Foreign Office Minister for Europe Peter Hain
Article in the Independent
October 6, 2001
vision for a new world order based upon co-operation and springing from today's
interdependence of nations and peoples was the Prime Minister's call to arms.
Yes, the international situation is dangerous and could become more so. But
the reaction to the terrorist attacks on the US contains hope for the most fundamental
re-alignment of global politics since the beginning of the Cold War. Shock and
horror reverberated around the world as billions watched the guided-missile
airliners smash through New York's twin towers on television. It generated an
immediate torrent of revulsion against the terrorists, and also deep sympathy
for the American people. The unity of the world has been quite unprecedented:
from Nato and the European Union to Russia and China. General Musharraf's brave
decision to sign up Pakistan was particularly significant.
Of course no one knows how fast that will hold as the coming military action
unfolds. The military task is difficult. But instead of being alone and beleaguered,
the US has felt quite the opposite. Instead of the hawkish response many expected,
it has been cool and careful, planning systematically for targeted and appropriate
action. Domestic pressures within the US for lashing out have been muted.
Those who claim London is merely coat-tailing Washington couldn't be more wrong.
Because Tony Blair has been through the Kosovo war with all its dangers
and fraught uncertainties - and because he has been so steadfast in his support
for President Bush, his influence is considerable. Theirs is a dual-carriageway
partnership, not a one-way street.
The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, also underlined that backing from
all of us in the European Union will be steadfast, not flaky as some had all
too eagerly speculated. President Chirac's visit to the US signalled the same.
This is an opportunity for the EU to be taken seriously in Washington too, not
just as an economic but a global political force, helping to achieve peace in
the Middle East and promote an end to the roots of conflict worldwide.
Perhaps even more important, have been the unprecedented developments elsewhere.
This is the first time that Russia has co-operated on such a scale, both diplomatically
and militarily, in a region of great sensitivity to them. It is the first time
China has been very supportive, laying aside many of its usual reservations
about international military action. It is also the first time that Japan has
offered logistical support for such action.
Before 11 September, who would have predicted that President Putin would have
asked for a structured link to Nato on a common security agenda as he did this
week? Who would have predicted that the United Nations Security Council would
unanimously decide to oblige all members of the UN to take tough measures not
only against those who finance terrorism, but also to outlaw safe havens for
terrorists and to support action to destroy their capability?
This is big stuff. It could and must presage international solidarity on other
threats to world peace and stability, from climate change to the proliferation
of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. It could and must presage a new
agenda to tackle world poverty and debt, to open up trade, remove protectionist
barriers against poor countries, and curb arms exports for external aggression
or internal oppression. If maintained and strengthened, the very solidarity
shown to the US could help to promote an end to the spirit of unilateralism
and isolationism, especially on Capitol Hill. This could encourage a new consensus
over multi-lateral agreements, something which is desperately needed.
Historically, when Europe and the US have stood together, the world has always
been a safer place. It would be safer still if other key countries, including
Russia and China, were able to join us in a new lasting alliance, not just against
terrorism, but in favour of a progressive new agenda for international peace,
stability and prosperity. Its immediate task will be to go beyond a military
coalition. Our war is not with the Afghan people. Their country, ravaged by
conflict and drought, was gripped by a humanitarian crisis before the terrorist
atrocities in the US.
The international community must work together to minimise the suffering of
the Afghan people and to ensure them a peaceful, stable and free future in their
country. That means helping to rebuild Afghanistan after its terrorist bases
have been eliminated, not just with food aid but with development assistance
for infrastructure, jobs, hospitals, schools and homes.
Nobody witnessing the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre could
have doubted the seismic nature of their impact upon global affairs. But the
emerging new agenda could enable that terrorist barbarism to be turned from
a threat to a vision of a world based upon equality, justice and human rights,
to an opportunity to help realise that vision. We must make sure it is.
Crown copyright material reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.