escaped your Lordships' notice that The Times ("The Thunderer") devoted a first leader to intelligence matters after the atrocities of 11th September. It was, I thought, tart and a shade unjust. In my opinion the British intelligence agencies are good although by no means infallible. They are increasingly accountable. They are no longer inward looking. They are highly disciplined. They are well led. They have been successful. Perhaps they now need increased funding and increased recruitment. I believe that the agencies are highly professional.

Perhaps I may make a brief digression from intelligence matters. One of the nicest groups in the Palace of Westminster is the All-Party Parliamentary Cricket Group. Our dinners are congenial but we all miss Lord Colin Cowdrey, a peerless strokemaker and, noble Lords may agree, a natural gentleman. At one of our dinners the guest was the Yorkshireman (perhaps a professional Yorkshireman), the umpire Dickie Bird. He said that if he had to choose a batsman to bat for his life he would choose Geoffrey Boycott. That is a fair judgment. However, perhaps I may say that one could do far worse than choose a current director of the Security Service or the SIS to bat for one's life on these issues in these challenging times.

Last month at the Guards Chapel the memorial service was held of the previous SIS director. Sir David Spedding—"C" as he was known—was a brave and successful leader of the SIS. No finer tribute was paid that day than the sight of the King of Jordan walking down the nave with Sir David's family. I saw that reported in The Times newspaper. But in the Guards Chapel I also heard the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, deliver his address in honour of Sir David. It is a truism that secret services sit uneasily alongside parliamentary democracies. But the counter argument is brutally simple. It is in two words: 11th September.

Thirdly, I have quoted the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal. Perhaps I may refer to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford. I have returned many times to his thoughtful speech in a similar debate on 4th October. He said in it that he would speak, "with candour, honesty and compassion". He did all three. He spoke from the heart. His impressions and his conclusions concentrated the mind. He described a bewildering problem. My own prescription is that we must redouble our efforts on behalf of the substantial numbers of school-leavers who leave without a fistful of certificates. While I am proud of the New Deal and the efforts of Her Majesty's Government in this sphere, I have concluded that we must do even better, so as to try to lesson the tensions and the divisions in our cities. This seems to me to be an urgent agenda.

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Lastly, my hope is that every British serviceman shall return safe and successful from any service that they are asked to give in Afghanistan, because this service could be a fearfully difficult task. I think that we undervalue our British servicemen and women. I think, for example, of their brave, professional and disciplined service in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years. Could any other professional army have coped so well over so many years, taken their casualties so bravely, and emerged with so few blemishes and with so much credit over so long a period of time? I truly think that the profession of soldiering is a most honourable profession.

I would conclude by saying that, after their contribution in Afghanistan, I want our soldiers to return home unhurt, successful and with honour.

4.42 pm

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I congratulate most warmly the noble Lord, Lord Jones, on his excellent maiden speech. It is just over 30 years since he first represented in another place what was then Flint East. His considerable wisdom, knowledge and experience, not only of Wales but also of security and intelligence, will be of great benefit to this House. He also today has spoken from the heart, and we look forward very much indeed to hearing his further contributions to our debates in this House.

In utterly supporting the Government in their prosecution of terrorism, I want to refer to two disturbing consequences of the current campaign. I want first to underline the grave concerns that have already been expressed in this House about the escalation of anti-Christian violence since the campaign began, which has been exacerbated by the recent statement against Christians by bin Laden.

The situation is getting worse. One of our Anglican bishops in Nigeria wrote last week,

    "When the West has problems with the Arab or Muslim world, the Christians in Nigeria and elsewhere bear the brunt. We are being slaughtered for being Christians and for being, as we are told, collaborators with the West".

In Indonesia, the Lasa-jihad, with close links to bin Laden, have escalated anti-Christian violence there in the last month, in the wake of many Christian deaths earlier in the year.

In the Sudan, in the very week it joined the US coalition and the West was thereby perceived there to be supporting the Muslims in the north, the local bombing of Christians by Muslims increased.

In Pakistan the massacre of Christians was, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, has said, frightful. It highlights their vulnerability in a country where my diocese has a link with Christians in Faisalabad, whose bishop was at the funeral of those massacred. He reports that many Muslims stood there with them in support. It is true that the President of Pakistan had made efforts to protect Christian congregations before the murders, but he has still not altered the blasphemy

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law as he promised to do. Meanwhile, as Bishop Malik of Lahore tells me, a growing number of Pakistanis now jeer at Christians for being, "lackeys of the West".

All the evidence seems to suggest that the longer the bombing of Afghanistan goes on—and I state this simply as a fact—the more Christians will be attacked, made homeless, their churches burned, and men, women and children killed.

In Israel, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem and the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church report that, as the conflict in Afghanistan develops, Christians there in that Holy Land are in growing danger, from all sides, of further attacks and of being killed.

I would welcome an assurance today from our Government that they are fully aware of this persecution of Christian minorities and that it has increased alarmingly in these past weeks, and that our Government are pressing strongly for all countries to abide by Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which enjoins countries to uphold the religious liberties of minorities, of whatever faith. I wonder if the Government have given thought to the proposals that have been made elsewhere in the past week by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for appropriate legislation in this country to establish an equivalent to the US Religious Freedom Commission, to monitor violations of religious liberty across the world.

The decision to mount a counter-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan was regarded by most Christian leaders as fulfilling the jus ad bellum—the justice of going to war. As the campaign has developed, however, it is the other aspect of that idea, namely jus in bello—the conduct within war—that is now causing some concern. The moral argument here is that action should not aim to work through the deaths of non-combatants and that, when such deaths do occur collaterally, they should not be on a scale disproportionate to the military effect properly sought. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, has touched on this point with clarity and with precise questions, which I hope will be answered by the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, in her winding-up speech.

In earlier debates speakers from these Benches have indicated the complexity of bringing traditional just war ideas to bear on modern counter-terrorist campaigns, but in fact Western efforts seem largely to have fallen back on traditional military methods, rather than those commonly associated with counter-terrorism.

As the incoming honorary chaplain to the Royal British Legion, I am very aware that the lives of our own forces in that area are likely to come under increasing risk. The son of one of my clergy is among them: ready, if required, to give his life in the service of justice, peace and freedom. The noble Lord, Lord King, in his excellent maiden speech referred to Jellalabad and reminded me of happy days when I was Bishop of Taunton and knew both him and the said barracks. It is a reminder, as he said, of some of the sacrifices which our troops often have to face.

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Obviously, in the proper questions and concerns now being raised about the consequences that are arising from the particular way of conducting this conflict, we must take care to avoid undermining the morale of our troops. But I do not believe that should stop us from voicing the gravest disquiet, as the noble Lord, Lord Bach, has done, about the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. It is appalling. As the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said, the civilians there have already suffered under the evil and cruel Taliban regime. One wonders whether the Northern Alliance will be any better. Indeed, there is the huge problem to face of bringing together 50 different tribal groups in some kind of political solution.

Christian Aid's recent submission to the International Development Select Committee argues, with persuasive evidence, that the military campaign has tragically added unnecessarily to civilian suffering. It has impeded aid flows and contributed to a huge refugee crisis. That piling on of added suffering is in danger of undermining the efficacy of the military campaign. For as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, has indicated, it is always important not to lose the moral high ground.

The vast majority of Christian leaders in this country are in agreement with the Archbishop of Canterbury in his determination that this conflict must not be seen as Muslim versus Christian or East versus West, in spite of the violence that I described earlier, and in his backing for the original purpose for which the Government committed this country; namely, to bring bin Laden to justice and to counter terrorism. But any government need always to be warned, and not least from these Benches, that the just war thinking which helps to shape the support of the Churches lies in setting parameters to the national and international debate within which legitimate questions can be asked and governments held accountable.

In the case of this campaign we are being asked to take a great deal on trust. I hope that in furthering what are just and legitimate aims through diplomacy and military force the Government will be sensitive to the huge humanitarian concerns that are being expressed not only by the Churches. For what is immediately required is an effective humanitarian strategy in Afghanistan which goes far beyond American food parcels of peanut butter whose yellow wrappers can so easily be confused with the similar colour of some unexploded bombs. Christian aid agencies tell us that such actions have diverted attention from the co-ordinated strategy that is desperately needed and have undermined the allies' stated policy that humanitarian action is a critical component of a wider moral response. The coming winter weather means that it is very urgent that an average of at least 3,500 metric tonnes of food aid is available to Afghans each day, and that will require effective delivery and distribution networks which are not currently in place.

The noble Baroness, Lady Amos, will, I hope, tell us what the Government are doing to follow their obligations under Article 23 of the Geneva Convention 4 (civilian section). This is an unfolding

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human tragedy on a vast scale. Many thousands, without such aid, will die this winter and among them there will be many tiny children. The message that many people across the world will take from that is that the lives of innocent people in this poorest of countries are deemed to be expendable on our behalf. Has history not taught us the inevitable results of treating people in that way? Enforced poverty and despair are seedbeds for anger, revenge and yet further terrorism.

We are told that in America since 11th September people have asked, "Why do people hate us so much?" It is a pertinent question that all of us in the richest parts of the world need to ask ourselves. For the truth is that if the further globalisation of terrorism is to be curtailed it will not in the long term be achieved by bombs or even by emergency food aid. When we have brought bin Laden to justice and begun to contain terrorism more effectively we shall have to address far more seriously than we have ever done before the redistribution of political power across the world and the inequality and poverty that are the curse of our world. That is the real evil to be overcome.

4.57 p.m.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the debate. I welcome another opportunity to range over the problems that we all face following the tragedies in the United States on 11th September. I am, along with millions of others, a strong supporter of the need to bear down on terrorism. But, like those other "isms", communism and fascism, terrorism is a formidable opponent. Its containment and ultimate destruction is a job for years, even decades, not a short, sharp campaign that the media might prefer in order to dramatise their coverage.

The title of the Motion—to take note of the situation in Afghanistan—misleads, obscuring the immediate objective spelt out on both sides of the Atlantic to bring Osama bin Laden to account and to eliminate the threat from Al'Qaeda. Events in Afghanistan are but way-points on the road to those objectives—a means to an end. Happily, what the Minister said covered the wider canvass.

Nevertheless we invert our objectives by concentrating on the situation in Afghanistan. We think mainly of four slogging weeks of air attacks launched to achieve air supremacy. The phrase "air supremacy" is both descriptive and indicative. It is descriptive because Taliban air power, what there was of it, has ceased to exist or pose a threat to coalition aircraft at medium or high level over Afghanistan. But air supremacy is not an end in itself; it is an indicative foretaster for the next stage, joint force operations. Statements that the air assault will not be paused for Ramadan imply that it remains an essential ingredient in the war strategy and that we are in for the long haul.

Public perception of what is meant by air supremacy may be imprecise, but their media-gleaned understanding of the price of achieving it is not. It includes the shattered hospital or Red Cross store,

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interruptions of critical aid, killed and mutilated Afghan civilians who are not our enemy and condemnation of collateral damage and carpet bombing. The media's graphic, clear pictures and reportage from the front line by digital quality cameras and video link telephone blazon the story night after night on the world's television screens.

Contrast all that with the stolid delivery at Pentagon briefs, the fuzzy cockpit images of laser-guided weapons and a mushrooming cloud of dust where the crosshairs marked the target. All look much the same—inferior in quality to video game imitations of the real thing. Few military briefings carry the message as well as General Norman Schwarzkopf's in the Gulf War, when he showed a video clip of a river bridge in Baghdad with just a single small car crossing it. The spans behind the car were being blasted to smithereens. "See the luckiest man in Iraq today", said Norman Schwarzkopf. "Guess he'd have more than a lump in his throat if he checked his rear-view mirror". The message that bridges were being cut came across well. Presentation is very important.

Our focus should not be on Afghanistan alone. The Minister addressed other key strands of action and strategic objectives, including the maintenance of pressure other than military on the terrorists and their state sponsors. That involves financial, diplomatic and political measures that reach far beyond Afghanistan. Are we doing any better freezing suspect bank accounts? The noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House mentioned a mere £63 million on 4th October, which, he said,

    "hardly begins to scratch the surface".—[Official Report, 4/10/01; col. 111.]

I hope that we are doing better.

The first principle of war is selection and maintenance of the aim. Let us remind the public more eloquently and more frequently of the aim. By deed and action, the Prime Minister is doing that, but he is still too far out on his own. Others who support him must find ways that fire up media interest and coverage. The noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, in his fine maiden speech, rightly stressed the importance of good communication.

The reference to Afghanistan in the Motion takes our eye off the thrust of our overall aim. It is doubly unfortunate because of the unintended inference that some will take that we have a quarrel with the people of Afghanistan. Of course, as has been said many times, that is not so, but those who wish to spin against the coalition suggest that the assault on Afghanistan is deliberately anti-Muslim and that the aim is not really to oust the Taliban, but to protect western oil interests and our all too comfortable way of life while others starve and live in poverty. Even greater thought is required about how to express ourselves and how to avoid our behaviour alienating others.

Getting to bin Laden in Afghanistan is a tough call. Dictators and rulers such as Saddam Hussein and the Taliban lust after power and do not readily succumb even to heavy and sustained bombardment. The

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German people, cowed by the Nazi regime, did not in World War II, and they were bombarded far more heavily than the poor Afghans and were losing massive assets and infrastructure for months and years. Incidentally, most serious historians refute the assertion of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that the bombing in World War II was too prolonged to achieve the objective of unconditional surrender.

Internal revolution and assassinations, or overwhelming force of arms, are necessary to oust such terrible regimes. Even then, military force will not succeed if we back off too soon. We did that in Iraq in 1991 for the best of reasons, but sweet reason may not deliver the objective. It did not then.

Can we snatch bin Laden with special forces? We had tough experiences with special forces in the Gulf War. Worried about Iraqi Scud missile attacks on Israel, we sent special forces helicopters and ground troops deep into Iraq. Stories such as Bravo Two Zero have since dramatised the difficulties of getting at Scud communications and their mobile launchers over inhospitable territory. Bin Laden is much smaller and a great deal nimbler on his feet than any Scud launcher. He will be an even more difficult special forces target. I hope that we are getting good intelligence on his whereabouts.

If the coalition is to be taken seriously, it must also be seen to be preparing for more major operations on the ground to boot the Taliban out and then to close on bin Laden and his associates, assuming—this is a major assumption—that they remain in Afghanistan and do not further compound the difficulties of bringing him to book by moving elsewhere.

