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Worryingly, in Israel and Palestine, matters are again dangerously precarious. Brave Tzipi Livni refuses to say, “Jerusalem is not negotiable”, in talks with Palestine and, as a result, now faces an election that she may lose to the hardline Mr Netanyahu. Hamas and Fatah live in uneasy proximity, with the estimable Salam Fayyad doing his very best to lead what seems to be the unleadable. Palestine's neighbours give support through rhetoric, but although some donate generously financially to deal with the huge deficit, others either fuel the unrest through payments to extremists or simply hope that Palestine’s unrest does not spill further into their own countries. Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria are all acutely aware that Palestine's political instability today can be their problem on streets of Cairo, Beirut, Amman and Damascus tomorrow.

In all this, we see a new President coming into office in the United States. We seem to be in a state of suspended animation at the moment. We all know that Condoleezza Rice is doing her best, but most of us really want to know what Barack Obama will do. How will he react to that sobering list of difficulties? Every appointment that he makes and every visitor he receives is pored over to assess the implications for the future direction of his foreign policy. I suspect that he, like most, will have to concentrate on the security and prosperity of his country, the United States of America. He may conclude that the best way to secure that objective is very different from that of the outgoing president—for example, on climate change, through engaging in dialogue about the root causes of terrorism, through addressing the security of energy supplies around the world, or through trying to strengthen the United Nations. The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, talked about the importance of co-operation in partnership; I hope that that message will reach our friends in the United States.

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This United States President comes in on a tide of goodwill—perhaps a relief from what has gone before— but with an extraordinary mandate to change the terms of United States engagement with the rest of the world. There will be high expectations which we all know cannot be met. Journalists and commentators will rush to judgment with all the lofty authority of those who have never had to take a decision about public life or take responsibility for the policies that they advocate. I hope that we have a clear and very short list of issues that we regard as the fundamental building blocks for security and fair dealing when we talk to the United States. I hope that that conversation goes on not only between officials but with political engagement.

I have one last point. The Department for International Development, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform are all indispensable means of pursuing our broader objectives, but they do not and must not replace the Foreign Office’s activity. They are simply no substitute for that. Frankly, the FCO cuts are plain short-sighted and—let me say categorically and for the first time for me—wrong. We need clever, hard-working, experienced men and women in our Diplomatic Service. In the end, we need talent and flair in this great public service. We need seriously clever diplomats like the noble Lords, Lord Wright of Richmond and Lord Jay of Ewelme, who will speak later. We do not want any dilution of that talent or ability. We must pay for it, not chip away at it; the scope and calibre of those individuals are crucial to that operation.

I hope that the Minister can tell us more about how we will tackle an unprecedented agenda and an unprecedented time for that agenda to be pursued.

1.33 pm

Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, it gives me pleasure to be able to follow the noble Baroness in two respects immediately: first, by seconding the motion of gratitude to the right reverend Prelate that she proposed, as he is entitled to not just a proposer but a seconder; and, on her last point, she put powerfully and eloquently a view shared, I am sure, by many in this House that the once uniquely dominant quality of our Diplomatic Service is no longer what it was. That is an area of our overseas expenditure that we neglect, and have neglected, at our peril. That needs to be reversed as a matter of high priority.

Having made those simple points, I feel slightly diffident, speaking as an ex-Foreign Secretary, when I realise just how much I have been cut off from the area. It is almost 20 years since I had the privilege of working with those people and being fed, briefed, instructed and informed. Happily, many of my links remain, giving me some contexts in a striking curiosity of places.

One, for example, is Ukraine, because for a long time, together with the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, I was on the advisory council for that country, trying to put it together again. I am still vice-chairman of the all-party group. Another, more recently and more coincidentally, is Georgia, a country that, I confess, I have not visited since 1988 but over which I

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became an enthusiastic partner with my opposite number, Eduard Shevardnadze, when he became president of that country. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is China—I am president of the Great Britain-China Centre—a country whose performance and transformation I have been able to follow since my first visit there 30 years ago. That is a subject to which I shall return in a moment.

I echo absolutely what my noble friend Lord Howell said about the extent to which we have discounted and disregarded the Commonwealth. That is an immensely important network. I know that my noble friend is fond of talking about a networked world; I am a little more organised than that, but this particular network is one that we can certainly share together.

