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As other noble Lords have said, something different is happening now; there is a tremendous surge of distaste for America around the world. It certainly involves the sorts of things to which the noble Lord referred, but it would be foolish not to recognise that what passes for anti-Americanism today is the result of recent foreign policy, specifically the foreign policy of the current Administration—not

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so much on Iraq but in their philosophy of international relations as announced by President Bush in his speech at West Point in 2001. He said that international relations should be defined as a system of power, that America would be the pre-eminent power and that no country would be allowed to rival America militarily. Condoleezza Rice spoke, too, of the “illusory international community”. That philosophy systematically undermined the previous commitment that the United States had to a multi-polar world, which also explains a good deal about the surge in anti-Americanism. As the Pew and Marshall foundation surveys have found, that is something new, and I think that it is strongly influenced by that philosophy of foreign policy.

I am 100 per cent behind other noble Lords who have said that, although the relationship with America will be slow to repair, it can be repaired by a return to Wilsonian ideals and the framework of co-operation that America built in the post-war period. That is surely the future in a globally interdependent world. I, along with other noble Lords, hope that the President of the United States will return to a Wilsonian framework of co-operation and be prepared to help to rebuild the United Nations as a focus of world influence.

I conclude by asking a question of the Minister. It has been reported in several newspapers over the past week that the Prime Minister is prepared under certain circumstances to accept American military intervention in Iran. I would like him to reassure me that those reports are false.

8.12 pm

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend and congratulate him on initiating this debate. The beginnings of the tide of anti-Americanism can be found in Europe soon after the end of the war. I am not discussing the state-generated antipathy of the communist bloc, which has left its legacy for two ensuing generations. I am talking about the attitude of the French, as did the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, particularly under de Gaulle. While the rest of Europe was gratefully accepting American largesse to assist in reconstruction via the Marshall plan, de Gaulle was still smarting at the way in which those whom he called “the Anglo-Saxons” had attempted to sideline him in the battle for Europe. De Gaulle’s attitude effectively kept France out of NATO for a long time.

But all of that was nothing compared to the ever increasing swell of anti-Americanism engendered by America’s support for the state of Israel. It is totally wrong to suggest that Arab anti-Americanism is caused by the recent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, although they certainly have not helped. Two American embassies were blown up in Africa, one American barracks was blown up in Lebanon, an American warship was attacked and badly damaged in the Red Sea and the World Trade Centre was attacked twice—once with the devastating effect that we all know—before the Americans invaded Iraq. Of course, it was a mistake at the end of the first Gulf War not to have dealt with Saddam Hussein then and there. The Americans held

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their hand and contented themselves with simply booting the tyrant out of Kuwait rather than crushing him completely, in order not to offend the Arab world. Unfortunately, that was regarded as a sign of weakness.

We are dealing with regimes that regard the British and American concept of democracy as a complete anathema. The Americans made a fatal diplomatic error in backing the Shah of Persia against the no less despotic theocracy that took his place and then backing Saddam Hussein in his war again Iran. No wonder the Iranians are anti-American. The turmoil in the Middle East has given rise to a brand of Islamic fundamentalism that preaches the overthrow of everything that is not Islamic, and America is not the only victim.

Then there is the anti-Americanism to be found in South America, stirred up by the communist state of Cuba, to which the Americans behaved foolishly at its inception. Cuba had every reason geographically to want to be friendly with the United States of America, but American foreign policy drove it into the arms of Russia, and it was used as a staging post to corrupt the friendly relations that America had enjoyed with its South American neighbours because of America’s benign application of the Monroe doctrine. The problem in South America was further exacerbated by America’s self-defence against the drug cartels operating there.

I need not say anything about the disaster of America’s intervention in Vietnam, which was the result of its fear of a so-called domino effect that might have turned parts of Asia into another communist fiefdom. The Americans have paid heavily for that—in lives, in reputation and in social unrest at home and anti-Americanism abroad. I find it paradoxical, however, that apparently 60 per cent of South Koreans consider the USA a colonial power when little over 50 years ago they were begging the Americans to rescue them from North Korea and China.

