rose to call attention to the case for liberal intervention; and to move for Papers.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps I ought to start this debate with a vote of thanks to my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown on the Front Bench, because he seems to be working overtime these days. I am not quite sure how he fits in the many other things that he has to do.
This is an important debate. Some people said to me, “What do you mean by liberal intervention?”. One or two optimists on the Liberal Benches thought that I might be suggesting that they should intervene within the Government in some way. I was not suggesting that.
As my noble friend will know, this debate is of growing importance within the international community, and has been there for some considerable time. Liberal intervention in the affairs of other states has been with us for a long time, but in recent years, it has become profoundly important because, with the end of the Cold War and then with the September 11 attack on the United States, there is a recognition that, unpredicted by most of us, the collapse of so many states around the world after the ending of the two great power blocs has produced a degree of instability—political, military, economic and other—that is now profoundly dangerous to the peace of the world.
It is also true—this is particularly important—that, increasingly, the nation state is seen to be no longer at the centre of events in quite the same way as it was. The old European ideology—it was essentially European in the first instance—was that you should never interfere or intervene in the affairs of another nation state and it has been the idea behind European thinking since at least the 16th century. That progressively fell apart as a viable proposition, and falls apart even more so now, particularly as people, organisations and others cross national boundaries as they never crossed them before. We all congratulated ourselves, particularly—and quite rightly, in my view—in Britain and the United States, on setting up the United Nations and many of the world organisations that have actually served us rather well for many years. However, the reality is that they now have very serious shortcomings when it comes to dealing with failing states, failed states, dictatorships and many of the other problems that pursue us around the world.
Intervention in the affairs of other states, particularly using hard power—I will come back to hard power and soft power in due course—is very often popular if it is seen to be successful, and unpopular when it is seen to be unsuccessful. It was popular and people thought that it was a very good idea when we intervened in Sierra Leone. There were at least two cheers from most people about the intervention in Kosovo. There were virtually no cheers in the case of Iraq. Those cheers died down when the post-conflict phase was done so appallingly badly that it put people like me, who believed very strongly in liberal intervention, into a defensive position, because although you cannot say that it will have failed in the long run, you can certainly say that the cost in human life and suffering was far higher than it should have been, or indeed need have been. However, that is another debate, and one that I have already addressed in this House on a number of occasions, so I do not wish to revisit it at this stage.
Let me say a little more about why this is not an entirely new debate. It helps to inform our discussions if we look at the history of this. For me, the purpose of the debate is to open—or, for some people, to re-open—the issue of when and how we intervene in the affairs of nation states. That will be the ongoing debate. This problem ran through the Prime Minister’s speech in a number of ways in Mansion House. It certainly featured in Tony Blair’s speech in Chicago, when he talked about how and when we intervene and acknowledged that the old idea that the nation state was totally supreme and could do what it liked with its own citizens no longer applied. It will be mentioned again today in Bruges in Belgium when the Foreign Secretary speaks on the role of the European Union in using both soft power and hard power, and on the question of intervention.
This issue will not go away. It will be complex, and will become more and more difficult. If I can have some influence on this, it will be to suggest that we start talking about the problem of how and when we intervene; whether we use soft power or hard power; how we combine those; and how in the longer run we reform some of the international institutions, most notably the United Nations, in a way that enables us to intervene rather more effectively, to be clearer about when and how we intervene, and to be much better at reconstruction after intervention or the collapse of a failed state, which is really what intervention is very largely about.
I mentioned the history of intervention. The reality is that probably the greatest, and first, intervention in the affairs of other nation states in modern times was by the British in the 19th century. The example that I often give—I will not dwell on it for too long, because again I have spoken on it before—is the abolition of the slave trade. Throughout the 18th century—certainly towards the end of it—Britain transported more slaves across the Atlantic than any other European power. Then came a remarkable period when, thanks to what was probably the first ever mass movement by people in a country, supported not least by slaves and slave revolts, we changed in about seven or eight years from being the country that transported more slaves across the Atlantic to the country that, 200 years ago this year, abolished the transatlantic slave trade. We then used all our diplomatic, military and economic power to force an end to the slave trade. It took 60 years; Brazil was the last country to give it up.
My point is that the Royal Navy was used consistently throughout that period to stop the slave trade. Virtually everything that it did was unlawful. Indeed, the Royal Navy and the British Government were taken to court, both in this country and elsewhere, and found guilty of breaches of international law. It was an illegal war. This House found against the Royal Navy when it towed a French ship back to port in Africa and forced it to release the slaves. It challenged the Royal Navy, and the court here decided that, however noble the purpose, one did not have the right to override the law. That is the dilemma that one faces when one deals with something that is clearly immoral and wrong but the law does not fit that.
After that, incidentally, the Royal Navy came up with an interesting concept that has interesting parallels with the concept of terrorism. It said, “Right, we are going to call slavery piracy, because everyone knows that that is wrong and that will enable us to intervene and deal with ships of other nations on the high seas”. Of course, it did not do so. The Royal Navy not only turned ships back but entered the harbours of other countries and burnt empty slave ships. That, again, was pretty strongly against the law, but it was a profoundly good thing. The Royal Navy tried to get other nations to support the Atlantic squadrons that we deployed to turn back the slave ships. Again, there are echoes here with the terrorism of today and the so-called war on terrorism, a phrase that I have never liked. Although many of the nations were prepared to support the squadrons in principle, quite a few of them would not do so because they worried about the ulterior motives of Britain as the dominant power of the day, rather as people doubt the motives of the United States today.
We must, of course, look at intervention from the other end of the telescope; an example is the intervention argument in relation to Islam from a Middle East point of view. Gladstone, who was one of the great statesmen of this country and of whom I am a great admirer, intervened in what he saw as the wicked Ottoman Empire. Indeed, it was pretty wicked by that time because it was corrupt, despotic and collapsing. His intervention is seen by many people in that area as an attempt by Britain to spread its influence and colonialism. The other end of the telescope tells us that it can be a way of taking over areas of land, which is why a number of the countries in that region and elsewhere regard the American and British practice of talking about intervention as colonialism in drag. I do not think that it is, incidentally. One argument is that one must remember that the Ottoman Empire, and indeed the Mughal Empire in India, were both empires themselves and were not always welcomed in the areas that they had taken over. The argument is more complex.
There is another point to make about the morality of the issue. I have taken the view for many years that it is morally impossible to argue that one should not remove despotic or psychopathic killers from the control of nation states. One can argue, however, that it is difficult to do so without making the situation worse. In some cases, it simply cannot be done, and one even has to co-operate with them, which brings up some of our dilemmas about the whole question of intervention. I recall very clearly—this is when my views became much more formed on this, and again is a message to people that intervention is not just a western concept—when Vietnam intervened, absolutely rightly in my view, to remove Pol Pot from power in Cambodia. I cheered that, but there were people, in this country, in the United States and elsewhere, who said that it was wrong and should not be allowed because it invaded the rights of the nation state. It was of course done without the approval of the United Nations. I cheered again when Tanzania intervened in Uganda to remove Idi Amin, again without the consent of the United Nations. I cheered again when India removed the Government of what was then East Pakistan. That was not just a regime change; it created the new state of Bangladesh. It was right to do so, and it is one reason why the Indians have a rather different perspective of this from the Chinese, who are much more worried about the concept of liberal intervention.
