§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord BOYD-CARPENTER rose to call attention to the threat to international security caused by the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, and to the measures announced by the Foreign Secretary on 24th January; and to move for Papers. My Lords, the purpose of this debate is, of course, to enable this House to bring to bear its enormous resources of knowledge and experience of the problems of international relations and foreign affairs on the problem on whose solution depends—it is not putting it too high to say—the life and future both of this country and of the civilised world. If one consults the list of those who have indicated their intention to take part in this debate, one sees how impressive is the collection of ability and experience contained in this House and which will be made available during the course of this debate.
§ In this Chamber and in this debate on foreign affairs there will take part not only a former Prime Minister, but the current Foreign Secretary, three most distinguished predecessors of the Foreign Secretary and a number of heads of the 1351 Foreign Office and holders of high diplomatic appointments throughout the world. They will bring to bear on this problem—and this is the purpose of the debate—a degree of authority which I venture to say no other legislative chamber in the world can assemble. I hope that this debate will make some contribution towards dealing with those appalling problems, with which my noble friend the Foreign Secretary is dealing so ably.
§ One looks from this country on to a grim and dangerous scene. There is a bleak, cold wind blowing from the East. To many of my generation there is a sickening familiarity in it all. So much recalls the 1930s: the build-up of huge forces at the disposal of a great dictatorship; the lying speeches; the alarms; the sudden movements of troops—all the appalling apparatus of impending aggression which most of us lived through in the 1930s. Curiously enough, there is even the same public relations build-up of the Olympic Games; and there is also a curious similarity of technique in the latest move into Afghanistan. The same technique which the dictators practised in the 1930s, as noble Lords will recall, of moving during public holidays when it was hoped that the Western world might be in a relaxed and perhaps inattentive mood, was followed by moving into Afghanistan over Christmas.
§ I may seem too gloomy in asking your Lordships to cast your minds back to the tragic course of events of the 1930s, but I am happy to admit that the cheering aspect of the matter is that in this country we have a Government which are alert to the dangers of the situation, with a courageous and resolute Prime Minister and a pertinacious, sagacious and adroit Foreign Secretary. When your Lordships are driving on a winter's night on a greasy road surface, it is a good thing to know that the drivers are competent.
§ Looking at this situation, as I think we must, with an historical background, one fact emerges crystal clear: that the final catastrophe of major war has in our lifetimes and in modern history basically arisen from one cause: from a fatal miscalculation by the intending aggressor of the point at which the rest of the world would be prepared to resist, if necessary by armed force. I ask your Lordships to 1352 cast your minds back to 1914. It came as a complete and startling surprise to the imperial Government of Germany that the enormously pacific British Government of Mr. Asquith were prepared to take this country to war in defence of Belgium and in support of France. I, personally, can vouch for that, for with my late father, whom some of your Lordships may recall, during the 1930s I had the privilege of visiting the exiled Emperor William at Doom, and on more than one occasion he emphasised the complete surprise which he, and he claimed his Ministers, felt when, after Russia had mobilised, the British ultimatum arrived. They simply had not counted on it and they had miscalculated.
§ I am sure that the same was true in 1939 when, partly no doubt, as a result of the false and inaccurate reports which that discreditable character and salesman of rather inferior wine, Herr von Ribben-trop had sent to Berlin, the German Government did not really believe that we would fight if they invaded Poland. Therefore, if one studies the history of these grim situations, the central fact which, with humility I suggest to your Lordships must come into our consideration of this matter, is that those who today rule Russia should not be left with any illusions or basis for miscalculation as to the point at which, if they go further, they would—however reluctantly—compel the Free World, the Western world or whatever one calls it, to resist to the utmost.
§ Whatever one may think of the contemporary rulers of Russia, they are not crazy; in many ways they are indeed very adroit operators. No one can believe that they could profit from an all-out war in this nuclear age. Therefore, it is all the more important that they should not be given any opportunity to blunder into one through the same sort of miscalculation which twice in my lifetime has brought destruction upon the world. Therefore, I suggest to your Lordships that in the course of this debate the opportunity be taken—as I am sure it will be—to make the position of this country and its allies crystal clear.
