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What about the United Nations? This great institution, the jewel of 1945, has been mentioned quite a lot, but still we do not really know whether the ideal of liberal interventionism can be allied with support for the United Nations Charter as the kernel of a new world order such as we might have expected after 1989.

We should take into account a factor which was unspoken before 1989; namely, the re-emergence of religion as a factor in world politics. I refer to not just Islam, but Catholicism and even low-church evangelisation. Are our foreign offices in Europe able to cope with a world in which the divisions created by the death of Caliph Ali in 661AD are more important than the divisions between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks in 1905? Is the State Department capable of such a shift in its emphasis? We cannot of course escape from the fact that foreign policy impinges on domestic policy in a way which never seemed to exist before. The threat of al-Qaeda is the most striking in this respect, but we could compare it with the threat of international violence posed by the anarchists in the early part of the 20th century.

In conclusion, we have to continue to accept a conventional, or what sounds a cliché-ridden, position for ourselves in international affairs. We continue to be a very influential, first-class country, if not a super-power, with respected armed services, a fine financial centre, good parliamentary life, a strong culture and unprecedented traditions. This should enable us even now to aspire to lead Europe in the future and so be a natural conduit between Europe and the United States in an Atlantic community, which we should wish to see enriched and which, perhaps, a Foreign Secretary to any new Prime Minister—let us hope that he will be an independent and strong Foreign Secretary—should strive to articulate very clearly.

2.25 pm

Lord Dykes: My Lords, like other noble Lords, we express our thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, who always gives the House a very interesting historical analysis going back quite a long way: 661AD may be a record, although I am not sure of his recent speeches. We are grateful to him, particularly for his sensible suggestions at the end of his speech about the linkage between the US, the EU and other leading parts of the global village. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, for my absence for the first two minutes of his speech due to an urgent phone call. On behalf of these Benches, I thank him very much for what he said—I echo the remarks from others in this

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debate—especially his sensible guidance about not having got too close to the United States on the mistakes that were made, particularly, in Iraq.

When I was a Conservative many years ago, I had the pleasure and privilege of working at a very humble and low level for the late Sir Edward Heath. I was enormously impressed with his engagement with America as a country and a people and, none the less, his scepticism about some of the aspects of formation of policy in Washington DC. That followed Wilson and the terrible mistakes made in Vietnam when Ted Heath was Prime Minister. All that was a searing experience for all of us. Following those terrible mistakes, America calmed down for a while in terms of its geo-political international policies, with the exception of the Middle East where it started to make more and more mistakes. That may be a long time ago, but that was the kernel of the mistakes we see now.

Perhaps I may thank very much the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden. I agree with everything she said. Her remarks were extremely critical of the Government’s policy on Iraq and she was right to make them. We were proud officially as a party to have marched against the war in Iraq. It was an illegal and criminal act, which has been a disaster for this country in foreign policy terms and a tragedy personally for the Prime Minister who made the hideous mistake of getting far too close to, probably, the worst post-war Administration that the United States has had to suffer, which can be seen in the polls for President Bush now. President Bush is the most mediocre of all the American Presidents, which sometimes is not saying much if one mentions certain other names. None the less, what he has done to his own people, and what the British Prime Minister and the American President have done to the people of Iraq, with this criminal behaviour, is a tragedy from which it will take many years for Iraq to recover.

The destruction of Iraq, the economic infrastructure, the Halliburtonisation of the Iraqi economy and the tragedies, including probably 600,000 civilians killed, are all criminal acts. With the appropriate machinery, the people responsible for making those illegal decisions, without, first, any certification by the United Nations, should answer in the international courts for those mistakes. They will escape that and will not have to do that.

It is a personal tragedy for the Prime Minister, and I do not say those words with any pleasure. In terms of the formulation of domestic policies after 1997, like others, I was most impressed with what the Prime Minister and his governmental team did for this country with some of their reforms and modernisations. On domestic policy, there has been a good show by and large. We of course objected to, argued against and resisted many of the proposals in detail, but the general picture has been very good in Britain. I pay that tribute in a spirit of generosity to the Labour Government.