Countries with a common land border are bonded by diffuse ties far into the future. No matter how much they may quarrel today, their border areas embrace a host of relationships and cultural ties, trade and other activities. Such considerations—we saw their impact on Jordan in the Gulf War—need thought in our own planning. So, too, does the international growth of Muslim solidarity. The reluctance of Afghanistan's neighbours to provide operating bases for coalition aircraft and troops to launch attacks against Afghanistan reflects these concerns. What we might think is a reasonable request may not be welcomed because, following a conflict, it could be a cause of long-term regional friction. Yet without well-found basing in the area of conflict, military operations on any large scale far from home bases become even more difficult.

That is the stark Catch-22 for the coalition. A firm base within Afghanistan may have to be set up, but a force on the ground there will not be given an easy ride by the Taliban, and maybe other Afghan factions, if they were persuaded that their country and religion, not the terrorists, were under assault.

Meanwhile, let us have confidence that those who are planning and directing the fight against terrorism are giving all these issues and all the others due weight. We must give them our full support and understanding of the very difficult task that they face. As our

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servicemen and women become more and more involved, we wish them well and the operations that they embark on every success.

5.8 p.m.

Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar: My Lords, I add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater on his immensely persuasive, cogent and expert maiden speech and to the noble Lord, Lord Jones, on his eloquent contribution.

Suitably intimidated by the amount of military expertise that has already been vouchsafed to the House by two former Chiefs of the Defence Staff, my noble friend Lord King and both Front Benches, I shall not venture into the military aspects, but shall stick to the coalition aspects. I declare an interest in that I am president of a Palestinian medical charity.

My noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford said that there were some people here sitting in their armchairs who were critical. I fear that that is true, but there are far more people in the Middle East—with armchairs or not—who are critical. They have considerable worries about what is going on. That is why the Prime Minister was entirely right to go on his extremely tricky tour of the Middle East last week. It is vital that we persuade the people living in the area that our cause is just; otherwise, the coalition will fall apart. That persuasion is a distinctly uphill task because there is widespread hostility in the Middle East towards the United States.

Last month, President Bush told journalists that there was "vitriolic hatred for America". He could not believe it, he continued, because,

    "I know how good we are".

That just shows how out of touch he was with both events and opinion in the Middle East. The Arab and Muslim world has seen America claiming to be an honest broker in the Middle East conflict, whereas, in fact, for nearly the whole time it has been almost entirely committed to one side. For that reason, again, I very much welcome the insistence of the Prime Minister last week and previously that, if there is to be peace in the area, there must be a viable Palestinian state. He stressed the word "viable" as opposed to the clutch of Bantustans which is all that Israel has previously offered to the Palestinians.

As was said by a distinguished American columnist, William Pfaff, mentioned earlier in a different context by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire:

    "For more than 30 years the United States has refused to make a genuinely impartial effort to find a resolution to the [Israel-Palestinian] conflict".

Putting it mildly, that is true. I am afraid that the reason is that, for most of the time, America has regarded the Middle East issue as a plaything of American politics. The issues and the very important merits of the case have been largely ignored. Most American politicians have concentrated on the more congenial task of obtaining votes and money from the pro-Israeli lobbies in America. That has, rather painfully, shown the corruption of American politics and, of course, has made a deeply bad impression in the Middle East.

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That subordination of American policy to interests at home has been particularly disastrous in relation to the building of Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied territories. As your Lordships know, the 1967 borders give Israel 78 per cent of Palestine, which I believe most people would consider to be a fairly generous proportion. However, not content with that, Israel has concentrated on extending its population into land that does not belong to it.

One would have thought that if anyone were to be settled in the occupied territories, elementary decency would demand that it should be some of the Palestinians who were driven out in 1948. That has not happened, and what even a very committed pro-American columnist, Thomas Friedman, calls "Israel's greedy provocative settlements" have continued to be made. Of course, America receives much of the blame for that because, to a large extent through its massive aid to Israel, America is paying for them. It is certainly making it possible for them to happen. We saw the great row that occurred when the earlier President Bush was in power. All those settlements are being built on stolen Palestinian land in contravention of international law.

Even more astonishingly, those settlements have continued—indeed, they have increased in speed—since the Oslo agreement, which, after all, was meant to bring about the transfer of land occupied by, but not belonging to, Israel in exchange for peace. Instead, Israel continued to take more and more land.

All that must stop if the coalition is to be preserved. There are many civilised voices in Israel which entirely agree with that view. They want Israel to have peace and security; they do not like the settlers and they do not like the settlements. Israel's most distinguished military commentator, Ze'ev Schiff, had this to say on the matter in Ha'aretz on 11th May. He wrote that all excuses made by successive Israeli governments to justify expanding the settlements were,

    "absurd because everyone knew there was only one interpretation . . . to close off the option of the Palestinians being able to establish a viable state. Israel has created a situation",

he went on,

    "that has left the Palestinians with no other choice but to wage an armed struggle against Israel".

Those are the words of an Israeli military commentator, not a Palestinian or anyone else. What he says seems to me to be pretty conclusive.

Yet—this again has a strong bearing on the coalition—almost incredibly, the creation of new settlements is still going on. At least 20 have been started since Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister. He must know perfectly well that Israel's continued illegal colonising of the West Bank and Gaza was the main cause of the start of the intifada and the main cause of its continuance. But then, of course, as another American columnist, Jackson Diehl, recently wrote in the Washington Post, Mr Sharon does not,

    "want a political settlement . . . He dreams of destroying the Palestinian Authority, an act that would allow him to begin imposing his own long cherished vision of a West Bank dominated by a grid of Israeli territorial holdings with the Palestinians squeezed into weak, disconnected cantons".

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Of course, all that has provoked violence, and Mr Sharon pretends that all Palestinian violence is terrorism. He has even compared Mr Arafat to bin Laden. That shows a considerable knack of being able to forget both Mr Sharon's own past and that of his country. After all, as Professor Sir Michael Howard reminded us last week, Israel was founded on terrorism, first, against this country and, secondly, against the Palestinians.

Moreover, almost uniquely, Israel has had two Prime Ministers who have been ex-terrorists. That now brings us to the present incumbent. To call Mr Sharon a terrorist is almost a compliment. He is certainly that, as his policy of assassinations and earlier massacres show. However, he is also, as the highly respected academic, David Cesarani, a moderate Zionist and the Professor of Jewish history at Southampton University, wrote in the Independent,

    "a war criminal and head of the most right-wing government in Israeli history pursuing murderous policies against Palestinians".

Unfortunately, that was allowed to go on during the first bad nine months of the Bush Administration without any criticism from anyone in the United States. That has done America damage and is now weakening the coalition.

Of course, Mr Sharon is right to some extent. There has been Palestinian terrorism. In my view, all Palestinian violence in Israel proper is terrorism, and the suicide bombings have been particularly dreadful and quite inexcusable atrocities. However, the violence in the occupied territories is not terrorism. There the Palestinians are fighting a war of liberation against a particularly brutal occupation. Anyone in your Lordships' House who has seen that occupation will not disagree that it is undoubtedly a very brutal one. It is that which has fuelled the hatred of America in the Middle East. Unless it is brought to an end now, it will seriously endanger the fabric of the coalition against terrorism.

Belatedly, but nevertheless very welcome, there have been signs of a change in Washington. A few days ago William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, criticised the Israelis' settlement activity. He said that it destroys Palestinian hope and drives more Palestinians into the hands of the extremists. He also held Israel accountable for dehumanising the Palestinians. For even those very mild words he was heavily criticised.

The Prime Minister will no doubt again emphasise in Washington next week the need for a Palestinian state and the paramount importance of ending settlements and of introducing a ceasefire. As the Ha'aretz diplomatic correspondence pointed out on Friday, Mr Sharon's policy is currently to say that he will have no talks about a ceasefire until a ceasefire has already been respected by the Palestinians but not by the Israelis. That is totally non-viable. He must be told that he must agree to a ceasefire, after which the Mitchell proposals must be brought into action. That would be done very belatedly but it is still very important.

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There must be concerted international action in Israel and Palestine. The machinery is already there—it is called the Quartet and it consists of an American representative, a Russian representative, a UN representative and an EU representative. That Quartet can be extremely important and should be given every support. It should work very hard—otherwise, if the Israeli-Palestinian problem is not solved fairly quickly, that problem will strike at the roots of the coalition.

5.21 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, I have listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, with immense interest and almost total agreement. The core of the trouble in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the fact that most of the blame lies with Israel's conduct; there is no question about that. The noble Lord did us a service by bringing the whole matter out in the open in detail, for which I thank him. I was going to say something about the subject but, after his speech, there is no need to do so.

The speech of the noble Lord, Lord King, highlighted one of the most important matters; namely, the need for intelligence. We have ignored what can happen in the modern world. For years we have known that a lorry tip up in the middle of a road can cause the most appalling build-up of traffic; thousands of hours of work are lost and great extra expense is caused to the country merely as the result of a simple tip up. It was only when we saw the appalling tragedy in the United States—which was engineered, masterminded and carried out by disciples of bin Laden—that we realised how fragile the whole of modern society is against the threat of a terrorist organisation, particularly if it has young zealots who are prepared to die in the service of their appalling ideas.

We were warned—I have said this in a previous speech—by Lord Cheshire. In his maiden speech 13 years ago, he detailed a case that was very similar to the happenings in America and the twin towers tragedy. Lord Cheshire was one of the great heroes of Bomber Command—this country has reason to be grateful to that body. When we examine the situation today, there is no doubt about the fact that we have got to bring the Taliban down and bin Laden and his associates to justice, whatever that justice might be.

I pay tribute to the Government—I am wholly in agreement with what they are doing—and think extremely well of the Prime Minister for the work that he is doing and the way in which he is doing it. He is doing a tremendous task and we should be thankful that he is devoting so much of his energy and time to the matter.

I was pleased that the Minister mentioned the necessity of establishing an aerodrome of a reasonable size and capability in Afghanistan. That must be the first objective. I hope that it is pursued with all vigour and with the proper equipment, and that that is done quickly. It is unfortunately true that it is not always good will and good intentions that influence people. If we have a series of successes in Afghanistan against the

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Taliban, that will influence many other countries. If the Taliban gets away with this, we shall have nothing but trouble.

I am pleased with the Government—I am sure that that will be a great joy to them—and with the Prime Minister. I hope that they will pursue this matter with all energy. It will be the crux of the organisation that other noble Lords have discussed. Noble Lords have discussed humanitarian aid. The first thing to do is to win the battle in Afghanistan against the Taliban and bin Laden and his associates. Too much hesitation, set back and so on will be a triumph for the terrorists. We do not want that, and the Government must pursue vigorously the policy that they are following.

5.27 p.m.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, it was good that the Prime Minister last week made such a forthright and clear speech, in which he reminded us of the tragic and repugnant course of events that led to the need for military action in Afghanistan. The steady drip, drip, drip of scepticism and speculation that we are all fed by the 24-hours-a-day media industry were beginning to take their toll. That is an unavoidable burden that every modern democracy has to bear when it goes to war. It is not one that weighs greatly on the mind of Osama bin Laden or the Taliban, but it underlines the importance of continually updating and repeating the objectives that the coalition against terrorism is pursuing and of matching them to unfolding developments on the ground.

One of the problems with doing that is the difficulty of putting time-scales on basically rather unpredictable developments and the fact that we are faced with two completely different time-scales: one for the wider war against terrorism and the other for the action that is being taken in Afghanistan. On the wider war—that involves the measures to protect ourselves better, the steps needed to track down and bring to justice all those who had a hand in the crime of 11th September and the controls needed to deny terrorists safe havens and access to finance and weapons, which they have hitherto enjoyed—the only honest answer must be that it will last a very long and probably indefinite period of time. We are not going to eliminate global terrorism and be sure that we have done so in a matter of months, a year or even two years. As with peace, the price that we will have to pay will be eternal vigilance. Government leaders are right to warn us that we are in for the long haul. Unfortunately, those warnings tend to be transposed to the situation in Afghanistan, where rather different time factors apply.

In Afghanistan, too, it is not possible to predict with any precision how long the military operations will last, and it must therefore be most unwise to try to do so. The objectives are reasonably clear: bringing to book Osama bin Laden and his associates; the destruction of the terrorist training camps and the network that they fed; and the installation in Kabul of a government who, unlike the present Taliban regime—which, incidentally, is no longer recognised by anyone as the legally constituted government of

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Afghanistan—are ready to comply with international obligations in the war against terrorism. The how and the when are difficult to predict, but certainly less—much less—time than the wider war will require. Patience and persistence will get us to our goals a good deal quicker than spurious predictions.

No task in a campaign of this kind is more difficult than keeping the military and the political objectives in harmony and in sharp focus. The political objectives on which I shall concentrate are a great deal easier to state than they are to achieve.

First, there is the aim of constituting a broad-based and representative government of Afghanistan ready to accept and to implement their international obligations and to start the task of bringing the country back from the ravages of war. That objective appears to be broadly agreed by all concerned. If such a government are to have any chance of achieving stability, they must be a genuinely representative government, one that represents all the main ethnic groups.

Beyond that I believe that we should not be too prescriptive. We should avoid cramping the style of the UN Secretary-General's special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, whose task is to bring such a government into being. It is evident that the principal Pashtun tribes, who make up 40 per cent or more of the population, will have to play an important role. Let us try to avoid becoming bogged down in endless discussion of whether some elements that have hitherto supported the Taliban regime may one day play a part in that.

We must be clear that our objective is to bring about a government of Afghanistan composed of Afghans. Of course, in the early stages, such a government will require massive underpinning from outside, probably under the aegis of the UN. That support will need to be provided in a manner that is flexible and sensitive to Afghanistan's strong belief in its own independence. Let us try to avoid landing ourselves in a struggle against Afghan nationalism as well as against religious extremists.

Secondly, there is the need for a massive programme of economic relief and reconstruction. The humanitarian programme is clearly operating under great difficulties, although the commitment of external resources does not appear to be one of them. Surely, we now need maximum effective co-ordination between the coalition allies, the UN agencies and the non-governmental organisations to ensure that supplies get through by airdrop if necessary. I agree with what the Minister said in opening the debate. Instead of a war of words over bombing pauses, which would probably not make the delivery of aid in a series of war zones—war zones not imposed by the coalition bombing campaign but by the state of affairs in Afghanistan between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban—a great deal easier, we need a sustained effort to help both the refugees and those suffering from want in Afghanistan.