One matter where I tend to move in a different direction from my noble friend is the setting in which we should be presenting Britain's foreign policy. Of course British foreign policy on its own has a distinctive impact because of our history and experience and our continuing position, but it is crucial to recognise that the impact of this country alone needs to be amplified, intensified and broadened if it is to be effective.

I take as my text on that point a remark made by Prime Minister Kaifu of Japan many years ago, when he said to me that, from the Japanese point of view, and that of many others, their relations with Britain are the keystone of their relations with Europe But that is not because of our independent separateness but because of our position as one of the four or five major powers in the European Union. It is increasingly obvious that it is in that larger setting that we can be most effective; and it is increasingly important to recognise that, for the reasons given by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, and others. There is the emergence of a new American Administration, whose future direction we need to be able to influence, which we can do more in European partnership than on our own.

The gracious Speech and previous speakers have identified areas where European partnership is important and must be achieved: on economic conditions, on climate change, on energy but, above all, on the issues at the heart of foreign policy itself, the wider questions. I must express, as I have done privately, a certain dismay that the understandable frustration—expressed by the noble Baroness as much as by my noble friend—at the failure and reluctance of our European partners to get their act together as they should tends to spill over, in my noble friend's emotional approach, to an almost dismissive sidelining of Europe because it is so frustrating. It is a sad thing that, year after year, in Government after Government, there is a fluctuation in our commitment to the European Union. All too often, when we are addressing the hard tasks, we tend to withdraw from them and do not succeed in promoting our national interests and policy.

I remember being struck by that—I shall reminisce at great antiquity now—in the debate that I wound up in 1972 at Second Reading of the European Communities Bill. A striking example of this on-off pattern of British political behaviour is that, when in office, Governments learn that they have to co-operate with Europe. When they slip into opposition, they luxuriate, and heavy doses of Euro-scepticaemia set in.

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I hope that I may be forgiven for quoting from my speech in that debate many years ago. The debate had been opened for the Opposition by Harold Wilson, and I was rounding up my remarks at the end of it. I said:

“There is a Napoleonic aspect in the posture of the right hon. Gentleman. The truth is that accession to the Communities—which he set in train on behalf of his Government in 1967 and which, as he has made clear in his speech this afternoon, he would again set in train on behalf of any future Government he might lead—is unacceptable to him only at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman himself acts on a classic Bonapartian text: ‘Not tonight. Josephine’”.—[Official Report, Commons, 17/2/72; col. 662.]

That is how Oppositions and incoming Governments, or even outgoing ones, address this issue. It is disastrous, and I hope very much that the next incoming Government will be in no doubt about the necessity of maintaining all the time a positive, energetic, frustrating commitment to the European institutions with which we must work. There is no doubt that only in that framework can we hope to influence the shape of the world in which we want to live. This is clear in relation to the United States and to Russia—I will say more about that later—and in the wider world in relation to Latin America, to Asia and, above all, to China.

I have no hesitation in saying that I very much admire the success with which the Chinese Government and the institutions responsible for the Government of one-fifth of the world’s population are emerging, based on their own culture and history and, on many occasions, not exactly as we, with our own quite different but younger cultural history, would wish. They are, in fact, moulding a most impressive, determined and thoughtful government approach to the rest of the world.

I am, however, disappointed that the apparent willingness to conduct discussions with the Dalai Lama of Tibet appears to have faded following an apparent change in the stated position of Her Majesty’s Government. I very much hope that that position will not be maintained, as a country that has been capable of tackling even the modest problem of Hong Kong as imaginatively as China did may surely yet be able to tackle the very difficult but important question of Tibet.

China is, of course, important because of the extent to which it is engaging in world politics, and not only economically. The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, which China founded about four years ago and which consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan and the other three “stans”—with Pakistan, India, Mongolia and Iran as observers—is only one aspect of the important way in which China is developing her foreign policy, but it illustrates the importance of our having a setting in which our own influence can if not match China’s impact then at least have as much of an impact as it should have within this European framework.

Perhaps most important of all, as the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, mentioned, are the relationships between Russia and the West. They must be regarded as relationships between Russia, the European Union and the United States. Each of us in Europe and the United States will have different inputs to make into them, but we must keep in step with each other so far as we can.