We must also beware of the argument used by many of my colleagues, which I never liked although I understood why it was used, that it was all right because you could keep people in their boxes. That was the argument that we used about Saddam Hussein, particularly after the first Gulf War. We said, “Well, it's all right. He's no longer quite the danger that he was because we've got him in his box”. But we forget that in that box with him were 25 million people. It is a curious concept and where, again, we get into all sorts of double standards. If we had, towards the end of the Second World War, expelled the Nazis from all the countries that they had invaded and then stopped at the borders of Germany and said, “It's all right, we’ve got him in his box now. We’ll leave him in power”, people would have been appalled and quite rightly so.
In fact, although keeping them in their box is one of the most dubious arguments, you have to do that when you have no alternative. There are contradictions. One of the most obvious ones is that we supported Joe Stalin, who was little better than Adolf Hitler, because we saw Hitler as the greater danger. There are plenty of examples, too, of the way in which we now support states that we have severe doubts about, but we do so because of other reasons. This debate should be about how and when you intervene.
That brings me to the discussion we need to have about the nature of the intervention—about soft and hard power—and the nature of the state you intervene on. Places such as Indonesia or Pakistan are countries that are struggling to find a democratic rule-of-law structure, but staggering between collapsing into dictatorship or achieving greater stability. I saw an interesting image the other day in a number of photographs. Police were bundling women into a police van in Pakistan. Standing on top of the police van and filming everything were two television cameramen. You could not show a clearer case of a country that is torn. Cameramen would not be standing on top of a police van filming in Burma, North Korea or Zimbabwe. In a way, that is the difference between a chaotic, unstable state and one that is truly ruthless and brutal, where no display of opposition is allowed at all. That is an important distinction.
That clearly shows the problem that the United Nations has to struggle with in relation to nations such as Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. There was a massive loss of life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bigger than almost any other in the post-war period, but it is such a vast country and is so chaotic. You are looking not at a dictatorship, but a series of chaotic scenes where your ability to control the situation is very limited. The issues of how and when you intervene are important.
This is an area where we should be discussing rather more the issues of hard and soft power. Both are forms of intervention: noble Lords should not have any illusions about that. If you talk about using soft power, you are intervening in the affairs of other states. We should be very clear about that. I believe that it is right to do so—because I believe in liberal intervention—by using both soft power and hard power, but the difficulty is when we decide to use one and not the other. The European Union is very proud of its intervention with soft power and is generally quite good on that, but it has an awful blind spot—some of this will be said by the Foreign Secretary in Belgium in his speech today—about the question of when, how and if you use the hard power that would be available to you if you set up the right organisations.
I watched in despair the attitude of the European Union when Yugoslavia collapsed. Noble Lords will remember the great arguments at the time, such as, “We’ll persuade them to stop and in any event we can use the United Nations”. The United Nations was brought in, particularly in Bosnia, in the early stages. People may have forgotten that an awful lot of United Nations troops from countries around the world had their blue hats left on them but their weapons taken away, and then were tied to stakes in open, exposed positions to make sure that the world got the message that further intervention was not acceptable. In fact, intervention did happen, due in no small part to Tony Blair's efforts to get Bill Clinton and the United States involved. But that sort of thing is a classic example of how soft power cannot deliver at the end of the day: you need some degree of hard power to end a particularly horrific regime.
There are many areas that I have not touched on, such as whether intervention can take place in a humanitarian situation of starvation. Some people think that that is the easy and obvious case, but is it? North Korea, only two years ago, managed to starve a million of its population to death, not to mention all the other things that were happening in that tragic country. We did not intervene. Why not? We could not, because we knew that China would not let anyone intervene: it is as bald as that. Morally, the case for intervention is overwhelming. With countries such as China and South Africa with Zimbabwe, I am not sure whether, if the situation continues long enough, they will not find it necessary to intervene in much the same way that India found it necessary to intervene in what is now Bangladesh.
These are complex areas, but they are increasingly becoming the subject of the debate taking place in our various intergovernmental organisations. It is a profoundly important one for the United Nations. Although I was sad that some of the reforms being proposed recently did not get through, one of the good ones that did get through was the Peacebuilding Commission, which is a significant step forward and one that should be able to deal with this problem in a rather more developed way.
If I were looking for hopeful signs, one is that a debate is happening—and I hope that debate will happen more now after this small contribution. Also, the emerging superpowers, particularly India and Brazil, are aware of the importance of these arguments. They are certainly heavily involved in peacekeeping operations around the world, and they are struggling with the question of intervention in the same way that we are. China and Russia are much more against it, not least because of their recent history as dictatorships. Nevertheless, I am not entirely convinced, particularly if China continues as it is, that it will not find it necessary to use at least soft power to intervene, as there is evidence that it thought of doing so with Burma. Whether China will really do that, I am not sure.
However, we must be aware. We all criticise what is happening in Burma, then Burma goes quiet and we go quiet. That is inevitable, but it does not go quiet in Burma. It does not go quiet in North Korea. There is another thing we must also be careful of: I heard some people talking recently about how soft power had worked in North Korea because it had managed to prevent the development of nuclear weapons. I am sure that it did work in terms of giving us a degree of extra safety from the spread of nuclear weapons, but it certainly has not worked for the people of North Korea.
That is the moral case, but the moral case must then be set against what is politically realistic. In many ways, the United Nations has more legal structures to allow intervention, including criminal courts and so forth, than it gets credit for at times. The problem is that the political will to deliver the systems that are necessary to underpin it are not there. That is what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was saying in his Mansion House speech the other day when he talked about the need for the United Nations to develop a police force for intervention after the collapse of the state. I am sure he knows this, but that is far easier said than done.
One of the arguments that troubles me most, particularly in Europe and increasingly in this country since Iraq, is the issue of moral relativism. There is a temptation, particularly on feelings about George Bush, to see the United States in the same light as an authoritarian power. We need to be clear about this. When people engage in moral relativism, they forget that in countries with an ability to change a Government from time to time—we loosely call it democracy—with a rule of law and with human rights, there is the ability to put right the wrongs. You do not have that in North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe or wherever. That is an important fundamental and moral difference, of which we should not lose sight.