Beyond that, does it not make sense to outline the kind of programmes and resources for reconstruction that the international community would put at the

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disposal of a broad-based government, once one comes into being? Of course, in a post-Taliban situation, that would require adjustment, but providing a prospectus now could act as a powerful incentive to all concerned to work towards the agreed objective.

Thirdly, I suggest that we should start to work up an international legal framework for a post-Taliban Afghanistan that would protect it against meddling from outside and that would commit it not to interfere in the affairs of its neighbours, as it did for a number of years with the ill-fated Pashtunistan adventure. I was heartened to see that the Pakistani foreign minister, Mr Abdul Sattar, spoke along those lines last week. If Pakistan, which has both meddled and been meddled with in the past, can contemplate such an approach, that will be a major step forward. After all, in the case of Cambodia the international community finally applied a similar approach, with reasonable success, but far too late.

If those three broad, political objectives are to be pursued, roughly along the lines that I have suggested, how can we ensure that they are visible to all and not obscured by the smoke of battle and the fog of propaganda? One way to proceed would be for the United Nations Security Council to endorse them in a suitably broad and flexible framework resolution. One would need to be sure that the Secretary-General and his special representative would welcome such an initiative. If they did, that could strengthen their hand as well as dissipating many suspicions about the true objectives being pursued by the coalition against terrorism.

However, none of those political objectives will be easily obtainable if the great coalition against terrorism cannot be held together. It would be idle to ignore the stresses and strains that the action against Afghanistan has occasioned. Equally, it would be idle to ignore the fact that the continuing bloodshed in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority's territories is a fundamental source of weakness to the coalition. It needs to be remedied, as the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, has said more eloquently than I.

If one says, as the Israeli government say, that one will not withdraw one's troops or sit down at the negotiating table until there is perfect tranquillity, what on earth can one expect from terrorist groups who, for tactical reasons, do not want a withdrawal and do not want to see meaningful negotiations taking place? How much would our own Government have achieved in Northern Ireland if we had allowed groups like the Real IRA to dictate the agenda and to determine when the next step forward would or would not be made? As time passes, the case for a fully committed re-engagement of the United States, the European Union and Russia to get a peace process on the rails again becomes ever stronger.

In that context I warmly welcome the major high-level effort being made by the Prime Minister in his visit to the region last week and his visit to Washington this week. Middle East peace brokering is not for the faint-hearted, nor for those who lack patience and

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ingenuity. I have the impression that the Prime Minister does not fall into any of those categories. For Britain, as a leading member of the European Union, to check and to reverse a deteriorating situation in the Middle East must surely be right and expedient.

No one who has known Afghanistan as I have, can have watched the developments of the past few weeks without a good deal of anguish. The Afghans may have displayed a certain fecklessness in their handling of their affairs, but most of their misfortunes have been foisted on them by others, most recently by Osama bin Laden, who has so ruthlessly exploited their hospitality and dragged them into the present predicament. Once this chapter is closed, the least we owe them is our support in bringing about a better future for a country that has suffered so much.

5.37 p.m.

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, I am glad that we have this further opportunity to debate the situation in Afghanistan. I have not spoken in previous debates, but I have followed developments closely. It is important that debate should take place and that Members of this House should be able to express their views frankly. I commend the Government for their willingness to provide this opportunity for debate to take place.

Like everyone else, I was absolutely appalled by the events of 11th September. Whatever grievances may exist, nothing—absolutely nothing—can justify the murder of thousands of innocent people who were simply going about their ordinary business. It is the job of government, in so far as they can, to protect their citizens. Therefore, a response, if attacked, is legitimate and will be expected by the public and those who have suffered.

However, differences have arisen about the type of response that is appropriate. Afghanistan, of course, presents some specific and unique problems. I happen to hold what is probably a controversial, and certainly not very often expressed view, about the recent history of that country.

In earlier debates in this House I have said that intervention does not always produce the expected or even the desired result. That is true of past western intervention in Afghanistan. Recently, much has been said about the position of women under Taliban rule. When the regime described as pro-Soviet was in power, women had access to education, to health services, to child care and to work and they were able to participate fully in public life and many of them did so. I recall that during that period one of my trade union colleagues was a member of a delegation to Afghanistan which looked specifically at women's rights. She came back with a report indicating that those rights had been considerably enhanced and that women were playing a substantial role in the process.

United States policy at that time regarded any pro-Soviet regime as something to be undermined and, if possible, overthrown. There is some evidence that insurgent groupings received assistance from the West prior to the Soviet incursion, which took place at the

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instance of the then government of that country. The amount of assistance afforded to the insurgents became very substantial indeed. It would appear that Osama bin Laden was himself a beneficiary of that aid—becoming a kind of CIA operative.

The media in the West referred to the insurgents as freedom fighters. Some freedom. It was freedom for men cruelly to oppress women, to force them to become almost invisible, to stone them to death for minor offences. The rights that women had had were totally extinguished. It is a regime in which the public execution of women in a sports stadium has become a kind of afternoon spectacle. That is the kind of regime that emerged.

President Najibullah, before he was murdered publicly by the Taliban, gave an interview to a United States journalist in which he warned against what he called fundamentalism, saying that if it won in his country, Afghanistan would become a haven for drug dealers and a base for terrorists, and that this would also threaten the West. He was of course right.

It is possible that extreme fundamentalism would not have won had it not been for the active assistance received from the West in terms of money, weaponry, training and military assistance. That should be remembered when it is said that the Russians could not win because of the particular conditions in Afghanistan. They were not fighting simply the mujaheddin, who probably could not have won by themselves.

I should be happy to see the Taliban regime decisively defeated, although probably the country would need to be governed as a UN protectorate for some time to come. However, I have some concerns about the reliance on bombing. I have always opposed bombing—I did so over Kosovo, and I have also raised the matter of the bombing of Iraq on several occasions. I am old enough to know what sustained aerial bombardment is like for a civilian population. It is a terrifying experience, even if one survives. Accurate targeting is difficult. There is always collateral damage. In Kosovo, several thousand civilians were killed or injured and more than 1 million people were rendered homeless, yet the Serbian army escaped almost unscathed. The result in Kosovo was to exchange one kind of ethnic cleansing for another—this time conducted by murderous KLA gangs.

I am critical of bombing not on grounds of effectiveness, although there is a case to be made against it on those grounds, but because it is wrong. To use cluster bombs, as was done in Kosovo—at first denied—and now in Afghanistan, is probably a war crime, despite what my noble friend Lord Bach said this afternoon.

The aid agencies tell us that the bombing is making it much more difficult for much needed humanitarian aid to get through to several million people. If aid—food, in particular—does not reach people in the more rural and less accessible areas before the winter, there is likely to be a human catastrophe and millions may die. I also believe that the bombing campaign will make it more difficult to attract support for the

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campaign against terrorism among moderate Muslims, many of whom have no love for the Taliban and who would be happy for it to disappear.

It may also make sustaining the coalition more difficult. The coalition is necessary if an international campaign against terrorism is to be maintained. That will depend on intelligence operations and international co-operation in order to track down what may be quite small cells operating in a range of countries. Of course, the Prime Minister is right to do everything possible to shore up the coalition, and in particular, to attempt to revive the peace process in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. I agree with what my noble friend Lord Judd said in that connection. The actions of the Prime Minister should be commended.

A continuous bombing campaign and the inevitable civilian casualties may result in strains on the coalition. I understand why the US Government, in the light of history—particularly in Vietnam—are anxious to rely on bombing and long-distance missile attacks. The US Government may fear that the public may turn against the conflict if body bags start coming back. The alternative to sending in limited ground forces, which is probably the only way in which the bin Laden organisation can effectively be dealt with, is to risk heavy civilian casualties. I believe that limited and targeted ground forces will be necessary, but the way in which the conflict is currently being conducted, with heavy reliance on air power, risks killing and injuring innocent people who had nothing to do with the horrors of the 11th September and who have suffered already as a result of civil wars, drought and the general devastation that has afflicted that unfortunate country over the past 20 years.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, the ground of the debate has already been covered be a series of authoritative speeches, including two magnificent maiden speeches. As the Government are supported, all that one can do to avoid repetition is to present a personal perspective, in which the impact of the 11th September and the aftermath may be seen. In doing so, I defer to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, who, with his diplomatic skills, has proposed a resolution with a constitution for a new form of government, which your Lordships may think warrants serious attention.

Before the winter sets in, our Armed Forces are to be further committed to occupy northern Afghanistan, to furnish a massive humanitarian relief operation. Thank heavens for that. But we shall be engaged in armed conflict in which no declaration of war has been made by any state—nor indeed shall be made. Afghanistan is the seat of Al'Qaeda, controlled by bin Laden and his associates, whose tentacles reach out worldwide. It is fed, fostered and protected by the Taliban, which is one of nine ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and which is not internationally recognised as the de facto government. It is much to be doubted whether military defeat of the Taliban on

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Afghan soil would cause the Al'Qaeda structure to collapse. Indeed, the very success of the relief operation would stiffen its resolve.

In this phase of madness that appears to have engulfed the world, bin Laden represents no state. The Taliban is not a state. Al'Qaeda is a terrorist structure without the law. Bin Laden purports to speak for Islam, which he does not. He has declared what he calls a holy war, which assuredly it is not. It is being waged by those who believe in implementing his agenda as their agenda, contrary to the tenets of their faith. It is a form of attrition—it is not a war and there has been no declaration of war—against a multitude of unknown victims, including even Muslims in Islamic states. It is a form of madness which engulfs us.

Neither the Taliban nor Al'Qaeda is governed by international convention as to the conduct of hostilities, massacres, assassinations, demolitions or anything else they do; or, as regards the treatment of those taken prisoner in armed conflict. That novel form of global attrition shall continue for many years in many forms; anthrax in the USA is but an example. Moreover, the attacks of 11th September shall not be the last.

One must accept that the Al'Qaeda structure cannot be eliminated by resort to arms and without the help and approval of the international community. Such being the case, a kind of dilemma divides two imponderables imposed by bin Laden. Professor Sir Michael Howard has admonished:

    "We must keep our nerve but it is no less important that we should keep our heads".

Armed operations against the Taliban must be pressed to a successful conclusion. We must win and retain broad support of the hearts and minds of Islam. The speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and my noble friend Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar are worthy of the serious attention of government.

However, if one is to keep one's head, one must distinguish between, first, military action to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and to provide massive human relief; secondly, offensive armed action and measures taken as protection by a state against this holy war; and, thirdly, steps taken to root out international terrorism as part of a long-term campaign in which diplomacy to retain support for the alliance, intelligence of which noble Lords have already spoken—for instance, Interpol, the police and the security forces—affords the only viable means of achievement within an entirely new dimension of reciprocal international law. That is a perspective as I see it. It is a difficult course to achieve, but is there any other means of success? It seems to me that the world must learn to reorder its own affairs in so many ways and beyond the confines of our debate on Afghanistan in order to redress the upheaval of 11th September and the aftermath.

I understand fully the repugnance to bombardment with the inevitable collateral damage. However, I do not understand, because I do not know, why cluster bombs are of vital consequence. If the noble and

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gallant Lords or someone who really knew—it would not necessarily be the Minister—could say why cluster bombs were needed, I would accept it and that would be the end of the matter. However, no one seems to be able to say—and it will not disclose a great military secret—why a cluster bomb is very much more effective for the purpose of maintaining air superiority and achieving the military defeat of the Taliban. Why is the cluster bomb as such necessary? If I am told that it is necessary and that it is a strategic necessity to achieve a military aim taken in lawful self-defence to defeat the Taliban, to maintain air superiority, to debilitate the Taliban and further debilitate the Taliban before our troops go in on the ground, it was, is and should continue to be a lawful exercise in self-defence. I should like to have an assurance that the cluster bomb is a necessary military requirement.

As regards bringing bin Laden to justice, Professor Sir Michael Howard has warned of the global propaganda of a trial; that assassination would invoke martyrdom and the backlash of Islam; and that escape would engender the Robin Hood image. That is all very well, but if and when he is found in Afghanistan, what are we to do with him? What else other than secure custody at some remote place pending trial in an international court in the hope that that would enlist the will, support and help of the world for the destruction of Al'Qaeda? But would it? The noble Lord, Lord Judd, raised that point. I do not know; that is yet another dilemma to come.

It is accepted that the United States of America has the dominant role. Albeit the Government have total support in Parliament, some questions none the less arise. I am grateful for the many debates that we have had, but ought not Parliament to consider whether the nature and extent of the involvement of our Armed Forces in these operations will attract or retain the support of the world community? Ought not Parliament to seek to ensure that the arena of armed operations of the alliance should be confined to Afghanistan to the exclusion of any other states, in particular Iraq?

Should not questions be raised and considered in Parliament, for example about the new government in Afghanistan? I only ask that this be considered. Although every serviceman shall do his duty, the question is: what is the duty which Parliament owes to every serviceman? As I understand it, that is the approach of the leader of my party. I suggest to your Lordships that that is not only right but requisite if we are to keep our heads.

6.1 p.m.

Lord Inge: My Lords, I join other noble Lords who have strongly praised the leadership and understanding shown by the Prime Minister following the horrendous attack on America on 11th September. I say that not only because I am a strong supporter of the transatlantic link but, more importantly, because the attack showed all too clearly the very serious threat posed by international terrorism and its supporters and the complete disregard for the consequences of their actions. I believe that the Prime Minister was

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absolutely right to make a difficult trip to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel and Jordan, but it was a very important part of building an understanding of the problems that we face.

Potentially, this is the greatest challenge that we have faced since the Second World War. I recognise that this debate is mainly about Afghanistan but, as many other noble Lords have said, it is part of a much wider problem. It is critically important that we continue to look at the threat posed by international terrorism in the global sense. To deal with the Taliban and the problem in Afghanistan will be difficult enough, but it is only part of the problem.

Having said that, planning, deciding and agreeing upon and carrying out the strategic, political—I stress that word—and military response will be very difficult, complex and dangerous, and there are bound to be hiccups on the way. Certainly, it will not be as tidy as some of the media have suggested and it will be very difficult to keep the public on side. We are not dealing with a nation state, although unfortunately key nations do support international terrorism. However, other states like Pakistan are now being enormously helpful.

We are trying to come to terms with an organisation that works in the shadows, does not care about the consequences of its actions, has cells in about 60 countries and has shown itself capable of executing very sophisticated and terrible attacks. Whether we like it or not, it has considerable support.

