|Air Date: July 22, 1997||Program 9729|
(This text has been professionally transcribed, However, for timely
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FRANK JUDD: It's fair to say that the Labor Government in general takes the link with the United States very seriously indeed.
KEITH PORTER: This week on Common Ground, a look at New Britain and foreign policy.
If the United Nations was being created today with the concept of 5 permanent members of the Security Council, I think Britain, post-Imperial Britain has to ask itself, "Would it be on a short list for permanent membership of the Security Council?"
PORTER: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It's produced by the Stanley Foundation. I'm Keith Porter.
The election of British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, signals change in both domestic and foreign policies for this once mighty imperial nation. Joining us to look over how new Labor will change Britain's relationship with the world, is a senior member of the Labor Party. Frank Judd, a member of the House of Lords, first discusses Britain's changing relationship with it's European allies.
JUDD: There is a very real change of spirit. Instead of being the odd man out, almost as it were, getting up every morning and saying "how can we be awkward today?", there is a determination to belong. And in the context of belonging, to achieve the things we think are important. But that doesn't mean we're going to say yes all the time. But it means we're going to say we're part of the European "community" to use this word, and as part of that community, as club members, we're going to pull our weight, participate and put our part of view. But it will be positively done, not negatively done.
PORTER: OK. Do you think that this common currency will happen?
JUDD: If—I'm not a betting man, with my non-conformist origins—but if I were a betting man, I would place a fairly firm bet that it will happen. I wouldn't place a firm bet that it will happen within the original time scale.
PORTER: OK. Well on this topic of the British foreign policy, I know your Foreign Minister, Robin Cook, comes from the more traditional liberal left wing of the labor party. Will he be at odds with the more centrist views of the new Prime Minister, Tony Blair?
JUDD: Any great party is a coalition. It's a coalition of ideas, it's a coalition of interests, it's a coalition of people with different intellectual contributions to make, and certainly Robin comes of a more left tradition than Tony Blair. But Robin has always been an extremely analytical person. He's not an ideologue. He comes of a left orientation, but he is analytical, with a first class mind, and he, having looked at the situation made, his survey of what is involved, then comes out with practical policies to suit that situation. So that I think in the context of the new kind of, effective technocratic politics which we're seeing from Tony Blair's government, he's very much part of that. It just happens that his orientation was not quite the same as Tony's, but that will be creative. I don't think it will lead to any difficulties.
PORTER: All right. Will human rights play a greater role in British foreign policy?
JUDD: I was very impressed that within the second week of our government, Robin made this statement on, Robin Cook made this statement on the priorities for Labor Government in foreign policy. And one of his principles was that he was going to make human rights central to foreign policy. He also, interestingly, talked about the need to tackle arms control effectively and to tackle the whole issue of the arms trade effectively. He certainly is bringing principle of that kind into the process of foreign policy making.
PORTER: Well, that was really going to be my next question. Will if effect the sale of weapons made by Britain?
JUDD: Interestingly, we have a quite challenging situation in the European Union, because with the single market there is a situation in which something like the arms trade can operate at the lowest threshold. The country which is taking the trade least seriously, is least worried about the implications of the trade—the end use of the goods that are being exported and so on—it can name the game, because everybody else will find themselves being undercut by that country and the process issue of that country. So if we are taking the whole issue of the arms trade seriously and are saying that it is a very destabilizing factor in world affairs, that it is a very dangerous factor in world affairs, that it is causing a great deal of suffering in it's irresponsible directions and so on, that it must be made more accountable, it will be essential to have a higher level of common commitment by the members of the European Union. What Robin has said is that he's going to work for a European code of conduct on the arms trade. At the moment, yes, ministers in the past have agreed certain principles, nice civilized ideas, that should apply, but then it's left to each individual country to interpret how those apply. Robin wants to work towards a code. And that will govern end use of the rest. And it will look at the issues of human rights in countries to which they're going. It will look at the responsibility of the governments to which they're going. It will make sure that it's not feeding aggressive administrations. That's it's not, that in any situation in which arms are exported the purpose is demonstrably to underwrite security, and not actually to challenge security.
PORTER: We've also read that defense spending will decline in Britain. Is that true? I mean is that what you foresee?