§ What is disturbing about the invasion of Afghanistan itself is that it is the first open intervention by the Russians in a non-aligned country. However wrong 1353 morally or politically we think their moves in Hungary and Czechoslovakia may have been, they were at least moves into an area which had tacitly, perhaps wrongly, been accepted as being within their sphere of influence. This is an invasion of a country which was an active member of the non-aligned group of countries, and apart from the obvious geographical implications of a move into Afghanistan, this is a very sinister development.
§ For years we have watched the Soviet Union pile up enormous defence forces. It is a major—perhaps the major—nuclear power, with fleets in every sea, huge armies in Western Russia and Eastern Europe backed by unlimited tank forces, bombers and all the rest. In order to sustain that, they have devoted a far larger proportion of their national product to defence than have any of the Western countries. As a consequence their people enjoy, by Western standards, very low standards of life.
§ The question poses itself: why are they doing this? Why are they keeping the standards of life of their own people lower than they need be because so many of their resources are being used in building up this enormous defence effort? It cannot be a defence effort in the strict sense of the term because no one is going to attack a major nuclear power. Russia would be just as safe if she had no fleets in the Indian Ocean and no tank armies in Poland.
§ I do not believe that there is an intention in the Kremlin to push this to war. I think what they want is the fruits of successful war without actually having to fight it. They want to use the intimidating effect of these enormous armaments in order to obtain the expansion, which is the historic policy of Russia, by threat, by fear, by subversion, by the setting up of puppet governments backed with enormous forces. I suggest that this is the only possible explanation of this enormous build-up of Russian defences.
§ The second question that arises is what we in this country should do about it. It is obviously the purpose of this debate for all of us so far as we can to contribute suggestions to this effect. I know that I speak with much less experience in the field of foreign affairs than so many of those who will follow. But I should like, if I may, to put one or two suggestions 1354 to my noble friend. The first I am sure most noble Lords will agree with: it is that we should increase the provision for our own defence. Successive defence cuts, sometimes speciously disguised as defence reviews, have reduced our forces to a very much lower level than they stood at 15 years ago. I know that we have had the assurance that the 3 per cent. increase in expenditure on defence asked for by NATO will be implemented. But I should like to ask my noble friend a question about that. Is there not a risk if we increase defence spending by only 3 per cent. that the practical effect of that may be eroded by the increases in VAT which came into operation last summer? The armed forces purchase much by way of equipment and goods into which VAT enters. It is at least a possible calculation that the 3 per cent. increase may well be eroded by the additional tax. From the Government's point of view it is purely an accountancy matter, but from the point of view of the strengthening of the forces of the United Kingdom it may well have some practical significance. I should value an assurance on that point.
§ Secondly, must we not look more vigorously at our defence activities outside the NATO area? I am one of those who regard our withdrawal from the Gulf in 1970 as a disaster. It is no doubt too late specifically to go back, but must we not devote some of our defence effort to forces that can operate well outside the NATO area?
§ Then there is civil defence. As your Lordships know—it was discussed in this House a short time ago—our provision for civil defence at the moment is very limited. It exists very largely on paper. I wonder whether, if we are not taking sufficient steps on a substantial scale to protect our civil population in the event of war, we could convince the Russians, on the very point on which I suggest miscalculation could be fatal, of our determination, if necessary, to resist. One can compare what we are doing with what is done in the United States, 3,000 miles further away from the Soviet Union.
My noble friend will no doubt have seen an interesting letter in The Times from Professor Michael Howard, the military historian, on this point, from which, if I may, I shall quote one small passage.
…so that the credibility of our entire defence posture should not be destroyed through absence of evidence of our capacity to endure the disagreeable consequences likely to flow from it".
I beg my noble friend at least to consider whether some development of civil defence is not necessary if the United Kingdom's determination to play its part in the resistance to aggression is really to be credible, and indeed to be believed.
§ My noble friend announced a number of important measures in his Statement on 24th January. I should be grateful if he could add a little to them. Are our European colleagues and we ourselves now prepared to send no subsidised exports of food of any sort to the Soviet Union? Are they also not prepared to subsidise investment in the Soviet Union on terms more favourable than such investment can be achieved in their own countries? If we are to show ourselves resolute I suggest that those are measures which ought to be considered.