Although our immediate priority is Afghanistan, we must recognise that one man's terrorist remains another man's freedom fighter, to use a well-known and much used phrase. The key matter to recognise—the Schwerpunkt, to use a German expression—is to get at the cause of the support; namely, the fact that the Middle East peace process has not moved. I do not believe that until we have signs of a viable Palestinian state the cause for that support will be removed.

Although we have debated at some length today the military aspects of the campaign, we must recognise that there is no military solution to the problem. The military can help but it must be in support of a political initiative and effort. I believe that the lack of a viable Palestinian state is the best possible recruiting sergeant for the Al'Qaeda terrorist movement. The capture or death of bin Laden would be a major setback, but the cause would remain and others would fill his place.

We must understand why military action against Afghanistan is critical. Clearly, the Taliban support the Al'Qaeda movement and provide it with protection. But we must also recognise that to deal with the military situation in Afghanistan will not be easy. Perhaps we should not be surprised that the media look for quick results. I believe history shows us that to operate in Afghanistan given the enemy and the hostile and very rugged terrain may take a long time. We must remember that we shall be doing it a long way from home. To mount and sustain such operations will be difficult.

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Understandably, a number of people have shown concern about the air campaign. In one's experience, targeting is always undertaken with enormous care, whether it be Bosnia, the Gulf War or Kosovo, but intelligence and targeting are never perfect. We must also recognise that the power of modern weapons is such that if there is a mistake the consequences are much greater. Sadly, innocent civilians will be killed. But if I was now giving advice about any future land operation in Afghanistan I would strongly support the air campaign. If we do not use the air campaign to diminish the Taliban capability we shall put our soldiers at greater risk. There is a good deal of talk about innocent civilians, but we shall be committing a lot of innocent soldiers to fight in Afghanistan and putting their lives at risk. We have a responsibility, therefore, to ensure that we make an extremely difficult and dangerous job as easy as possible. I also recognise that hand in hand with the military effort must go a hearts-and-mind campaign in the sense of both humanitarian and economic aid. It will be a much longer and more difficult campaign both in Afghanistan and beyond than many wish to recognise.

There are some other very important matters to consider, a number of which have already been touched upon. We must look at the priority given to the funding of such matters as intelligence. That was always very important, but understandably it has now become much more critical and will remain so. It is remarkable that on 11th September these terrorists were able to put into operation an attack which involved 23 people and kept it a secret as they did. Human intelligence is as important as ever. I recall that when I was commander-in-chief in Germany at the time the wall came down I asked my brigadier responsible for intelligence as to what the threat was. He replied that it was multi-directional and multi-faceted. When I asked him what on earth that meant he said that he did not have a clue where it was coming from. I sense that that is the kind of attitude that we need to take to the intelligence problem at the moment.

We shall also need to look at the organisation of the civil defence and emergency services and how much we are prepared to fund them. This matter was touched on in an Unstarred Question today. I am aware that since the end of the Cold War the civil defence organisations have been allowed to run down. I believe that that would be a very good task for the Territorial Army. We must worry about the race relations problems in our country. At the same time, to handle the jigsaw of the countries involved—Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, the Gulf states, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia—keep together the coalition and build relationships with some of the more difficult countries will not be easy.

I conclude by saying that the result of this sustained effort will not be what we talk of and predict at the moment.

6.9 p.m.

Lord Rea: My Lords, I hope very much that my noble friends Lady Amos and Lord Bach will take note of those wise words from the noble and gallant Lord.

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Having spoken in the previous debate on the situation in Afghanistan, I ask the forgiveness of noble Lords for having yet another stab. In the intervening 10 days, events have, if anything, confirmed my view that to counter terrorism, let alone the causes of terrorism, with violence is the wrong approach. Several noble Lords have addressed those causes. I am particularly encouraged that they support the creation of a Palestinian state and the settlement of the Arab/Israeli dispute on much more radical lines than anything attempted to date.

Last week Professor Sir Michael Howard, the distinguished military historian who has been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, said that a violent response is to play into the hands of the terrorists. The proper approach, as the noble Lord implied, is to use sophisticated police and military intelligence to detect, track down, arrest and try the suspects. In this case that must be accompanied by skilled diplomacy, together with economic sticks and carrots to the countries where the terrorists are based.

During the 25-day interim period between 11th September and the start of the bombing, some of us felt that there was a glimmer of hope that the Prime Minister, having gained the trust of the Americans, might be able to urge caution on that justifiably outraged nation. We hoped that perhaps he could persuade its leaders not to rush in with their usual knee-jerk response of a barrage of missiles and high-level bombs. They have been used with monotonous regularity on less powerful nations which have stepped out of line before and after the Cold War—sometimes with and sometimes without our co-operation. But that was not the case and the bombs began to fall. However, we can be thankful that the Prime Minister's voice was among those who cautioned against including Iraq as a presumed accomplice of Osama bin Laden, therefore deserving further attack, and widening the conflict.

A week or so before the bombing started, Abdul Haq, the exiled Afghan Pashtun leader then in Pakistan, sent a message to our Prime Minister while he was in Islamabad, pleading with him not to bomb Afghanistan. He was sure that the best way to topple the Taliban, and hence get access to bin Laden, was to undermine it from within. This would be more difficult in a war situation since bombing would play into the hands of the Taliban. That advice was not taken. Sadly, we know what became of him. Unfortunately, a similar fate looks like befalling Hamid Karzai, a pro-royalist Afghani Pashtun, who also returned to Afghanistan hoping to rally support and who is now being pursued by the Taliban in a remote mountainous area of Afghanistan. Of course if he could be rescued, that would give a useful boost to the military campaign and the coalition which is now rather uneasily supporting it.

Last Tuesday I attended a presentation in the Jubilee Room by three development NGOs—Oxfam, Christian Aid and Save the Children—on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. They showed us on a map the mountainous areas that will become

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inaccessible soon due to the weather. There are 500,000 people living there. After 11th September they received supplies until the bombing started. But they were already in a poor state of nutrition due to persistent drought and neglect by the Taliban Government. Since the bombing started almost no supplies have reached them.

Of course not all the people bereft of supplies will die. They are an extremely resilient and tough population. But they will be forced to eat roots and to share among the whole family rations which are barely sufficient for one person. As always in periods of famine, it is the children who will suffer most, mainly because malnourished children become seriously ill when they develop minor infections.

There is little doubt that unless there is a pause in the bombing—which might incidentally allow the gathering of intelligence and the training and equipping of the forces of the Northern Alliance—and a large-scale humanitarian operation mounted, there will be many deaths. Some will die directly from starvation, but most, as I mentioned earlier, will die from common infections which a well nourished child would throw off easily—a common cold or flu becomes pneumonia, and a minor gut infection becomes a fatal gastroenteritis. Even in the unlikely event of a bombing pause being agreed, however, I am afraid that it may already be too late.

Between 4,500 and 5,000 people—the Prime Minister has reminded us not to forget—died in the twin towers disaster. But if only 10 per cent of the vulnerable 500,000 people in the Afghan mountains die as a result of supplies not getting through because of the bombing, that is still 10 times the number killed in New York on 11th September. They will have been unwell and hungry for weeks before their final illness and death, as will their more fortunate relatives who survive. I am sure that the bereaved citizens of New York, angry and heartbroken as they surely must be, would not want to see the additional deaths of several Afghani children per victim of the twin towers tragedy as collateral casualties in the pursuit of bin Laden and Al'Qaeda.

Even now a pause in the bombing, combined with a massive humanitarian operation, could theoretically save many lives, but only if the Taliban can be persuaded to allow that to happen. Sadly, that is not likely. However, it should be pointed out that it permitted supplies to move after 11th September until the bombing began—and a pause could also provide an opportunity to rethink our whole strategy.

I finish with a quotation from Peter Preston in an article in today's Guardian which was critical of both the United States and the British intelligence services. He said that,

    "the central argument for a bombing pause now is purely practical, as practical as the weeks spent assembling aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea. When in doubt, stop digging and start thinking. A fundamental intelligence test"!

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6.18 p.m.

Lord Biffen: My Lords, this has been a measured and, I believe, productive debate on Afghanistan. It certainly has been distinguished by two remarkable maiden speeches from my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater and the noble Lord, Lord Jones. I shall refer to their speeches later in my remarks.

It is now eight weeks since 11th September. I confess that I still feel a bewildered and numbed horror at the sheer event and its impact on North America and the western world generally. In the interval, we have had an opportunity to take a view about what are the appropriate responses to that challenge. I shall refer briefly to the punitive reaction—which is, the reaction of the bombing—and what I call the more defensive reaction, which is the ordering of our societies on a longer-term basis to deal with what many believe will be a continuing threat from terrorism.

The punitive reaction is very much in our minds with the quite extraordinary ferocity of the aerial bombardment now taking place. Some noble Lords have expressed some anxiety about that. I am not in any sense qualified to judge whether the ferocity of the bombing is militarily justified; but I do know this: there is a danger that this situation will become protracted beyond that which is justified militarily. It could begin to give rise to reactions throughout the third world which would be very challenging indeed. My anxiety about this derives to some extent from reflecting on the Boer War. That war was practically over, but then developed a lengthy tail which dragged on far longer than had been anticipated by those in charge of the events.

The language comes readily to mind; we hear talk of "the long haul". All of us should be extremely concerned about the trade-off between continuing the bombardment and the possible consequences elsewhere. I offer no advice on this issue, but I hope that the correct military/political judgment will be exercised so that we resolve to achieve, in general terms, the objectives of the bombardment and then will feel able to address ourselves to the further challenges; otherwise we could easily become overwhelmed by them. No one should doubt that we may be setting a time-sensitive fuse which could detonate the Arab world, in particular those crucial Arabian states which are of vital economic significance to us. The stability of those states is fragile and must be taken into account in all our actions.

I shall leave that tangled area on which I can make no real judgment and turn to the area of our defensive reactions. Here I feel much happier in making my comments. It is absolutely essential for us to realise that terror as an aspect of conflict is not a recent creation. It has existed through the centuries and no doubt will continue long after the present dramas have been resolved. Therefore we should anticipate that terror will be an aspect of war. Given that, we should try to compose ourselves accordingly, just as we were obliged to compose ourselves once nuclear weapons intervened in the theatre of warfare. Powerful speeches were made by my noble friend Lord King and the

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noble Lord and, dare I say, one-time neighbour, Lord Jones, on the military necessity to improve our domestic defence arrangements. Above all, we need to improve the provision of information and intelligence. I accept at once that those are major priorities.

However, I anticipate that we shall have to consider certain rather more prosaic elements. First, I turn to the need for a tremendous increase in civil defence, both in its provision and in its sophistication. Only this afternoon at Question Time we heard a first inkling of the argument in the Question put by the noble Lord, Lord Watson of Richmond, on the co-ordination of civil defence arrangements here in London. Such arrangements will need to be considered nationwide. It is my judgment that no security can be acquired on the cheap. The Treasury will be the unwelcome guest whenever these matters are considered. I believe that many of our ambitions in terms of taxation and the like will need to be reconsidered. Priorities set for public spending will have to be redesigned to take account of the developing threat.

Secondly, I believe that the open society of which we are so proud in this country will inevitably become a casualty. I do not believe that it will be possible to leave matters such as freedom of information, freedom of movement, and policies covering immigration untouched by the challenges now presenting themselves. To some extent, a degree of conditionality will have to be attached to them. That will not come easily to us. This is a free society and we shall have to debate aggressively every move in the new direction. None the less, I think that we deceive ourselves if we do not realise that limitations will have to be placed on what hitherto we have regarded as characteristic freedoms in our society.

My third point is somewhat tangential. Many problems derive from our overwhelming anxieties as regards the continuing stability of energy supplies and the dominant role played by the Arab world in this regard. We shall be obliged to think quickly about the sources of our energy supplies for the long term. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, is not in his place, but in the debate held a few weeks ago he wisely reminded noble Lords of the importance of reconsidering the role that atomic energy can play in our future energy supplies. Of course the case for renewable sources of energy should pass almost without question. While I would not call it the soft option, it is not as uncomfortable an option as nuclear energy; but I believe that we are obliged again to consider such questions anew in the context of the terror challenge that we now face.

Those are all fairly prosaic considerations which do not provide the uplift of the advocacy put forward by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield whose cosmic views for changing the world order were challenging enough, but they represent what governments can do using national instruments and in co-operation and consultation with sister nation states. Those are the unavoidable political challenges—and they are uncomfortable challenges. They will invite the politics of affluence to be laced with something like austerity. I happen to think that

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that is not a bad thing, but I do know that not only the weeks and months ahead, but also, as all noble Lords who have spoken today have recognised, the very long-term future are now mortgaged to a reshaping of our society to meet the challenge of terrorism. I believe that it is a situation where the Government are disposed to give a lead, and I know that if the lead is given, the nation will follow.

6.27 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of Christian Aid and as an associate of CARE International and other charities involved in Afghanistan. For several years I chaired a small charity, the Britain-Afghanistan Trust for Educational Development, which provided teacher training in Badghis province until eventually our work was made impossible both by the civil war and the attitude of the Taliban. Badghis is one of the areas north of Herat which for a long time was contested by the Northern Alliance. It is now facing acute food shortages.

We had achieved significant results with the teacher training project by adapting the curriculum to girls' primary education. Some of those teachers will still be working, unpaid. However, apart from those teachers who are also parents and thus can teach their children at home, there is now no means of reaching half of the children in that society. It is the same story all over Afghanistan and serves to demonstrate the frustration felt by many non-governmental organisations and individuals from our country who for many years have tried to help the Afghan people out of poverty and anarchy.

I now strongly regret that aid agencies engaged in education and development work were unable to maintain their links with the Afghan NGOs. Even those engaged in the most basic humanitarian relief work have been denied contact with the outside world. We should all hope that those contacts can be renewed as quickly as possible after the war finally ends.

The process of separation began long before the events of 11th September and the subsequent bombing campaign in early October. But even after the destruction of the Bamyan monuments last spring, I believe that the international community missed valuable opportunities to keep open the lines of communication. Preserving basic human rights in a closed society of whatever religion always leads to uncomfortable compromises, whether in Rwanda, Kosovo or Kuwait. But in Afghanistan the United Nations and the European Union could have found ways, as I believe the United States was seeking through its drug control programme, of maintaining a dialogue. But, of course, that all ended with those events and then the bombing campaign.

As I have said in previous debates, I have supported the coalition and the involvement of the Arab states from the beginning, and agreed on the necessity of international action against the Taliban. I am certain that 11th September and prompt UN support for a

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counter-attack have given the world a chance to realign itself against future threats of terrorism and anarchy, which are much more real since the end of the cold war. Like others, I especially applaud the commitment of our Prime Minister in his efforts to unite the front-line states of the middle east, which will have its own advantages, as I shall mention later.