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I have lived, again some time ago, through two quite different eras of co-operation with the Russians. The first was the Cold War. Even at the height of the Cold War and a week before my first meeting with that charming man Andrei Gromyko, the Russians shot a Korean airliner out of the sky over the Sea of Japan—a shocking thing to have happened. The West, under the leadership of George Shultz in the United States, reacted robustly, critically and fiercely against that action. The United States, led by President Reagan, insisted that, notwithstanding that tension, the arms control talks that were taking place should continue. In other words, vigorous strength had to be accompanied by continuing diplomacy.

In the second stage, Gorbachev and Shevardnadze were in command and we were reacting to the new hymn tune of Mikhail Gorbachev, when he talked about “our common European home”. In that atmosphere, the Cold War melted away. So, too, did the Warsaw Pact, and indeed the Soviet Union. In retrospect, we did not immediately recognise what Dean Acheson once said about us: that Russia,

That, to some extent, is her shortcoming at present.

I am glad, therefore, that Sub-Committee C of this House, which reported on this in May this year, said quite specifically that it was for the European Union,

That is absolutely right.

I am even more glad about the extent to which that approach was endorsed only a few weeks ago in an article by two formidable characters, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, in the Washington Post on 8 October. They said:

“What they”—

that is, Russia—

Those are all very realistic observations that should condition the way in which we go from here. It is the right approach to recognise that.

George Shultz and Henry Kissinger also suggested positive conclusions:

“We do believe that the security of Ukraine and Georgia should be placed in a larger context than mechanically advancing an integrated NATO command to a few hundred miles from Moscow ... we favor a rapid evolution toward E.U. membership”.

That is how we should handle this situation. It is manifest that our input can be fully effective only within the framework of a European Union, which we are free to criticise and which we should seek to energise with a well energised Diplomatic Service of our own.

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Lastly, I support an even more ambitious objective of George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, supported by Senator Nunn and former Defence Secretary William Perry: the bigger, more important historic opportunity to reverse the reliance on nuclear weapons and ultimately to end their threat to the world. It is important that statesmen of that distinction are committing themselves to an objective that is longer term and more ambitious—with the changed position of nuclear weapons as they proliferate around the world—than the one that I have just sketched in relation to relations with Russia.

1.50 pm

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, whom I have always admired and respected—I did so in full measure today on his comments on Europe. I hope that his party listens to those wise words, although I fear that there is not much chance that it will.

I should like not to do the traditional tour d’horizon but to look a little wider at the context in which we conduct our foreign affairs as a nation and at the relationships in our world. These should cause us to think a little differently and to look at our structures to decide whether they are appropriate for the new world into which we are moving. I should like to touch on three elements in particular. If time allows, perhaps I will get on to Europe.

The noble Lord, Lord Howell, referred to the first element, although I could agree with almost nothing else in his speech, apart from the fact that the Queen’s Speech did not cover foreign affairs, which is strange given that all domestic matters have a foreign affairs dimension nowadays. The noble and learned Lord mentioned the shift of power that is taking place. When that happens, a period of great instability occurs. We are now seeing a shift of power that is at least equivalent to, but probably greater than, that which we saw when power shifted from Europe across the Atlantic to the United States. There is a massive shift of power from the nations gathered around the Atlantic shoreboard to the nations on the Pacific rim.

I do not think that this economic crisis is like previous economic crises from which we bounced back safely to where were. This is the beginning of a shift of economic power from the West to the East, which should have a profound effect not only on the balance of world power but on the extremely turbulent decades that lie ahead. It will offer us new threats and new opportunities. My guess is that the emerging mercantilist nations, India and China, want a world order. They want structure. A mercantilist power wants that kind of stability. We could work with them in order to provide that, although I doubt whether we would be able to enjoy the hegemony of western values, morality and structures in international affairs that we did in the past.

We made a catastrophic strategic error at the end of the Cold War. We had an opportunity to strike a new partnership with Russia. We chose triumphalism, which was in Russia seen as humiliation. The consequences were inevitable—Vladimir Putin. It will be disastrous

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if we do not reach out and we miss a second strategic opportunity to establish the kind of relationships that we need with the new emerging powers, but that will require difficult compromises on some of our values. We cannot expect to dominate international affairs from the West in the way that we have in the past.