JUDD: That's what commentators say. I think it's too early to be certain about this, because what we have said—and this is a very firm commitment of the Labor government—what we've said is that we will have a defense review. The first serious defense review, some of us will argue since Labor was last in office. But that it's going to be a foreign policy-led defense review this time. Because what we've been feeling for quite awhile now is that we're making adjustments in the aftermath of the Cold War. We're not actually sitting down and saying "Now what really are the security issues that face the world? What is our part in meetings those challenges? How should we gear our armed forces to play that part?" So what we're going to do is sit down and say, "Right now what is the world we're living in? What are the challenges? What should be our contribution to international security? How do we do it?" And then we're going to play that back into the organization of our defense forces. Intelligent—and there are very many highly intelligent—I've been a defense minister in the past, and I know this from personal experience—there are of course, highly intelligent, highly thoughtful people within the armed services who are, and these people are actually welcoming this review. They're saying, "Yes of course that's right, we shouldn't just sort of be improvising in the aftermath of the Cold War, we should actually be sitting down and saying right now, 'What is the world we are now living in and what is the role of the arm services in that real world.'" And that's what we are going to do.
PORTER: In that review, can we expect anything to happen in regard to Britain's commitments to NATO, or their involvement with peace keeping efforts around the world?
JUDD: I think if one goes along the road of a review like that, it's really important to remain open-minded and say, "Well, we hope the review does think the unthinkable" and we then face up to the issues and therefore one shouldn't try too much, I think to pre-judge. But I must say that Labor is deeply committed to NATO. A lot of people forget you know, going right back into history, that is was actually a Labor Government that was instrumental with your own government at the time in creating NATO, because of course it was social democrats and democratic socialists in Western Europe who were most appalled by what was happening in East Europe and the Soviet Union, because they saw the betrayal of an ideal. And they saw wicked people perverting something to which a quality, a vision, to which they remained deeply committed. And they saw good friends of theirs suffering, being exterminated, being persecuted for standing by that ideal. And there was a real conviction in that Labor government, that '45 to '50 Labor government that we had to make a stand. And therefore, I always recall this, that it was actually a Labor government that was the founding element in NATO as far as Britain was concerned. So it's always been there. But of course NATO, the challenge to NATO, is completely different now because the Cold War, as it was, is gone. And I think there will be some discussion now about how far NATO should become more of a political community than it has perhaps been, and the issue of an enlargement of NATO brings that kind of question more on to the agenda. But it's fair to say the Labor government in general takes the link with the United States very seriously indeed. We're committed to Europe, we're going to be in Europe, we're going to be members of the European Union, we're going to play it dynamically and positively, but we're going to do that in the context of still feeling a very strong link with the United States. And we would be very sad to see that link in defense matters broken. We like the concept of a United States which is committed to global security, and of course Europe is part of that. We also, I personally speaking, purely personally, I would have some anxieties about the century ahead if we moved into a new period in which you had separate, totally separate, defense communities on both sides of the Atlantic. I don't see how that would help to get a more rational approach towards the management of global affairs. It seems to me it would make it more complicated. Surely we should be moving towards the globalization of the management of security, as well as everything else.
PORTER: And so does that put you in favor of NATO expansion?
JUDD: I'm a realist about this. I think that if one sees NATO as an expression of a commitment to stability, to predictability, to security, there is a lot to be said, that nations which are broadly aiming in the same direction and have the same sort of cultural, political commitments, should have an arrangement for their defense. And if we have the new members who are coming in, or are likely to come in, being excluded, when they're committed to so much else that we're committed to, this would be a bit odd. However, there is one very big proviso in all this. We've got to be very, very, very careful indeed, that we don't inadvertently provoke nationalism in Russia, that we don't provoke the very thing that we want to avoid, which is a hostile, aggressive Russia, by Russia feeling excluded. So if we are going for an extension of NATO in Europe it seems to me that we must be at tremendous pains not just to have formal agreements with Russia, but to make these agreements meaningful. To work at them, develop a real working positive dynamic relationship with Russia which will avoid the danger of Russia feeling threatened by an extension of Europe.
PORTER: In that previous answer you also mentioned the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. We know that our President and your Prime Minister have a close personal relationship. They share many similar traits. How do you think that will effect British foreign policy? Do you think that you will see the kind of cooperation, perhaps in a different direction though, that you saw between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan?
JUDD: I wish you'd a been in United Kingdom to see the press at the time and television at the time of your President's visit to London. It was just a tremendous occasion. You know they went out to a restaurant together for a meal, they didn't just have all their meals in formal surroundings. And all this was delightful. And it says something, because human relationships do effect a more profound international relationships and so on. So that's good that that working relationship, dynamic relationship is there. I'm glad about that. I think the human dimension will strengthen what is anyway there. I think that in the Labor Party there is a very strong determination to keep a good, healthy, dynamic, warm link with the United States. Not as a challenge to our membership and the involvement in the European Union. In a way as a strength because we hope that we go into the European Union with that, not as an alternative to having that arrangement.
