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Lord Bragg: My Lords, I hope you read that this has been a debate of very high standard and I look forward to reading the speeches in Hansard tomorrow. I should like to make one very brief point. I should like to reassure the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that I am a full hearted supporter of the BBC licence fee and of the BBC as an unabashed, unqualified public service broadcaster. I hope the BBC will examine the fair criticisms made here, although the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, of BBC indifference is rather worrying.

I am sure my noble friend Lady Young will agree that if you cannot take concerned criticism, especially in such a uniquely privileged position, then you are in trouble. Most of us here support the BBC at its best and will work for it. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.


6.42 p.m.

Lord Kennet rose to call attention to the role of NATO in international peace and security, with particular reference to the new strategic concept and to crisis management; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am old enough--many noble Lords are--to remember when NATO was set up. There was quite a bit of ceremony; there was even a hymn written, presumably "I vow to thee my NATO all earthly things above". It was recommended for use in schools.

There was no doubt then what NATO was for. Stalin thoroughly scared us. It was as easy to say what NATO was for then as it is hard now. The old strategic concept was simple indeed: NATO was a mutual security treaty. The European members were a compact and contiguous group and we joined together, as the Charter of the United Nations permitted, for our common defence. The adversary was one only, and was obvious to all.

Ten years ago history unkindly deprived us of this simple situation, and now we are left with the richest and most powerful military alliance the world has ever seen, led by the most powerful military country now present in the world, with no conceivable adversary. It is said that drugs and smuggling could be an adversary for NATO. For Interpol of course; but to suggest that they can be hunted and destroyed by intercontinental or medium range ballistic missiles, nuclear or not, or

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battlefield missiles, or bombers, or fighters, or carriers or submarines, or by tanks or by divisions on the ground, is either disingenuous or idiotic. I repeat: NATO as it now is has no conceivable adversary.

NATO is the creature of the United States. But just how much American foreign and defence policy today is controlled by the American people? Fewer and fewer of them vote--36 per cent. turn-out for the last congressional elections--and it is the lobbies: the military-industrial lobby, the American-Israeli lobby, the genetic modification lobby, who today control Congress. President Clinton's Secretary of Defense is a Reagan Republican, who believes in American military "intervention" and in scrapping the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which is the linchpin of all the Strategic Arms Limitation agreements. And on her appointment, Mrs. Albright said, "What's the point of having this wonderful military if we don't use it?". So that tends to be that.

As far as the United Nations and the expansion of NATO are concerned--and Star Wars again, and Full Spectrum Dominance, and Space Dominance and God knows what other Dominance--Senator Helms has got the Administration on a short lead. The US owes the UN a billion-and-a-half dollars. It has signed 52 treaties which the Senate will not ratify. Among those it has not even signed are the Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention and the convention setting up the International Criminal Court, both rightly dear to our Government's heart. Meanwhile, President Clinton's Presidential Decision Directive No. 60 allows him to launch pre-emptive nuclear war against "proliferators".

The New NATO Strategic Concept which we are debating today is to be our answer to the question: what are our young men and women now to be ready to die for? The Government have decided to find the answer in secret and then spring it on us. Though there is a Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons, it has not been informed. In this House, we do not have one at all. I am among those who over the years have proposed that we should have one. This debate is not, to put it mildly, in Government time.

Our own Strategic Defence Review was supposed to be "foreign policy led", but I do not think we actually have a foreign policy. There is talk about better Brit-pop and fewer cocktail parties, but foreign policy is about political, social, economic and environmental justice in the world.

There are, I suppose, four possible futures for NATO. One would be to phase it out and use the money and the skill to build up the UN, remove injustice at home, and crush disease, poverty, exploitation and waste in the world. That would be to find adversaries where Confucius, Jesus and the Prophet Mahomet found them, and where the vast majority of humankind still find them. But we say to our children and grandchildren, "Ah, well, hmm, perhaps that should be your task".

A second future would be to leave things as they are: keep NATO at about its present level, perhaps adding two or three contiguous friends in spite of the absence of any threat to guard against. This would be a large continuing waste of wealth, but otherwise would not do much harm.

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A third would be to expand NATO to include all European countries that want to join, and somehow to meet the cost of bringing them up to interoperability. That would create an adversary all right, though at first a shattered and humiliated one, Russia. This and any other imaginable Russian Government would perceive such a NATO as a threat, as their elected Parliament never ceases telling us. We are already having to spend a lot of money on a new missile because of some new Russian weapon. Of course; and they say they would find some way to keep the weapons they have and to rearm, and that way would obviously be nuclear or chemical, because for them that is now cheaper.