§ Then inevitably there is the vexed question of the Olympic Games. I believe that nothing could bring home the isolation of Russia, and the world's resentment of the invasion of Afghanistan, more effectively than the moving of the Games from Moscow, which is the best solution. Alternatively, there is cancellation or postponement, or, in the ultimate resort, that the Games should turn out to be a fiasco. For two years and more there has quite literally been an enormous build-up in the Soviet Union about these wonderful Games and how marvellously they will be organised. A great stadium has been built, and, unlike in many other centres, completed on time. It would be very difficult to explain to the Russian people if the whole thing turned out to be a flop. They would realise that things were not as they should be; that the world had lost concern with them. This is desperately important, because there is always the risk—and we have seen it so often when some country has committed an act of aggression—that there is a great row at the time, and if the country concerned remains calm and unflapped all is forgotten in a few months and there is a return to at least a precarious normality.
§ It is so essential to secure that both the Russian Government and the Russian 1356 people understand that until they evacuate Afghanistan they are not going to be on close and friendly terms with other nations in the world that it seems to me quite crucial that the Games should not take place in Moscow, or, at the worst, that they should not be a success. I sympathise—we all sympathise—with those who have been training for years to take part in them. But it should surely be possible for the 40 governments which have now said that the Games should not take place in Moscow to organise a set of alternative Games in some other centre.
§ The Olympic Committee seems to think that it could not organise the Games in the time, and maybe it could not, but I would hazard a guess that a number of the governments who have taken this line would be perfectly capable of doing so at four or five months' notice, so giving these young people the opportunity, which they want to have and deserve to have, to compete and match their skills against each other. One can say two things to them: that if all goes wrong and they do not have this opportunity their lot is at any rate less grim than that of those who should have competed in 1940 or in 1944, and that what we are concerned with is that those who come in 1984—that ominous sounding year—should be able to compete under peaceful conditions. I simply do not believe that sensitive young people, as most of these are, are going to enjoy receiving the plaudits on the platform, and the hospitality of the rulers of a country who, at that very moment, are hunting the Afghan loyalists with gas and helicopter gunships through the mountains of Afghanistan. I cannot believe that any sensitive young person with any feeling, as most young people have, for the decencies of the world would really like that.
§ There are some who say that one must keep politics out of sport. But it depends on what one means by politics. If, by politics, one means party politics, then yes; but if by politics one means what we mean here—peace, regard for law and the freedom of small nations to live their lives without aggression—then it is impossible to keep politics out of sport. And indeed, if those distinguished members of the Olympic International Committee who are gathering at Lake Placid would 1357 care to read their own Charter and look at its first article, they will see set out one of the major purposes of the Games; namely, to build up peace and friendliness among nations. It is one of their declared objects and I hope they will not only bear this in mind but will bear in mind, as has been said in this House more than once, that this could mean the end of the Olympics. The responsibility for the end of the Olympics would lie on those who insisted, in definance of the view of 40 nations, on going ahead with a fiasco of Games in Moscow.
§ In all this, it seems to me the crucial issue is to maintain our closest relationship and friendship with the United States. It was the withdrawal of the United States from Europe and from the League of Nations in the 1920s that led almost inescapably to the 1939 war. Today the United States is the great power in NATO, the greatest safeguard for the Western world, a power that is prepared to spend a great deal of money on not only her own defence but the defence of the Free World. Our relations with her are not always easy; we heard a reference to them only a few minutes ago in connection with the Security Council's debate on Rhodesia. But I say to the House, with respect, that it really is crucial that in all these respects—be it the Olympic Games or be it the defence effort in the Indian Ocean—we should do everything we can to maintain and rivet our friendship with the United States.
