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I shall make three quick points. First, the noble Lord made a very party-political speech. I understand why that may be so, but I am not sure that that is the best way to analyse the issue. Secondly, and more importantly, his speech addressed some of the world issues as if September 11, 2001 had never happened. Thirdly—this is very important—one thing that you cannot do in politics is to give full backing, as the Conservative Party did for the Iraq war, and then have the Front-Bench spokesman of the Conservative Party saying that we should not have done it. That is one thing that you cannot do.

This may sound slightly surprising, but I want the Conservative Party to recover. I do not want it to win the next general election, but I want it to recover because I think that there is a large constituency in Britain that does not feel spoken for and needs the Conservative Party to do that. You cannot do that if you back a war and then disappear down the street in a cloud of dust when the going gets difficult. That is not convincing.

What is the key issue here? A number of speakers have touched on the emerging great powers: India, China and Brazil. That is absolutely right, but in the short term, the issue is the proliferation of unstable, failed and despotic states and of armed groups—terror groups. That is the problem. Some people have

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said that the problem has come about or got worse because of Iraq. The latter may well be true, but ignores the fundamental fact that those groups were killing people in significant numbers before Iraq and before Afghanistan.

Indeed, the organisations behind the killings in Europe, including the London bombings, can be traced back to our failure to intervene in Bosnia. That is why I am critical of the introductory comments of the noble Lord, Lord Howell. The failure to intervene in Bosnia created some of those groups. White European Muslims being butchered by white European Christians and Europe doing nothing about it was not a convincing sight for the Islamic world. Many of those groups tried to fight in Kosovo. Fortunately, we did intervene then and those groups were marginalised, but they were growing in strength all the time and we in several European countries paid a high price for our failure to intervene.

That brings me to my second point, which a number of noble Lords have spoken about and about which they have made some important points—that liberal intervention is important. We should address that issue because, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, made clear, up to a point you can work out the circumstances in which you should intervene and when you should not. My next point was touched on by my noble friend Lord Desai. The whole of the Royal Navy’s intervention to stop the slave trade throughout the 19th century was unlawful. To put it bluntly, it was an unlawful war, to coin a phrase. That is where lawyers need to get their act together and think about morality and the inchoate state of international law. We were taken to court and lost cases around the world for intervening to stop the slave trade. I am glad that we did that; I hope that everyone is glad that we did that.

Do not forget that this is not just a Western idea. Vietnam intervened to remove Pol Pot. Tanzania intervened to remove Idi Amin. India intervened to remove what was then East Pakistan to form Bangladesh. Then there is Kosovo, and so on. There were many motives for it at the time, but liberal intervention is an important issue in foreign policy now and we need to discuss it much more than we are. Failure to intervene can be just as destructive as intervening and not getting it right. I have said in a number of speeches that I accept that we made some fundamental mistakes in the post-conflict situation in Iraq. Those speeches are on the record, so I shall not repeat them.

The House needs to recognise that we are dealing with despotic, unstable states and armed terror groups. One or two comments that I have heard recently, not just in this House, seem not to recognise that part of the battlefield is the international media. The groups in Afghanistan, in Iraq and elsewhere know that what they have to do to stop democracy, the rule of law and human rights coming into those countries is to kill and terrorise certain people in them: police, teachers and government officials. Killing British or American troops, troops from NATO or from other countries, as they have done in Afghanistan, is part of it, but they do not expect to

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beat those armies in those circumstances. They want to make it impossible for a Government to develop in those countries who can create security, stability, the rule of law and democracy, as the people want.

I am sorry that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry is not in his place, but I think that he is making a fundamental miscalculation when he tries to distinguish between cultures on the basis of whether they want democracy. It is true that democracy is a western word, coming from the Greeks, but it is not true that democracy and the concept of law are only western concepts. They have been around in different societies throughout time. Stable societies usually have them in some form, although they may not have been codified as they are now.

That brings me to my final point, which is about Islam. We need to address this. We cannot lecture Islam on which way it should go, but I know from my many constituents who are Muslims that there is a very large body of opinion within Islam that wants to do what it regards, and I regard, as modernising. They recognise that there is a problem not in Islam itself but when Islam tries to run a state, to deal with all aspects of the state and society, if you also want a modernised society.