A fourth future would be to expand NATO as far as possible around the world, starting from eastern Europe, taking in all willing countries in the Middle East, central Asia and in due course south and south-east Asia, until we reach Japan, Australasia and the lands of the former SEATO and greet the Hawaiian shore of the US. This would produce not one but countless adversaries as NATO power and bases were set up in region after region of the world. But there are takers. Azerbaijan already wants a NATO base against Armenia, and there are NATO exercises in Albania, whose president is swearing unconditional loyalty to the United States in the hope that NATO will bomb the Serbs. When asked what his troops were doing exercising in Kazakhstan, an American general answered: "I guess it's to show there's nowhere we can't get to".

Such a future would cause China to devote everything to military effort, thus becoming in its turn the most powerful nation on earth and gathering under its sway all those countries which have chosen, and been able, to resist the expansion of NATO. They would be numerous because of the current US and British insistence on the rights of foreign "investors", which in ordinary language includes speculators, to override the decisions of local governments.

I do not know whether any Member of this House still doubts which of those four futures has the wind in its sails--perhaps not. It can be felt and seen most clearly in the American and French press. I feel it most clearly in the North Atlantic Assembly, to which my colleagues the Labour Peers were kind enough to elect me. The American wind is blowing strongly there towards the fourth alternative, with little assistant puffs from this country.

The argument has come to rest for the moment on the relative position to be given in international law and politics to NATO and to the United Nations. Hitherto the supremacy of the United Nations as global parliament and law-giver has never been doubted: the UN, even if it was not always our salvation, was always our hope. All countries find it slow and faltering. A very few--above all Israel, who owes her very existence to it--see it as a permanent hostile presence. But to the enormous majority of mankind the United Nations, and the rule of international law of which it is the symbol, is already the shield and help which it could one day be for all. The American people also incline that way, when anyone takes the trouble to ask them.

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These realities have long been reflected in our basic documents in the West. Until now, if one were starting an international organisation of any kind, and often even a national one, one built a reference to the UN into paragraph 1 of its constitution. The Labour Party did that, and still does. But at the recent plenary meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly in Edinburgh there was a draft resolution on the new strategic concept. It was not controversial. Where it dealt with out-of-area NATO actions, it contained the traditional phrase that such actions should be,

    "properly mandated by UN authority or OSCE responsibility and agreed with the highest cohesion".
An amendment was moved to delete the word "properly" and replace it with the words "whenever possible". Among the signatories to the amendment was the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons. The amendment was put to the vote and passed.

Another resolution, from the chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee, referred to,

    "non-Article 5 missions, which the revised Strategic Concept should identify as a new NATO fundamental task"--
that was fine--for which NATO members should be,

    "ready to act should the Security Council be prevented from discharging its purpose of maintaining international peace and security".
That, too, was passed and thus the North Atlantic Assembly now endorses the US view that NATO may arrogate to itself the right to confer legality on its own actions, whatever and wherever they may be.

It would be hard to put the European view more clearly than it was put by the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Vedrine, in September at the United Nations:

    "Nothing should permit a state, a group of states or an organisation, however powerful it may be, to have recourse to force without having received prior authorisation from the Security Council, except in the case of legitimate self-defence".

Now I realise that it must be pleasant to coast along in the warmth of American friendship and protection, but it has its price, which is the consequent loss of warmth from other quarters. Do we care about good relations with the Arab states, with all Islam, even with the two Koreas?

Trouble only arises when we--or, rather, the United States--wish to act other than lawfully. Our current undeclared war on Iraq has nothing to do with Security Council resolutions, self-defence or anything in the least "humanitarian". We are now operating under American command to "topple Saddam", which is unlawful. Despite our own law, we allow American officials to do their plotting here in London and claim that we have no "evidence". We supported President Clinton's entirely self-serving attack on the factory in Sudan, where we had no evidence, either. Do Foreign Office officials report to Ministers how all this plays in the rest of the world? Do they show them the cartoons?

Perhaps we should now detach ourselves a bit. The way to do that is to take the law as our guide. What we--and perhaps only we--could do would be to talk

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to the United States. Without our support it just might see its legal nakedness. As it is, we are feeding the junkie his drug.

At present NATO is strong in armed might but weak in legitimacy and the UN is strong in legitimacy but weak in armed might. A useful common purpose for NATO might be this. Let all the European countries who want, including Russia, join together in this organisation of ours, self-defensive as it always was, but with the capacity to go to the help of those who are attacked or are being maltreated outside its area, provided that it does so with the clear and recent approval of the UN or the OSCE. It should become the military arm of the UN for Europe and adjacent territories. This would imply the growth of corresponding organisations in other parts of the world, which is in fact already beginning. The essence is that there should be no self-appointed, self-legitimating world policeman, but several regional or continental policemen at the service of the UN--

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