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It is important that the dialogue continues between China and India on its massive border, which is a disputed territory. It is essential that China is involved in this whole process, not just on its historically close relationship with Pakistan but also with India. It is worth building on the existing dialogue in the Shanghai framework co-operation of China, Russia and those countries, which all share a similar problem. There is common ground. We need to remember that post-9/11 it was thought that there was a common national interest in China, Russia, the European Union and the United States of America of coming together to face the challenges of Islamic extremism which we all saw burst suddenly on the whole world. That needs to be revived. Only if it is revived, and only if there is a common framework of diplomacy reinforcing that which exists and reinforcing the military endeavour that is to come, do we have any chance whatever of dealing with al-Qaeda and the problems of Islamic fundamentalism in that region.

3.04 pm

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Owen, speaks as always with great experience and great authority on Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. I shall start on a somewhat broader note, comparing the mood of today’s debate with the mood of the debate that took place a year ago. The fundamental reflection is that of change—fundamental change—in that mood and in the world picture. It is associated not only with the financial downturn—the crisis—though that is clearly fundamental. The whole landscape has changed, and is likely to change further. In my judgment, there has been a major turning point, probably even a greater turning point than occurred in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, which affected one part of the world—our Europe—at its core.

The financial crisis will directly affect all parts of the world. It will accelerate changes that were already under way, as set out in last month’s very important report by the US National Intelligence Council entitled Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. In my judgment, that should be recommended reading for all of us as it is the likely context in which we as a country and we as Europeans will have to conduct our foreign policy over the next 15 years. It was a collaborative project, not confined to the US intelligence agencies but bringing in leading think tanks from around the world. The key message was that, yes, there would be these trends in international developments, but if we do not like them we can seek to change them. If we do like them, let us seek to promote them. The summary was clear. It stated:

“The international system—as constructed following the Second World War—will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of nonstate actors. By 2025, the international system will be a global multipolar one with gaps in national power continuing to narrow between developed and developing countries”,

and so on. It is a forecast that is likely to affect us all.

It is interesting to compare that intelligence report with the equivalent report four years ago. There are key changes. In its view, the US is no longer the

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dominant power but the first among equals. Energy supplies are no longer sufficient to meet demand; there will be energy scarcity. There will no longer be a calm position; there will be increasing shocks and risks in the international system, including the nuclear arms race in the Middle East and resource conflicts. That consensus scenario provides challenges for many foreign policy priorities.

The second change is, of course, the election of President Obama. Historians will judge the Bush Administration, certainly in international relations, very harshly. But it is not just Iraq. It is also a refusal to use leverage in key areas, the squandering of goodwill after 9/11, the missed opportunities to lead in arms control and climate change, and the often unilateral views tempered somewhat only at the end.

Now we have a President-elect who has made change his watchword, but perhaps it has to be defined rather more closely. There is a new prospect of co-operation with allies, a recognition that the US cannot act alone, and a new openness on key issues such as Iraq and Iran. The President will start with great expectations; inevitably, some will be disillusioned. First he will clearly have to deal as best he can with the world economic crisis; then probably with the contingent and the unforeseen, as one great historian called it. I recall what Michael Stewart, then Foreign Secretary, said to me in a very tired way: the thing that worried him was that at any moment of the day two-thirds of the world was awake and capable of causing mischief. Condoleezza Rice is rushing round trying to hold the ring between the two powers of India and Pakistan, so probably any great power can be knocked off balance by the unexpected. Then, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan are, as the noble Lord, Lord Owen, said, intimately linked.

Even if the new Administration hit the ground running there will be a great hiatus that we in the European Union can fill, or not, as we choose. How we respond to that hiatus and the new mood in the United States is important to the European Union. I will not repeat what the noble Lord, Lord Patten, said in the article in today’s Le Monde, but there is much wisdom in it. It is a favourable climate. The overactive, or multiactive, President Sarkozy has drafted a letter to the US President. The ghosts of Iraq have largely been exorcised. The key test will probably be provided at the April NATO summit in Strasbourg and Baden-Baden.

When we are asked to provide more for Afghanistan, will our resources rise to meet our ambitions? How will we respond with financial resources or manpower to the demand to help tackle the looming greater crisis in Afghanistan? Will we allow the Americans to do the cooking and ourselves only the washing up, providing only the soft power which is also clearly important?