I am sure that Mr Joseph Corre, a fashion designer, has misunderstood slightly the MBE procedure. In singling out the Prime Minister for some excoriating words, he has said:

That is a severe criticism—I do not know Mr Corre—and some people might say it goes beyond the normal bounds. However, the Prime Minister’s principal legacy that people will remember is cash-for-peerages—I regret having to say this—and the continuing investigation; the criminal and illegal war in Iraq; the failure to achieve any sensible peace in the Middle East; and the behaviour of a leading representative of the Government in stopping the investigation into British Aerospace and the Saudi Arabian al-Yamamah contract. Those are serious charges which I hope to have answered by the Minister today, if he has time, or perhaps on other occasions.

However, I add my words to what the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, said about the two Members of the Government on this Front Bench. In total contrast to my previous remarks, the prosecution and expression of Labour Government foreign policy in this House has always been in highly capable hands with the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, and the noble Baroness, Lady Royall. We thank them sincerely. I wish that they could express themselves more boldly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, tried to do during Questions on Tuesday in regard to the European Union.

I turn now to the way in which the Government are to deal with the European summit. There are foreign policy aspects to it and the EU needs to be engaged in the Middle East road map again. I do not like the idea that is creeping into the press in this country that suddenly the quartet machinery, the road plan and all the other plans that were originally in place have now got to be set aside for some trendy kind of new structure; people are talking about a three-state solution and so on.

In the White Paper on the European Union and the German presidency earlier this year, firm and totally unequivocal words were used. On page 12 at paragraph 56, it states:

This policy is in ruins. Although people have said that the United States has failed to do what is necessary in the Middle East, no one has mentioned the reality of the 32 vetoes exercised by the United States in the UN which allowed the Israeli Government—I am not criticising the Israeli people; I love Israel as a country and I know it very well—to fail to acknowledge their responsibilities under international law and not respond to what the UN was asking, or insisting on, when Chapter 7 resolutions were involved.

The asymmetry of what is going on in the Middle East is that Hamas, as always, is put on one side;

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Fatah is now the official Government only, but not elected by the people—most recently the Government were Hamas and still are—and Israel, asymmetrically, is not obliged to make any concessions. It always has to wait until later, as the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, has said on many occasions. These realities show that the foreign policy position without the EU will be weak indeed unless the EU is on equal terms with the United States in the future, has an equal role and the United States listens to the EU as well as to other countries. This is why the summit is so important. Unless those changes come, we will see continued mistakes made by the Americans in other areas as well.

The whole Muslim world, including Muslim communities in Britain and in other European countries, is watching very closely to see whether the unfairness and injustice in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel continues. Even with an agreement on a two-state solution going back to the 1967 boundaries, it would leave Palestine with 23 per cent of the total combined territory. Israel with so much, Palestine with so little, is it not now time for a movement forward and for a just solution to be found? This would show once again that the UN is capable of doing this; that the EU is capable as well; that Russia has a role; and that the United States will listen to others and will insist, quite rightly, that Prime Minister Olmert behaves properly in accordance with the requirements of the Oslo accords, which were never fulfilled on the Israeli side because of its accusations that terrorism prevented it from doing so.

We know the realities when we visit the West Bank. I went there with Sir Gerald Kaufman MP two years ago and saw the stark and dreadful situation there. This cannot go on. It is a total disgrace for the western world. The Muslim community saw how Iraq invaded Kuwait and a year later was expelled—quite rightly, too—but this had nothing to do with removing Saddam Hussein or the other nasty bits of the Iraqi Government. When I was in Baghdad in 1988, on only one visit, the place was full of British and American officials saying that the Saddam Hussein Government were the most wonderful in the Middle East; Iran was the enemy then. Iran is once again the enemy to some in America and we must restrain the neo-cons from excesses in that field as well in order to get a just solution for Iran and its requirements for security as well as those of Israel. Israel has a sacred right to future security. That can only be provided by Israeli concessions and the EU has a major role to play. I hope the Government will endorse my expectations.

2.35 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, this has been a wide-ranging debate and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, for providing us with the opportunity to have it. He knows, as does the House, that I greatly admire his intellect, although I have great difficulty in coming to terms with his pessimism. The noble Lord is in danger

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of becoming a kind of reverse Mr Micawber—always hoping that nothing will turn up. None the less, I thank him and all other noble Lords for their expert participation.