The Americans criticised us—rightly in my view—because we had interned around 1,500 people in Northern Ireland without trial, including on ships off the coast of Northern Ireland. They were right to criticise us then and we are right to criticise them now on Guantanamo Bay. We should not make the mistake of thinking that that makes them or us in the 1970s the same as the unstable dictatorships and collapsed states we are trying to deal with. It is an important issue and I hope that this discussion continues. I beg to move for Papers.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Soley, has argued elsewhere that when Britain took the lead in abolishing the international slave trade using naval power to attack, as he has explained, those who continued to engage in the trade after 1807 were engaged in a case of morality trumping the law. There were other cases in the 19th century, to some of which he has alluded also in his articles and speeches outside the House, where Britain used or threatened the use of force in support of human rights; for example, Palmerston and Don Pacifico in 1852. There was Admiral Mundy’s support for Garibaldi in the liberation of the two Sicilies. But far more often we simply denounce foreign autocrats, particularly the Ottomans, as he mentioned, for the atrocities that they committed against their Bulgarian or Armenian subjects. This was a case of soft power rather than hard power. Let us take, for example, the Bulgarian atrocities pamphlet published by Mr Gladstone in 1878. These exercises of soft power were not in any way a prelude to a general attack on the Westphalian principles of international law on non-intervention. The special case of independence for Greece in Bulgaria was not seen as leading towards any general rule of self-determination, under which there would have been justification for coming to the aid of peoples throwing off the imperialist rule concept that was totally unknown in the 19th century.
Perhaps the noble Lord would agree that the unilateral abolition of the slave trade by the United Kingdom could also be viewed as an early case of extraterritorial jurisdiction. As he explained, cases were brought in the courts. In one case, the owners of American ships that had been confiscated by the British Navy brought proceedings, but the courts, and finally the Privy Council, declared that the slave trade was prima facie illegal, and not only when it was perpetrated in territory under the control of the British empire. In our own time, there are violations of human rights which are rightly treated as matters of universal jurisdiction even if they have not been accepted as such by every member state of the United Nations. Thus, for example, indictments under the Rome Statute for offences to be dealt with by the International Criminal Court require every signatory to arrest the perpetrators and deliver them up to the jurisdiction of the court. Similarly, states are obliged to arrest and try offenders who commit acts dealt with under the Convention Against Torture or to render them up to international jurisdiction by the ICC. The fact that some acts of torture are considered lawful in the countries of origin, such as female genital mutilation or the Sharia penalty of 100 lashes for a woman who commits adultery with a married person, would not release us from the duty of trying a person who came within our jurisdiction having committed such an offence if we have got the evidence to take him or her to court.
But the existence of loathsome cultural practices, or even of endemic persecution of minorities, is not seen as crossing the threshold that would allow intervention without the use of a resolution by the Security Council. We can take it as read, I think, that it would be impossible to get agreement on an amendment of Article 2(7) of the charter, which prohibits intervention on matters that are,
“essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of states”.
But the use of the word “essentially” limits the extent of the prohibition to those matters that are not regulated by international law. The development under the UN Human Rights Commission and now the council of special procedures for monitoring and reporting on thematic human rights issues, and in a few cases the appointment of country rapporteurs, and the appointment of a High Commissioner for Human Rights, are assertions of the international community’s right to criticise and to make recommendations to states, although none of these mechanisms by itself triggers the right of an intervention.
The Security Council has to identify the situation in question as a threat to peace under Chapter VII of the charter and only when measures not involving the use of armed force are judged or have proved to be inadequate can the Security Council authorise the use of armed force. The term “threat to the peace” is not defined, and a massive internal disturbance may have international repercussions. Inevitably, there will be situations where it is clear that an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding—to use the terminology that applied to Kosovo—but for political reasons it proves impossible to get a resolution through the United Nations Security Council, which was the dilemma that we faced in Kosovo, or that there may be conclusive evidence that the Security Council is unable or unwilling to act decisively against an ongoing genocide or systematic displacement of peoples. These are the difficult cases that the noble Lord invites us to consider.
Where the UN is already present in a territory, as it was in Srebrenica and Rwanda, all would agree that the power exists to reinforce the units that are there, as commanders on the spot were demanding in both those cases, and that the international community was highly culpable for the failure to avert the catastrophes that were clearly predicted; in the case of Rwanda, not only by General Dallaire, the UN commander on the spot, but a year before by the UN rapporteur on torture, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, who put it in his annual report, that this was a lead-up to a genocide. The Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said in his report on Rwanda that what happened was,
“genocide in its purest and most evil form”.
He expressed bitter regret that more had not been done to prevent it. There was no aim to which he felt more deeply committed than enabling the UN never again to fail in protecting a civilian population from genocide or mass slaughter. The independent inquiry into the failure of the UN in Rwanda said that,
“The United Nations must be prepared .... to prevent acts of genocide or gross violations of human rights wherever they may take place. The political will to act must not be subject to different standards”.
This “duty to protect” may well have become a customary norm of international law, as the UN Secretary-General said in his address to the heads of states of the Non-Aligned Movement in September 2006. He said that the duty to protect had worked in Timor Leste, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and that it had to be made to work again if we are to avert a major crisis in Darfur. Yet this list shows that the difficult cases are the ones where the crisis occurs in a state that does not feel bound to accept the emerging consensus on the criteria that justify liberal intervention: that there is either an actual or imminent huge loss of life; that the existence of that situation has been determined objectively, particularly but not necessarily exclusively by the Security Council; and that the Security Council has not explicitly ruled out that intervention. The UN has not protected civilians in Darfur because the Security Council fell over backwards to proceed by agreement with Khartoum and has been continually blocked in its attempts first to employ a UN force, and now the hybrid force which is to deliver humanitarian aid to the victims of mass slaughter and forcible displacement. The loss of life and the destruction of economic potential has been far worse in that situation than if military force had been deployed in defence of the civilian population when the attacks first began more than four years ago.
However, there were other considerations which made the case for immediate intervention problematic. It would almost certainly have meant that there would have been no comprehensive peace agreement between north and south Sudan, and there would have been colossal difficulties, both military and logistical, in mounting an operation in Darfur without the consent of the Government in Khartoum. It would probably have fractured the United Nations since it would have been implacably opposed by China, Russia and most of the developing countries, whereas now I see that the Chinese are involved in Darfur to the extent of at least supplying engineers to prepare the infrastructure for a larger deployment of peacekeepers early next year. The international community might have leant on Sudan more heavily than it did, but it is by no means certain that the human cost would have been lower in the long run if the coalition of the willing had intervened with force without the authority of the United Nations five years ago when the genocide first began. As it is, in spite of Beshir’s procrastination, the hybrid force is at last getting under way, and the main problems in 2008 are, I believe, going to be political rather than military in getting peace talks going involving the eight factions that boycotted the Libya talks, and finding ways of resettling the former Janjaweed militias into other parts of Sudan.