The new US national intelligence estimate reveals a bleak picture in Afghanistan, rather different from the picture painted by my noble friend on the Front Bench. The estimate talks of a “downward spiral” there, doubts about the ability of that Government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence, rampant corruption and the boom within the heroin trade. As the noble Lord, Lord Owen, has said, that calls for new initiatives and a willingness to see if there is a sort of Sinn Fein

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among the Taliban—a willingness to look at the whole range of policies. Certainly, going by his past record, General Petraeus has the capacity to do that—to recognise that the battle cannot be won just militarily.

How will Europe respond? Will the US President enter into direct talks with Iran? Will the European Union, having been the first stage of the rocket, be sidelined? It is clearly significant that when the EU Foreign Ministers met in Marseilles on 3 November, transatlantic relations was the first item on the agenda. Then there was the Middle East peace process, stressing again the regional aspect.

Then there is Russia. We in this House recently had a debate on the EU Committee report, so I shall not go over that. Clearly, however, while responding robustly to Russian aggression, we need at least to avoid provocations, which we appear to be doing on NATO enlargement and perhaps on the siting of missile defence elements.

Finally, the Democratic Republic of Congo; as so many noble Lords have said, Africa is so often sidelined. The US intelligence report said that,

The European Union is best equipped to engage there. Are we prepared to do so? One test will be how we respond to the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to send a military force to North Kivu. I note that the Belgian Foreign Minister, with all that country’s experience, has at present said no.

So far I have mentioned the European Union, not the UK. Why? Because we cannot act alone; the Falklands conflict was the last such operation. We need allies and to work together. Obviously, the European Union is where, day by day, we mould our foreign policy at both ministerial and Civil Service levels. This is the 10th anniversary of the Saint Malo initiative. Now there are 12 European Union missions in action over three continents; that is a major change.

My concern is that although most sections of this House have recognised that, the Conservative Opposition have not yet done so. Who can forget those years in the 1990s when we in the UK were increasingly isolated in Brussels and unable to punch our weight? Will we have to pay that price again if the Conservatives ever return to government? I urge the leaders of the Conservative Opposition not to rush into the cul-de-sac of the Commonwealth as some sort of alternative to the European Union. There is no country in the Commonwealth which takes that view. It is an illusion and a failure to recognise where our interests lie in the face of those major challenges.

The Lisbon Treaty would have been a major bonus for us in streamlining the EU administration and showing a continuity of leadership. One of the European Union’s problems now is that we move over the next six months from the excellent French presidency of President Sarkozy, as shown in the Mediterranean and his initiative over Georgia, to the Czechs, where President Klaus, who is constitutionally responsible for foreign policy, has a totally negative view of the European Union. Without the changes of the Lisbon Treaty that, alas, is part of our problem.

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In conclusion, we see through a glass darkly, but at least the US intelligence report maps out some of the increasing challenges that we face. There is much promise in President-elect Obama, and much possibility in our allies within the European Union if we are proactive. We have much to gain, mutually, by working together and concerting our policies across the board.

3.17 pm

Lord Blaker: My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, who is no longer present, both of whom spoke about Zimbabwe, will feel that my comments add a little support to their expert speeches.

Mugabe controls just about everything in Zimbabwe except two things: Parliament, where Tsvangirai’s party has a small majority; and, since the past few days, elements of the army, which have been rioting because of low pay. Mugabe proposes to retain control of the police, the media, the intelligence service, the electoral commission, the health service and many other important bodies. However, the Administration is approaching a state of collapse. Inflation is running at 231 million per cent.

For many weeks now there has been a state of deadlock about the membership of the Government. Members of SADC are pressing for a compromise in the sharing of ministerial posts, involving in particular a division between Mugabe and Tsvangirai at the head of the department of home affairs. This would mean in practice that Mugabe would have a more powerful say in that department than Tsvangirai, since Mugabe has been running it, among others, for so long; and if the SADC suggestion were adopted, it would almost certainly lead to chaos as Mugabe would continue to have the major say in its affairs.

Mugabe is a world champion procrastinator. It is one of his most successful means of winning his arguments. He agreed at an early stage in negotiations on the broad principles on which the Government would be constructed, but he very carefully did not commit himself to any particular appointments. The process of having derived credit from the agreement in principle has left him free to negotiate ad infinitum, as is his normal way, about the things which really matter; namely, who gets what ministry. SADC has become bored and is keen to reach a compromise on any account. That is the situation we find ourselves in and I think it is what Mugabe has been aiming at all the way along.