This coalition is not, however, turning out quite as expected. As many have said, it seems that once again the old firm of "US-UK Incorporated" has taken the initiative. Where are the allies? What is their contribution? I recognise that we generate our own propaganda—indeed, that is one of the problems of war—and that the contribution of our NATO partners has been significantly played down by our media, but anyone can see that the international coalition is becoming something else. It has outgrown its mandate and is running out of momentum—a process that will continue unless something can be pulled out of a hat. The world signed up to punitive raids and specific retaliation against terrorism, but not to a full-scale war involving regular bombing of cities and public buildings. It is now even hitting soft civilian targets and may even involve, as now seems likely, the deployment of ground troops.

The events in America were truly appalling, and the long-term psychological impact on the American people remains serious, as I can tell from my own family in America. But we have surely gone beyond the growling and lashing-out phase. We are getting into something much larger that could never command the necessary public support even in our own countries, let alone other United Nations members.

Then there is the question of our new Arab partners and especially of the fragile situation in Pakistan. I warmed to the idea mentioned last week by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, during the Nice treaty debate, that we might extend the NATO treaty to other countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and India. That could happen under the banner of anti-terrorism, although it may take some time. More urgent is the position of President Musharraf, who has held his country together with remarkable skill. I think that we should all pay tribute to that, but how long can he hold out while the United States is widening the original mandate? Is it not unreasonable and rather cynical, in view of past history, to push Pakistan into a position in which it can easily be placed in jeopardy by a large majority of its citizens? Statements from Egypt and Saudi Arabia that I have read in the past few days are also showing that solidarity with the United States has strict political time limits—and they are rapidly running out.

I welcome the gradual refocusing of attention in our Parliament towards the Middle East. The noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, most cogently argued that that lies at the heart of the crisis. For instance, it was encouraging to hear of President Mubarak's meeting with Shimon Peres and Chairman Arafat at Formentor at the weekend. I am concerned, however, that Israel, which is rightly in the coalition, is also reaping its own rewards. The last fortnight of October saw some of the bloodiest reprisals that we have yet seen in the West

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Bank and Gaza, where I was just as that week was beginning. Our Government must make it clear that anti-terrorism is not an excuse for states to reinforce their own prejudices and forms of state-sponsored terrorism, whether against minorities or peoples that live under illegal occupation, as the Palestinians are. The Prime Minister was right to visit Syria, and knowing of General Sharon's attempts to legitimise assassination attacks, he need not have been embarrassed by President Assad's definition of terrorism. They have seen it all too often before.

I am hoping to pursue this question with the Government next week. Having recently visited Palestine and seen the position of the new Israeli settlements, which have already been alluded to—let us not forget that many of them include American settlers—I do not believe that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should regard security for Israel in isolation from the security of Palestine and its future Arab neighbours. Through the coalition and the peace process, they must all be brought into one defence treaty backed by the entire international community.

Turning back to the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, for mentioning the sittings of the International Development Committee, to which several charities have given evidence. Christian Aid gave a joint presentation with Islamic Relief, which was significant in itself. Their major concern is still the numbers of displaced people who can be reached before the winter. The arguments about the number of tonnes of food provided are becoming academic, as it is known that half the country will very shortly be cut off by the winter snows. One cannot blame the charities for arguing for safe havens or a pause in the bombing, but, again, that looks unrealistic in the context of continuing war.

The more fundamental question is this: when will the bombing end? Noble Lords have been right across the spectrum as to whether it will go on for a long time. Pesonally, I do not see why, if it is the price of keeping international support for the coalition, the United States cannot cease bombing now. Others have hinted at the same point. It could then move towards the negotiation of a ceasefire to re-engage the Taliban and allow the United Nations, along the lines described by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, to re-establish the contacts that it already has in defined areas of the country and especially those of need.

The United States and the United Kingdom should also examine their true motives in siding with the Northern Alliance. Surely the targeting of Al'Qaeda must remain the outstanding objective, and not the toppling of the Taliban Government by the Northern Alliance. In my personal view, that was doomed from the start. We are not the world's policemen, and nor do we have the right to be so. The longer that we go on with the war, the more difficult it will be to rebuild Afghan society and, above all, the confidence of the people. It is far better to call an international conference under UN auspices and regain the support of countries that are now beyond the usual coterie of

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NATO and the European Union. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Bach, that corrupt and hostile Governments have never deterred an international aid operation. Unfortunately, it is a situation with which the United Nations is all too familiar.

Lastly, there is also a concern among the aid agencies about the cynical use of humanitarian aid in conflict. Will the Minister please give an undertaking that there is no question of the Army now taking on a humanitarian role? I think that we need to be clear about that. This ambiguity, which started with the United States air drop early in the campaign, has set alarm bells ringing among some agencies. Although we have the splendid example of Macedonia, where it is possible in some situations to combine the two roles, it would be better for the Government to clarify the position now and to confirm that they have no present intentions in this war of combining military and humanitarian relief. I should be grateful if the Minister would say something in that respect.

6.39 pm

Lord Sandberg: My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bach, for giving us yet another occasion to discuss the ever-fluid situation in Afghanistan. As a defence Minister, he has rightly paid most attention to what is going on in the war effort, but as winter is on the horizon and military activity may slow down, it is also now time that we turned our attention to what we will do when there is peace. We need to look ahead to see what that process will be.

Politically, we have the Northern Alliance—about which there has been much talk—but there have been precious few other political parties involved so far in what we hope will be a comprehensive peace government in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance is not everyone's favourite. Certainly Pakistan barely approves of it, and is well known to be, at best, without much enthusiasm for it.

In another place, Ministers were talking about Pakistan opening its borders to refugees, rather conveniently forgetting that there are approximately 1.5 million there already and perhaps another 2 million seeking a safe haven. In this country, quite rightly, we are worried about asylum seekers who perhaps number a couple of hundred. We have to ensure that our priorities are right and that we are able to look the world in the face on this matter.

We have to be careful about the allies to whom Afghanistan will cosy up. It has been said already that the regime in Afghanistan is as appalling as that of the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, only a couple of decades ago. The number of people killed in that country runs into millions. It is extraordinary what humanity can do to the rest of humanity. It is a murderous suggestion which the Taliban has been only too happy to continue to push. We need to support countries such as Pakistan and its neighbours, which have a local knowledge of the country, its political situation and the religious aspects that come into play, which are not always apparent in the West. I hope that we shall find a way to ensure peace after the war.

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We need to get the United Nations involved. That organisation has not been brought in because the issue has been engineered, with considerable reason, by the United States. I hope that when the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, replies she will be able to tell us how the Government intend to give their full attention to winning the peace after we have, it is hoped, won the war.

6.43 p.m.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, the general view is that the attention span of people in our fast-moving, modern times is relatively small, but there is still a vivid recollection of what happened on 11th September. However, I am not sure that there is a widespread understanding of the purposes of the present action. Many people think that it is a chase of bin Laden, who may well come to be seen in some parts of the world as a Robin Hood or Saladin-like figure. As a south Yorkshireman, I do not wish to comment on Robin Hood; he has been too useful for north Nottinghamshire.

If anyone reading history sought to compare Saladin and bin Laden, they would conclude that they are very different people. The one was a courteous, fine soldier. He was generous, even sending his medical advisers to assist Richard the Lionheart. Bin Laden represents a serious threat. But he is not the only one, and if there is a failure to respond to this terrorism, heaven knows what will happen in 10 or 20 years as more countries obtain more hideous weapons.

Unfortunately, the image of Robin Hood or Saladin is probably tolerated, even encouraged, by the media. When I saw the rapid response of the media to the Prime Minister's recent visit, I was horrified. The general view that the visit was a failure was based purely on the playing to the gallery of the Syrian leader. What matters is what was said in meetings to which the press had no access. If the Prime Minister, as I suspect, was seeking to ensure not only that we maintain an adequate alliance but prepare the ground for a sane situation when the conflict is over, that would have been a very great purpose. Perhaps the media might, at that point, apologise.

That is not the only matter for concern. One television channel recently held a phone-in: "Ring in and tell us whether you approve of the bombing". I do not know whether it also transmitted serious programmes explaining to viewers what the bombing was for. I do not suppose it informed its viewers that the bombing was gradual; that there was very little in the first days, to give the Taliban an opportunity to come to its senses or to show that it had some semblance of caring for its people.

It is perhaps a good thing that television was not so pervasive in past years. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, referred to Wellington in the Peninsula. Imagine what would have happened if a documentary had been made on the eve of Agincourt, where experts debated whether the longbow was likely to be efficient, or whether the English army, outnumbered by 12 or 14 to

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one, could survive. If there had been television programmes such as that, the army would probably have melted into the night.

And what about Nelson? If his admirals had considered the unorthodoxy of his tactics before Trafalgar—and certainly if the Sunday newspapers had had free rein in regard to other aspects of Nelson's career—he probably would not have been allowed to leave Portsmouth.

As to the Second World War, given some of the programmes I have seen in the past year about Bomber Command, one would have thought it was completely wasteful of young men's lives. But what would have happened if Bomber Command had not raided Peenemu nde and the Germans had been able to loose the V2 rockets upon Britain six months or more earlier, and the V1 rockets even earlier than that? Would the little ships have gone to Dunkirk to rescue the expeditionary force if there had been television documentaries or discussion groups about whether that was a vain possibility?

We have to understand that the media have a duty to inform. No one is suggesting that the media should engage in cheap propaganda, but I believe that, in some cases, we have seen a leaning-over backwards which is not in the interests of a free society. The media do not seem to have adequately informed the British people of the nature of the Taliban. People know about the treatment of women—they have to wear burkas and are not allowed to work, so that widows and their children starve unless they receive charity. But I am not sure that they fully understand that the Taliban view is that if a man sees any part of a woman, be it her fingernails or toenails, it would feel justified in inflicting 29 lashes upon her.

The Taliban's record is such that, in my view, we have to do all we can to overturn the regime, even apart from its accommodation of terror and the hospitality it affords bin Laden. I do not think that he will leave there because no other country in the world would be daft enough to have him. So we have to pursue him.

But not only bin Laden. All of the tentacles of terror have to be tackled. I strongly supported the slogan that we must be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. We have to be tough on terror and tough on the funding and resourcing of terror. We also have to be tough on the causes of terror. We have therefore to ensure that we do not easily swallow the view that the bombing must end and that there must be no hostilities during Ramadan. For example, we cannot possibly allow British servicemen to go into that inhospitable country without air cover and without having established air supremacy—which has been achieved. But if we are properly to tackle the most grievous problem of Afghanistan—namely, the appalling conditions of its people—ground forces will have to go in to establish secure routes along which aid can be taken. We shall not solve the problem of Afghanistan by merely delivering aid to a few areas that are accessible from Pakistan or the other neighbouring countries. Aid will be required on such an enormous scale that there will have to be an adequate military presence to ensure that it is delivered.

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During the Gulf War—the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, knows far more than I—Britain's major contribution was the delivery of the JP-233 weapon, an airfield denial weapon, which worked extremely effectively. As I believe my noble friend Lord Gilbert would confirm, that weapon is no longer in the British armoury. I do not believe that cluster bombs have quite the same disastrous, and delayed, capacity as the JP-233. Providing that cluster bombs are used with great care, and purely on forward military positions, if their use saves the lives of allied forces entering Afghanistan, in my view they are justified. We are not sending our young men to bear risks simply to placate a fashionable view in the media. Nor are we sending them to face risks if it prevents them from serving the cause of humanity, which must be at the very heart of our strategy.

But we must also be wise about the political structures in the world after the military action. I do not want to go further on the question of the Middle East. It has been accepted that there will be no peace in the Middle East or in central Asia unless there is a settlement in Israel. I hope that the Prime Minister will use his influence to ensure that the United States accepts that. Over many years in the Political Committee of the Council of Europe I have found Sharon's approach and that of Likud deplorable. Lord Finsberg and I drafted a statement on behalf of the Council of Europe which was perfectly balanced and sensible. My noble friend Lord Judd can see the statement if he looks at the records of the Political Committee. But it was resisted, we were attacked, and there was delay on the part of the Likud representatives, who offered no hope whatever either to Israel in the end or to the Middle East in general. There must be a settlement. If it comes about as a result of the present conflict, we shall certainly have seen a major step forward. We must retain the military capacity and the intelligence capacity to ensure that no further tentacles of terror are established such as Mr bin Laden has established over the past five years.

6.53 p.m.

Lord Blaker: My Lords, the events of the past two months have amounted to a cataclysm—a big "minus" for the world, particularly the democratic world. However, there are some "pluses". One is that the United States and Russia are drawing closer together, especially in the important field of nuclear weapons. It is becoming possible to discern a settlement which might be achieved on that important subject. Chechnya is still a problem. Russia's treatment of the Chechens has not been good enough. However, we can begin to understand why the Russians regard the Chechen rebels as terrorists. We should now be asking ourselves whether there are any fundamental problems between the Western democracies—NATO in particular—and Russia. That in itself is a big step forward.

Secondly, the events of 11th September have removed the danger of US isolationism. There was a genuine fear when George W. Bush came to office that that would be the trend of United States' policy. I

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speak as a firm supporter of the United States. It has a vital role to play in the future of us all. But recent events may make the United States—healthily—ask itself why it is so criticised in so many parts of the world, not least in Latin America and the Middle East; and indeed, why it is hated in many parts of the world. Unjustified though those feelings are, they are a very real factor in international politics.

Thirdly, there is an interesting trend in the opinion polls in the United States as regards the willingness of the population to accept military casualties. It is generally agreed that it has been a weakness in the world's number one power that it has not been prepared to accept a single military casualty. That was true during the mission in Kosovo; indeed, it nearly de-railed the Kosovo enterprise.

There is a parallel tendency; namely, a reluctance on the part of the United States to accept any detriment to any United States citizen at the hands of foreigners. One has only to look at the United States' attitude towards the International Criminal Court. The American negative attitude towards that court is a major misjudgment in United States' foreign policy. I hope that it will be remedied in the same way as opinion is changing in relation to military casualties.

There is a fourth "plus". It relates to the problem of Israel, referred to by so many speakers. There are recent indications that as a result of the events of 11th September the United States may be recognising the harm that is being done to its foreign policy by its failure to restrain Israel. That is the single most important element in bin Laden's support. He refers constantly to the failure of the United States to use the levers available to it to restrain the Israeli Government. I am not saying that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians are behaving correctly; I am focusing only on the attitude in so many parts of the world, especially in the Muslim world, towards the United States because of its attitude towards Israel. Certainly, the Palestinian terrorists are to be deplored, and the Palestinians for their part have missed many opportunities.

