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Fourthly, Russia was mentioned several times. At that time it was teetering on the edge of economic ruin and, as has been mentioned, is now a much more forceful actor on the global stage because of rising revenues coming from mineral resources and because of President Putin's position, which has restored a great deal of the pride of Russians in the world community, whatever else one thinks about it. Here, the Prime Minister said:

He went on to say that,

He mentioned the changing structure of world power with the rise of India and China and the fact that the geopolitical system has shifted appreciably away from the past.

Finally, he said that we need to reconcile transatlantic friendship with active membership of the EU. He said:



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I suggest that all those principles apply today in what I will go on to argue is a very different world situation from 1999. The unnamed Lord put the matter far more persuasively than I can in terms of the need not to abandon the principle of liberal interventionism. The tragedy that is unfolding in Iraq—and we have to recognise that it is a tragedy—should not be used as a basis for a new isolationism. There could be a kind of double tragedy if the world stood by in situations where intervention by the world community could avert thousands of deaths. Arguably, such a situation is happening in certain parts of the world at the moment. The principle of liberal interventionism—after all, it is interventionism detached from the aspiration to acquire territory—should still stand in a globalised world, although the conditions under which it is applied are difficult and complex and will vary from situation to situation.

The world has changed substantially since 1999—not so much because of Iraq as because of the wider consequences of American policy under the current American Administration. The major mistake that Labour foreign policy has made over the period may have been not to recognise fully enough the extent of the ideological difference between that Administration and the principles that the Prime Minister enunciated in his 1999 Chicago speech. The American Government set out a very different view of the world. Condoleezza Rice spoke of what she called the “illusory international community”. The American Government showed something close to disavowal of—I will not say contempt for—the United Nations as a major force in world governance. They backed down from certain treaties that were a key part of the multilateral outlook on the world and, most importantly, redefined the world again as a system of power relations in which American interests should have primacy. That is quite different from the Wilsonian traditions of American international diplomacy that have been so important in building multilateral institutions in the first place.

We deal with a different world now, and part of that is the result of the failures of American foreign policy. We face a world in which American power, far from expanding, has shrunk. Everyone can see that no matter how mighty the American war machine, it cannot bring peace even in a single country. The American military cannot fight two full-scale wars at the same time. The idea that the United States wields hard power whereas Europe has a kind of namby-pamby soft power is now thoroughly discredited. For better or for worse, we are in a more multi-polar world, which will not be safer. We need to return to enlightened American global leadership.

I would like to say how much I disagreed with some of the concluding sections of the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Howell. First, it is utterly mistaken to suppose that we live in a world of international economic connections that override regionalism. The world economy is a long way from being a wholly integrated marketplace. It is heavily regionalised, and we stand to gain enormously economically from our proximity to the European Community and the European single market. Think of a country such as Norway that is not a member of the European Union

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but is forced to sign up to most of its economic provisions. Secondly, his best case scenario would be my worst case scenario, in which Britain pulls back from the United States and has no influence in Europe. The kinds of view of Europe that he enunciated would be the death of British influence in Europe.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, for clarification, I tell noble Lords that it is “the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth”.

12.54 pm

Baroness Hooper: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to my noble friend for giving us this opportunity to have a debate on the subject. I am particularly grateful for the skilful way in which he drew up his Motion, giving us all the maximum scope to introduce virtually any topic under the Sun. That being the case, and time being short, I start with the Commonwealth, a unique institution in the world that reflects our history and developments over the centuries. It now includes a country that was never a British colony, and has ways of both expelling members and welcoming them back into membership as appropriate. It has proved itself a flexible institution that can move with the times and maintain standards. Today, hot spots such as Pakistan and Zimbabwe underline the need for the Commonwealth to play a leading role. I therefore fully endorse what was said by my noble friend Lord Howell and wonder with him why the Government have neglected the Commonwealth as an institution for so much of the past 10 years.

