FOREIGN POLICY ASPECTS OF THE WAR AGAINST
1. On the morning of 11 September 2001, two civilian
airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and
a third struck the Pentagon in Washington. A fourth crashed in
Pennsylvania. All of those on board the aircraft died, as did
thousands on the ground.
2. Shortly after the attacks, President George W
Bush declared a "war on terrorism." The Prime Minister
offered support to the United States in the war, because "whatever
the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are
far, far greater."
3. The war against terrorism has changed the priorities
of the United Kingdom's foreign policy. It has highlighted the
importance of Britain's major alliances, and has caused the Government
to develop a more pragmatic approach towards regimes with which
it has major differences. This war has shifted the priorities
of the United Nations and the European Union, and has affected
the United Kingdom's and its allies' approach to NATO. It has
underlined sharply the extent to which conflicts in Kashmir, Central
Asia andmost obviouslythe Middle East affect Britain's
security and national interests. The threat that terrorists might
gain access to weapons of mass destruction has also been treated
with greater urgency, and this has affected the Government's policies
towards 'states of concern,' particularly Iraq.
4. Crucially, the war against terrorism has also
sparked an important and ongoing debate about how Britain might
best forge strong, positive relationships with governments and
people in the Islamic world. Winning the war necessitates the
avoidance of a 'clash of civilizations,' which Osama bin Laden
clearly sought to create through his devastating attacks on 11
September. This debate has also affected the priorities of the
BBC World Service and the British Council.
5. In this Report, we examine the Government's foreign
policies pre-11 September in some of the areas which have subsequently
emerged as of central importance to the success of the war. We
then consider the Government's immediate reaction to the 11 September
attacks, and the military campaign in Afghanistan leading to the
fall of the Taliban, before examining the conduct of the war to
May 2002. The Report concludes with an assessment of the threats
posed by weapons of mass destruction and states of concern, and
highlights some considerations for the future.
6. The Committee visited New York and Washington
just eight weeks after the attacks on those cities. Our impressions
of that visit are recorded in our Report of December 2001
and in this Report. Some of us returned to the United States in
March 2002, when we held important discussions at the United Nations
and with the US Administration. That visit provided valuable material
for this Report, and also helped to inform the debate on British-US
relations which took place in Westminster Hall on 25 April.
Visits in October 2001, to Brussels, in January 2002, to Madrid,
and in March 2002, to Turkey, also provided valuable insights.
At Westminster, we heard oral evidence from the Secretary of State,
the Rt hon Jack Straw, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
responsible for the Middle East, Ben Bradshaw, Mr Paul Bergne
OBE, Professor Paul
Wilkinson, Dr Rosemary
Hollis, Mr Michael Keating
and Mr Andrew Gilmour,
and Mr Philip Stephens.
We also met informally some of those closely involved in the events
which this Report considers, including Mr Mohammed Karzai, Dr
Abdullah Abdullah, Professor
Sir Jeremy Greenstock
and Mr John Bolton.
To all those we met, and to those who submitted their views in
writing, we are grateful.
7. This is a continuing Inquiry. We make this interim
Report now, because with the Taliban defeated, al Qaeda disrupted,
and much talk of what happens next, we believe that this is the
time to take stock. We do not intend this Report to be our last
word on the subject. Neither do we pretend to have answers to
all the questions we pose in it. But we trust that we can be of
some assistance in identifying the issues and in pointing the
way. We will continue to monitor developments on behalf of Parliament,
and we will report further to the House.
1 Tony Blair, speech to the Labour Party conference,
3 October 2001. Available at:-
See Second Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session
2001-2002, British-US Relations, HC 327. Back
Official Report, 25 April 2002, col. 137WH. Back
Formerly the Prime Minister's special envoy to the United Front
(Northern Alliance). Back
Professor of International Relations and Director of the Study
of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews,
Head of the Middle East programme, the Royal Institute of International
Affairs, Chatham House, London. Back
Representatives of the Office of the UN Special Co-ordinator
in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO). Mr Keating is Director, aid
and socio-economic affairs, and Mr Gilmour is Chief, Regional
Affairs and Senior Political Adviser to the Special Co-ordinator.
Columnist, Financial Times, London. Back
Respectively, leader and foreign minister of the interim administration
in Afghanistan. Back
Chair of Afghan Commission tasked with organising the Emergency
Loya Jirga. Back
United Kingdom Permanent Representative (Ambassador) to the United
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, US
Department of State, and Senior Adviser to the President and the
Secretary of State on Arms Control, Non-proliferation and Disarmament. Back