Successive Israeli governments, especially where there has been a Likud majority, have deliberately, it seems to me, avoided a peace agreement. In particular, they have avoided Israel's obligations under the Oslo peace process. I very much welcome the call by President George W. Bush and by the Prime Minister for a Palestinian state. I hope that before long, if one can seize the opportunity which I believe may exist, we shall hear calls for a withdrawal from the settlements in the occupied territories. They are, after all, contrary to international law. The kind of move that I am referring to, the willingness to engage in a peace process, would be very much in the interests of the Israeli people.

I want to mention one or two things that we, the Americans and our friends can do about the present problems. To those who call for an end to the bombing, I say: having started, we cannot stop now. That would be seen by bin Laden and the Taliban as a great weakness on our part. It would be a boost for

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them. If the bombing and the military action generally are successful, I believe that we may see a tendency for people in Afghanistan to provide a flow of information about bin Laden and his whereabouts. Betrayal has played a significant role in the battles in Afghanistan between Afghans. If it is seen that we are beginning to prevail, the five million dollar bounty that has been placed on bin Laden by the United States Government may become more tempting. I do not believe that there is any reason to cease military action during Ramadan. I understand that it does not cease between Afghans when they fight one another. It did not cease during the Iran/Iraq war.

I congratulate my noble friend Lord King on his brilliant maiden speech. I congratulate, too, the noble Lord, Lord Jones, on his speech discussing the matter of intelligence. I had the privilege of serving under the noble Lord, Lord King, with the noble Lord, Lord Jones, as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee. It is a vital matter. I support my noble friend Lord King in regretting the run-down of the United States security and intelligence services—the CIA and the FBI. The noble Lord, Lord King, was right to say that once you have run down such an organisation, it takes a long time to build it up again.

In addition to the factors that my noble friend mentioned, I am told that another factor caused the decline in the effectiveness of those organisations: the adoption of political correctness in recruitment. Sean Connery, in his favourite role, might have found it difficult to be accepted by those organisations during that time.

Perhaps I may suggest two ways in which the coalition may be able to deprive the Taliban and bin Laden of some of their funding. I understand that 90 per cent of the heroin which reaches this country comes from Afghanistan. Has the coalition—the Americans or ourselves—considered spraying the poppy fields in order to destroy the source of the heroin? That would have two benefits. First, it would destroy much of the funding used by the Taliban and bin Laden to purchase arms abroad. Secondly, it would limit the supplies of heroin. I do not know the time of year most appropriate for spraying the fields. According to an encyclopaedia I have consulted, it tends to be the spring. I suggest that the idea is worth consideration.

Bin Laden is said to be deeply involved in the trade in illicit diamonds—what are called blood diamonds. Are we doing enough to interrupt that commerce which I understand brings benefits to his finances?

Food aid has not been a success. Dropping it at the same time as bombs gave an undeserved, though understandable, impression of cynicism by the United States. That was increased by the fact that the bomblets contained in the cluster bombs and the food parcels were the same colour—yellow. If it is the intention, as is rumoured, for the coalition to drive land corridors into Afghanistan, that might be a better way in future of distributing food aid.

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My next point concerns the anthrax problem. The time has come—indeed, it has passed—when the world must turn its attention urgently again to dealing with the dangers of the acquisition by Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. The world cannot kid itself that the problem will go away. I am encouraged to read in today's Financial Times that the Americans are considering raising the issue again with the United Nations.

My last point involves public relations. It is relevant in other countries and here at home. We are told that on his recent trip the Prime Minister was informed that 60 per cent of Muslims in the Middle East believe that Israeli and United States intelligence services were responsible for the attack on the twin towers in New York. We know that the US/Vietnam war was lost in the living rooms of America. We do not want to see that happening in this crisis. The public relation task is difficult. It is made more difficult by the tendency of the media increasingly to emphasise bad news because it sells more copies and attracts more viewers. That is contrary to what happens in Middle Eastern countries where information is controlled. For example, do many Afghans know that there is a bounty of 5 million dollars on the capture of bin Laden? The United States should concentrate on managing better the time difference between Afghanistan and western countries, in particular ourselves and the United States. I have the impression that the Taliban is skilful in managing the provision of news so that it captures our headlines.

Finally, I agree again with my noble friend Lord King that it is important for the Government to ensure that the BBC overseas services are adequately funded to spread the truth.

7.6 p.m.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, whatever gloss is put on it, we are apparently engaged in a full scale war in Afghanistan. That is wrong. What happened on 11th September was a mass murder of the most pointless, cruel and vicious kind. But mass murders should not cause wars particularly when they are not committed by a nation. The days of the War of Jenkins's Ear are long past. In those days, no international body could be called in. Now, mass murders and crimes call for police action. Ever since the Nuremberg trials, organisations have been set up in which police action can be taken.

In an admirable lecture to the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies—the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has touched upon it—Sir Michael Howard outlined how we should have dealt with the mass murder and how eventually we must deal with it. If we are to succeed we must win the battle for the hearts and minds of the people who shelter terrorists, as we did the first time that phrase was used in Malaysia. We have now lost the first battle of this war by escalating the action and ensuring that many innocent lives are lost, as they are lost in any war which is handed over to machines. We have also ensured that terrorism will carry on because we have met terrorism with force and that in turn will be met with force.

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However, there is a possible way to escape the full rewards of the folly of President Bush and Mr Blair as Professor Howard explained in his lecture. It was reported last week in the Evening Standard as many noble Lords will have noted. I refer to taking advantage of our first chance to claim that we have achieved something. I agree that we cannot stop now when it will be claimed that we have been defeated. We must do so when we have achieved something—if only the toppling of the Taliban Government who were not responsible for the crime and who were put there by the Americans. We must take that opportunity and cease military action.

When we have done that, we must embark on the long, complex and difficult diplomatic and intelligence task to win hearts and minds—in Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and Palestine, among others. At the same time we must embark on a path to reform our western way of life—and here I would agree with what was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield—until we begin to decrease the gap between rich and poor in our own countries and in the world at large. Such gaps always provide fertile fuel for terrorism.

That would be a war well worth winning. It would be one which the Green Party, of which I am a member, would wholeheartedly support, as we cannot support this disastrous and doomed war in its present form.

7.11 p.m.

Lord Desai: My Lords, I rise as the 23rd speaker. Many things have been said and so I shall try to say something different.

First, I want to adopt the two time frames proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, in his excellent speech. There is one long war against terrorism, and here one is using the word "war" in a figurative sense, not a proper military or legal sense. War on terrorism, like war on drugs, goes on for ever.

The topic of today's debate is the military action in Afghanistan. Unlike many noble Lords, I am not pessimistic about what has happened in the last four weeks. If there is to be military action, it is best to get it over with as quickly as possible. One has to fight a wholehearted war, not a war of half-measures. One cannot suddenly give up, think of something else, then come back. That just prolongs the agony.

This applies especially to the provision of humanitarian aid, as my noble friend Lord Bach said. The sooner we destroy the Taliban's ability to divert supplies away from humanitarian purposes, the better we shall be at providing humanitarian aid. We learned this lesson in Somalia. When there is a failed state and humanitarian aid is being provided—if I may use a Wild West analogy—there must be someone riding shotgun. In Afghanistan we not only have a failed state but a vicious failed state which will act against the welfare of its own citizens—just to spite us.

We have to be absolutely clear about this. Even before 11th September the Taliban were worth destroying—for destroying the Buddhist statues at

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Bamyan, making the Hindu population wear special costumes, incarcerating people who had gone there to provide aid on the grounds that they were spreading Christianity—this is an evil regime. We respect sovereignty under the UN Charter, but there are times when we have to say that such evil shall not take place because it is a violation of human rights. I have no problem with the fact that, along with wanting to get rid of Al'Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, we want to destroy the Taliban. I would put the destruction of the Taliban above almost anything else.

There has to be a bombing campaign which is efficient, quick and effective and, along the way, we have to understand that civilians will die. It would be brilliant if one could devise a campaign in which only soldiers died, only military installations were destroyed, no civilians died and no civilian property was destroyed; where there was perfect humanitarian aid, co-ordinated with a military campaign, and successful political negotiations. The world is not like that.

We should try to avoid civilian deaths by all means, but I do not know of any war where there have been no civilian deaths. In the 10 years since the Cold War ended there have been wars around the world, of which we have taken little notice, in which 20 million civilians have died. Three million civilians died in what used to be called the Congo, and the world took hardly any notice—partly because, unless Western powers are involved, people do not care about civilian deaths. It is a paradox. There are obviously responsibilities to be considered other than humanitarian causes as such.

While we should try to avoid civilian deaths, we should not let that be used against us as propaganda and deflect us from what we have to do, because a war half-heartedly fought goes on for a long time and causes greater misery than a war which is short and effective. I hasten to add that I say that with absolutely no experience as a soldier or as a military man.

Secondly in that respect, to consider a political solution for Afghanistan is slightly premature. We are trying to fashion the perfect solution for the political settlement of Afghanistan, and that is undoubtedly a noble thing to do. However, until we clear some ground which we hold in Afghanistan independently of the Taliban, unless we can demonstrate that we control some territory, a political settlement has no credibility. It is like castles in the air.

In that regard, I do not think that we should take the interests of Pakistan, Iran, or anybody else, very seriously. Their interests are partisan. We should go ahead and do whatever we have to do, without paying attention to people who are not so very helpful at the present time.

The first priority is military and one of clearing a space, partly to be able to help humanitarian aid and partly to get a foothold on the ground, which will then give us credibility in devising a political solution later. I do not believe that one can devise a solution for Afghanistan which will necessarily work in the way one wants it to work. I would draw a parallel between Afghanistan and Ethiopia—a country which was

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quiet, if not prosperous. When Haile Selassie was thrown out, there followed 30 years of total chaos, a great deal of violence and very dire conditions for the people. Then Mengistu had to be thrown out, and they entered into another war. Well meaning though our efforts may be, they will not necessarily create a heaven on earth in Afghanistan, but at least we will be able to get rid of the Taliban—and anything will be better than the Taliban. In devising a political solution, therefore, we shall have to have lower expectations than those with which we have started.

There is, however, a longer-running programme than the war against terrorism. It is a war against people who reject modernity. The war between the West and the East, the Cold War as it was then known, was a war between two different versions of modernity, one liberal and one illiberal. This, however, is a very different kind of war. This is a war involving people who reject all the good values of modernity, like human rights and tolerance, but who do not reject the bad things about modernity, namely its destructive technology. Here are people who accept Western technology, military devices, information technology and so on, but then reject what they call Western values. In other words, they reject the best part of modernity. As I said in my previous speech on this topic, that is a particular problem with west Asia or the Middle East in a wider sense due to various historical reasons which I shall not go into again. In a sense, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the problems in Palestine have given rise to an ethnic nationalism which is not only virulent but believes that it is only in rejecting modernity that it can establish its claim to legitimacy.

We ought to explain to those people that some modern values are perfectly consistent with practising Islam and a variety of different political cultures but still respect certain fundamental values. I refer to a long-running war because we have hardly started. "War" is the wrong word to use, but it will be a cultural war and a war in which the British Council and the World Service will be useful. This is a war in which we shall have to learn a lot about Arab culture, Islam and the various movements across the Muslim world, which exists not only in the Middle East. We have not even prepared ourselves yet for that war which will continue for 10 years.

People may recall the conflict in which the CIA was involved. I do not say that we should conduct ourselves in that way. The CIA fought a cultural war in which it encouraged people to express themselves and sponsored good magazines such as Encounter. Painting was encouraged and the holding of conferences. We need to do a variety of things, display our best side and try to understand what makes people reject modernity. If we understand that we can ultimately win hearts and minds. As I say, the time-scale of this war is long and it will remain long after the immediate problem of Afghanistan has been solved and even, dare I say, long after the Palestinian problem has been solved, as there will still be people who reject modernity.

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I believe that there is room for cautious optimism. One thing which makes me optimistic is the desperation Mr bin Laden feels right now. He tried to issue an appeal to Pakistan hoping that Pakistan would erupt in a big revolt. However, it did not erupt in a big revolt. He then issued another appeal to all Arab nations hoping that their populations would revolt against their rulers. That has not happened. We should recognise therefore that perhaps our PR is failing but his PR is also failing. Let us not overestimate the success of the Taliban and its PR and underestimate our success. Surely Al'Qaeda must have thought that, when it attacked the twin towers and when America retaliated, the Muslim world would erupt against America. Some parts have ignited but many have not. With patience and with the kind of diplomacy the Prime Minister practised in Syria and Israel, and further efforts of that kind, we can contain the eruption elsewhere. The fact that across west Asia the Muslim world has not erupted en masse and no regimes have yet been toppled should give us hope that perhaps there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that the tunnel is not all that long.

7.25 p.m.

Lord Weatherill: My Lords, I may be wrong but I suspect that I am one of only three people in your Lordships' House who have had some experience of fighting on the Frontier: the noble Lord, Lord Sandberg, was in the 6th Lancers, the noble Lord, Lord Eden of Winton, was, I believe in the Gilgit Scouts and I spent five years in an Indian cavalry regiment, the 19th Lancers. Most of my active service was in Burma and Malaya, as it was then called, but there were those in the regiment with long and wide experience of service on the North West Frontier. It is a completely different kind of warfare.

When the Soviets attacked Afghanistan they soon came to recognise what in our time we always knew; namely, that the key to influence in that region did not lie in bombing so much as in the ability to provide sufficient privileges in terms of cash and pay-offs to those who mattered. In other words, bribes were more effective than bombs, or perhaps to put it more delicately, it was a case of divide and rule. Indeed, bin Laden's own ability to keep the Taliban in check involves bribing them heavily with money secured through the drugs trade.

Those in your Lordships' House who have had any experience of military affairs will never forget the terms: information, intention, courses open to the enemy, own troops and method—an approach to problems well known to every private soldier and every field marshal. We all know and appreciate what the intention is, of course; that is, to bring bin Laden to justice. But not enough is said of his intentions, although they have been mentioned several times during the course of the debate. For him Afghanistan is a sideshow, a means to achieve his ultimate objective which is control of Saudi Arabia, the oilfields and the holy places. In frustrating him I am not so certain that our tactics have been as effective as we have heard today.