Within the Commonwealth, I would like to refer to those tiny countries that form the overseas territories, which have always been an interest of mine. The Falkland Islands have been much in our minds over recent weeks, and Gibraltar, within the European Union, is also a recurring topic. Certain steps have been taken that I very much wish to acknowledge—for example, the change of name from dependent to overseas territories; the voting rights granted for Gibraltarians to the European Parliament; and the resolution as regards tertiary education, enabling students from the overseas territories to attend British universities without paying exorbitant overseas student fees. Those steps are much to be welcomed, but issues remain outstanding. On heritage funding, I cite St Helena as an example—the need to conserve and preserve Jamestown and help the Saints to improve their economy through tourism, which would enable them to be more self-reliant and independent, as many of the other overseas territories now are. Another example of what needs to be done is that, as a result of constitutional change and a decolonising process, the work within the United Nations of the committee of 24 needs more government support. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some reassurance that those tiny overseas territories will not be forgotten, and that consideration will be given to some of those outstanding issues.

Other noble Lords intend to dwell on the budget restrictions imposed on the Foreign Office by the

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Treasury. Suffice it to say—it has already been pointed out—that without the costly mistake of Iraq and all the consequent costs of increased security at home, there might be a little more money in the kitty to support the sterling work of our embassies and diplomats overseas. I was shocked to learn recently that reductions of 15 per cent have to be found in the running of our embassies in Europe. No wonder rumours abound that our beautiful embassy in Paris may have to be put up for sale. The budgetary restrictions are evident nowhere more than in Latin America—the other area of the world in which I take a particular interest—with the closure and down-sizing of embassies and the British Council presence, and the consequent falling away of trade and investment initiatives by the BTI, the CBI and various chambers of commerce. It is not unnatural that they follow the Government’s priorities and funding, which lead them to China, the Middle East, and Africa above all.

The Minister takes a great interest in Latin America—it forms part of his responsibilities in the Foreign Office—and I welcome very much his recently launched public strategy paper, Latin America to 2020. Whatever government reshuffles take place in the near future, we all hope that he will remain in the Foreign Office. I, for one, hope that he will be able to see through the policies outlined in his strategy document.

As the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, said, we live in a different world. Whatever the changes, it is vital that the United Kingdom retains a high profile in Latin America, particularly given the current developments led by the at best unpredictable President Chavez of Venezuela, the distancing of many Latin American countries from the United States and, therefore, the West, and the fact that China and India, among the current priority countries of the Foreign Office, are stepping in to trade and invest in Latin America whenever we leave a gap. Can the noble Lord assure us that actions are beginning to follow the words of his strategy document and that any such actions will be sustained?

Europe is of course my other area of interest, partly because of my past as a former Member of the European Parliament and my current work within the Council of Europe. I am rather surprised that there has so far been very little mention of the constitution, but I am sure that this will be addressed by other noble Lords. As I shall be in Strasbourg next week for the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I take this opportunity again to draw attention to the role of the Council of Europe—after all, it represents 46 countries in Europe, including Russia and all the former Soviet satellite states. It is a unique forum that truly represents Europe and enables us to work with Russia, and Russian parliamentarians in particular, when its role and future direction as a neighbour within the Europe and the world are causing grave concern.

In the coming week, we shall also debate the vital issue of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and I trust that the conclusions of that debate will be accepted and adopted by the Government.



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1.02 pm

Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, I join the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, in her commendation of the Council of Europe. The more I see of our involvement in the European Union and what it forces us to do, the more I admire the Council of Europe, which operates entirely on a voluntary basis, with no powers of compulsion. It is a most excellent organisation, to which we should pay more attention. I join everyone else in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Howell, for giving us this debate and a good opening speech—an admirable tour d’horizon, which will certainly repay my study in the future, as will the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, which was very much to the point.

The image that comes to my mind in looking at the present international situation is that of a leaky boat containing a number of unruly amateur sailors. Some are dying of thirst, while others are drinking a good deal more than is good for them. Most seem more interested in quarrelling than in mending leaks and manning the oars together. One officer is aboard in the form of the United Nations, but he finds himself under the unhelpful influence of an overweight, heavily armed bully and tends to be ignored by us, although we were seriously involved in the founding and the early working of the United Nations—it is sometimes forgotten that its first meeting was in Church House and that its first Secretary-General was Lord Gladwyn, a member of the Liberal Party in your Lordships’ House. I find myself more and more distressed when we ignore the United Nations, as we have done in our attempts to bolster America.