SADC members have shown themselves collectively incapable of engaging with this crisis, which is effectively a crisis about the future of the Government. This is largely because Thomas Salomao, the Secretary-General of SADC, has behaved as an agent of Mugabe, orchestrating discussion—he has been doing so for some years—to protect the incumbent regime and drafting SADC communiqués from a ZANU-PF point of view. Another example of incompetence relates to the outbreak of cholera, to which the noble Lord, Lord Owen, referred, which has now led, in a short time, to nearly 600 deaths and 11,000 sick. Cholera is not normally a difficult disease to control but it is spreading fast in Zimbabwe because the sewerage and

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drainage systems are in a state of breakdown and there is a serious shortage of drinking water and the relevant medical drugs.

Many regional leaders, already intimidated by Mugabe, lack the political will to stand up and break away from the collective approach in SADC that has become an extension of ZANU-PF propaganda. I am not saying that every senior member of SADC takes that view, but the majority do and the rest do not seem prepared to stand up at the relevant time. It is apparent from the continuing arrests and violence being meted out to political and civil society activists inside Zimbabwe when they stand up to the regime, that there is no good faith on the part of ZANU-PF as a whole in its negotiations over power sharing.

Although he is Prime Minister-designate under the inter-party political agreement, Tsvangirai is still denied a passport and only very complicated arrangements make it possible for him to travel and present his case and to plead for international action to assist the people of Zimbabwe. This is an extension of the device that was used for years when Morgan Tsvangirai was prevented from travelling because he was on trumped-up treason charges. Yet South Africa seems to be colluding with this ploy rather than insisting that Harare issue Mr Tsvangirai with a passport immediately.

I find it deeply disappointing that from so many quarters where there has been a refusal to put any pressure on Mugabe, pressure is now being piled on to Tsvangirai and the MDC to enter into a vague and dangerously ill-defined power sharing Administration. It is already a major concession to ZANU-PF that the MDC is prepared to join a power-sharing Administration. Reliable analysts calculate that Morgan Tsvangirai won 56 per cent of the vote in the presidential election, which is a clear and decisive win. By rights, he should now be the undisputed President.

It ought to be a matter of great concern to parliamentarians everywhere that MPs arriving for their swearing-in to the new Parliament had to run the gauntlet of police at the doors of Parliament who had a “wanted” list of 17 MDC MPs. This was a crude attempt to whittle away the majority enjoyed by the mainstream MDC.

It is a great tribute to Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC as a whole that despite brutality, despite being banned from newspapers, television and radio, which are all state-controlled, the message still got through to the people and they refused to be intimidated when it came to the vote. If the MDC had resorted to violence, the international community would have intervened. It is wrong that only those who resort to violence should gain decisive external support.

Even the Elders, Kofi Annan, President Carter and Gra├ža Machel, the wife of Mandela, have urged the MDC to make further concessions to ZANU-PF and to try and resolve their differences from within the government ranks. I have to say that this seems a mistake. ZANU-PF has adopted a policy of all take and no give. Sadly, and perhaps in frustration at the sense of impotence, much of the world has bought into that and advocates giving in to the ever more

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unreasonable demands of ZANU-PF. This is not only a recipe for disaster in Zimbabwe; it is a recipe for disaster in the world.

Earlier this week, speaking in Senegal, Morgan Tsvangirai said:

“Our vision as a party is to set a precedent on our continent: a precedent of fighting dictatorships through democratic means”.

President Khama of Botswana has pointed out that what SADC and the AU ought to be pressing for is a rerun of the presidential elections under international supervision and that if Mugabe says no to that, SADC should cut off relations with Harare and the AU should follow. Botswana goes so far as to call for the imposition by neighbouring countries of an embargo on fuel exports to Zimbabwe, claiming that this would very quickly dislodge Mugabe from power.

For as long as Mugabe was able to rig the elections, SADC and the AU told us that it was for the people of Zimbabwe to decide their future. Now that the people of Zimbabwe have voted and the outcome is unfavourable to Mugabe, we are told that we must accept concessions to him that are demanded by SADC leaders, concessions that are rejected by the majority, democratically elected representatives of the people of Zimbabwe.

It seems to me both unjust and dangerous that all the pressure should be put on the MDC, the party that won the elections and that cannot be held responsible for the multiple crises of corruption in governance, health, agriculture and the economy. Simply because Tsvangirai is a reasonable man who cares for the people of Zimbabwe, more and more pressure is piled on him, and he is an easy target. Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF hardliners, who remain defiant and unmoved by the people’s suffering, get an easy ride.