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The noble Lord, Lord Blaker, said that the war in Vietnam was eventually lost not on the field of battle but on television. In his excellent speech the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, drew attention to the influence of television in this conflict. We should be concerned at the way in which television daily shows horrific casualties and at newspaper reports with similar photographs. We would be foolish to underestimate the impact of that not only on the Muslim population in our own country but also on those overseas.

Many noble Lords have mentioned Ramadan, which starts in a week's time. At the risk of being labelled a "wet", and despite what has been said about the success of the bombing campaign so far, I hope that during Ramadan it will be more accurately targeted. This very day I chaired the first meeting of Islamic Awareness Week in Portcullis House, the object of which is to win the hearts and minds—numerous noble Lords have used that phrase in the debate—not only of the British Muslim population but also of others of the Islamic faith particularly in Arabia and especially in the front-line state of Pakistan.

I do not know how many noble Lords read the excellent article—it is a good reason to buy the Daily Telegraph on a Monday—of the noble Lord, Lord Deedes, entitled, Criticism should not be stifled by war. He recounted the story of a First World War veteran who was interviewed and asked to whom in the First World War he owed his loyalty, to which the veteran replied, "To my mates". That sentiment should not be underestimated in terms of winning hearts and minds.

As regards Afghanistan everyone agrees that the crying need is for some form of massive reconstructive Marshall Plan under the auspices perhaps of the United Nations or of some neutral state, probably during a ceasefire. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and other noble Lords mentioned that point.

The traditional way of resolving disputes in Afghanistan remains, as it always has been, a Loya Jirga—a meeting of chiefs, local leaders, religious scholars and respected individuals. In this case, it would need to appoint an interim government. Despite his age and infirmity, the former King, Zahir Shah, could be the catalyst for that. That government must be acceptable to Pakistan—not just drawn from the Northern Alliance, but broadly based, with some moderate Taliban input as well.

I profoundly disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Desai, about Pakistan. I understand that General Pervez Musharraf may be coming to London soon. I hope that he will be told that the British Government will drop sanctions against Pakistan and that his country will be brought back into full membership of the Commonwealth. It is a disgraceful irony that Zimbabwe remains a full member of the Commonwealth while Pakistan is out. Pakistan has 2 million refugees, with others camping on its borders. It is a crucial ally. One immediate and effective way of helping Pakistan's economy would be for relief supplies to be purchased locally, rather than flown in

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from Europe and the United States. Numerous references, including by the noble Lords, Lord Blaker and Lord Hardy of Wath, have been made to the dropping of food parcels with yellow labels around them. Pakistan can provide grain, rice, blankets, tents, cooking oil and medicines—all the things that the Afghans need and would use—instead of the rations that are flown in from the United States and elsewhere.

A prosperous Pakistan in a highly volatile part of the world is crucial. If the president is weakened or even overthrown rather than strengthened, the alternative is likely to be a Taliban-style government with nuclear weapons. Surely that should be avoided at all costs.

We all want an end to terrorism and a return to peace, but we would be kidding ourselves if we failed to address the roots of the present conflict in Afghanistan. It has been pointed out on numerous occasions today that those roots are found in the Middle East and Palestine, but they are also found in Kashmir, which has not been mentioned so often today. Unless and until there is a just and fair resolution in those two matters, there will never be the lasting peace that we all desire and pray for.

I fought in the Far East for five years. Those of us who have been to war never want to do it again. I do not know how many of your Lordships have heard of Woodbine Willie (G.A. Studdert Kennedy) in the First World War. He wrote the following poem about war:

    "Waste of muscle, waste of brain,

Waste of patience, waste of pain, Waste of manhood, waste of health, Waste of beauty, waste of wealth, Waste of blood, waste of tears, Waste of youth's most precious years, Waste of ways the saints have trod, Waste of glory, waste of God, War."

7.35 p.m.

Lord Plant of Highfield: My Lords, this has been a most interesting and informative debate, marked by two distinguished maiden speeches. I have not participated in our previous debates on this subject over the past few weeks, because I felt rather ill fitted to do so and did not have any penetrating insights into the international situation that I felt impelled to share with your Lordships. However, as the Government's approach has developed over the past few weeks, there are now two or three points that I would like to make.

When I started thinking about the events of 11th September and the appropriate response to them, there seemed, regrettably, to be no alternative to military action once the Taliban had refused to yield up bin Laden and his associates. At the same time, I was filled with anxiety and foreboding about the likely consequences for economically and strategically important Middle Eastern states and about the difficulty of running a humanitarian campaign alongside what was to all intents and purposes warfare. Nevertheless, I support the Government's position and I want to explain why.

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The coalition and its maintenance are crucial for two reasons. First, it prevents the present action being seen as a clash of civilisations between Islam and Christianity, because Islamic states have signed up to the coalition. That makes it more legitimate to claim that the action is against terrorism, rather than a broader based Samuel Huntington-type clash between two different types of civilisation. The coalition is vital for securing that moral perspective.

Equally, the coalition is important in the long run. Preventing chemical, biological and nuclear materials falling into terrorist hands, will require diplomacy, co-operation and agreement between states. Any regimes to prevent the spread and seepage of those materials cannot be secured in the long term by military power, however vast; it depends on international co-operation and agreement. The coalition could be a crucial basis for securing that in the future.

Both as regards the current short-term—we hope—military action and in the longer term, the coalition is crucial. I very much appreciate the Prime Minister's fantastic efforts to keep it together.

It is therefore vital to reject some of the hints coming out through newspaper columns in the United States and occasionally here, seemingly inspired by some of the more hawkish members of the American administration around the Department of Defense, that somehow the coalition could turn out to be an unjustified constraint on the actions that the US might feel the need to take against other targets, particularly Iraq. Taking that line would be a grave error. Any future regime to control the spread of the materials of terror will rely crucially on international co-operation. Only in the most metaphorical sense can the US be regarded as the world's policeman, because policing and constraining the production and exchange of dangerous substances, be they chemical, biological or nuclear, requires detailed agreements and the detailed co-operation of states. From that perspective, the maintenance and continual renewal of the coalition is vital.

Picking up the theme of a number of speeches this afternoon, there is no doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian problem has fed and given impetus to terrorism. I am pleased by the recognition here and in the United States of the need for a viable Palestinian state. The Palestinians need to be given hope if moderate leadership is to prevail and to be sustained. In these difficult times, every effort should be made to advance the peace process. Removing the causes of perceived injustice is crucial to the anti-terrorism strategy.

Holding out the hope of a Palestinian state is important in that, at last, the Palestinians will have a sense of what the end of the process of negotiation will yield. The alternative has been to negotiate in an incremental way without any assurances about the final goal of that process. No doubt chairman Arafat has made some colossal misjudgments in his time, not least in his negotiations with Prime Minister Barak. The consequences of those misjudgments have been

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tragic. Nevertheless, in my view, the fall of Arafat would be a catastrophe because any successor would probably be more extreme or more beholden to extremists.

Therefore, in picking up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, and, I believe, implicitly by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, it seems to me very important that pre-conditions for talks should not be placed on chairman Arafat if he cannot meet them without running a grave risk to the survival of his own authority within Palestine. I believe that any alternative from the Israeli point of view would turn out to be very much worse.

The third point that I want to make has not been picked up during the course of the debate. The current action has revealed how difficult it is to undertake military action with a strong cultural and religious dimension—however much we may want to deny that, nevertheless it is perceived by many people to exist—in a multi-cultural society. I think, for example, of a worrying poll of Muslims which appeared in yesterday's Sunday Times.

Over the past decade or so, we have spent much time emphasising what in academic terms is usually called "the politics of difference"; that is, recognising the rights, role and representation of groups, whether they be religious or cultural groups, in modern democracies. It is right that we should do that in a diverse and pluralistic society.

However, it is equally important that we emphasise what binds us together as common citizens of the United Kingdom. We must emphasise what we have in common and what values we share and define in being British. Without a sense of citizenship underpinned by a set of values, it seems to me that it is very difficult to generate a sense of loyalty and allegiance from the different groups that make up our now divergent society. It is important that we try to deploy whenever possible the positive arguments that exist in favour of the way of life which we not only value but for which we are asking our troops possibly to lay down their lives to defend.

Those values are rooted in positive matters. This is a rather important issue. An Islamic theologian called Akhtar argued that the guiding notion of liberal democracy was doubt. It is because we doubt that we know the truth and because we doubt that we know what values are important, and so forth, that in our type of society we favour democracy. We do not know what the truth is and we do not know what values add up to. We are tolerant because, again, we do not know what the truth is. Akhtar's argument is that a society based on doubt is at a grave disadvantage when faced by societies with a strong belief in positive values.

I do not believe that we should allow liberal democracy to be characterised in that way. Liberal values are positive. They relate to equality of concern, equality of respect, human dignity, the rule of law, impartiality in the application of law, and so on. They can be given a deep moral justification. They are not only, as it were, ways in which to cope with doubt and diversity, although they have a role in that. Yet,

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without some emphasis upon the cogency of the way of life that we have, it is very difficult to expect others, whose moral perspective may be rather different but who nevertheless live in that society, to feel a sense of allegiance and loyalty to it. I believe that we must now consider ways in which to generate a stronger sense of our own common identity.

When we were a more homogeneous society, that was not necessary. Culture, habits, history, understanding and tradition were shared. Now that identity must be developed, articulated and stated. As an issue, it is much more reflective and must be acquired. In the future, in terms of ideas about citizenship, the teaching of citizenship and having requirements in relation to citizenship for applicants seeking settlement in the United Kingdom, it is a matter for which some of the initiatives being taken in the Home Office will be important. Therefore, it is significant both in terms of what we are trying to defend and in terms of how we secure the allegiance of groups within British society to the values that we are trying to defend.

My fourth point concerns the post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Here, I speak from more or less total ignorance. I am sure that it is one of those commonsensical issues to which there are clear answers, but I have not the faintest idea what they are. It seems obvious that there is a great deal to be said in terms of both military effectiveness and ideological convenience in having the Northern Alliance play the major role militarily on the ground in liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban. After all, if liberation can come via the Afghans themselves, so much the better. That is the positive part.

On the other hand, if the Northern Alliance plays the dominant role, with American and British troops in support, and rolls into Kabul as the victorious group—the final liberation, as it were, being down to them—what type of guarantee can we have that the broadly based government that we all want to see will be in place? In the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, reference is often made to the settlements as being "facts on the ground". If the Northern Alliance were in possession of Kabul, that would be a fairly major fact on the ground. I wonder how we shall move from that to the broadly based government that we all want to see.

7.47 p.m.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I believe that the greatest compliment that we can pay to our forces who are in the vicinity of Afghanistan is to conduct this debate freely and with rigour. Although I suspect that we are all considering these issues with one hand tied behind our backs, I believe that one must do one's best to understand and comment on the policy as now pursued because, in the long term, the lives of our service people depend on it.

We do not know the full story. The context is changing rapidly and continuously. The circumstances are unpredictable to a perhaps unique degree, and I suggest that the context is politically unparalleled. The

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lessons of Milosevic in Kosovo, of Kuwait and elsewhere are of little use in contemplating the debate tonight. Those situations did not have the strong, overt religious and cultural issues that bin Laden has put at the forefront of his attempt at persuasion.

Afghanistan has already had 22 years of conflict and is a uniquely tragic wasteland. This is not a state against state conflict. The enemy has only rifles, mules and a few broken-down bits of equipment. Strangely, although much has been said of the media tonight, in these circumstances they are curtailed to an extraordinary degree so that we see very little, if anything, from the front line.

I should like to praise the Prime Minister for the way in which he has gone about this most dreadful business. The coalition, which he had a principal hand in putting together, is the best hope for the eventual outcome. I praise, too, his willingness to go to Syria, Jordan and Israel. Far from being the débacle that was presented in parts of the press, that was a crucially important thing for him to have done.

Richard Spring, shadow Foreign Office Minister in the other place, and I met the Syrian Foreign Secretary earlier this year. My impression of the sophistication, knowledge and understanding of the Syrian Foreign Secretary, who is still in post, makes me think that the hour that the Prime Minister spent with Mr Bashar will be of enormous importance in time to come.

I shall confine my remarks to what Mr Blair said at the end of that whistle-stop tour; namely, that he was bent on influencing public opinion in the Muslim and Arab world. Again, that must be right. Part of the uniqueness of the Afghan situation is that this is a war with terrorism, not with a state. It is a war both physical and metaphysical. We can win the physical war and lose the metaphysical war. If we lose the war of hearts and minds, we again lose the physical war. To capture and defeat bin Laden, to destroy his terrorist network and to overthrow the Taliban will not be of long-term effect unless we prevent 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 other terrorists, as extreme as he, continuing his dreadful work.

I sense that world opinion, not only outside the West, is delicately poised in this regard. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, referred to what he called the ambivalent constituency. Although the general condemnation of the wickedness of 11th September is widespread, generally speaking the relationship between the underdeveloped world and the developed world is complex and highly fragile.

Western capitalism is not seen as an unmitigated good in all parts of the world. It is certainly not the symbol of democratic freedom in parts of the Middle East and the Muslim world that it is to the Americans and in the West. Rather, it can be seen as a narrow code of ruthlessly selfish materialism, which, because it is so much more forcefully and successfully advanced among western democracies, carries with it some of the overtones of the oppressor, the patroniser and the begetter of contempt for the less developed—often ancient—cultures. Those cultures are written off as

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being backward, corrupt and ineffectual—as indeed, to some degree, some are—without any countervailing understanding of their histories and virtues.

Furthermore, the garish righteousness of the West is not viewed in all parts of the world—particularly in those parts that we are trying to influence—as being free of hypocrisy. Those people think of the fact that the CIA trained bin Laden and of the role of the Americans in Afghanistan. As soon as the Russians were defeated, Afghans saw the Russians withdraw and show no interest in the reconstruction of their civic society. They do not forget the part played by Britain and America in particular in the creation and sustenance of Israel at the expense of local Palestinians, and the extraordinarily inconsistent approach by us and the Americans towards United Nations resolutions, in particular to UN Resolutions 242 and 338. A great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, said about that was entirely apt.

The countries of the Islamic world do not forget that we—America, France and Britain—backed Saddam Hussein when he grabbed oil-rich territory from the Iranians in 1980. Indeed, we did not merely back him; we supplied him with arms and gas. The Iranians lost, it is reckoned, 1 million dead in that eight-year war. We are apt not even to know about that; but they certainly do not forget.