The problem is that while people, especially in the arc around the Middle East, want all the good things that modernisation brings—most notably the economic wealth and the opportunity to have goods and services that they would not otherwise have—it is very difficult to make that happen within the Islamic framework of a state. I do not think that it is impossible, but it is difficult. We need to understand that. That is why Pakistan has more problems than India. They have a similar background, other than the issue of what role Islam plays in the state. Saying that does not challenge or insult Islam; plenty of Muslims will say that to you. We can engage in that conversation, and it is important that we do so. However, it is also vital that we are clearly on their side and not on the side of groups who think that the answer is a much more rigid interpretation of the Koran that would prevent these countries developing the modernisation that their people actually want and demonstrate that they want by their day-to-day actions.

This issue is very complex, and the debate held here and in many nations should increasingly take the form of deciding how we reform the United Nations to deliver some of the structures that we need. Secondly, how do we intervene liberally rather more effectively than we have done so far? What do we do when we do not intervene, whether in Rwanda or Bosnia? How do we allow and help nations to develop the modern economic and technological framework that they want, with the freedoms that they demonstrate that they want?

2 pm

Lord Luce: My Lords, listening to the debate launched by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, it is very interesting to contrast the experience of the last century with the situation in this new century. In the

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last century, we saw two devastating world wars and the Cold War, and we had to deal with monsters such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot. In this century, we face a very different set of circumstances, and have the opportunity to influence the position and make it much better than it was 18, 50 or 80 years ago.

I remember so clearly when the Berlin Wall came down. I did not always agree with everything that the late Julian Amery said, but I did agree that the end of the Cold War meant that the world was once again safer for conventional conflict. That was a very accurate forecast, because we now face very different threats from those of 50 years ago. The threats are now of failed states, humanitarian disasters, nuclear proliferation, international terrorism, drugs and crime, trade and protectionism, climate change, and communal and ethnic tensions of one kind or another—to give just some examples. Any Government tackling this range of issues need to have as coherent an approach as possible. To achieve such an approach, there needs to be time for reflection before taking very difficult decisions.

There needs to be leadership rather than constant reaction to instant news, and I am hopeful that, with a new Prime Minister next week, there will be a resumption of collective Cabinet decision-making and greater delegation of authority to the Foreign Secretary of the day. There needs to be an end to what we describe as sofa decision-making if we are to take measured decisions based on the collective wisdom and experience of all those who serve in government and their advisers. I am not suggesting that we go back to the days of Lord Pitt, when, as Prime Minister, he was having a conversation with his Foreign Secretary, Lord Grenville, and commented, “We have not heard anything from our ambassador to Paris for three years. If we do not hear from him this year, let us write him a letter”. I am not suggesting that we go quite as far as that, but we do need more measured decision-making.

There has been a great deal of discussion about how we can bring influence to bear. Of course this should be done bilaterally with different nations, but we must work multilaterally if we want to have influence. That works rather like an orchestra in which we all have different instruments to play and different influence to bring to bear, depending on the situation. We must work through the United Nations, NATO and the European Union if we want to have influence. We will not have much influence in the world if we are outside the European Union, pull up the drawbridge and hide behind a moat, like Queen Boadicea. Nor would we have much influence in the world if we were a satellite of the United States. That is not the way forward. Equally, whatever our position with regard to the United States today—I am hopeful that we are now seeing a gradual easing of cowboy foreign policy—we still need it as a friend. There is plenty of evidence from recent history—from Churchill to Harold Wilson and the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher—that one can be friends but also speak frankly to them. We need to continue to do so.

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I am glad that there has been quite a discussion today of the approach that we should have to intervention. Indeed, my noble and right reverend friend Lord Harries dealt with this subject very thoroughly and very well. We obviously need clearer coherent criteria for dealing with regional and country disasters, especially in the Middle East and on the African continent. How do we deal with regime change? How do we deal with humanitarian disasters? My noble and gallant friend Lord Craig warned us in his speech that our service commitments are already overextended. Clearly there is a severe limit to the amount of intervention in which we can be involved. What are the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan? We must decide how to withdraw from Iraq, leaving it more secure, not less. We have already been warned that we must be in Afghanistan for a long time if we want to make a success of it.