The same arguments would have applied to interventions between the north and the south of Sudan where the long-running civil war led to perhaps 10 times as many deaths as in the Darfur massacres, and appalling as it is to think of the deaths and suffering which were caused by those 25 years of civil war, it is not easy to be certain what would have happened if there had been a military expedition to separate the combatants and try to define the boundary between them without their agreement. The crisis on the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia shows that even when the dispute is between sovereign states, and they have ostensibly agreed on a solution and on the means of its implementation, trust can still break down and the peacekeepers will be kicked out. The comprehensive peace agreement was really a misnomer because it left the question of Abyei and other regions along the boundary unsettled, but it is infinitely better than sending a latter-day General Gordon to sort the combatants out.
That brings me to my last point. Mr David Cameron thinks that liberal intervention is the idea that we should just get out there into the world and sort it all out, showing the depth of intellectual poverty that infects the Tory party today through its leader. There are not many conflicts which demand a UK military contribution, and Mr Cameron seems to have forgotten that his party fully supported the folly of being dragged into the attack on Saddam Hussein. President Mubarak said that that operation would create 100 bin Ladens. He was out by a couple of orders of magnitude, for which the Tories have got to share the responsibility. That was the opposite of liberal intervention, opposed as it was by most of the people in this country and indeed in the rest of Europe.
But if the Tory party is now opposed to collective interventions to prevent genocide, mass slaughter, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as approved by the General Assembly in 2005, it is as out of tune with the developing norms of international law as it was with public opinion on Iraq itself. The responsibility to protect civilian populations on principles which have developed out of our experience in Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia and Somalia on the lines of the weighty report prepared by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty has been implicitly reaffirmed by the United Nations in establishing the hybrid force in Darfur and the multi-dimensional presence in Chad and the Central African Republic. Coupled with the equally important “responsibility to prevent”, these principles are the way towards a more civilised world in the 21st century.
My Lords, it is with some trepidation that I rise to support the themes of the noble Lord, Lord Soley, and I should like first to thank him for giving us the opportunity to have this debate. I listened with great attention to what he had to say and I find myself largely in agreement, although I should add that I have listened with great respect to the subtle and nuanced case just advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury.
Anybody wishing to address the issue of liberal intervention in this House today knows that they are doing so in circumstances which are very difficult. The debate on this subject has gone round in a circle. In the early 1990s it was not a popular theme, and as the 1990s developed, especially in the aftermath of Bosnia and certainly in the aftermath of 9/11, the context changed. The popularity of the concept of liberal intervention probably peaked in around 2002, but at this moment it is distinctly less popular, and that is putting it mildly. These are realities that we have to accept. The most important and significant development that led to this fundamental change was undoubtedly 9/11 in terms of American attitudes. American diplomats such as Ambassador Richard Haass, who spoke of the “reluctant sheriff”, summarised a certain view of America’s role in the world in the 1990s, but inevitably found themselves uncomfortable with the direction of the Bush Administration after 2002. Those of us who wish to support the broad case and themes outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Soley, as I do, have to accept that it is much harder to do so today because of what has happened in Iraq. We also have to accept that no one on the side of those who favoured the invasion appears to have anticipated the full and appalling human cost that has been incurred.
That said, it is important to retain the argument for the disposition—in a way that is all it can be in British foreign policy—in favour of liberal interventionism rather than a selfish diplomatic nimbyism, which simply will not work because we live in a globalised context, and in any case the distinctions cannot be made between the foreign and the domestic. They simply will not work even in a narrow, selfish and isolationist way. As the noble Lord, Lord Soley, demonstrated, his theme of liberal intervention draws on the best and most distinguished themes of British foreign policy both in the 19th and the 20th centuries. But this is a difficult issue to address in this House. Since I have been here, I think that I have heard Washington neo-cons denounced more than I have heard terrorists denounced. In a way we are missing the point: the neo-con moment has passed in Washington, and even at its peak never had quite the influence that was attributed to it. The real point is the problems that we are faced with. There is a natural tendency when faced with difficult and unpleasant problems in the world to hope that they will go away, and in the same way that it was attractive in the late 1930s, there is a natural tendency not to face up to the full dynamics of murderous regimes and to hope that in some way they can be contained in their box, as the noble Lord, Lord Soley, put it. In some cases that can even be so, but in others it may not. This defines the difficult circumstances we are facing today in international policy in this country.
I want to say something further about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soley, because it allows me to make a certain point. It is sometimes assumed that those of us who wish to argue in favour of liberal intervention as a disposition—I can only describe it as such because it cannot be more than that; it is a value, because the circumstances of a situation are always extremely important—are in the same camp as those who do not realise the importance of negotiation or the importance of dialogue with opponents and enemies who may be nasty and violent. The case made by the noble Lord, Lord Soley, is illustrative of the fact that this is not true of those of us who hold this view. In 1994, at a time when the IRA was still involved in a campaign of violence, the noble Lord became involved on behalf of the Conservative Government, although then a Labour MP, in a very difficult and in some ways I think he will admit, in a treacherous dialogue with the leadership of the republican movement. Undoubtedly in the long-term he can say that it was one of those endeavours which played a role in making Northern Ireland the better place that it now is, but it was a difficult and highly ambiguous matter in which to be engaged. The role of the noble Lord, Lord Soley, in this is recorded in Julia Langdon’s biography of the late lamented Marjorie Mowlam, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, where much more is said about these events than I can say today.
This allows me to make the further point that it is not only those of us who favour liberal intervention who understand that in certain circumstances it may be necessary to engage in difficult, controversial and risky dialogue. But the circumstances of such a dialogue are very important. It is sometimes said—I have heard it in this House a number of times since I arrived—that the case of Northern Ireland demonstrates the need for unconditional dialogue with Hamas. There may indeed be a case for unconditional dialogue with Hamas, but that cannot be deduced from the case of Northern Ireland.
The discussions in which the noble Lord, Lord Soley, engaged at such risk were governed by the political conditions outlined in the Downing Street declaration of 1993, to which both the British and Irish Governments and all the parties in this House were signed up. In other words, it was a ruled and governed discussion, not a free-flowing one. It is very important to understand that there was this political context. It was not a dialogue without preconditions in that sense; political conditions and a political context existed which were very firmly in place. One might think there are certain analogies with what the quartet has outlined for the Middle East as the political conditions and contexts which might determine any possible settlement, which is devoutly wished for, in the Middle East.
So this is not only to make the point that we cannot deduce from the Northern Ireland case that free-flowing dialogue is an easy answer to our problems, as opposed to the more difficult courses associated with current foreign policy and its legacies; it is also to make the point that this particular dialogue was with a movement we now know was heavily penetrated by British intelligence, which is more than we knew then. The noble Lord, Lord Soley, now knows that one of his interlocutors in this dialogue, the chairman of Sinn Fein, Mr Donaldson—who was murdered last year by assassins unknown—was a British agent. This tells us about how murky these matters are and the scale of penetration that existed at that time. Therefore, when the British Government engaged in that dialogue, they knew a lot more about the war weariness, the scale of political ambition and so on of the republican movement than any of us who were writing about these issues at the time actually realised.