PORTER: We're talking on this edition of Common Ground with Frank Judd, a member of the House of Lords and a long time Labor Party activist. Printed transcripts and audiocassettes of this program are available. Listen at the end of the broadcast for details. Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts a wide range of programs meant to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.
Now I know you've had a long time involvement in development issues. Do you have any thoughts there? Will we see more of a commitment to oversees development and to that kind of humanitarian work perhaps outside the U.K.?
JUDD: The new Labor Government in Britain has upped the significance of development cooperation. Before, under the previous Conservative government, we had a Minister of State in the Foreign Office who's responsibility was to be Minister for Overseas Development Cooperation. Now we have a Secretary of State in the Cabinet with her own department. A department dedicated to the issues of development cooperation. With a budget of it's own working on these issues. So I think there is a renewed commitment there. The Minister concerned is a very dynamic woman who is a very popular Cabinet member too, so that will help, and she has a real commitment to the issues. Apart from it's own program that it will be running—humanitarian development and it will also be responsibility for relief of course and so on as well—but apart from the development operational program which will be running, it will be charged with feeding into governments as a whole in the affairs of trade, of environment, of health. The whole range of governmental issues. Its thinking and its insights and its expertise of what should be our approaches to international policy making, across the whole range of issues. So that will be very exciting and that's already happening.
PORTER: What would you say are the biggest overseas development projects or the biggest commitments that Britain has made?
JUDD: Claire Short, that's the Secretary of State for Overseas Development Cooperation, has several times in my hearing in the last two weeks in the occasions in which I've been present said, "The commitment of my department is to work for the elimination of world poverty. There are lots of other peripheral things in which we could get involved, but the kernel of my department is to work for the elimination of world poverty." And has said this so forcefully that I'm sure she's gearing the whole department up in this reassertion of an ethical as well as a wise political priority. I say ethical because I think in any decent society we cannot turn our backs on the appalling problems of destitution which is still there in the world. This problem of the institutionalized poverty of the nations which just can't get access to the club, of the nations for example that decide the rules for the World Trade Organization because they're too poor, ready to be part of it. The nations that are being crushed by debt. Not their fault; debt by people who looted their nations and now they are being expected to pay that off. Now this tremendous issue of poverty out there are is course an ethical challenge. But it's also a political challenge because if we don't tackle it effectively it will of course be a breeding ground of conflict and instability and danger to world peace. And therefore the two things go hand in hand. It's enlightened self interest and an ethical commitment. And Claire Short is going to give that a tremendous lead.
PORTER: All right. Lord Judd, we mentioned the European Union and NATO, but your nation is also a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations. What about the Labor Party commitment to U.K. participation in the United Nations?
JUDD: I'm a realist about this. If the United Nations was being created today with the concept of 5 permanent members of the Security Council, I think Britain, post-Imperial Britain has to ask itself, "Would it be on a short list for permanent membership of the Security Council?" We have inherited that role for historical reasons. None of us—I certainly don't—and I don't know of any serious political personality in Britain who wants to give up that place. But if we're opting for permanent membership to the Security Council that gives us a tremendous responsibility for shouldering, together with others, a particular responsibility for reshaping the U.N. Making it more effective. Gearing it to meet the challenges, not of the 20th century but the 21st century. And I and Robin Cook, our new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has indeed said in his statement of priorities, that reform of the U.N. will be one of his primary commitments. We've got to see it properly financed. Rather, as I feel about Europe, you achieve your objectives by belonging to the club. If you belong to the club, you should pay your dues. And there's no country in the world that I love more than the United States, outside my own country. I've had many, many happy times in your country. I'm saddened about the backlog in that respect and I admire the stand that your President has been making in saying the backlog's got to be put right. Now that's not to condone any inefficiencies or any imperfections in the system, but if you're fully committed and seem to be fully committed, that put you in a stronger position for putting things right. I think some of the things we've got to tackle of course are, we've got to get out of this institutional culture in the U.N., whereby people think institutionally instead of task thinking. We should look for more often at what is the overall task in a particular part of the world and how do we bring the various parts of the U.N. together to tackle that task looking at the social dimensions. Those include of course, health, education, and the rest, the financial development implications and that of course may involve the World Bank; indeed it may involve the IMF. But getting these bodies working together on a commonly agreed agenda in particular parts of the world seems to me to be crucially important., And I know that quite apart from what Robin Cook intends to do in this context in the Foreign Office, Claire Short has very much the same approach as Secretary State for Development.
