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Terrorism is not new. Perhaps this may appear to be stating the obvious, but sometimes commentators would lead one to believe that, with the ending of the Cold War, the world is facing a strange and novel threat from what is described as international terrorism. In fact, if we had been sitting in this august Chamber 100 years ago, a major concern of many of us would have been the growth of worldwide anarchist terrorism, which appeared to pose a grave threat to the social order. As the historian Mr Misha Glenny points out, between 1900 and 1913, no fewer than 40 heads of state, politicians and diplomats fell victim to the terrorist bullet or bomb, including four kings, six prime ministers and three presidents. In Britain, the dangers of international terrorism were reinforced in the public imagination when immigrant Latvian revolutionaries opened fire on the police in the famous siege of Sidney Street in 1911. Many of us will remember that the then Home Secretary, Mr Winston Churchill, rushed to the scene and authorised the deployment of the Scots Guards in support of the Metropolitan Police. Yet 10 years later this wave of anarchist violence and political assassination had receded and the threat was soon forgotten. However, this outcome was probably more the consequence of the end of tsarist Russia than of any planned security policy.

The most notorious terrorist outrage of the period, in its consequences—perhaps comparable with 9/11—was the murder of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on 28 June 1914. Since 1906 the Austrians had tried various expedients, including economic sanctions and great power pressure, to bring to heel what they perceived as the rogue state of Serbia, which was sponsoring terrorism in the Slavic provinces of the empire, and in particular among the Serbian community in Bosnia. In fact, most historians agree that the terrorist threat was probably greatly exaggerated. The Black Hand movement, which carried out the assassination—though it received financial and logistical support from senior Serbian military and political figures—was, in fact, poorly organised and inexperienced. Nevertheless, it had succeeded in carrying out a “spectacular” and the Austrians felt compelled to react. The rest, as they say, is history.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to assert that the Austrians should have instead concentrated on intelligence gathering, undercover activities and political organisation and propaganda in their Bosnian province. On the other hand, it might be argued that the Serbian national terrorism would have been eradicated if the Austrians had ultimately been victorious in their “war on terror”. Both these contentions are inevitably speculative, but one fact is incontrovertible: Serbian ethnic nationalism in Bosnia survived not only the defeat of the Serbian army in the Great War but also the brutal German occupation of the Second World War and the unrelenting suppression of separatist movements by Tito’s secret police, only to emerge with renewed vigour in the latter part of the 20th century.



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The use of military force as a response to terrorism does not appear to have been decisive in either of the 20th century examples I have mentioned. Nevertheless, to assert that terrorism, particularly where it springs from ethnic divisions, is countered more effectively and efficiently by covert operations would be to rush to an unwarranted conclusion.

Having failed to arrive at any definite conclusion on the broad issues, I should like to refer to the brave men and women on whom we impose the difficult task of implementing our counter-terrorist strategies. I acknowledge the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Army, police and auxiliary services throughout the 30 years of the terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland. In particular, I refer to the Royal Irish Regiment, whose home service battalions were recently disbanded and who received the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross from Her Majesty the Queen in Belfast on 6 October this year. Indeed, members of the Irish Guards, alongside the Royal Irish Regiment, are now serving with distinction in Iraq. I echo the acknowledgement that we all owe a tremendous debt to all the men and women of the British Crown Forces who are serving today.

I have not sought to discuss military or political policy in Northern Ireland today. However, I conclude by expressing my profound hope that the necessary democratic conditions will come about so that the Government’s aim of restoring devolution in Northern Ireland, as outlined in Her Majesty’s gracious Speech, will be achieved.

5.15 pm

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, it is my pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Belmont, and congratulate him warmly on his maiden speech. I understand from a leading member of his party that he comes from a very distinguished family which has made a significant contribution to Northern Ireland politics. I understand that he is not only a councillor on Belfast City Council but an alderman, a Lord Mayor and a High Sheriff of Belfast. So it is perhaps not surprising that there were one or two passing references to Ulster. We look forward to his contributions on the Balkans and the interesting linkage between the Balkans and Ulster politics. We also look forward to his contributions on defence generally and on the exciting developments which we hope to see in Northern Ireland.

World problems are great and time is short, so I will content myself with some reflections on the 50th anniversary of Suez. Many in your Lordships' House will regard the events of Suez in 1956 as a most formative stage in their own political development. It was a time when many of us who were brought up in an age of empire suddenly had to question those assumptions. It is perhaps instructive to ask whether we, as a country, have yet fully absorbed the lessons of Suez.