The debate could not take place outside a wider framework. As my noble friend Lord Anderson said, we have to be utterly realistic about a rather longer period. So let us take a moment to remember the world between 1990 and 1997. In west Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan brutal regimes defied the international community and continued to rampage, with destruction, devastation and despair being spread and, as my noble friend Lord Soley said, the emergence of unstable entities, without adequate intervention of any kind. During the first Gulf War, Saddam was left in power, murdering the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds. The problems were never resolved. Next door, no serious relationship was achieved with Iran and its fundamentalist conservatives. The problem was never resolved. No progress was made on the Middle East. On our own doorstep, the Balkans were a genocidal horror zone, while the international community, fractured and incoherent, tried to solve the situation with declarations and resolutions. As my noble friend Lord Anderson also reminded us, Nelson Mandela was denounced as a terrorist.

The United Kingdom pursued a policy of regret, condemnation and concern—words and gestures—but very little was achieved. Africa went backwards and we simply lost touch with Latin America, as has been pointed out in the debate, except, of course, we kept in touch with General Pinochet. It is candidly hard to think of a significant initiative directed at China or India, let alone Brazil or Mexico. In Europe we became like a grumbling, distant relative.

Since 1997 we have replaced this neglect with activism and we try to do what is right. Some of the dictators are behind bars; some, I am pleased to say, are facing justice in international tribunals. My noble friend Lady Symons described the path of engagement that is necessary to do this work. She, of course, has to be acknowledged as a central author of the work during this 10-year period. Her analysis of the past 10 years was particularly powerful, as it was based on experience and knowledge. The Balkans are firmly on a path of stabilisation, mutual co-operation and economic reform, which will lead towards membership of a peaceful, democratic European Union. The Blair Chicago speech set out what this broad path would be. I am very pleased that my noble friend Lord Giddens took us through the consequences of that speech.

Of course the world still contains troubled areas, but we no longer sit on the sidelines wringing our hands. We are actively seeking to build security and better societies in Sierra Leone, in Afghanistan, in Kosovo and, with all its difficulties, in Iraq. We have been at the forefront of every effort to bring peace to the Middle East region. We provide huge sums for the peace process and we work for the road map. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, at least in this respect: we must do so with new energy, and engaging the United States is essential. Because I am well aware

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of the work that my noble friend Lady Symons did as Minister for the Middle East, I know that these are not easy tasks; no one has cracked them easily on any side of the House or in any party that has had the privilege of forming a Government.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, that we shall look at Ed Balls’s proposals on the economic issues but I cannot accept the noble Lord’s analysis of Hamas. Its democratic credentials and attitude to peace, as we look at them today, seem to me to fall very far short of international standards. The noble Lord’s description of them is surprising, if I may put it that way.

The FCO itself has crystallised the UK’s values into key priorities, and 10 years on, there is less conflict in the world, less poverty and more wealth. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, was right to remind us that ending conflict sometimes entails conflict and that there is a cost but that we should always proceed under the umbrella of the international institutions, particularly the United Nations.

Back in 1997, the United Kingdom was still trying to rediscover its international role. I want to be fair to noble Lords who served in successive Conservative Governments. The world was changing rapidly, and coming to terms with it was always difficult. As the Berlin Wall fell the very engine of globalisation, with markets opening and the advent of the internet, revved up to revolutionise the way we connected with foreign lands. During this time globalisation pulled every nation of the world and all the institutions in its wake. The Government acknowledged the reality of interdependency to make sense of these forces, to shape them and to exploit them to the greatest possible extent. We are all still on the high tide of constant change and we always will be.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, made some important points but against this background I suspect that no modern British Prime Minister has ever been disinterested enough in foreign affairs to leave those matters to his Foreign Secretary. Indeed, some senior politicians in the previous Government complained that the Prime Minister had been known to take their cricket bat away and break it.

We have pursued a policy of the deepest engagement with the international community and have built a firm platform to take forward this country’s global objectives. Our standing is high. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, referred to the standing of our forces. I agree with him, but I am not so certain that the distinction between conflicts of choice and other conflicts is quite so clear-cut. International stability is sometimes the only choice, and our forces are not failing us in dealing with that.