PORTER: One final area for you on foreign policy, since you were talking about the United States and how it's actions may affect other countries around the world by it's participation or lack of participation in the United Nations, what about, what are your thoughts on recent U.S. actions to try to get other countries to go along with sanctions or embargoes that the United States has placed on Cuba with the Helms-Burton Act and our sanctions on Iran with the proposed D'Amato Bill? Is there a reaction to that kind of coercion in your country?
JUDD: You've been asking me a good deal about how the new Labor Government and Robin Cook, our Foreign Secretary, will affect our foreign policy. It's just recognition that there are very few issues that are going to affect our children and grandchildren that can be resolved within the nation-state. All the major issues, running from the environment through migration to of course international economics, trade and the rest—have got to be tackled on a global basis. Now it seems to me that if you say, "Right, therefore we have to have global solutions," policies that are pursued, whether they be sanctions or whatever, need to be policies which have been reached by consensus of the international community. I think it would be a pity and unfortunate if the United States began to use the U.N. as a subcontractor and was looking to the U.N.—and perhaps that's not altogether a good enough analogy—because it would be unfortunate if the United States was looking to the U.N. to give moral authority for something the United States wanted to do, whether that was the perceived wisdom, the collective wisdom, of the international community's own. One's got to work at developing an agreed international consensus about what needs to be done. I think there's a bit of feeling that on some of these issues of late, the States has been going ahead before that consensus has been established. Well, I can see the impatience in the States, you are the super power. Why hang around for others? I can see that. But then we have to sort of decide, don't we really. Rather in the world are we going to go into a phase in human affairs of Pax-Americana, in which the U.N. is used as a facility within that reality, or are we actually going to say, the United States is going to show the vision, the courage, the leadership, which I believe it could do better than anybody—and saying "Now we really have got to have a global approach." And "Yes we are a big power, we are the super power, but we have really got to work at having an association of the nations of the world, in which the objective is to get common consent, common endorsement." Policies are always more powerful if they've got the full-hearted commitment of all the people affected by them rather than people going along truculently, reluctantly because they're being compelled or coerced to go along with it That's not a very sound or healthy basis for the future.
PORTER: All right Lord Judd, we just have time for one more question. And I would be remiss, if I didn't, at least for our American audience ask you, what will happen to the House of Lords in England, in Britain, now that we have a Labor Government which certainly made some statements about the House of Lords before the election?
JUDD: The Labor Party has for a long time said that we ought to have an elected second chamber. What the present government is committed to doing in it's first five years of office is removing the right of hereditary peers to participate and vote in the proceedings of the House of Lords. That's not to say that some arrangement might not be possible where by some who have played a very active part may be made life peers and so on. But there is a feeling that it really is not, at the beginning of the 21st century, acceptable that you have the affairs of State being significantly—don't underestimate it—don't overestimate it, but don't underestimate it—significantly affected by people who are simply there because several generations ago their ancestors did the King a good turn and were given a peerage. Now some of those people, let me say, are very fine people, the descendants, and have made a very distinguished contribution to the House, but it's not a good principle for the basis of their being there. My own personal view is one of just slight caution about my party's formal position on an elected Second Chamber. I'll tell you why: I believe firmly that the power should rest with the House of Commons. I believe that the role of the Second Chamber is advisory; it's there to reflect on legislation, put thought in on legislation that's going through; perhaps occasionally to stimulate some thinking about issues that are not on the agenda of the House of Commons; but it is a reflective advisory body. I sometimes wonder whether—however it were done—if we were directly elected with a mandate from the people, whatever one said at the beginning was the task of the House of Lords, one might not then be into a sort of internecine sign war between the Lords and the Commons, each claiming electoral legitimacy. That I'm not sure would help in the process of democracy. We're going to have a Scottish Assembly, we're going to have a Scottish Parliament. We're probably going to have a Welsh Assembly. We're going to have a membership of the European Union. We don't want to tussle for power there. We want a body which does not have ultimate power but has the strength of good advice at it's disposal. Hopefully good advice. Now whether that's the task of a directly elected body is an issue that bears some thought. I don't reject it, of course I don't . But I just think we need to pause and think because we might be going off down a road which nobody really had wanted to go off down.
PORTER: That is Frank Judd, a member of the British House of Lords. For Common Ground, I'm Keith Porter.
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