I joined the Foreign Office in 1960, in the aftermath of Suez. I recall within the Foreign Office the gradual recognition of the need to change which led to those agonised debates in the 1960s on the withdrawal east of Suez and, most importantly, on

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the most appropriate response of this country to European developments. After Suez, President de Gaulle had been persuaded by Chancellor Adenauer that France’s future lay in Europe. As president, President de Gaulle was probably correct in concluding at the time that Britain had not yet made a sufficient degree of adjustment. We were “ce grand peuple insulaire” and possibly a Trojan horse of the USA, at least potentially.

The history of our development in foreign policy over the past 50 years has been one of crab-like adjustment to that European role. We need to ask ourselves whether that process has gone far enough. What have we learnt from Suez? Are we resting on our major strengths, as members of the key world institutions—the United Nations Security Council, the Commonwealth, the European Union, the G8—and on our centres of excellence in our Armed Forces and our diplomatic service? Key considerations include the fact that it is no longer feasible for us to have a unilateral foreign policy. Possibly the Falklands was the last real opportunity for an almost entirely British operation. We need allies and coalitions.

Never before has there been a greater linkage between foreign and domestic policy. One thinks of the domestic impact of terrorism, the wider problems of climate change, immigration and drugs. What happens in Afghanistan will have its effect on the streets of not only our major cities but also, alas, our rural villages. Pace the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, the Commonwealth is an important asset, but it is not a serious alternative to our major alliances.

Some agree with the theory that Suez exposed our dependence on the US and that we had to continue on that basis. Of course, it is clearly in our interest to seek a close relationship with the remaining superpower, but our interests diverge in many key areas. There are great swathes of policy where they largely coincide with those of our European partners. The European Union recognises that soft power is not enough and that it needs a military component. We should recognise that we gain strength and weight in key areas of the world—for example, in relations with Russia, with the Caucasus and perhaps even now in Iraq—only by working with the European Union, let alone in key areas such as energy security, climate change and terrorism. We do so even in technical areas such as protection of intellectual property, where perhaps the Munich-based European Patent Office needs fully to be brought under the umbrella of the Union.

Fifty years on from Suez, we live in a time of accelerating and fundamental change. Let us think of the headlines over recent weeks. China ended a successful summit with 50 African leaders on 5 November, agreeing trade deals worth £19 billion. The company Arcelor Mittal, led by an Indian entrepreneur, has a greater annual production of steel than the next three producers, two of which are Japanese and one South Korean. Corus, formerly British Steel, faces a takeover from an Indian conglomerate, Tata, with a Brazilian competitor

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perhaps in the frame. China is now the largest aluminium producer in the world. A Chinese billionaire has invested £800 million in Anglo American. Al Jazeera opened a new English language channel on Wednesday of last week. I could go on. The world is changing and all these recent developments affect our interests and our foreign policy formulation.

Have we made that sea change in policy to reflect those changes as the landscape moves around us? Alas, too much of our media wallows in nostalgia and has an invincible repugnance for closer links with the EU. I hope that I am not being too controversial in saying that some of this prejudice rubs off on the major opposition party.

The proposed European Union constitution was flawed and is dead, but it will certainly return to the agenda under the German presidency, albeit in a more limited form. The debate on this mini-treaty will not be about just the necessary institutional reforms to prepare for enlargement; it will also be about an enhanced role for national parliaments and institutionalising foreign policy formulation and the European diplomatic service. We should also not avoid serious consideration of co-operation in the instruments of foreign policy, co-locating diplomatic premises and so on. Our interests in certain areas of the world, though not in all, will almost certainly converge, save in the commercial field. Now is surely the time for some radical rethinking of our priorities.

Fifty years on from Suez, so much has changed in the world around us. Have we changed sufficiently in our national attitudes and our institutions?

5.24 pm

Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, I have hesitated a little, because what I want to say about Iraq runs against the convention of this House, which I admire and try to follow; namely, that debate should be cool and courteous in tone, whatever the subject being discussed. However, if Parliament is not angry about what is now happening in Iraq, it is not doing its job.

The Prime Minister said at the Mansion House a few evenings ago that the situation in Iraq was changing and evolving. I am not sure that it is greatly changing in Iraq itself, although perhaps we are more conscious of it. Every day dozens of tortured corpses of Iraqis are discovered in Baghdad; it is as normal as a rubbish collection in a normal city. The American forces make gallant attempts to pacify one town after another, only to find that it lapses out of control when that effort ceases. In the south and elsewhere we continue to train police—only to find that their men, weapons and uniforms turn up at the disposal of some murderous militia. Iraqis of talent and education who can get out of Iraq are pouring out.