I recall going to Moscow in the late 1970s as part of a parliamentary delegation, which I think was led by the late Lord Cledwyn Hughes. I was asked to put the first question to the head of state, Mr Podgorny, who had just been on a first-ever visit to Africa. I asked him about the Soviet policy on Africa and what his experience was. He looked at me and said, “Mr Luce, you ought to know that going into Africa is easy. Getting out is the problem”. That is always the issue with intervention. We have been groping towards a post-imperial, post-Cold War policy and criteria for intervention, and we have a long way to go. We have heard many contributions on this today, and I shall throw in one or two extra factors before I finish.

First, our Foreign Office, and those of other western nations, needs to have the knowledge and intelligence to be able to take sensible decisions when dealing with particular regions and countries. Moreover, it needs rather special skills for dealing with intervention and the reconstruction of countries, as well as a clear plan and a clear policy. Secondly, we need regional policies, particularly for the Middle East and Africa. One has only to look at the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to see what a gap there is between the ideal and the implementation. We need to realise that everything that happens in every part of the Middle East affects the rest. It needs to be seen as a whole, and we need to work very vigorously with the moderate Arab nations towards solutions.

I hope that I, too, will not ruin the career of the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, when I say that he has been an outstanding Minister for African affairs. I hope that he still will be in a week’s time. Perhaps he will be promoted. I had better move on before I wreck his chances. In Africa, we face such tragedies as the Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe. There, again, we need a regional approach. Some African countries, such as Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana, are developing democratic institutions, and we could sensibly and vigorously work with all of them behind the scenes—perhaps the noble Lord will tell us that we are—to try to influence the situation in Zimbabwe.

I am extremely glad that a number of people have mentioned the Commonwealth today. In 50 years, we

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have seen an empire transformed into a commonwealth of 54 equal nations, accompanied by massive migration within it, so that many countries, such as our own, Canada, and Australia, are now multicultural, multi-faith and multi-ethnic. That in itself presents a new challenge, which the Commonwealth, with all its experience of this, can contribute a great deal to. On Zimbabwe, the commitment of the Commonwealth at Harare in 1992 to democracy and the rule of law means that the Commonwealth should stand ready to play a leading role in helping them when Mugabe goes.

Finally, there have been a number of contributions on democracy. We must be careful about how we advocate democracy in other countries. Our democracy has evolved from our own history and our own experience, and the same must apply to other countries; it must be home grown. We must respect the fact that democracy must be based on local history and culture, and the circumstances of those countries, even if we are to play a leading role in encouraging it to take place.

2.10 pm

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, I am glad to have the opportunity to participate in this debate and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howell, for introducing it.

It is almost impossible to talk about foreign policy in the past decade without referring to Iraq. It is probably the most disastrous foreign policy decision that has been made by any Government since Suez. And it was made not only by the Government; we should remember that both the two main political parties supported the invasion. There were of course individual—and often distinguished—exceptions in both parties, and the Liberal Democrats did not support it. Nevertheless, there was parliamentary support and we have to ask why so many well intentioned people went along with it.

I did not do so. I spoke against it on many occasions. I did not believe in the dossier. I had also spoken against the earlier bombing—known as Desert Fox—which was undertaken without UN authority. The Iraqi Government claimed to have destroyed any WMD but, although a statement was made to the UN on its behalf, we were told that they could not be believed. In the light of recent history—from the first Gulf War onwards, including the punitive sanctions regime—it did not seem likely that Iraq could possibly pose a threat to anyone. I believed then, and I still believe, that the WMD story arose because of the need to persuade the public to embark upon an invasion that would otherwise lack even a shred of legitimacy.

The question now is what should happen. We are told that our troops should remain because of the insurgency and the threat of full civil war. But is the presence of coalition troops actually bringing peace and democracy or is it part of the problem? Recent reports appear to indicate that 80 per cent of the attacks are directed at coalition troops. Moreover, the battle for hearts and minds does not appear to be succeeding. Support for the war is declining rapidly in the US, as it has in this country. Our continued

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presence there seems more likely to encourage fundamentalism than the reverse. One hopes that the new Prime Minister will look urgently at ways in which we may rapidly disengage from this damaging conflict.

One of the arguments launched against those of us who opposed the invasion is that we did not object to the conflict over Kosovo, which involved NATO bypassing the UN entirely. Well, I did object, and I still do. The civilian population of Serbia was subjected to 78 days of continuous aerial bombardment. Civilian targets were hit—hospitals, factories, schools and bridges—and a determined attempt was made to destroy the civilian infrastructure. Cluster bombs were also used. The issue was still unsettled since one alleged ethnic cleansing was immediately replaced with another. Over 87 per cent of the non-Albanian population has been forced to leave Kosovo as a result of the continuing brutalities of the KLA. This is an example of the policy of so-called humanitarian intervention.