§ I cannot help remembering at this moment an incident nearly a quarter of a century ago which my noble friend Lord Selkirk, if he is in the House, will recall. Winston Churchill had returned from the Palace after tendering his resignation. He summoned a few of us to 10 Downing Street to hear what was really his political testament. He was sad and depressed that he had not been able, as he had hoped, to restore civilised and regular relations with Soviet Russia, which he had struggled for, as many noble Lords will remember. He then went on to leave us this message which I have always remembered: that it is on the Anglo-American alliance that in the ultimate the peace and security of the world will depend. As he said, "If we fall apart, the outlook is grim and there will be disaster. If we keep together, we shall come through". Winston Churchill 1358 was a controversial figure and many of your Lordships know that on many things, many small things, he was apt to be wrong, but he had a gift of long prevision given to no one else in our time and generation. He warned us once in vain in the 1930s. I pray to God we do not disregard his warning again. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, the Soviet Government must have long considered the consequences before actually taking over Afghanistan. There was clearly the thought that the continued existence of a turbulent Moslem neighbour, inherently resistant to what they presumably think of as the modernisation of a neighbouring country, was a potential threat to the stability and security of the Central Asian parts of the Soviet Empire. I think it almost certain that that was the main reason. But no doubt there was also the consideration that, more especially with Iran in a state of turmoil, there could be long-term advantage in at least getting nearer to the famous "jugular vein of the West in the Persian Gulf, though I do not feel it was the major reason. There is little reason in any case to believe that the Soviet Union wants to provoke an immediate military showdown, and so I think any loose talk of war is both unhelpful and misguided.
On the other hand, it must have been obvious that the move into Afghanistan would be unpopular, to say the least, with the Moslem world and indeed with the Third World, the uncommited world as a whole, and might even, I suppose, in the long run weaken the Soviet hold on certain very important strategic outposts such as the Southern Yemen and even at one remove, Angola. And, of course, it was obvious that it would inevitably result in the postponement, perhaps indefinitely, of the ratification of SALT II, and a surge forward in the rearmament of America, a virtual end to détente and consequentially an increased long-term risk of war. That must have occurred to them.
We can only conclude that, in spite of those obvious disadvantages, the Politburo or perhaps a majority of the Politburo, believed that the Soviet Union was strong enough to pursue its own ends 1359 irrespective of the opinion of the West, led by America. The exile of Sakharov lends colour to this rather gloomy but, I fear, realistic view. It may have been a miscalculation, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, suggested, on the part of the Soviet Union, but I do feel that my own interpretation is realistic. Why? Well, on any sober assessment of the military situation as it exists in the world today, it is evident that even now the Soviet Union would not necessarily lose a physical contest with NATO and the West. They would not necessarily lose it: they might not win, and they almost certainly do not want a war to happen. But what of the apparent prospects if it did happen?
The position surely is that at the moment the homelands of both the Super Powers are virtually immune from nuclear bombardment. Theoretically, no doubt, the one or the other might eliminate most of its opponent's ICBMs on a first strike, but in all probability not all and certainly not those contained in submarines; the use of the remainder, therefore, probably resulting in some fairly general destruction of society, even if they were, in principle, limited to strategic targets. Hence, immunity in practice, if not in theory, of the homelands, is what would happen in the event of a world war.
On the other hand, in the so-called "theatre" of war, namely Europe, the Soviet Union which, as we know, has resisted all attempts to achieve some suitable MBFR (mutual balanced force reductions) has so vast a superiority in all conventional arms, to say nothing of immediately available men, that it could easily defeat and round up NATO forces unless either the NATO forces were heavily reinforced before hostilities began or the West has recourse to nuclear weapons, or both. But would the Soviet Union permit the arrival of reinforcements when it has every possibility of destroying by conventional, to say nothing perhaps of chemical, means the ports and airfields through which those reinforcements would necessarily have to pass? It is hardly defeatist to wonder. At the least we must assume that the Soviet Union might well give themselves the benefit of the doubt.
Should we, then, be obliged, in the event of the worst occurring, to have 1360 recourse to tactical nuclear weapons? It would seem only too likely. But in that event we should have to be prepared for their use against us, or, rather, presumably for their use against our forces and their widely scattered bases in the Federal Republic. In such an appalling situation, leading to a sort of shambles on both sides of the Elbe, it might be that the Soviet Union would not win; nobody would win, but at least they might be unlikely to lose. However, the point is that until such time as we can build up our conventional forces in Germany, so as to have a real prospect of holding a Russian armoured assault, and also the capacity, as we may in four or five years' time, to eliminate from Europe, targets in the Soviet Union—not necessarily towns, of course, but strategic targets—it looks as though this grave disadvantage is going to persist, whether we like it or not.