So, again, it is very difficult to extrapolate from this particular case, in the way that is so frequently done, a wider analogy as a model for world peace: that one simply puts aside one’s scruples about difficult people who are still applying violence, reaches out to them, engages them in discussion and somehow difficulties will disappear. Northern Ireland is a case on its own—I am glad to see the noble Lord, Lord Soley, agreeing with me—in which the noble Lord undoubtedly played a distinguished role.
I grew up and spent most of my adult life in Belfast when the norm for many years was car bombs and apparently incessant sectarian slaughter—not on the scale of Baghdad but on a significant scale. For many years there was a sense of normality; that this was the limit of life; that this is how things proceeded.
As to the debate on Iraq, in the United States there are the beginnings of some degree of cross-party acceptance within Congress. It is accepted, partly as a result of the work of General Patrias, already discussed in this House today, that there is the possibility that matters are easing and that outcomes may be better than they looked some months ago. We are all aware that it is only a possibility and, in some ways, only a fragile possibility. It is possible to live in a city and for one to believe that it will never end. But it does somehow end and the acknowledgement for sectarian compromise breaks out within the population at large. I do not say that this point has been reached in Iraq, although there are one or two encouraging signs, but it could happen.
During the conflict in Northern Ireland, British public opinion was so soured by the death of soldiers and civilians that, on many occasions, public opinion polls showed that the great majority of communities in Britain wanted to withdraw. We can now say, given the happier state that Northern Ireland is now in, that it is a very good thing that the political class and Governments of both parties resisted what would often have been a very popular move. Britain played a role in Northern Ireland, ushering it towards an essentially liberal and democratic settlement. The defence of liberal values is often difficult and often hard, but it is preferable to running away.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for introducing this important debate. However, had the title’s “reference to case for liberal intervention” been posed as a question, my response would have been, “No, such a case cannot be sustained”, particularly in the light of recent experience.
I opposed the invasion of Iraq, which was sometimes presented as an example of humanitarian intervention. I also opposed our intervention over Kosovo, sometimes referred to as a success story. In my view, liberal interventionism is often used to justify military intervention when it is known that otherwise the public are likely to oppose such action. It has been a means whereby large and powerful countries have been able to bully smaller countries which lack the means to retaliate. After all, no one expected to see Serbian or Iraqi bombing planes over London; we could watch the wars on television. Our then Prime Minister could talk about the courage needed to take difficult decisions, but the people having to make the ultimate sacrifice were the citizens of the countries concerned. No one asked the people living in those countries whether they were willing to be sacrificed for the sake of regime change or our view of democracy.
The UN charter, as we know, does not sanction intervention by individual member countries in the affairs of others in order to bring about regime change—hence the necessity in the case of Iraq for the story about weapons of mass destruction and the dodgy dossier. On Kosovo, the United Nations was bypassed. NATO, led by ourselves and the United States, abandoned diplomacy at Rambouillet in favour of a package of non-negotiable demands which it was known in advance that the Serbian Parliament was likely to reject, although it made a counter offer. Bombing started the following day. There were 78 days of aerial bombardment of a civilian population, and that included cluster bombing of urban areas. There was widespread damage to the civilian infrastructure—to hospitals, schools, bridges, television stations, factories, including pharmaceutical factories and, of course, to the Chinese embassy. Graphite bombs were used to destroy and interfere with the electricity supply, with dire results on hospitals, and there were many casualties among the civilian population.
What was the result? The alleged cleansing of Albanians was replaced by the ethnic cleansing of Serbs, the Roma people and anyone unwilling to accept the domination of the KLA, and the situation is still unsettled. There has also been the emergence of an unpleasant Albanian mafia involved in drugs and the trafficking of women.
Iraq, as we know, is a mess. Thousands of people have been killed, lives have been wrecked, homes and jobs lost. Several million people, many with professional training, are refugees in neighbouring countries. It has resulted in a strengthening of fundamentalism, with all that means for the repression of women. Iran has been strengthened as a result of this war. It is a country with a cruel and misogynist Government, where public executions are common, including the stoning of women. I know several Iranians who are refugees in this country and who are opposed to the regime, but even so they are totally opposed to military intervention because they know how much it would hurt their people.
When a disliked regime is replaced, nice western democrats are not always waiting in the wings to take over. Leadership may pass to an equally intolerant and authoritarian group with no concern for human rights. Voting alone does not always produce democracy, as we know, for also needed are an infrastructure, the rule of law and appropriate rules to safeguard individual and ethnic rights.
Many of the leaders who have advocated liberal interventionism by military means have not had direct experience of modern warfare—I emphasise “modern warfare” and say to my noble friend Lord Soley, in response to his interesting historical analysis, that modern warfare is very different from what was applicable in years gone by, because it inevitably affects the civilian population. It is my experience that people who have had direct experience of modern warfare—they are usually older people—are extremely reluctant to support military intervention except in the most extreme circumstances, perhaps as a last resort and with international support via the UN. That was certainly true of my late husband, who had been an RAF pilot and had finished the Second World War with a string of medals and the rank of wing commander. We watched the first Gulf War on television; there had been much talk of targeting and special bombs limiting civilian casualties. He was very angry. I remember him saying, “Smart bombs? Smart bombs? Don’t you believe it. We are watching people being killed down there”. And so we were.
Fortunately, we now have a Prime Minister who says he believes in international organisation and working with the UN. I therefore hope that he will be less inclined towards unilateral military interventionism than was his predecessor. I say no to the case for so-called liberal interventionism. It is all too often a cloak for something entirely different—perhaps the securing of resources or the pursuit of influence or military bases. Innocent people should not be sacrificed; nor should the lives of our young men and women who act as our troops in some of these conflicts.
Should it be said, as it may well be, that these views are anti-American, I would point out that they are also widely held in America. At least one of the Democratic candidates for the US presidency holds very similar views.
My Lords, I must apologise for my late arrival in this debate. I had anticipated that the previous debate would finish early, but not quite as early as it did, and the distance from the other side of Portcullis House to this Chamber is rather longer than one would wish. I sometimes feel that I get my daily exercise by going to two meetings per day in Portcullis House.
Both in preparing for the debate and listening to the previous speeches, I felt that I was back as a professor at the London School of Economics, where we used to debate order versus justice in international relations. Indeed, there is a seminar in my old department next week, at which Professor Anatol Lieven will talk about the cases for and against liberal intervention.