The straightforward fact is that the world is a better and safer place because America is the one superpower. The world would be a more dangerous place if what happened in the 1930s was repeated and America was driven back into isolationism and persuaded to pick up its football and go home. Cheap jibes at occasional American heavy-handedness and cheap jibes about its presidents, not just the present one, are all too easy. Western democracy needs a strong America. Indeed, the whole world needs a strong America, and we should support it.

8.17 pm

Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Saatchi on securing this debate, which focuses on an important issue affecting all parts of our society today. The special relationship between this country and the United States has been of great importance to this country for many years.

First, we need to be clear about definitions. It must be possible to question the approach of the Bush Administration without being labelled anti-American. Similarly, it must be possible to support the policy of

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the Administration without being labelled America’s poodle. A mature debate is essential.

We must return to the best traditions of the special relationship, which means being a critical friend and not one who occupies the role of unconditional associate in every circumstance. We need to be solid but not slavish in our approach to the United States. In regard to the real value of our special relationship, we can tell the truth candidly and boldly without damaging that relationship. Historically, we may be the junior partner in the relationship but that should not reduce our strength. I emphasise the contributions made by Winston Churchill with President Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher with Ronald Reagan and John Major with George Bush Sr. These Conservative Prime Ministers undertook this with skill and success. I agree with David Cameron that we have recently lost that art.

One of the prime reasons for any ill feelings towards America is its recent foreign policies, particularly the invasion of Iraq and subsequent lack of adequate planning. There was a detailed programme yesterday on BBC2 on the torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners at Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Some of the people who were tortured were innocent. There has also been disquiet relating to the rendition programme.

For America to gain the support of the various communities in this country and abroad, there needs to be an orderly withdrawal from Iraq and America needs to use its influence in finding a solution to the problems in Palestine. There needs to be a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue relating to Iran.

I commend and appreciate the gentle side of America. My wife and I, with other Muslims, were entertained by the American ambassador in breaking the Ramadan fast last week. Everyone at the American embassy was very polite and courteous. I chair the Conservative Muslim Forum; we have built a very healthy relationship with the cultural attaché at the embassy and we have held some fruitful meetings.

8.20 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I did not recognise much of what the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, said. His statement that Americanism versus anti-Americanism is the defining theme of the 21st century seems to me simply not to be the case. We face a whole range of challenges in the 21st century: climate change, global development, population growth, terrorism and the relations between different civilisations. The idea that we can divide the world into simple dichotomies—black versus white, good versus evil—is part of what has gone wrong with Bush and the neoconservative foreign policy. President Bush has said that those who hate freedom oppose the United States. The assumption is that the United States represents good and freedom and that those who oppose the United States and oppose American policy hate those very things. I have heard neoconservatives talk about the United States as a righteous nation, assuming that everything that the

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United States does is righteous and that those of us who criticise US policy are therefore necessarily unrighteous.

When I first went to the United States in 1962, the same sort of tactic was being used against liberals and Democrats—they were called “un-American” if they criticised the views of the American right. I spent three very happy years working and studying in the United States, in the immensely optimistic period of President Kennedy and then of President Johnson. I went back two years later, as things began to go bad with Vietnam. I have seen a lot of the United States since then. In 2002 I was invited to introduce a session at a National Intelligence Council conference on anti-Americanism. There was a much more nuanced discussion among the American intelligence community about the differences between generic anti-Americanism—from those who naturally feel opposition to the dominant power, whichever the dominant power may be—and the specific anti-Americanism that it was recognised had grown in opposition to American policies.

We have heard in this debate what has led to this surge in opposition to American policies, although not to the United States as such: the denial of climate change, the opposition to international law and the international institutions, the in-your-face nationalism of people such as John Bolton, the Guantanamo Bay experience, the whole Middle East policy and the aggressive anti-Europeanism that many have had. I recall people from the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation saying, when I published an article in Foreign Affairs in 2001 suggesting that the United States still needed a partnership with Europe, that to make that argument was anti-American in itself. We need to move beyond that.