The second element is not just the lateral transfer of power, but the vertical transfer of power. Power has now moved. It has migrated out of the institutions that we created to control it and to bring governance, regulation and law to the nation state. We can look at the vast amount of power that now rests in the global space. The satellite broadcasters, the international money changers and the transnational corporations all operate in that largely unregulated and ungoverned space. That brings its problems. Not just Citibank is there, but al-Qaeda is there, as is international crime and international terrorism.

History shows that an unregulated space helps the powerful for a bit but then is occupied by the destroyers. In reality, we understand now that we have to bring governance to power. That, too, is an historical lesson. If power remains ungoverned, the consequences are usually turbulent. Our capacity to live through a turbulent age will, in large measure, depend on our ability to recognise that, if the phenomenon of our age is unregulated power in the global space, one of the challenges is to bring governance to power, just as happened in the past.

That will not happen through the institutions of the United Nations, which is an important forum for dialogue, the legitimiser of international action and the developer of international law, although those are important factors. My guess is that bringing governance to the global space will depend much more on treaty-based organisations than on the invention of international organisations and agreements such as the WTO and Kyoto. The G20 was an interesting example of how nations come together to bring governance and regulation, and of the consequences of that not happening. We will see a lot more of that. That leads me to a baleful conclusion: there is a possibility that what will emerge is a conspiracy of the powerful from which the weak and the poor will be left out, were it not for the third factor. It is on that factor that I should like to spend the rest of my time.

The world is now interconnected in a way in which it has never been before. Of course, it has always been interconnected, which is what foreign affairs and diplomacy are about, but never as now. That is the big fundamental factor that we need to address. Perhaps I may put it this way. If I had been here 25 to 30 years ago talking about defence, in the days when I was a British soldier, I would have talked about three things: the size of the Army, the size of the Air Force and the size of the Navy. I would not have talked about anything else. Now I have to talk about everything. For much of this nation’s security, the Department of Health is involved because of the danger of pandemic disease. The department with responsibility for agriculture is involved, as we see in the consequences of food security. Industry is involved. The resilience of our internet systems to cyber-attack is involved, as is the Home Office. Everyone is involved. Everything is connected to everything.

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Let us imagine that I am our great predecessor, Lord Roberts of Kandahar VC, in 1880 and I am talking about the second Afghan war. What would I be talking about? He would have talked about screw-guns, the number of soldiers and whether the sepoys would be able to last in the cold conditions. He would have talked about the tribal conditions in southern Afghanistan. Between the 1842 war and the 1880 war, there were 35 years in which to prepare and a great deal of time was spent getting the tribes together in southern Afghanistan. Why do we not learn these lessons? Lord Roberts would not have talked about the poppy fields. They were there, but they were irrelevant. They are not irrelevant today: they are connected directly to our inner cities. He would not have talked about a mad mullah in a cave preaching jihad. They were there, but he could ignore them. Today they are related directly to what happens in Bolton and Bradford. He would not have had to talk about whether he could knock down a tribal village, because it was irrelevant. The news did not get back until months later and it was not as important in those days as it is today in winning the essential battle, which is the battle for public opinion. Until we realise that we have to create the structures and the mindset to understand the interconnectedness of our present world, we cannot adequately deal with the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

That means three key things. First, it means understanding that the revelation of 9/11 is that what happens in a faraway country of which you know little matters even to the most powerful nation on earth. Ignoring it means that you may get death and destruction delivered to your cities on one bright September morning when you are least expecting it. We are connected. We have to move away at least in part from a concept of collective defence, where we are secure when we gather together with others to make ourselves secure, to common defence, where we recognise that we share a destiny with our enemy.

We heard John Donne’s great precept in the speech made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells:

“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.

That is no longer a moral precept; it is a fact of diplomacy and a fact of life. When Gladstone, in his second Midlothian campaign, saw that second Afghan war and said,

he was expressing something moral to us. It is something real: if you forget the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snow, you pay a price in public opinion today and in the opinion of the Afghan nation. Ignoring that means that you fail. You have now to think of common security and the destiny that you share with your enemy. If you do not, you will not succeed.

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