I repeat that all this does not mean that the Soviet Union actually wants a war. It does not mean that it is actually going to happen. It does not mean that it is even very likely to happen. But it may well mean that the Russians believe that the West may not, for the time being, be able to challenge them militarily in Europe if they take action outside the NATO area. Such action could of course be in the Balkans, or South of the Caucasus, or South of the Hindu Kush, or in Sinkiang, or Manchuria or possibly even somewhere in Africa. Again, I say that it does not seem very likely that they will take such action. But after Afghanistan it would be folly to assume that they will never do so. After all, as we know, there has been strong Soviet support for their friends in North Yemen, and more particularly, in Ethiopia where there are still strong friendly forces. Indeed, the Soviet action in Ethiopia, when one comes to think of it, is not very different from their action in Afghanistan. Incidentally, I do not quite understand why, if we are now denying food to the Soviet Union as a result of their action in Afghanistan, we should apparently still continue to supply it to Ethiopia where, I gather, it falls into the hands of the forces now being backed up by the Russians.
Anyhow, I think it is hardly alarmism to point out that this kind of thing could 1361 happen in many places in the world in the next few years—at least before the situation is stablilised by the means that I have suggested. So what do we do, in common action I should hope, with our European partners, and of course America? I think that apart from the obvious desirability of rescuing Turkey from bankruptcy, and bringing her armed forces up to date, thereby decreasing the chances of her becoming either neutral, or at worst, falling into the arms of the Soviet Union, the most obvious action is to mend, if we can, our fences with Iran. I would not despair of this, and I should hope that our excellent diplomatic corps, under the splendid leadership of the Foreign Secretary, will discover gradually the best means of doing so, or rather perhaps of helping the Americans to do so. That, I should think, would be our second objective.
The next objective would be to give all aid and comfort we can to the Saudi régime. They have of course all the money in the world; but what they must fear surely, especially after events in Mecca, is the appearance across the Gulf of some "Leftist" régime which might encourage subversion in their vast and largely empty country. If that kind of situation arose, it would not be necessary, from the Russian point of view, to send any armoured divisions through Baluchistan, or to organise a Soviet warm water port; of course not. That is something which, in any case, I have already suggested they have probably little intention of doing. In those circumstances they would have the means, not of actually stopping the oil getting through the Gulf—that could well be counter-productive, and might produce a military reaction, which would be highly undesirable from their point of view—but of controlling and restricting it through action on the part of friendly Governments (members of the United Nations, no doubt) which could weaken and gravely embarrass all Western industrial States, and thus add to the general world recession, the encouragement and perpetuation of which is obviously a major Soviet objective.
I am aware that in trying to define our own major objectives I might be accused by some of falling a victim to some kind of war psychosis, or of over-reacting—a state of mind which is being attributed 1362 by many to the unfortunate President Carter. But, my Lords, unless we prefer to bury our heads in the sand, we can hardly avoid speculating on the likely intentions of the Soviet Government and considering the best means of countering them. Nor should we in any way abandon our efforts to come to some agreement on arms limitation; of course not. Détente has clearly been replaced by tension; there is no doubt about that. But that does not mean that both the Russians and the Americans might not still see some advantage in, for instance, bringing SALT II into operation, or even in accepting, at long last, some of our proposals for an advance on the MBFR. That is not to be excluded, even now. Indeed, some of the economic measures taken by the Americans—it must be hoped, with the approval of their European allies—might even work towards this result. Mr. Brezhnev has just announced that he is still in favour of détente, Though he has done his best to destroy it, there is no reason to think that he would be opposed necessarily to some kind of arms limitation, provided always that it did not sensibly diminish the existing Soviet superiority in almost all realms of armaments, including the nuclear. We must still go on trying.
Whether we like it or not, we are however entering a dangerous period in which, as the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, rightly said, the first essential is to bring our conventional forces up-to-date and not to allow them to be unfavourably affected by allocating huge sums, which we cannot possibly afford, to a renewal of our strategic nuclear deterrent. For apart from anything else, an East-West showdown, resulting in either a world war or in some major settlement, is obviously going to come long before the 'nineties, until when our present deterrent, small though its value is, as I think, in any global context, will be operative for what it is worth.