I can well understand the desire to ensure that repressive regimes are not given the freedom to brutalise their populations. But military intervention by individual states, which always seems to include heavy bombing, is not a method that is likely to secure UN support—nor should it. It is a way of visiting collective punishment on innocent populations. There is, of course, an argument for strengthening international organisations. We need them if there is to be any chance of dealing with situations such as that in Darfur. That may involve reform of the UN, and that in turn means reaching agreement with Russia.

The recent disagreements should not be seen, as they have been in some newspapers, as a return to the Cold War. There should be a realisation that although we may not like some aspects of the authoritarian rule in Putin’s Russia, there is some justification for the objections raised to the decision to base US missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic. Anyone who has visited Russia will be aware that the Second World War still means a great deal to most Russians—even to those who are too young to recall it. They do not like the idea of being surrounded by foreign bases.

Furthermore, it is not surprising that Russia should still have an interest in Kosovo because of its links with Serbia. Nor should it be surprising that the Russian Government have concerns about what happens in the countries that they regard as their “near abroad”. Obviously, the United States has always had interests in the countries of central America and South America, and occasionally it has intervened in them. While we may be concerned about the Litvinenko case, Russia is not the only country that holds that it cannot constitutionally extradite one of its citizens to face trial abroad. The US has a similar provision. All these issues are capable of being resolved. They do not indicate a return to the politics of the Cold War.

Yes, of course we live in dangerous times, but the mood of people everywhere is for peace and stability rather than war. We shall shortly be experiencing a

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change of leadership in some of the major countries of the world. We must hope that these new leaders respond to the world pressures for negotiated settlements to the problems that face us all.

2.16 pm

Lord Thomas of Swynnerton: My Lords, most noble Lords who have spoken in this excellent debate seem to have accepted that British foreign policy since 1997 has not been an overwhelming success, despite talk of the ethical element that Mr Robin Cook mentioned in 1997 and despite, I may say, the Prime Minister’s excellent French, which struck everyone when he first went to Paris in 1997.

What is the explanation? Could it be that the Prime Minister has in recent years wished to control foreign policy himself rather than the Foreign Secretary or the Foreign Office? Is it because the old rules of British foreign policy seem to have lost their validity? For example, it used to be said that the main aim of British foreign policy should be to side with the second most powerful country in Europe against the most powerful. That does not seem to have any relevance today. Or is it because our foreign policy is in many ways beset by great complications? It could be so. Take Europe. What confusion this wonderful idea of Monsieur Jean Monnet has sown in our public life. We still do not really know if we are or are not Europeans. If my noble friend Lord Skidelsky were here, he would recall Lord Keynes telling us of England, in his The Economic Consequences of the Peace, that,

What did Churchill—the greatest Englishman of the first part of the 20th century—really think about European integration? It is very hard to discover. Perhaps above all, how can we explain the fact that the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have, over Europe, made a complete switch in attitudes? I do not need to remind members of the Conservative Party in this House that their party was, for many years—from 1950 until about 1990—the party of Europe. The Labour Party was the party of scepticism, beginning with the famous visit by the late Lord Morrison to the Ivy restaurant where he assured Mr Kenneth Younger and Sir William Plowden that the Durham miners would not wear the idea of the European Common Market.

Of course, we are all friends of the United States. Since 1941 and 1946, when the phrase “the special relationship” was, I think, invented, our relation with the United States has dominated our political life, the only exception being the short period of the Prime Ministership of Sir Edward Heath. Has this United States connection prevented or affected our capacity to lead Europe, even if we had wanted to do so? Even more important, what do we really think now of the post-1989 position of the United States in the world? Despite its setbacks, it continues to be the most powerful state the world has seen since the Roman Empire. Do we think that this dominance is desirable? Should we try to limit it? Was Monsieur Chirac right to question it?

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Incidentally, I should recall that the United States had an idea of liberal interventionism long before the arrival of Mr Bush in power. President Roosevelt’s 1905 corollary to the Monroe doctrine justified United States intervention in Latin America—but not in the world in general—if a state of brutal wrongdoing existed. Perhaps that is a concession by the United States in the 21st century to Latin American preconceptions, as desired by my noble kinsman, the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein.

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