What worries me are the cheap jibes that we see in the British press against France and Germany. It is easy in Britain to be acceptable when you make anti-European jibes. We should be much more critical and careful about how we approach both our American partner and our European partners. I regret that the Murdoch press has managed to distort the foreign policy debate in this country to suggest that we should always follow the United States and should always be opposed to what our French and German partners appeal for, with the Conservative Party on occasions vowing its loyalty to follow American policy wherever it may lead. I recall the Financial Times saying of William Hague that he appeared to be dedicated to pursuing the national interests of another country. The United Kingdom should be a critical friend of the United States, not a loyal follower.

8.25 pm

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Saatchi has promoted a really worthwhile debate on an important issue, although of course it is absurdly short. We need much more time to do the subject justice. It is worth while because our attitudes to America are central to our own United Kingdom concerns. Our transatlantic relations define our own

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stance in the world, our role, our purposes and our identity in this nation. We are reaching—maybe this debate is a signal of it—a moment of sea change in these matters.

As we have been reminded, for 50 years after World War 2 the USA, which had saved us from fascism and secured our liberties, was the dominant world nation, by far the biggest economy and the central pillar of an empire of freedom. We hardly needed to argue that; it was assumed. What is more, America and its leaders used this dominant position, most of the time, with grace, wisdom, generosity and respect for many friends and allies and for its former foes as well. Of course, there was anti-Americanism, there has been all along, at present especially in France, as my noble friend Lady Miller reminded us. But it was patchy and spasmodic, and it was not the dominant culture of the time. On the whole, America stood for freedom, for a better life against the dark and shoddy values of communism and Soviet oppression.

We have to concede that today that is no longer the apparent position. America’s reputation is at rock bottom, its influence has been weakened, and at home it is a divided and doubting nation, unsure which way to turn, as any recent visitor to any part of America would confirm. Indeed, it would not be inaccurate to say, borrowing Dean Acheson’s phrase, that today America has lost an empire and not found a role. There are many reasons for that sad development, many of which have been outlined in this debate.

The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, made the valid point that we must distinguish between the US Government and the US people; between the Administration of George Bush who, frankly, have at times, however well they mean, struck a simplistic note in their assessment and their policies and uttered harsh rhetoric on the one hand, and the American nation and the economy, which is still the world’s finest, still the world’s most powerful, imbued with immense generosity and kindness and a wish to do well in the world and imbued with America’s true values, which are our values as well.

Why has all this happened? It has been suggested that it is because of the recent foreign policy difficulties and the Iraq failure, but at root we must look deeper and see that it is about the march of technology and the microchip and the colossal dispersal of power today, both to the rising nations of Asia and through the world wide web to a billion desktop and laptop computers, to new groupings, good and bad, and to state interests alike that have weakened the concept of the mighty hegemon. Power has shifted from the USA, the West and the Atlantic community. Small weapons can now match big weapons through technology, and e-enabled terrorism can now outwit armies and rockets; and has done so. It is no good thinking only in terms of rebuilding America’s military might or, indeed, our European military might, to re-establish influence and reputation in these new conditions. For us, the Atlantic bond remains vital and we should fully support America in its difficulties—but we should support it as a friend and an equal, not as a compliant satrapy or lap dog. True friends, as the noble Lord,

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Lord Ryder, said, should be ready to speak with candour, rather than with dutiful and automaton assent.

In today’s world there are no top dogs. Some of my noble friends may disagree, but there are no hegemonies left and no hyper-powers, whatever some French leaders may have said in the past—although those leaders are changing. There is no new role. There is only one intricate global network in which we are all equal, large and small; we all need each other and we must all work together. I hope that this very short debate has helped to remind us that, while there is no call for prejudiced anti-Americanism—and we should dismiss it where we see it—there is a need for candour and realism in our changing relations with the USA. These factors should be reflected at the heart of our foreign policy in a way that I fear they are not at present.