I approach this debate, however, with some hesitation and find myself much more in sympathy with the noble Baroness, Lady Camden, than with the noble Lord, Lord Bew, because I have spent too much time during the past 10 years or more with the followers of Henry Jackson and the neo-conservatives than I would have wished. I have had to argue the case against liberal imperialism with them, and one needs to be very cautious about going down that route. I read the speech that the noble Lord, Lord Soley, made to the Henry Jackson Society. It worries me that we are being presented with an argument for the United States being the force for good against the evils of the world. It is a very black and white presentation, and just as Liberals at the time of the Boer War were cautious about British liberal imperialism and got a lot of stick for opposing that war, and just as we got a lot of stick for opposing the Iraq war in the run-up to it, one needs now to be very careful about moral absolutes. I recognise the dangers of moral relativism, but talking about the world in black and white terms—the forces for good versus the forces for evil—leads one down a dangerous road.
We need to recognise the enormous difference between what one does about failed states and what one does about authoritarian states. The noble Lord, Lord Soley, in his speech today and in his speech to the Henry Jackson Society, seemed to fudge the difference between the two. The difference between Bosnia and Serbia, for example, is between a failed state, in which I entirely agree we should have agreed to intervene properly in 1991—the French Government were prepared to put troops in; John Major’s Government, unlike what Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister might have done, were extremely sceptical—and an authoritarian state. To have gone further and forced regime change in Serbia, as some might like to have done, would have been to unleash the worst kind of Serbian nationalism—we have enough problems as it is.
One has to be hesitant about pushing for regime change in nasty states or even, sometimes, in criminal states. Therefore, there was a case for the Vietnamese intervention against Pol Pot and for Tanzanian intervention against Idi Amin—although the case in Uganda was less extreme and did not involve quite the same kind of genocide as committed by the Pol Pot regime—but if one is talking about regime change in Iran, because it is an authoritarian regime that we do not like, as the rhetoric in Washington goes, I say no. The authoritarian regime in Iran is not in any sense a nice regime, but it is not totalitarian, and we have to be cautious about how we approach it. If one is going to talk about pushing democracy on the world, I ask whether we intend to invade Saudi Arabia or Uzbekistan. How far do we wish to push? We need to be careful in our use of terms.
The right to protect is about humanitarian intervention. One has to distinguish between humanitarian and liberal intervention. As the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, said, liberal intervention slides very easily into liberal imperialism of a Disraeli type. There are those who would like the United States to be the neo-Disraeli of the 21st century. I am in the middle of reading William Dalrymple’s book on the Indian mutiny. One of its causes was the shift in British policy from recognising that we were playing with the local culture to wishing to convert India to modernity, democracy and Christianity. That was one of the underlying causes of the revolt of the sepoys.
Forcing democracy and a transformation of values through the barrel of a gun simply does not work. If you were to ask me to compare the EU approach to democracy in the Middle East with that of the Bush Administration, I would have no difficulty in defending the soft-power approach against the hard-power approach. I have been involved in debates on that during the past few years. In Washington, post-9/11, a surge of people has said, “We are going to democratise the Middle East in the next 10 years”. We all had to explain that it might take a little longer than 10 years because culture change is generational. Promoting the rule of law, education and independent media may look less glamorous and much more a matter of dirty compromises, but it does not provoke the nationalism and the resistance to occupation which we have seen as a result of our invasion and occupation of Iraq, and which we are already seeing within Iran as a result of the sanctions that the western community is imposing on Iran, and the hostility that it is showing towards it. Persian nationalism is a legitimate force, and the complete inability of people in the US Administration to recognise that US policy towards Iran provokes Persian nationalism is part of what I think is mistaken about the policy of the current American Administration. One always has, in international relations, to recognise that the other side sees the world in a different way and that resistance to western imperialism is a very powerful force in the developing world.
The noble Lord, Lord Bew, says that he has heard neo-conservatism criticised more in this House than terrorism, but one of my concerns is that there is a relationship between the two. A depiction of international politics in terms of good versus evil and western values versus Muslim values is the sort of thing that provokes greater sympathy for terrorism. I speak as a liberal, and liberals are always open to the charge of moral relativism, in religion—and I am an Anglican—as well as in politics; but I would defend a degree of moral relativism as a necessary beginning for politics to take place. Once one slips down the road to moral absolutes, we fight and kill each other, and that is not the world order in which we wish to live.
I add some other cautions about western intervention. What one hears from the supporters of the Henry Jackson Society and others in Washington and London is of a world in which the white man’s burden still has to be taken up. It is the community of democracies and an expanded NATO that will impose our values on the world, for which the rest of the world will of course be deeply grateful. I think that that moment is past; we should be trying to co-opt the Indians and Chinese into promoting world order and preventing genocide in picking up failed states, because white men can no longer run the world.
I quote in my support the speech given in Chicago some years ago by our previous Prime Minister, in which he talked about the case for liberal intervention and set out a number of conditions to be met before we committed ourselves to any form of intervention. He asked:
“First, are we sure of our case?”.
On the question of Iran, I am quite clear that we ought not to be sure of the case for any form of military intervention. He then asked:
“Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options?... Third… are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake? Fourth, are we prepared for the long term?”.
He added that,
“having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over”,
which the United States has now done twice in effect in Afghanistan—and we are now trying to pick up the pieces having lost time. Finally, he asked,
“do we have national interests involved?”.
That is a good hard, realist set of questions, but I suggest that the United States does not quite have national interests involved at present in forcing regime change in Saudi Arabia or Uzbekistan. Our former Prime Minister went on to say:
“If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar”.
He said that knowing that on Kosovo—and this was very much a speech in the context of Kosovo—the UN is not a perfect instrument. We are dealing, after all, with a majority of authoritarian regimes inside the UN, but that is the situation that we are in.
We have to address the question of what our capabilities are. Are the Government confident of public support? Can they hope to generate enough public support? On Iraq and Afghanistan, those questions remain open. As we shall debate on the Conservative debate day next week, what we are doing to our Armed Forces by attempting to push through a long-term commitment on liberal intervention that we cannot entirely support within our own capabilities is a matter for a very serious judgment, which of course weakens the case for further liberal intervention unless we can co-opt on humanitarian intervention grounds our Asian partners—the Indians, Chinese and others.
I say yes to humanitarian intervention. On liberal intervention I say it should be done only very exceptionally and very cautiously, as I understand Tony Blair was saying in the Chicago speech. On liberal imperialism, I say that that time has passed and that 19th century liberals were right to oppose it then.
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. This has been a most interesting and wide-ranging debate, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Soley, for initiating it so comprehensively this afternoon. I take this opportunity to say how pleased I am that the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown, is answering these two debates today as he has such a deep knowledge and experience of these subjects. We are pleased, too, that he respects and shows that he understands the importance of your Lordships' House by his presence here rather than attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda.
I quote, as did the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, the former Prime Minister speaking before the Chicago Economic Club on 22 April 1999. He said:
“The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people's conflicts”.
