Memorandum from Dan Plesch, Senior Research
Fellow, The Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies
1. The committee is addressing how government
policy can best carry forward the war against terrorism, assist
in a just and peaceful settlement in the Middle East and help
reconstruct Afghanistan. These are vital issues. The key points
of analysis and recommendations that I offer for consideration
by the Committee are explored in more detail in my pamphlet, Sheriff
and Outlaws in the Global Village.
2. 11 September marks a new era in conflict
because it was the first major strategic attack carried out by
a guerrilla force and the attackers came from within as well as
without our society. The attack also marked the first time since
the Ottoman Empire that non-Westerners have attacked a Western
capital. Or, to put it crudely, that the colonised have hit back.
These factors and the ever-increasing integration of our globalised
world mean that it is useful to consider the conflict as a global
guerrilla or civil war rather than a war on terrorism.
3. Attacks on the scale of 11 September
need only occur every few years to keep the initiative with the
4. The vast majority of political attention
and defence expenditure has been devoted to traditional power
projection expeditions and traditional weapons systems. These
operations divert attention from the need to make a shift in strategic
response to match that made by the attackers. Such a response
needs to be integrated with approaches to pre-existing issues
of globalisation, WMD and the environment. We need a better grand
5. We need to rediscover that military means
are the tool of a broader policy rather than the other way around.
The more the US keeps to its present orientation the more our
own policy must strengthen the non-military means in coalition
with other partners.
6. I would like to draw attention to four
problems with the present orientation of the Bush Administration's
7. The first problem is that it is over
militarised, with other policy tools including the Coast Guard
and the State Department being neglected. The lack of any US system
for translating Arabic into English is a detail that is indicative
of the lack of attention to non-military fundamentals.
8. The second problem is the US's weakness
in infantry operations, which significantly weakens its predominantly
military approach to policy.
9. The third problem is the lack of understanding
of the views of opponents.
10. The fourth problem is the Darwinian
or anarchistic approach to international affairs. It is the ideological
opposition to international law rather than any isolationist or
unilateralist tendency that is the defining quality of the present
11. Co-operation is essential to ensuring
good intelligence between nations, the sine qua non of effectively
countering international terrorism.
12. Another illustration of how far present
political thinking has drifted from a broad approach to collective
security is drawn from history. The following document is the
Atlantic Charter of 1941. Much of its inspirational vision would
today be regarded as unfit for a summit agenda. Indeed, there
was no commemoration of its sixtieth anniversary last year, despite
the great attention given to other anniversaries of that era.
The President of the United States and the
Prime Minister, Mr Churchill, representing HM Government in the
United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known
certain common principles in the national policies of their respective
countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for
1. Their countries seek no aggrandisement,
territorial or other.
2. They desire to see no territorial changes
that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples
3. They respect the right of all peoples
to choose the form of Government under which they will live, and
they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored
to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.
4. They will endeavour with due respect
for their existing obligations, to further enjoyment by all States,
great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms,
to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed
for their economic prosperity.
5. They desire to bring about the fullest
collaboration between all nations in the economic field, with
the object of securing for all improved labour standards, economic
advancement, and social security.
6. After the final destruction of Nazi
tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford
to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own
boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in
all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and
7. Such a peace should enable all men
to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance.
8. They believe all of the nations of
the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come
to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace
can be maintained if land, sea, or air armaments continue to be
employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten aggression
outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment
of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the
disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid
and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten
for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armament."
13. The following recommendations are in
the spirit of this Atlanticism.
14. The vital security and enforcement element
in combating terrorism should be subject to a far broader global
strategy and not the other way around.
15. International development and aid policies
are essential to improving the international climate. We should
adopt the old medical principle: first, do no harm. Three "harms"
inflicted by the industrialised world that impede development
are weapons transfers, high tariffs and debt repayments.
16. Effective intelligence requires a good
multilateral climate of co-operation. Greater democratic accountability
of intelligence agencies is necessary to improve effectiveness
and public confidence; clear improvement in co-operation between
agencies should be the key priority.
17. Progress on legal controls on international
security should be linked with legal agreements on trade in order
to ensure a more balanced system of international law.
18. Interventions in sovereign states should
have explicit UN mandates and the UN should have a strong role
in managing operations to prevent them becoming a new form of
imperialism. "Co-operative imperialism" is a contradiction
19. The International Criminal Court should
be brought into force as soon as possible.
20. The EU should initiate ad hoc international
security agreements with the developing world in preparation for
the day when states that now reject them are ready to join in
an UN-sanctioned agreement.
21. Democracy should be used to invigorate
international institutions to help balance globalised corporate
power. Electorates should directly elect their representatives
to the UN General Assembly and other international bodies such
as the IMF.
22. As a short-term remedy for the democratic
deficit in international institutions, the United Kingdom should
post Ministers of State to the permanent missions to the UN, the
IMF, NATO, the EU and the OSCE.
23. In order to remove the vulnerability
of the industrialised world to both interruptions of Middle East
oil supplies and attacks on the energy infrastructure, an emergency
transition strategy to renewable energy should be the focus of
attention for the leading industrialised nations.
24. The following programme should provide
the political context for efforts to manage and eliminate weapons
of mass destruction in South Asia and other areas of regional
proliferation. The idea of mutual deterrence is irrelevant to
guerrillas with weapons of mass destruction and is not compatible
with a military strategy of domination exemplified by missile
defences. The imperatives a few nation states derive from their
interest in weapons of mass destruction impede efforts at international
controls of such weapons and materials.
25. In general, the process of accelerated
disarmament that occurred in the period 1987-92 should be resumed.
26. The UK and like-minded states should
implement the provisions of the biological weapons verification
protocol. This would make it harder for guerrilla groups to gain
access to these materials and enable future detection efforts
to "eliminate potential suspects from their enquiries",
so saving time and increasing confidence, experience and political
27. Increase funding for the nuclear inspectorate
of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
28. Implement the agreement made in 2000
at the Non Proliferation Treaty review conference on a 13-point
programme. The House of Commons should initiate a joint Defence
and Foreign Affairs Committee investigation of this programme
and ensure that the NATO nuclear posture review now underway reflects
the NPT decisions. NPT implementation should involve the phased
elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020.
29. A combined verification and enforcement
regime for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons should be
30. It is necessary to initiate a programme
to control and eliminate conventional weapons, building on the
provisions of the INF and CFE Treaties and covering naval vessels.
These can be developed further in Europe, begun in Africa and
prepared by the Middle East and the regions of Asia with the objective
of a verified halt to the production and trade in such weapons
by 2010, the elimination of most major weapon systems by 2020,
and a global halt to major military production contracts should
be made after 2010.
31. The UK and other European states should
not participate in the US missile "defence" programmes
and should base their opposition on the offensive nature of these
systems. At a minimum, support should be linked to full implementation
of the NPT and other arms control regimes by all states including
Senior Research Fellow
Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies
2 Note by witness: The International Criminal
Court has been established since this memorandum was submitted.
It should be supported both politically and financially. Back