Mugabe has a record dating back to before Zimbabwe’s independence of dealing in bad faith and subverting any trust placed in him during negotiations. It would be foolhardy in the extreme and a betrayal of the trust placed in the MDC by the people of Zimbabwe, who voted despite intimidation and threat of reprisal, if the MDC were now to enter into any power-sharing arrangement solely in the fond hope that Mugabe might suddenly change the habits of his long lifetime and cede power.

Our priority must be to alleviate the suffering and threat to life resulting from ZANU-PF’s ruinous and callous policies, and we must use every means at our disposal to isolate Mugabe from the means of patronage by which he clings to power. Not long ago, great hopes were placed on SADC resolving this problem. Indeed, the SADC treaty calls for this. But now the time has come for the world to move on to the African Union and the UN. They are the two organisations that have shown some inclination to respond. Time has moved on, and there might now be greater international support for the type of action proposed earlier this year at the UN Security Council. Sadly, those efforts were thwarted as result of lobbying by South Africa last time.

3.28 pm

Lord Addington: My Lords, going through the gracious Address, I discovered that there was comparatively little about our defence policy. Although one could

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agree, at least in part, with much of the noble Baroness’s opening speech, I feel that we should concentrate slightly more on the demands on our defence forces at the moment and what they are going to do in their immediate objectives.

We have got ourselves into a situation in which we are in Afghanistan on a long military campaign that looks like it is going to go on for a lot longer. Unless we direct our military thinking at what is primarily required in that major conflict, we will be in danger—at least in the majority of our efforts—of getting things horribly wrong. I am not saying that we can find a totally military solution but, if we fail there militarily, there will be virtually no room for a diplomatic solution, which is in our interests. We have to square up to that. If the Taliban were allowed to drive back the British forces and their Afghan force allies or defeat them in the field, the consequences would be almost beyond calculation. Therefore, we must concentrate our thinking and procurement on what is required there. If we do not, we will be in danger of falling into the trap of asking, “What if?”.

It is often said that generals are always tremendously well prepared to fight the last war, but they might be accused of lacking what might be called hindsight in dealing with the immediate problems that confront them. They need to think about how to win the current war, and a commitment to channelling all our procurement, training and support practices to the troops in the field now is required. We must look at our structuring programme and support our troops in facing the immediate problems. If we can achieve some form of military dominance and suppression of the Taliban—because total victory is almost certainly impossible—then the job of the diplomats will become much easier. We must at least hold sufficient ground to force the Taliban to the table. That is essential.

To that effect, it would be interesting to hear exactly how far into the future we expect long-term planning for our troops currently on the ground to go. For example, are we going to look at restructuring the way in which our Armed Forces are deployed in the immediate future? Are we considering the fact that we may have to shift away from traditional types of deployment and organisation to deal exclusively with Afghan-type problems? Is consideration being given to the possibility of mothballing some weapons systems which were designed for other types of conflict in order to deal with this one problem?

Another question is how to deploy the available troops. The noble Baroness said that overstretch was not a problem but we are still a long way from harmony, with the correct amount of rest between tours of duty that was initially recommended. Will that be a medium or long-term objective for our Armed Forces? If we assume that the situation in Iraq allows us to withdraw our troops, how long will it be before they are sufficiently rested to be at maximum efficiency? It has been suggested to me that that could take several years.

I move on to one of the other aspects raised in the Queen’s Speech—the situation with Iran and Iran’s nuclear programme. Will the Government try to encourage the new American Administration to think twice about

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putting emphasis on things such as missile defence and, instead, once again allow the diplomats to become involved? I doubt very much whether the people of Iran, even with their most bellicose leaders, have a suicidal urge to attack the United States or its immediate allies with nuclear weapons. The US and its allies would be quite capable of retaliating to a point where Iranian society would cease to exist. Are we going to encourage our most powerful ally to try talking to Iran in an attempt to stop its people feeling so frightened and threatened that they indulge in a suicidal arms escalation in the area which they cannot conceivably win? It would not be impossible, even with conventional weapons, to destroy that country as it currently exists. Can we look at that issue?

There is also the fact that missile defence has this wonderful aspect where one can say, “Oh, we are all safe now”, then we just press a button and it goes away. It is a few months since I did any heavy reading on this, but basically the assumption was that we might just get any missiles that are coming, provided that there are not too many of them. So there is an escalation factor.

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