What he said was significant for two reasons. First, he used the word “we” both to describe the joint responsibility of the United Kingdom and the United States in responding to issues of international concern and, more broadly, to emphasise the ever-increasing shift from a national to a truly global consciousness. Secondly, he framed the question of international foreign policy in terms of when and not whether it would be appropriate for civilised nations to intervene in those countries where humanitarian atrocities are widespread and oppression is the norm.
The former Prime Minister said:
“We cannot turn our backs on conflicts and the violation of human rights within other countries if we want still to be secure”,
“acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter”.
The key message to be drawn from that and our debate today is that an increasingly globalised and inter-dependent world, the community of civilised nations, has a real commitment to the rest of the world to make certain that basic human rights are protected.
David Cameron, in his speech to the British American Project on 11 September 2006—and I am afraid that I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in his remarks on David Cameron—said that,
“we should be prepared to intervene for humanitarian purposes to rescue people from genocide”.
He advocated the importance of a responsible approach to the question of humanitarian intervention, with humility and patience as guiding principles. He added,
“democracy cannot quickly be imposed from outside”,
and that force should be the last resort. Furthermore, he said that,
“we must strive to act with moral authority”.
The noble Lord, Lord Bew, who concentrated mainly on Northern Ireland, rightly said that, in dire circumstances, in the end liberal intervention is “preferable to running away”.
While the concept of liberal intervention is relatively clear by making sure that human rights violations do not occur, or continue to occur, its application is more problematic. What are the parameters of liberal intervention? The noble Lord, Lord Soley, rightly asked the question: when and how? He mentioned the closed regime in Burma, yet we saw pictures of the monks protesting. However, nowadays, with mobile phones it is increasingly difficult to stop any photography. The days of old-fashioned wireless jamming of the BBC World Service are happily nearly eradicated. We live in a different world.
Is the threshold of intervention to be determined by the military resources of the UN or by the scale of any given humanitarian crisis? And, perhaps most importantly, which institution is best equipped to take the decision to intervene? Tony Blair referred to,
“the deadlock that undermined the effectiveness of the Security Council during the Cold War”.
But that deadlock is not just an historical one. Since the end of the Cold War, the United Nations Security Council has on a number of occasions been either reluctant to sanction interventions or incapable of responding quickly enough to pressing humanitarian crises. As the Minister will know only too well, in the Rwandan genocide, for example, the Security Council failed to stop the violence, argued about whether genocide was happening and ordered a reduction in the UN peacekeeping force in the country. And in 1999, NATO intervened in Kosovo—as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Soley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden—without a UN mandate.
I add that earlier this year a UN envoy presented a plan to grant Kosovo limited independence under continued international supervision. The Security Council called for yet more talks with a deadline of 10 December after fierce protests from Russia and Serbia. I shall not go into more details in this short debate, but the Balkans are yet again in an extremely fragile state.
If the UN is to be the ultimate decision-maker on questions of intervention, the recurring question is whether the UN itself is in need of radical reform. As long as liberal intervention remains a necessary tool of foreign policy, does the Minister agree that it should be used only with responsibility and, above all, legitimacy? I am sure we are all very much looking forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, I join others who thanked my noble friend Lord Soley for bringing this subject before us today. I thank him for his reference to the hard-working Minister who has to deal with all of this and matters outside the House too. If that was a gentle reference to certain media stories in recent days, I should say that I wish that I could spend more time in the House. It is a very much more congenial place to be than the jungle beyond.
When the noble Lord, Lord Bew, spoke of neo-cons in his fascinating intervention, I was reminded how much the use of language in the United States has shifted and departed from the use of language here. Having lived in the United States for the past 21 years, I realised that this was the first time I was able to use the word “liberal” as a term of approbation in more than two decades. Therefore, I am a little disappointed that my noble friend Lady Turner made it clear that I should still use it with greater caution than I had originally intended.
It is clear to all of us that within the broad-based concept of liberal intervention is a subset called humanitarian intervention, where, as the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, indicated, there is a tighter, clearer definition of rules, terms and rationales for intervention. It is around that subset that I express the Government’s support for the approach taken today by my noble friend Lord Soley. It was that subset which the Prime Minister had in mind when he talked about hard-headed internationalism, and which the former Prime Minister, Mr Blair, had in mind when, in that important Chicago speech, which has been mentioned today, he set out criteria.
There are, of course, long historical antecedents on intervention from Gladstone to Palmerston and Don Pacifico, as was suggested. However, this concept of humanitarian intervention is at its core moving towards a doctrine which is not just an optional one of conscience at the one end or national interest at the other motivating us to intervene, but instead involves a set of criteria in a globalised world where these are not interventions of choice but interventions of necessity, either because of the internal threat posed by mass crimes against humanity to the citizens of the state in which we are considering intervening, or because of an external threat that that state poses to its neighbours and to the world, as Afghanistan did when it harboured Al-Qaeda in 2001.
As regards the internal threat, a lot of work has been done to develop the doctrine of the responsibility to protect, and to intervene where a Government themselves have become the source of mass human rights abuses of their people, or at least are failing to protect their people against that. But that intervention, which is humanitarian in character, is very specifically motivated by the protection of people rather than by the claim of regime change. This is an enormously important distinction that has been brought out today. We are moving towards a world where we understand that there are circumstances involving external or internal threat to people which merit intervention. Mr Blair’s conditions have been reviewed very well today. Therefore, I offer a slightly separate but overlapping set of criteria against which one might want to assess such interventions: first, that they are rule-based; secondly, that we are willing to sustain them over many decades; thirdly, that they are adequately burden-shared with others to allow us to sustain them; and, fourthly—this is what I think Mr Blair had in mind—that they are doable and achievable and that we will not end doing more harm than good and causing more loss of life.
I should say a word on each of those. First, obviously the most straightforward rule-based approach is where there is an unequivocal resolution of the UN Security Council to endorse an intervention, but we are all aware that sometimes life is not so simple. The case of Kosovo was raised. I believe that in a Written Answer of 1998, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said that a limited use of force was justifiable in support of purposes laid down by the Security Council, but without the council’s express authorisation, when that was the only means to avert an immediate and overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe. Such cases would in the nature of things be exceptional and would depend on an objective assessment of the factual circumstances at the time and on the terms of relevant decisions of the Security Council bearing on the situation in question. The argument can be made that Kosovo met those conditions. The intervention, which averted a dramatic loss of life, was followed by a Security Council resolution that endorsed the subsequent military and political arrangements that were put in place.
The second criterion is that any intervention must be sustained. A number of senior British officials have, over recent months, talked of periods of up to 30 years to establish a successful, democratic, freestanding, prosperous and effective state in Afghanistan. Sometimes those statements are a little misunderstood as meaning an open-ended military commitment by the UK for that period—which is not what is meant by that and I devoutly hope is not what occurs. Nevertheless, a role in training and a deep role in development and reconstruction support, at a significant cost to the United Kingdom and others, is likely to be the consequence of our intervention in 2001. While I argue that it is utterly justified by the circumstances that led us to make that intervention, perhaps politicians need to be clearer with each other and with electorates about the fact that these commitments and interventions are rarely short, clean and quickly over in the way that is sometimes implied at the start.