This is a country bleeding to death in the presence of 150,000 American and 7,000 British troops. Yet we listen day by day to comforting announcements of progress from Iraqi and British Ministers—and I am afraid that the Minister today yielded somewhat to that temptation. There is nothing new in any of that; what has changed is the attitude across the Atlantic. The American people under their constitution have

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found a way to turn their anxiety and anger into action: one of the main authors of the war has been dismissed from his post. I have just spent a few days in the company partly of the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, in Washington. It is exciting to find that, although there are no new answers yet, there is an intense and open debate based on an assumption that Ministers here were denying until a few days ago—the assumption that the present policy in Iraq has been a failure.

I can understand why with some exceptions there has been no such angry debate in this country since 2003. Many people were misled by the original misinformation about weapons of mass destruction. More important is the strong and good tradition that, once our forces are in the field, they are entitled to support and criticism should be muted and questions put to some extent in private. But that entitlement of our Armed Forces does not protect Ministers who launched them on this misadventure. They must not be allowed to hide, as they sometimes do, their persistent blindness and many miscalculations behind the admiration that we feel for the Armed Forces of the Crown.

None of your Lordships can be unaware of the deep current of unease which is seeping out of our Army at all levels. That is the unease that led the Chief of the General Staff, remarkably, to say what he said the other day. Soldiers do not think that it is for them to judge whether a war is right or wrong—they see that, I am sure, as a matter for government and Parliament—but they do expect a proper plan and credible strategy. They expect Ministers to think things through clearly in a way in which they have clearly failed to do since 2003.

At the right time there must be a proper inquiry. I do not mean that we should trail again through an inquiry into the use or misuse of information about weapons of mass destruction but about the whole question of how with so little thought and so little valid planning for the post-war phase we were led into an invasion which ignored all the lessons of history—as the right reverend Prelate said—all that we knew about Iraqi and Arab nationalism and all that we should know about the limits of military power.

This is a matter not simply of historical analysis but of pressing present interest. What assumptions were made in 2003 about our needs with regard to the turn of events in Afghanistan? Our operation there, as most noble Lords and Ministers would agree, is at a tipping point. Within a short period we will know whether or not we can make a good difference in that country. Some argue that our chances of success would have been greater if we could deploy more than 5,000 men in the south of Afghanistan. But we cannot; the men are not available, because they are in Basra struggling with gangs of criminal kidnappers and a politicised and corrupt police force.

The word “strategy” is used for more or less everything. The Prime Minister uses it constantly for just about every form of public activity. But we have had no military strategy in the Middle East. We have wandered into these policies without regard for the relationship between them. That is the reason for the

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unease I have mentioned in the Armed Forces, and one reason out of many why I believe an inquiry is required.

Regarding the future, we cannot pull our troops out of Iraq regardless of the Americans. Now we are there, we have to act with them. I support the proposals sketched out in the Washington Post over the weekend by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, a wise adviser to this Government. I wish his advice when he was in Baghdad had been more constantly taken. In brief, he suggests an external conference of all Iraq’s neighbours, called by the UN rather than the Americans; internally we should require the Iraqi Government to insist that their state has a monopoly on the use of armed force; and the Iraqi Army, which, as has already been said, is much less corrupted by politics than the police, should be used to disarm the militias. That is a gamble, as Sir Jeremy acknowledges, but the truth is that there is now no tolerable outcome of the Iraq war that is not a gamble.

There is one point the Prime Minister makes that puzzles me. He says we will stay in Iraq as long as the Iraqi Government want us. Any Iraqi Government, whatever happens? Surely that cannot be right. There is an elected Government in Baghdad, but they do not in effect rule the country. Iraqi Ministers are huddled in the Green Zone in which they rely on us for their protection, even survival. We cannot tell who the Government will be in coming weeks or months, or what they will say. In such uncertainty, surely it must be for Her Majesty’s Government, not the Government of Iraq, to decide in the last resort, with our United States ally, how long we stay in that country. I hope the Minister will confirm that. It seems to me an important point.

If we stay with the Americans, as we must, we are entitled to a full voice in their debate. I have huge respect for Jim Baker, who was my colleague and friend in the first Gulf War. Although a study group is difficult to imagine as an instrument of policy, I hope he will come up with wise ideas that may help.