If, in addition to strengthening our conventional defences, we were, as I believe, also to organise some kind of home guard—possibly based on an extension of the Territorial Army, as I think emerged from a debate in the other place—to defend our cities against damage of various kinds in the event of a conventional war, which, after all, is still quite possible, 1363 that would add very greatly to the impression given to our opponents that we were in earnest.
I leave the Olympic Games to the last, and rightly so, because although they have most of the publicity, they really do not matter all that much, one way or the other. Clearly, a considerable number of countries will not now be attending the Games, though a considerable number will be. In the absence of the United States in any case they will probably not have very large TV coverage; at least we must sincerely hope not, and I trust that the Government will do their best to see that they do not get it here. Perhaps the Soviet Government will release a sufficient number of its political prisoners to put up a good show, and professionals from Eastern Germany, specially hotted up by one means or another, will be called on to collect most of the prizes. If our own athletes, or some of them, really feel that they have to be there in order to receive a medal from the conqueror of Afghanistan, well, as I see it, that is their affair. It will be best, so far as we can, to forget about the whole grisly business.
What we must do in the first place is get our industrial machine to work—I am sure the Foreign Secretary will agree that unless we do that, no diplomacy could possibly be effective—and thereafter to take our proper place as a leading member both of the EEC and of the North Atlantic Alliance. We are, in principle, well qualified to do this, since being, after all, Europeans, we can, and we should, appreciate the real difficulties confronting our fellow Members of the Community across the Channel when asked to take a very tough line with regard to Afghanistan, while still ourselves being nearer, on the whole, in our general reactions, to the Americans.
We are showing, I am afraid, few signs of our ability to play such a role at the moment. Indeed, if we go on as we are we may expect, I am afraid, to become a sort of impoverished, fin de siècle, de-industrialised State living cheaply, and for a few years, on oil and tourists. But, as they always say, the British are unable to read the writing on the wall until they are right up against it; so let us hope that, this time, we may become politically literate before it is too late.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, the whole House is grateful to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter for his robust, constructive and thoughtful speech, as one would expect—and all done without a note. Most of us cannot gather our verbs, let alone our logic, unless we have our script in front of us, and it was a very refreshing performance; as, indeed, was the very interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. The Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan over Christmas called for an immediate and forthright response, and on 24th January, in your Lordships' House, I laid down the measures that the British Government were taking, and in another place my right honourable friend the Prime Minister further developed the Government's policy on 28th January. I do not want to go over all that again, and I hope my noble friend will forgive me if I do not answer the questions that he put to me. I will leave them to my noble friend Lord Trefgarne, because I think it does not quite fit in with what I want to say I and do not want to detain your Lordships for too long.
The crisis, of course, as my noble friend says, is still with us, and it is not soon going to be resolved. Nevertheless, I think that we can already begin to take stock. The implications and consequences of the Soviet invasion are becoming clearer, and we can draw some lessons for ourselves and for our partners and our allies. Above all, perhaps, we can now begin to see quite clearly the weaknesses which undermined the relationship between East and West during the last decade; and we now have many of the elements for developing a new concept for the future stabilisation and management of East-West relations. For I have no doubt that that has got to be the main objective of ourselves and our partners in this dangerous world. To put the East-West relationship on a sensible basis must be our objective: a basis which preserves the interests of all and permits none to secure a unilateral advantage. There is a long way to go before we reach that point. The table has been knocked over, and the pieces are scattered.
I am not sure that we here in Western Europe have yet grasped how much has been changed by that fateful Christmas 1365 adventure. The changes in Afghanistan itself are ones that we can read about daily in our newspapers, or see in the evenings on the television. We know about them from the journalists and the camera teams who, so far, have been allowed to report the truth, often in conditions not merely of difficulty but of considerable physical danger. Then there are the changes in the Indian sub-continent, where I was myself a little under three weeks ago. Pakistan now faces the threat of a common frontier with the Soviet empire. President Zia and his Government are seeking urgently to repair the military and economic weaknesses of their country, and their appeal must neither fall on deaf ears nor be answered in a way which causes legitimate concern to their great neighbour, India. Mrs. Gandhi, with all the tremendous responsibilities that she carries, needs for her country what President Zia needs for his: peace and security, and the opportunity for continued economic development. The visit by the President of France to Delhi and the joint declaration signed by the two leaders show how far India and Western Europe can find common ground in stating what is wrong with the situation and what it needs to put it right.