Thirdly, any intervention must be burden-shared. That brings us back to the United Nations and to the importance of trying to do it within a broad and, if possible, universal international coalition. It means that the human and financial costs are shared, and that it is easier to sustain the political will because we are all in it together. Fourthly, any intervention must be doable. Sierra Leone was doable. Kosovo was doable. We are going to make sure that Afghanistan is doable. But we are always tempted by that bridge too far to take on operations of such complexity and scale that they do not enjoy the confidence of the military that we ask to take on the task, let alone of public opinion.
In that, I argue that, as has been said today, Darfur posed a situation where the prospect of direct intervention to end the terrible killings that were going on in that region was properly resisted by British and other western politicians. It ultimately was not doable. The prospect of putting a British expeditionary force, with perhaps American and other European allies, into a landlocked region of Sudan the size of France with no obvious logistics and support systems available, against the overt hostility and military opposition of the Government in Khartoum, was not a plausible route to pursue, despite the dreadful things that were happening in Darfur. Instead, we were required to go through the painstakingly difficult, preposterously extended and still not ultimately successful effort to build an international coalition and to secure the support of China for more effective sanctions and pressure on the Government. We continue with that. The killing, fortunately, has gone down to a much lower level. We cannot pretend that we are not tempted. How much more difficult this is than the easier pulling the trigger on an intervention might have seemed; but ultimately we will conclude that, for all its difficulties, this is the correct way to proceed.
That brings us to the great gap between soft and hard power. At the hard power end, when it is doable and meets that test, it has all the clarity and cleanness of going in, sorting out the situation and changing the situation on the ground in a dramatic way. Soft power is just that; often just too pliable, too soft, too putty-like in its ability to change the behaviours of Governments in their international relations and in how they behave towards their own people. We will hear increasingly from both sides of the House the discussion about how we develop something between soft and hard power. What range of instruments is available to us which, through international coalitions and having the will of the international community behind us, allows us to pressure Governments more effectively to moderate and change how they behave?
When we make an intervention because we believe that we have answered correctly the questions that we have posed ourselves—even there we move first from the pre-emptive phase where we want to apply soft power or harder forms of it to make an intervention unnecessary—we move to the next phase, which is peacekeeping. The need to strengthen UN and AU peacekeeping capabilities to give them the means to act effectively is an enormous challenge for all of us. Sierra Leone has been mentioned as a success. We should remember the circumstances under which that British intervention took place. The UN force there had not been sufficiently strongly armed to do the job. It had essentially been routed at the time the UK deployed. The UK was brilliantly able to restore order and allow a strengthened UN force to take over again. In East Timor, an Australian expeditionary force under a UN mandate initially established order before UN peacekeepers could take over. UN peacekeepers are lightly armed and are usually unable to undertake much offensive action.
Even when they do take over in the next phase, we are seeing the difficulties of mobilising a force for Darfur and the difficulties of even beginning to plan a force for Somalia. We have huge challenges of training, equipment, cost, mobility, and shaping the kinds of forces that these operations need. At one end, they need highly mobile forces that are able to undertake offensive activity if necessary and, at the other end, given that these wars are in countries’ population centres, there is the need for police capabilities, normally of an armed Carabinieri kind, which can keep peace in refugee camps and can keep ethnic groups from each other’s throats. Those are skills that often soldiers do not have but police forces do. As we work our way through the mechanics of intervention, we can see that there are a lot of capabilities and issues that we have not adequately addressed if we are to do this on an international basis.
Thinking about moving beyond the intervention, I will quote from the Prime Minister’s speech earlier this week, in which he argued that it is not just a matter of military intervention and peacekeeping but whether afterwards we have sufficient commitment to and vision of a recovery and reconstruction effort, and whether we have sorted out how the UN can be the fulcrum of an international effort to engage in that. He said:
“But where breakdowns occur, the UN—and regional bodies such as the EU and African Union—must now also agree to systematically combine traditional emergency aid and peacekeeping with stabilisation, reconstruction and development.
There are many steps the international community can assist with on the ladder from insecurity and conflict to stability and prosperity. So I propose that, in future, Security Council peacekeeping resolutions and UN envoys should make stabilisation, reconstruction and development an equal priority; that the international community should be ready to act with a standby civilian force including police and judiciary who can be deployed to rebuild civic societies; and that to repair damaged economies we sponsor local economic development agencies—in each area the international community able to offer a practical route map from failure to stability”.
So we have our work cut out for us if we are to go beyond the doctrinal conditions for intervention to creating the means, institutions and processes to deliver on stabilisation and nation-building, where we need to do it.
Finally, I look forward to the debate next week on our Armed Forces. I suspect that we will discuss a situation where there is a great fear that too much is being asked of our Armed Forces and that our investment in them and the support we are giving them are insufficient to the growing challenges we are putting their way. I suspect we will hear some voices say that we should, therefore, retrench and pull back from the activities we ask our Armed Forces to undertake. I suspect that from some of those same voices we will hear a caution about nation-building, the long commitment that that takes and the implicit romanticism of the idea that you can stand up other people’s nations for them.
Against that, as we grapple with a global society where other people’s problems are our own problems, where terrorists can find sanctuary in Afghanistan, where illegal migration from failing and failed societies can cause huge difficulties, where failed societies harbour not just poverty but breakdowns of public health and other issues that impact on all of us, from these Benches you will hear the argument that humanitarian intervention with clear rules built around an internationalised effort to achieve the goals that we mutually set ourselves will become more, not less, important as we seek to build a world of justice and opportunity for all and, equally, a world where those of us living in rich societies believe that our Governments, our Armed Forces and the institutions we have created, such as the UN, work not just to help the world’s poor and those living in weak countries, but to offer protection for a 21st-century global society where no problems can be kept out any more by old-fashioned borders alone.
My Lords, I am grateful to everyone who has taken part in this debate and particularly to my noble friend the Minister for his thoughtful comments. If, as a by-product of this, I have enabled him to withdraw temporarily from the brutal interface between politics and the media, I am glad that I have provided that service to him. Maybe I should organise a debate involving the noble Lord, Admiral Lord West of Spithead, and I might be able to offer help to all those who have not had training in the brutal area of politics that people such as me have had for many years. In particular, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bew, for his kind remarks. Not everyone refers to my—I am not sure of the right word—activities in Northern Ireland. However, he did that in a generous way, although it has not always drawn that much attention.
This debate has to continue; it is very important. I deliberately did not come up with conclusions, because at this stage it is far too early for them. We know the road on which we are setting out. That point was made by a number of noble Lords today and by the Prime Minister, by Tony Blair and by the Foreign Secretary in his speech in Bruges. The debate will continue, it must continue and it is so important. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.