America is in denial over the leak problem and its main effort is to get everyone over to the starboard side of the boat to try to harpoon a great white shark that it wrongly believes to be the main threat. Clearly, we need to bring a sense of order and rationality to bear on the international situation.

I would like to bring to your Lordships’ attention a series of reports by the World Bank, the Worldwide Governance Indicators. They capture six key dimensions of governance: accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption. The data for these measurements are robust, reliable and consistent—as we should expect of the World Bank, which has many faults but is not short of professional accountants. Remarkably, and to our comfort, the Worldwide Governance Indicators demonstrate that good governance promotes prosperity and that bad governance brings poverty. The arrow of causality is pointing in the direction of good governance. This is very good news in a world where bad news appears to be the norm. If we wish for international development, we must promote good governance wherever we find it.

Prosperity and human rights go hand in hand. How can this be done? The first and most obvious need is for the UK to set a good example in matters such as peacemaking and corruption. Sadly, this is often far from the case, which should encourage us to redouble our efforts to hold the Government to account, particularly in the area of corruption.

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Sometimes I feel that we do not look enough at the history of areas where we are joining in to try and help. A greater knowledge of history and of our history in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans would have led us to take a rather more prudent path than we have.

The second tool that we need to bring to bear is to encourage the UN to measure and publicise the performance and behaviour of all Governments. It is rightly said that, if you do not measure it, you cannot manage it. We must measure government records, especially our own, particularly in the field of human rights, and the results must be widely available. The indicators need to be within the reach of any intelligent citizen, and power must be accountable to the citizens it serves. Knowledge is power.

Let us help the United Nations to make knowledge of government behaviour easily available through the annual publication of an index of human rights, as proposed by my party. To that knowledge we should add the knowledge of history. In that way we would help to restore order to the boat, so that all can work together to mend the leaks, to bend to the oars and thus bring ourselves to safety.

1.09 pm

Lord Desai: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. I see that he is in splendid isolation on those Benches, although he belongs to the Green Party. Clearly, the mere whiff of ministerial berths has cleared the Liberal Democrat Benches of those wishing to debate foreign policy. I suspect that it may be down to hearing the words “Lord Ashdown as Foreign Secretary”—that is the price you pay for power.

Before I begin, I wish to say something to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, about the human rights index. Fifteen years ago, I was involved in publishing a human rights index for the UNDP Human Development Report. All hell broke loose. Leading members of the United Nations went to the Secretary-General and said not that we were wrong but that the UNDP had no mandate to publish anything about human rights. Therefore, my noble efforts to institute such an index came to nothing. The noble Lord’s party wants a human rights index, and I wish it were in power, but I warn him that it is not easy to publish such a thing.

I have already heard two very good defences of liberal interventionism this afternoon and therefore I do not need to go very far in that direction, as I had intended to do. The alternative to liberal interventionism is pragmatic cynicism, but that was the problem in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is very easy to say—you can even clothe it in a sort of cultural garb—that that is how those people out there behave: they kill each other and there is nothing that we can do about it; that is their way of life; they do not like democracy and their religion allows them to do these things. Together with the Prime Minister and many others, I believe that we have to take responsibility for what happens in the global village. If there is domestic violence in the global village and you say, “That is that couple’s

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problem”, you may be condoning death. We have to explain why we do not intervene more rather than why we have intervened.

From the Back Benches, I supported our policy on Iraq and I still take the view that it was not wrong to go in; nor was it wrong to insist that Iraq could become a democracy. It is not yet time to say that the attempt has failed, because Iraq is having two referendums and it has a constitution and a Government. It is not the case that there is mayhem and crisis in Iraq just because we intervened—that would be a very na├»ve way of looking at the situation. If Iraq were to become a democracy, it would be the only Shia Arab majority state in the Middle East. The tradition over many years has been for Sunnis to rule over Shia Arabs, and therefore attempts are being made not just by the enemies of America and the UK, such as Syria, but also by some of our friends—other Sunni powers—to prevent a majority-based rule in Iraq becoming a reality. We should obviously learn from our long experience in Ireland. Unless you give strong guarantees of rights to minorities, those minorities will be unhappy, especially if they have been used to ruling a country. However, I do not think that we should give up or think that we were wrong.