But the changes that we have already seen are nothing compared with those to which the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could later lead if the necessary conclusions are not drawn now, and I agree very much with what my noble friend Lord Boyd-Capenter said about that. Iran's new situation speaks for itself: to the 20 Soviet divisions not far from its northern border must now be added six or seven in the East. It is not surprising that Iranian voices are beginning to draw attention to the true nature of the threat to Iranian independence. It is a threat that is not confined to Iran alone; nor is it solely, or perhaps even primarily, of a military kind. If the military occupation of Afghanistan was completed in a matter of days, the political preparations for it—the reconnaissance, the approach march, the sapping, the mining—began a very long time ago.
For the countries of the region the course of events in Afghanistan in recent years spells out a lesson that is unmistakable. The threat is external, but the weaknesses it feeds upon may be internal. Sub- 1366 version is a slower-acting poison than invasion, but it can no be no less fatal, and it is a speciality of Communist cooking. That is why the Governments concerned are right to look not only to their own defences but to their own records, to the administration of their country, to its economic well-being and its social harmony. Many of those countries have had close links with Britain in the past, and many may wish to do so, and do wish to do so, in the future. Within the limits of our possibilities, we stand ready to help.
Perhaps the biggest change of all, and the least clearly understood here in Europe, is the transformation in the United States. To read President Carter's State of the Union message is to be aware of a new spirit of awareness and commitment. The consequences of this have yet to work themselves out. Many countries and many aspects of the international scene are going to be involved. Where America was sometimes criticised for lack of leadership, now she is being criticised by some for over-reacting. But it is a time for brave hearts and cool heads, which is another way of saying that it is a time for statesmanship. It is a time, too, for unity within Europe, as well as across the Atlantic—and I am talking here about a fundamental identity of outlook, and not necessarily about detailed policies on particular issues. Each of the Western countries has different responsibilities and different interests at stake. There must therefore be some differences of approach; it would be unhealthy and unnatural, and impossible, if this were not so.
Nevertheless, the basic identity of view which has brought so many European countries into the partnership of the Community, and which links Europe to North America in the Atlantic Alliance, is not based on a fleeting convergence of interest, any more than it is based on compulsion. We are all independent democracies; we have Governments of many different complexions. When a new crisis occurs we do not follow a disciplined line on the orders of a single leader. We come to our own conclusions, more or less equally and after more or less discussion among ourselves. The process, I think, takes a bit longer than some of us would like. It may produce an initial appearance and impression of 1367 disarray. Yet I suspect that the resulting agreement is all the more solid and all the more worthwhile.
It is a process which we have seen at work in the West in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I saw it yesterday with my own eyes in Brussels, where the Foreign Ministers of the Community met to consider the subject in all its implications. Of course, Brussels has a reputation which all of us know, and I presume that I expected, if not an all-night sitting, at least some confrontation of opinions, some clash of objectives. Instead, I found agreement: agreement that the peace of the world is threatened; agreement that the situation in Afghanistan as it is today cannot be regarded as final; agreement that a heavy shadow has been cast on East-West relations; agreement that the pursuit of détente has been rendered infinitely more difficult, but can be resumed if the Soviet Union is willing to give this word its true, full and indivisible meaning; agreement that now as never before the economic strength of the Community needs to be harnessed for the political ends that all its members subscribe to; and, finally, agreement that the mechanism of what is called political co-operation among the Nine needs improvement. There is a machinery and there are procedures. They function well enough in normal times, but they have to function also in times that are not normal, times that are as abnormal as the day which the world experienced while the 'seventies gave way to the 'eighties.