The international institutions were built for the post-war era. That era has gone. They need to reform to be fit for the world in which we now live—the world after 9/11, the introduction of the internet and the Cold War. I refer to the changes that the noble Lord, Lord Luce, so eloquently set out.

Perhaps all the key institutions have the creaking joints of middle age but they are none the less vital for

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global order, so we work persistently for optimal reform. Some Members of the House have more or less said that the Iraq conflict has destroyed the international community’s instinct to intervene on the right occasions. But as my noble friend Lord Desai put it, the alternative to intervention is leaving matters unresolved, however dire they are. The responsibility to protect calls us to do something better. My noble friend Lord Soley underlined the same point. I simply cannot agree with the comments of my noble friend Lady Turner on Iraq and Kosovo precisely for that reason.

Some have a touching, perhaps even na├»ve, faith in the international community. It has its limitations and does not always succeed, and constructive criticism can be considered condemnation, although in my mind it is not. Others believe that it is neither possible nor desirable for the United Nations or the European Union to be a leading global actor. Some pay lip service to it but do not really rate its chances of being successful. Others advocate not only a more active Commonwealth but a greatly enlarged one, with an economic and security role, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, advocated with the greatest clarity in a very important paper at the end of last year. However, I believe that, for all its great strengths and adequacies, such a Commonwealth would probably be beyond its capacity, traditions or its current architecture. But we certainly should not neglect the Commonwealth—I do not intend to do so—or the Overseas Territories. The very important points of the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, on that are taken to heart. The work for modern constitutions to help the Overseas Territories move forward is really important. There is high expenditure. Examples such as Montserrat tell people that we have certainly not neglected our obligations, even where they constitute a hugely expensive enterprise. We buy into the Latin America strategy that the noble Baroness and the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, both mentioned precisely because we can get buy-in now across Whitehall, and that is a change.

Our approach is clear-sighted. I hope that it is constructive. We want the UN, the European Union, NATO and the Bretton Woods bodies to provide strong, effective leadership on all the global issues. We have had some successes. Kofi Annan proposed a fundamental programme of reform in 2005. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, was one of its architects. We work to make that a reality. My noble friend Lady Quin reminds us that the EU summit is under way, where more construction will be considered. As I said last week in our long and serious debate, a national discussion about the results of that will be imperative. I hope that it will be conducted in the media and elsewhere with more thought and less frenzy. The Fundamental Charter may be thought by some to intrude on our legal and security needs to too great an extent, but we shall see how this debate emerges in the next week.

For 30 years, successive British Prime Ministers have claimed that Britain is at the heart of Europe. I believe that the Government have gone further. We have moved the heart of Europe closer to Britain. Our vision is shared by an increasing number of European

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states, and more are hungry to join. Jose Manuel Barroso said earlier this year, in a speech that my noble friend Lord Anderson quoted, that the Europe of the 21st century takes its inspiration in many ways from Britain. I contrast that—we are looking at a historical period here—with what another president of the Commission, Jacques Santer, said in 1996:

Over 10 years we have kept our old friends and made new ones, as my noble friend Lady Symons made very clear. People talk of the international community as if it were some kind of kindergarten—the UK can’t be friends with Europe if it wants to stay friends with America, and we may not be invited to the Commonwealth party if we go to somebody else’s party in Europe. In 1997 we saw that that was the diplomacy of the past. In 1997 the days of the triple alliances and the ententes had long passed, but I am afraid that the mentality lingers on, and it has not yet grasped interdependence as fully and broadly as it must.

This country can maintain a strategic partnership with the United States while engaging meaningfully with the Commonwealth and Europe. We have a proper regard for the significance of our alliance with the United States, and I shall not apologise for it. It is the world’s only super-power, whoever its president may be. We have shown that we can work with President Clinton and President Bush and their Administrations and that the relationship has remained important, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said it must. My noble friend Lord Anderson had that right. The world benefits from this alliance. It is a close partnership. I shall be candid: our approaches will differ many times on issues such as climate change; but when we work at it, as we did with the G8, we sometimes get the right result. On other occasions our partnership has stood us in very good stead, and we should not forget it.


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