It is true that the situation has been going on for four years but there have been other crises in the world. We should not forget the recovery period after the Second World War, when it took many more years to establish democratic government. I cite the examples of Japan and West Germany. We are too hasty and too willing to abandon our efforts because we think, “They are strange people out there. They have a strange religion and they wear funny clothes. Let us abandon them and come back to our comfort zone, which does not involve intervening in their disputes”.

At the same time, we are very unhappy about Zimbabwe, but is that because it was a former colony and Iraq is not? Even with regard to Zimbabwe, we have to say that we are not intervening because we believe that President Mbeki will bring about a solution to the quarrel. If we did not say that, we would have to ask why we were not intervening. In this interdependent world, we have to do what Wilberforce forced the Government to do 200 years ago. He forced them to intervene in the slave trade of other countries, telling them to stop it. That was an example of liberal interventionism if ever there was one. After all, it could easily have been argued, as it was at the time, that the Christian Church was not against slavery, and certainly Islam was not, but we had to intervene because we believed that slavery was wrong. That is the right way to proceed in this matter.

Although I do not have time to say very much, I want to mention the Palestine/Israel issue. I do not think that a two-state solution will work, although a three-state solution may be much worse. We have to see the problem in a very different way. There cannot be a land-for-peace solution in a country where there is a very limited amount of land and far too many people wanting it. Europe—that is, France and Germany—was fighting over land in the 19th century, but we do not fight for land now because we have

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found that economic prosperity can come from other things. About four or five years ago, the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, and I proposed a sort of common market in which everyone—Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and parts of Palestine such as Gaza and the West Bank—could become part of a trading network, bringing prosperity to the region. If prosperity were to come to the region with capital and the free movement of labour, we might be able to see a way out of the antagonism which threatens to be much worse for the region than it is already.

We have to think along those lines because political solutions are not in sight. For all that we may say about our commitment or the commitment of the Group of Four or whatever, it is not going to happen because America does not have the power, the clout or the willingness to make Israel come to the negotiating table. By befriending Fatah and ignoring the democratic success of Hamas, we are repeating what happened in Algeria. If we neglect the democratic success of what may be a terrorist organisation, that will bring more terror and more mayhem, not peace and security. It may not be too late for us to reverse that position but I do not have much hope. I think that bringing economic prosperity to the region would be a better idea.

1.18 pm

Lord Selsdon: My Lords, it was almost exactly 60 years ago that I first came across my noble friend Lord Howell, or perhaps he came across me. He was highly intelligent and intellectual, with some authority at my prep school, when I was unfortunately caught raiding the headmaster’s strawberry garden with a gang. Life moves on.

Ten years later, I was also involved in raiding ships in the Mediterranean during the Cyprus patrols not long after Suez. The Navy has been always useful in boarding operations. The boarding rules and regulations were constant: you always left a man at the tiller on the boarding boat; you always left a man in the bow; and you always left a lookout in case other people came to pass.

I wonder, as I think back, whether I have had the disadvantage of seeing ourselves as others see us. In the Navy, the most polite thing someone could say when you did something wrong was “Cock-up!”. You could not have a collective cock-up; there was always a responsibility on the part of those who cocked it up. “Cocked up” is a military term, a friendly term; I checked that in the Library so that I should not insult your Lordships. The foreign policy of this country over perhaps 20 years has been one constant cock-up. It has been directed by the wrong policies.

Historically we had a worldwide interest in trade and raw materials, and therefore protected our trade with military forces. We developed our trade and maintained stability in those countries that had their own substantial economic development. Here, I naturally turn to the Commonwealth and the lovely maps I have of the past that mark the natural resources and capabilities of each of those countries. Your Lordships will recall, as my noble friend Lady Hooper has pointed out, that the Commonwealth is

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quite an amazing institution in that it has no teeth or power but approximately 20 per cent of the world’s population is within it. If you take an ancient map and talk to Mr Sarkozy, show him the French map of Africa and other parts of the world, and then talk to the Danes and the Dutch, you have covered almost all the more difficult parts of the world.


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