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Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North): Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the large degree of support in the British military for the views that he is expressing? Such views were clearly stated by Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, Chief of the Defence Staff, in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute on Monday evening. He said:

that is, the coalition's—


Mr. Campbell: I have read that speech, which has already been referred to in the debate. It is the measured judgment of someone who would have the legal, moral and physical responsibility for deploying British forces in support of some of the action that is being contemplated. In such circumstances, his views must surely carry weight in our considerations.

Mr. Jenkin: I fully concur with the caution that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Chief of the Defence Staff have expressed. It runs parallel with the comment that the Secretary of State for Defence made last week—that it is often best

What evidence can the right hon. and learned Gentleman present to the American Administration to show that the policy of deterrence and containment has worked so effectively that Iraq is no threat, in order to comfort the Americans and create a situation in which his fear that they might act in an intemperate way does not arise? I do not share that fear; indeed, I believe that their response has been very considered.

Mr. Campbell: To paraphrase Shakespeare, the answer lies in ourselves and not in our stars. The answer lies in the exchange between James Baker and Tariq Aziz on the eve of the Gulf war, when James Baker told Tariq Aziz across the table that if he used weapons of mass destruction the response would be disproportionate. We know now that the response would have been a conventional response, but Tariq Aziz and Saddam Hussein did not know that.

We must bear it in mind that totalitarian regimes make a great effort to preserve themselves. They are hardly likely to create circumstances in which their own destruction would be assured, were they to embark on a

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particular course of action. We have plenty of evidence from 10 years ago that deterrence works. Indeed, I often cite that in the House in support of the argument for the continuance of an independent nuclear deterrent for the United Kingdom, which I believe is fundamental to our defence policy. That illustrates the fact that in Baghdad, at least, they understand that the theory of deterrence could well result in the visiting on the regime of the most terrible destruction, if they were to consider the use of weapons of mass destruction. They need look no further than Mr. James Baker if they want the evidence to support the theory of deterrence.

The campaign against terrorism may almost certainly be moving to a different phase in which the United States, emboldened by its justified success, wishes to proceed much less collectively. We in the House and our Government will have to decide how we should respond, so let me set out a principle or two by which I believe those matters should be judged.

The first duty of our Government is to serve the best interests of the people of the United Kingdom. I have always thought that the principle, "My country, right or wrong" left a great deal to be desired. The supposed principle, "my ally, right or wrong" is hardly less objectionable to me. Members of Congress are never slow to recognise their paramount obligation to serve the interests of those whom they represent. Here in the House, in any extension of the campaign against terrorism, we should surely do likewise.

5.10 pm

Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): The right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) speaks his usual good sense, not least in respect of Afghanistan and opening the second front. I hear his views on the independent nuclear deterrent and revolting Back Benchers, and perhaps some revolting Back Benchers might reconsider their position if they too hear what he says.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman and the shadow Foreign Secretary raised important questions about deploying British forces in Afghanistan. Clearly, we need to know about their remit and force protection, and clearly there are concerns about overstretch of our forces and the effect on morale. We need to know whether any deployment is for a transitional period and whether those men and women are simply to play a headquarters role. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman rightly said, those questions have not yet been finally decided and, however important they are, raising them at this point is a little premature.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary began his speech with 11 September and the fact that yesterday was the three-month anniversary of that atrocity, which must surely be the starting point for any terrorism debate. It would perhaps be instructive for the House to consider, as my right hon. Friend did, the way in which certain elements of the press and public opinion responded to the continuing campaign. First, there was the build up to prepare for the military element. Perhaps three weeks into the bombing, we heard, as we heard three weeks after the start of the Kosovo campaign, that bombing never leads to a successful conclusion and that ground forces must be deployed. We heard about the effect on aid supplies, that lorry drivers and others were

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unprepared to take supplies in and that people would starve. We heard about the effects of the Afghan winter and that there should be a pause in the bombing for Ramadan.

All those questions were raised—indeed, fed—by the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, and perhaps we should have been more alert about getting our counter- information out earlier. Those criticisms were made in that period by our press and public opinion, but, as my right hon. Friend said, it is clear that almost every one has been totally confounded by the facts that have appeared, so it might be instructive for those who raised the concerns to show a little humility and to be prepared to eat their words, although I do not know whether that will happen in the debate.

Of course the military campaign was more successful than expected. Indeed, part of the problem is that it has been so successful that its political counterpart has taken longer to reach a conclusion. That political counterpart, however, has indeed been successful, so far at least. A remarkable conference has taken place in Konigsburg—[Hon. Members: "Konigswinter."] Konigswinter. Let us get it right. Konigsburg is on the other side of the Rhine. Anyway, despite all the tensions of the past, the warrior factions on the coalition side met.

Perhaps most heartening is the fact that a new generation was involved in Petersberg—mostly in their 40s and, perhaps, more internationally minded than the older generation. It looks as though they are now ready to deliver, as far as they can, an Afghanistan that will move into the 21st century and will be a force for stability in that important region, geostrategically.

What lessons can we learn from our position and that of our allies? There is, of course, a long way to go, and Sir Michael Boyce's speech on Monday at the Royal United Services Institute identified some of the problems that remain with the rebuilding of Afghanistan. It cannot be left as a failed state. Anyone with a sense of history knows of those remaining problems and knows that they did not start with the Taliban, but at least—given enough international commitment—there is the prospect of a more settled future for the sad people of that country. Refugees are beginning to return, and I hope that eventually many of the professional people who have fled the country and who are so needed there will have the confidence to return with their families.

A massive and sustained aid effort and a long-term commitment are clearly necessary for stability. The cost may indeed be vast: the right hon. and learned Member for North–East Fife spoke of $25 billion over 10 years. We should, however, compare that figure with the cost of the US attacks, and put it in the context of the mayhem that may be caused in the region by an unstable, fragmented, broken state of Afghanistan. That perspective will teach us certain lessons.

There is currently no strong central administration in Afghanistan. It is vital that donors not only give food aid, but help to improve the country's governance. Countries that have assisted the US and its allies will expect a reward, but many may have a very doubtful democratic background. A mixture of sticks and carrots will be needed.

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The UN's role is vital. The two immediate Security Council resolutions, 1368 and 1373, have been mentioned. As with Voltaire's God, if the UN were not there it would have to be created: only the UN could have provided the necessary cover and endorsement for the welcome moves that have been made.

There have been so many welcome changes that the economic effects of 11 September may well not be as long lasting as some had feared, partly because of the resilience of the US economy. The political effects may be far more profound and far more long lasting. A boulder has been thrown into the pond, and the waves may not settle. Let us consider some of the remarkable changes that have come about.

In our own country, we might not have seen the progress that has been made on decommissioning of weapons in Northern Ireland had it not been for the effects of 11 September. There is also the new relationship broached by our Prime Minister, followed by the NATO Secretary General, in relation to Russia. Russia, having joined the coalition, is now seen as a real partner for NATO, going beyond "19 plus one". It has assisted in so many ways.

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