Opinion throughout the world is also, I believe, coming to the view that two wrongs do not make a right, and that the ends do not, even for that great wickedness of 11th September, for ever justify the means. They increasingly perceive the means as being potentially disproportionate between a ragtag Taliban army on the ground and the most sophisticated superpower in the world, which rains "smart bombs"—and not-so-smart bombs—upon Afghans. The gross inequality of arms is mirrored in the gross inequality of casualties. As yet not a single American or other allied serviceman has—thank God—died in this conflict. The roll-call among Afghans—civilians, as well as those in the military—probably runs into the thousands.

I refer noble Lords to a few statistics. Afghanistan is the poorest country in Asia; more than half of its children are under-weight; it has armed conflict in 17 of its 32 provinces; it has 2 million permanently disabled people; and about 7.5 million Afghans will this winter suffer appallingly. Indeed, they reckon, and UNICEF warns, that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die this winter unless food reaches them. The amount of food reaching the country is less than half the World Food Programme's estimate of their absolutely minimal needs. With winter setting in from the middle of this month until the middle of next April, the time is very short in which to do anything effective. Afghanistan has the largest number of anti-personnel landmines in any country in the world, and the use of cluster bombs—contrary to what was otherwise so splendidly said by the noble Lord, Lord Bach—does not leave civilians untouched and unharmed. At least 10 per cent—probably 15 per cent—of such bombs do not detonate on landing.

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Save the Children, with a staff of 200, understands what is going on in Afghanistan only too well. I put it to the Government that although it would be highly unconventional to interrupt the bombing campaign—unparalleled, I dare say—we are in an unparalleled situation in this war. The courage that the Prime Minister rightly said that we need to pursue this campaign, and the imagination that the noble Lord, Lord Bach, said was an essential component of a successful outcome, would be fully endorsed and employed if we found a way in which to cease the bombing. That would allow at least a few of those 100,000 children to see out the winter. The hearts and minds of the Arab world would take note.

It is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said, that the Taliban would use a pause in the bombing to reorganise and re-equip. It would also take the first, second and third lots of food. However, if we negotiate a ceasefire—that must be attempted—the outcome, in terms of the longer, broader aims of influencing an extremely worried and volatile Arab world, could be of enormous benefit.

It is certain that if civilian losses from the bombs and, even more, from starvation and hypothermia, grow as relentlessly as they seem set to do, and if Muslim opinion—and opinion elsewhere—continues to fall away, the pressures in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other countries could easily become unsustainable. The consequences of that, compared with the hazards and difficulties of a "bombing pause", could be disastrous.

I close by admitting what I began by admitting; namely, that one is not privy to all the relevant facts. It could be that a bombing pause is about to take place. If so, hurray, hurray and hurray. Every day, in our opening Prayers in this place, we have the prayer that says:

    "that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee",

we seek the blessings of the Lord. This strange campaign must be begun, continued and ended in justice, like no other campaign in history. That will require courage and imagination.

8 p.m.

Lord Joffe: My Lords, I do not have the expertise to form a judgment on the military and political strategies being followed in Afghanistan. However, as Chair of Oxfam, which has 120 staff based in Afghanistan, skilled in the distribution of food, I am able to bring to your Lordships' attention our assessment of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in that country and the appalling consequences unless further action is taken to prevent a disaster. I say "further action" because our Government have already taken impressive action to address the humanitarian crisis. I was reassured by the noble Lord, Lord Bach, as he has reasserted that a key strand of government policy is to address the humanitarian crisis.

In the current climate of crisis it is hard to ascertain how much food is being delivered into Afghanistan and harder still to determine how much is being

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distributed into the hands of the needy, because distributing the food is perhaps more difficult than getting it into the country. However, the consensus among UN agencies and other aid agencies working on the ground is clear. For many Afghan people, food has now run out and the new supplies are insufficient to replenish the stocks.

At the start of November a limited amount of new food is entering the country. Winter is closing in. Based on World Food Programme projections and that organisation's analysis of the situation on the ground, Oxfam and other British aid agencies believe that it is now likely that there are approximately 1.7 million people who will be cut off from conventional supply routes during the winter and will run out of food at some point during that period.

A question that is often asked by politicians, by the press and by members of the public is, "How many of those people will die?" Not only is that an impossible question to answer, but it is actually the wrong one to ask. The question that should be asked is: how many people should have to endure the unspeakable suffering that comes with starvation?

In the areas that are particularly short of food and currently inaccessible, we have a good idea of what is happening and will happen to varying degrees. It is a harrowing picture. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, has touched on some of the facts that starving people face. Perhaps I can outline the effects that starvation has on the daily lives of starving people. People will beg and borrow what they can, getting into debt as they do so. They will sell their possessions, one by one. Then they will sell their houses piece by piece, finishing with selling the roof beams of their houses. Once those are sold there will be no protection against the Afghan winter. After selling their material possessions, they will begin to sell their children, especially girls, who will be sent out of their household to be married to anyone who makes an offer. Men and women will roam further and further afield to find wild foods, to dig up plants, to eat the roots, to boil up grasses and to eat animal fodder. Such fare lacks vital nutrients and may even be poisonous. Their hair will begin to fall out and skin lesions will become infected easily, turning into sores. As the noble Lord, Lord Rea, pointed out, people will become more vulnerable to disease and infection, especially in the Afghan winter. Of course, the first to die will be the children and the elderly.

There is still time to prevent that fate from befalling many of the 1.7 million people in greatest need. We have two weeks before the first snows are anticipated. That is a window of opportunity that the Afghan people can ill afford us to ignore.

It is clear that there are significant differences across Afghanistan in terms of need and access. Therefore, there are grounds for hoping that a variety of options can be looked at and designed specifically to meet the conditions on the ground. That may require a range of actors negotiating access to different areas of the country and different approaches according to local conditions.

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There are still thousands of people who can and must be reached by significantly increasing the delivery of food into Afghanistan by land, by airdrops and by airlifts into secure zones. Greater diplomatic pressure is required to ensure that neighbouring countries facilitate trucking into Afghanistan by easing bureaucracy at borders. That is a priority option for zones that are considered accessible and that will require increased efforts by the World Food Programme to move even greater quantities of food into the country than they achieve already.

Given the level of the crisis in some areas, all options for getting the food to needy populations must now be considered. It is time to start the negotiation of safe routes and safe zones for food delivery and airdrops. Some of those issues are not the most effective ways to get food to people. Trucking is better, but as roads become blocked by snow food delivery by air becomes the most practical alternative in some instances. There must be a radical redesign of the packages to include, for example, food that is appropriate to people's needs and to their religious and cultural beliefs. There must also be much better targeting to specific places.

However, let us not forget that there are other obstacles to the delivery of aid that are more difficult for the international community to address. Even in the zones that are not cut off by winter snows, accessibility for aid workers is severely limited by insecurity. Taliban soldiers and other militias have looted many aid offices. In some parts insecurity is due to a break down of law and order and in other parts it is due to increased fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. Continued bombing in most parts of north and central Afghanistan and the use of cluster bombs have created a climate of fear that severely limits the ability of the World Food Programme and other agencies to continue food deliveries. Islamic NGOs that are currently delivering food into the east of the country believe that they could do much more if the fear of truckers could be diminished.

The creation of a humanitarian space would make a great difference. It would enable the international aid agencies to carry out their work effectively. Oxfam, Christian Aid and other agencies are calling for a pause in military action so that food stocks can be replenished. In reviewing the case for such a pause, I am sure that the Government will weigh the prospects of the success of their existing bombing campaign and the damage to such a campaign of a pause in the bombing against the innocent civilians who will die as a result of misdirected bombs and the tens of thousands of civilians who will die of starvation or suffer terribly from it.

Even if the Government decide against a general pause, surely there is a case for a pause in some of the regions where the need is greatest. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, said in opening the debate that a pause would not make any difference. If one is talking about a pause by itself, that may be correct, but if such a pause could be linked to some arrangement negotiated by the United Nations with the Taliban, who must have an interest in ensuring their innocent civilians do

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not starve, it must be worth while trying to achieve such an agreement under the auspices of the United Nations. They could help to select specific areas and the timings of such a pause, which could be negotiated by the United Nations. I support much of what the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said about a pause. But, of course, the military consequences are not for us at Oxfam or the aid agencies to judge. That is clearly a decision for government.

It should not be forgotten that the Geneva Convention clearly established the obligation of all warring parties to ensure that food and medical supplies reach civilians. Although much has been and is being done by our Government to comply with that obligation, it is clear that if we do nothing further tens of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians will face a winter of unimaginable suffering. Let us remember that these civilians are as much the victims of terrorism as the innocent civilians who died on 11th September.

I had intended to touch upon the importance of combating terrorism in the future by helping to create a better and a fairer world. However, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield, in his powerful speech, has spoken so eloquently on this issue that all I want to do is associate myself with what he has said. It is immensely encouraging that our Prime Minister, in his speech to the Labour Party convention earlier this year, committed himself to addressing this critical issue.

Like other noble Lords, I look forward to the response of the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, to the specific question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Judd.

8.12 p.m.

Lord Mitchell: My Lords, on the afternoon of 7th June 1981, 16 fighter planes of the Israeli air force took off from the Negev. They flew north-east for 800 miles, flying low across Jordan and then across Iraq, avoiding detection. Their target was the Osirak nuclear plant in northern Iraq which intelligence had told the Israeli Government was about to go live—a precursor to Iraq having the capability to build its own nuclear bomb. Their mission was completed in 80 seconds, the plant was destroyed and casualties were minuscule.

Of course, the usual suspects had a field day. The Guardian was up in arms, the United Nations passed a resolution and no doubt some noble Lords in your Lordships' House said that it was about time that someone grabbed Israel by the scruff of the neck. They always do. But for the time being the genie was back in its bottle.

Let us consider for a second what would have happened had the Israelis not taken that action. Think about the Gulf war and think about lower Manhattan.

I have a nagging worry that I just cannot get out of my head. It concerns the perpetrators of the events of 11th September. While I do not doubt that bin Laden is fully behind them and that he planned and trained

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those terrorists, and while I am 100 per cent supportive of the allies' quest to bring him and Al'Qaeda to justice, I am not convinced that he acted alone.

To conceive, plan, train and implement such an act of massive terror requires sophistication and resources that only a state can provide. Today the evidence is sketchy and circumstantial, but there are many sensible people, particularly in America, who see Iraq behind the scenes pulling the strings. If they are right and Saddam is implicated, then we really have even more to fear. Whether Saddam is there or not, we would do well to hear what these people want. They have told us in part, and we really ought to listen very carefully to what they have to say.

First, they want Islamic lands to be free of non-believers. That means no Jews in their definition of Palestine—the land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean sea. There must be no American forces in Saudi Arabia and no Christians in Pakistan. Their plan is ethnic cleansing writ large. Secondly, they want to rid Arab lands of their moderate rulers and monarchs. Most of all, they want to destroy the great Satan—the United States—and, by implication, us and Europe. They hate our democracy, our open societies, our tolerance, our equality of men and women and even our happiness. They want to destroy everything that we stand for.

On 11th September we saw their opening salvo. We cannot doubt that both bin Laden and Saddam loathe Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. Given half a chance they would overthrow them. The result would be that they would control nearly half the world's oil. Saddam tried that 10 years ago, and we can bet that it is never far from his thinking.

Then there are weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear weapons in particular. Saddam is reportedly very close to having his own nuclear bomb. Pakistan has them and is petrified that the Taliban will capture them. God only knows how much nuclear-grade material has been spirited away from the states of the Soviet Union. Oil and nuclear bombs make a lethal cocktail. We face a frightening situation and we must not drop our guard.

I am horrified by some of the defeatist talk that I read in the newspapers and see on our television. War is not a media circus. People are risking their lives for us and they must have our continuous support through thick and thin, today and tomorrow and for however long it takes. We must also be careful of the dangerous doctrine of equivalence. I have even heard it said in your Lordships' House that the deaths at the World Trade Centre and the unplanned deaths of civilians in Afghanistan caused by allied errors are somehow equivalent. They are not. The former is murder by intent; the latter is death by accident.

The pilot who guides a commercial aircraft into a skyscraper commits the same crime as a young man who walks into a pizza parlour, a disco, a crowded market, or on to a bus and pulls a pin, killing and maiming innocent civilians. A suicide killer is a suicide killer. The pursuit of those who control those killers is

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equally justified, whether it is us seeking bin Laden or the Israelis seeking the perpetrators of those heinous crimes. Justice is justice.

I am proud to be a supporter of Labour Friends of Israel and I declare an interest. But I am not an unconditional supporter of Israel. I do not much care for Prime Minister Sharon. He has a dubious past and was severely criticised by the Israeli judiciary for his activities in Lebanon. His walk last year on the Temple Mount was inflammatory and no doubt helped spark the intifada. I am totally against Israel continuing to build settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. It is provocative and unnecessary.

But the Israelis make a telling point. This time last year, starting at Camp David and ending in Taba in Sinai, they and the Americans and the Palestinians were in intense negotiations. Out of the blue, Prime Minister Barak offered Arafat an amazing deal—a full Palestinian state that was recognised by Israel. The new state would comprise 97 per cent of the occupied territories. Three per cent was deemed too sensitive, but the new state was to be offered in compensation an equivalent area of land from Israel proper. East Jerusalem would become the capital of Palestine and an imaginative solution was on the cards for both Jew and Arab to share the Temple Mount.

There can be little doubt that the Americans and we Europeans would have offered massive financing to the new state. In short, Arafat was offered the deal of a lifetime—a viable and sustainable Palestinian state—but he turned it down. The Israelis say, "We offered this man just about everything he asked for. Not only does he say no, but he has given the light to a new intifada. Is he the man to lead his country to a noble peace and live side by side with us? Or is he what we always said he was, an ageing terrorist unable to control his people and a man of limited vision who never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity?".

The Israeli voters made their choice. These voters include 1 million Arabs—the only Arabs anywhere who have the franchise. They turfed Barak out and Sharon was in. Now we have one leader who will not and the other cannot.

Our Prime Minister is now putting all his formidable energies and efforts into resurrecting the Middle East peace process. His courage and tenacity are to be applauded. It is not easy for many of us to see our Prime Minister visiting Syria or our Foreign Secretary going to Iran. Both countries are rogue states which have a long history of supporting some of the nastiest terrorist groups on earth. But as the late Prime Minister of Israel, Itzhak Rabin, once said, "You don't make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies". We support our Prime Minister and wish him every success.

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