8.31 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, for giving the House the opportunity to explore this Question, and I thank noble Lords present for the wisdom of the debate this evening. We have all agreed that this is an important subject—its implications are far-reaching and it is right that we should debate it to the full. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that perhaps this debate is a little brief to consider such a large subject. Although critical things have been said tonight, one thing unites every speaker—all of us are America’s friends and we speak with a candour that comes from friendship and respect for that great country.

In a sense, the central contention behind the debate is one of pessimism derived from opinion polls. Perhaps, like others this week in another House, rather than being driven to decisions by opinion polls, I will try to focus on the principles of our relationship with the US. America matters, whatever the polls currently say. Many noble Lords have pointed out the ways in which the United States remains a force for good in the world. There are so many practical examples of that support that one is reluctant to make sweeping assertions.

One of America’s greatest qualities is the vibrancy of political debate at home. Many opinions that are quickly branded by some as being anti-American would brand many Americans as anti-American. Across all Administrations, I cannot recall a debate more robust and critical of American policies than those occurring in America itself.

Before we assess the views of others, let me make clear the view of Her Majesty’s Government. It was set out by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in his speech at Chatham House on 19 July. He said America is,

At its core, the relationship has always been built on shared values, a commitment to freedom, equality, liberty and the rights of man. The Prime Minister said in July this year that it is because ours is a “partnership of purpose” founded on values that it has lasted.



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Perhaps to stray too far into the roots of current anti-Americanism, as some of the other speakers have been able to, is not a luxury that a Minister can afford, particularly one with well known views on this subject. Nevertheless, our policy evidently cannot be formed in isolation from global or British public opinion. That is why we need to articulate the benefits of US engagement to the British people and beyond.

Others have touched on that history of engagement, which perhaps starts with Europe. A vital lifeline was provided to a besieged Europe during and after the Second World War, and US military, economic and political leadership continued throughout the Cold War, bringing it to a successful conclusion and allowing a Europe to exist today that could not have existed without American leadership.

That US involvement has continued well beyond 1989 with support for the enlargement of NATO and support to help the former communist countries to rebuild their economies and reform their Governments and security structures. The enlargement of the EU and NATO has been an example of transformational diplomacy at its best.

It was President Clinton’s leadership within NATO—in partnership with the United Kingdom—that helped us to put a stop to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and led eventually to the downfall of Milosevic in the former Yugoslavia. That US commitment to Kosovo remains to this day, although it seldom gets the attention that is paid to other American overseas commitments. It is there still in terms of troops deployed and of an extraordinary diplomatic capital invested in the final status process.

Much closer to home, I think that we are all aware of the role that the US played in securing a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. The momentous progress that the people of Northern Ireland have achieved could not have been made without the unerring support of successive US Administrations and of Congress.

But this debate is not just about what the United States does around the world; it must also be about how the US acts as a model for others and how it impacts on the lives of so many in the world. Having just returned from living for 21 years in the US and having entered a British Cabinet, if America were a company and not a country, I should probably have to confess to a conflict of interest. My wife and children are American, I built a successful business there and the American dream is unashamedly real to me. I have benefited from and watched up close America’s dynamic economic model; I have watched it being emulated around the world. Its research, innovation and creativity spread far beyond US borders. The interlocking levels of government provide a fertile testing ground for new ideas of public policy. A high level of migration to the United States—itself a compelling example of pro-Americanism—has led to the development of a vast multicultural society which encompasses citizens of all backgrounds and faiths, and which, as has been said, should serve as the example of a melting pot for us all.



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Again, as the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, said, we should not overlook the appeal and influence of US culture, be it music, literature or film. We cross several generations in this House but if I point to a country that has produced Elvis Presley and John Ford, I think we can all agree that its cultural richness is beyond compare. Yet, as the noble Lord said, how come a country which is so good at telling the story of other people is not able to tell its own and communicate it persuasively to the world?


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