The Prime Minister spoke to the policy group about Palestine. He said what was right: that a new initiative to reinforce the peace process is needed. But he has been saying that to the Americans for three years now without any great effect. The truth is that, although he has gained a lot of respect, particularly in Congress, which supported the war, he has lost the art of acting as a junior partner to the United States. Winston Churchill pioneered that art and I have seen it practised by Margaret Thatcher and John Major. It is a difficult art which relies on having a firm voice and something useful to say, and we have lost it for the moment. We must wait—I hope not for too long—for a leadership that somehow acts as a true partner to the United States, but finds again a British voice.

5.32 pm

Lord Chidgey: My Lords, the Minister will be aware that the Government’s White Paper, Active Diplomacy for a Changing World: The UK’s International Priorities, is currently the subject of

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scrutiny in the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in another place. I am sure he is also aware that it has been suffering rather intensive and vicious criticism as part of that process. On the other hand, some may quite like it. Nevertheless, in the face of the criticism, I would be grateful if the Minister would clarify in due course what the Government hope the White Paper will achieve. For example, is it intended to provide benchmarks to measure outcomes against best practice—a sort of monitoring methodology? Is it, as the title suggests, intended to enable the Government to respond more quickly and effectively to events?

That being the case, we are rather spoilt for choice in selecting areas where we would benefit from some active diplomacy in a changing world, in pursuit of our international objectives. The immediate case in point must surely be the impact of the mid-term elections in the United States, which reach far beyond their domestic policies. This I can vouch for, having just spent the weekend at the President Clinton Centre in Little Rock, Arkansas. While my noble friend Lord Ashdown was in Washington, I was in the deep South, listening to a different point of view. Having listened at length to the views of governors, house speakers and representatives from the state legislatures from over 25 states across the Union, it is clear that the mid-term elections have been a wake-up call across America. But the effect goes deeper: right down into the grass roots of local politics, the wholesale defeat of mainly incumbent Republican Party politicians and elected officials down to the lowest level in the smallest towns of America has sent a shock wave through the political establishment. One state governor described the results as a tsunami—a blue wave that swept over the republican political landscape and swept away the party’s political infrastructure.

The impact on our interests is twofold: broadly, cause and effect. In Little Rock, national pollsters, party analysts and campaign directors demonstrated beyond doubt that the cause of this massive swing, in US terms, was the war in Iraq: the manner in which it had been justified, the way it had been conducted and the apparent lack of any clear plan to achieve the goals set out of democracy, security and stability in that country. The post-election studies have shown that those factors unleashed a degree of voter frustration, disbelief, anger and rejection against the incumbents that has rarely, if ever, been witnessed in mid-term elections in America.

In due course, the reaction of the American public to the Iraq war may well have similar parallels in the United Kingdom. In the context of this debate, however, it is the effect of the unpredicted result of these elections on our foreign policy priorities and on the “special relationship” that is at issue. It was always going to be the case that cementing our ties with the United States in a joint approach to the war in Iraq, the war against terrorism and despotic regimes in both Iraq and Afghanistan would have an effect on our influence elsewhere, particularly within the European Union and throughout the Middle East. The Government’s justification for that seems to have

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been that the special relationship would bring with it extra UK influence on the United States, as a bonus or a sort of reward.

It beggars belief, therefore, that in spite of the Foreign Office’s unique insight, stretching back to the end of the First World War, into the make-up of Iraq and the political and ethnic realities of the region—we are talking about nearly 100 years of experience—the Government failed to persuade their US counterparts of the action needed to prevent a descent into chaos when the Ba’athist regime was removed. It may well be that our counterparts in the US Department of State were persuaded, but were powerless to wrest the initiative from the Pentagon and Department of Defense. All the more reason for the Government to pull back from the brink, instead of plunging on down into what has become a diplomatic and foreign policy disaster.

The outcome of the US mid-term elections puts another twist in the tale of our ambition to deliver active diplomacy in a changing world. After the “thumpin’” received by the Administration, the message from Little Rock was pretty clear. The two years up to the presidential elections in 2008 will be spent concentrating on defending its incumbency—against the odds, it would appear. With disapproval of the Iraq war running so high, some American pundits now believe it unlikely that a significant US military presence will remain in Iraq beyond the end of 2007. Already there are signs of US land forces reducing in scale—“trending down”, as they put it—in Afghanistan, and a greater reliance being placed on air strikes.


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