I have some ideas on this subject, and I hope to see some results. At all events, it was a valuable and encouraging meeting yesterday, all the more so by reason of the exchanges which the Prime Minister and I had with our Italian colleagues last week in London; there were the very useful weekend I spent with the French Foreign Minister and my talks last month in Turkey, which, in many ways, is in the front line of the present crisis. The machinery of Western co-operation has been created, rather haphazardly, in many ways, over the last thirty years. Other areas of the world are beginning to develop their own machinery: I have in mind ASEAN, the Organisation of African Unity and the Organisation of American States.
1368 But the most all-embracing mechanism for co-ordinating the views of the countries of the Third World is the Non-Aligned Movement, which has become an increasingly influential and respected forum. The Non-Aligned Movement reflects the determination of sovereign countries to reach independent decisions about their future. It reflects their wish to keep out of disputes between the super powers which they believe do not concern them. It reflects the desire to stabilise their Governments, to develop their economies and to sort out their own disputes without external interference. All these aspirations are perfectly natural. We can only support them. We, after all, have played a greater part than almost any other country in bringing so many of the non-aligned to independence. The growing importance of the Non-Aligned Movement is not explained by its size alone. I think it derives from a new confidence within the movement itself.
Until recently, the natural determination of newly independent countries to demonstrate their independence has too often led them to express an automatic rejection of Western policies and attitudes. The causes are bound up in history. Countries with highly developed cultures of their own have sometimes felt that the West was trying to force its own values upon them.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has caused many countries of the Third World to question still more closely whether independence from the West necessarily entails a tilt towards the East. Cuba has tried to argue that the interests of the non-aligned countries, and the interests of what Cuba calls the "socialist" countries, are convergent if not identical. Objectively, of course, this was never so. The Soviet aid record is abysmal. The Russians are ready enough to provide arms, military advisers and secret policemen; but they have rarely spent substantial sums on aid for economic development. Since 1975, indeed, there has been a net flow of resources from the non-Communist developing world to the Soviet Union.
We all know that the Western record is very much better. And it is, of course, a truism that it is with the West that the non-aligned countries conduct the vast proportion of their trade. It is to the West that they look for new technology; and it is with the West that they continue 1369 to discuss their ideas for a new international economic order, the North-South dialogue. They know well enough that there is little point in appealing to the Russians for any of these things.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has demonstrated, in the most forceful possible way, the true nature of the threat to the concept of non-alignment. It has reduced the Cubans, the chairman of the non-Aligned Movement, to an embarrassed silence—which makes an interesting contrast with their noisy performance at the recent Non-Aligned Summit Conference. It has led to the massive support of the non-aligned countries for the resolution in the UN General Assembly which condemned the Russian invasion. I do not believe that this represents a decisive turn by the non-aligned towards the West. We do not expect this. Their interests will not always lie with ours. They will continue to tell us, no doubt, when their views diverge. But I believe that the Soviet action will have demonstrated to them that the community of interests between us is greater than they had generally appreciated. For us, it is sufficient that the countries of the Third World should look at the issues without preconception.
If I may, with suitable diffidence, I should like to say a word about Islam. Within the Third World, the Islamic countries have a particular importance and a particular coherence. The relationship between the Christian and the Moslem traditions has always been complex. First one, and then the other, side has attempted to impose its rule and its faith. But crusades and jihads have been the exception, not the rule. Throughout the centuries the two civilisations have had much to give each other. Some Islamic nations have seen a secular and materialistic Western culture as deeply dangerous to their own religious convictions, as well as to their political aspirations. There are aspects of modern Western civilisation which are unattractive enough, even to ourselves. But there are things which happen in the Moslem world today—such as the taking of diplomatic hostages in Iran—which we find abhorrent. For our part, we should understand and welcome the determination of the Moslem peoples to look to their own traditions for guidance. 1370 Nor need we be apologetic about our own culture and our own values; for these are not incompatible with the values of Islam. Indeed, they reflect common roots in the monotheistic traditions of Christian and Moslem thought.
The real contrast is between these traditions and the traditions of Soviet Marxism which are based on the root and branch rejection of religion. I believe that, in the broadest view, the interests of the Moslem and the Western world are parallel if not convergent. But this broad similarity of interest has been overlaid by the dispute between Israel and the Arab peoples. Arab countries see in this issue a test of whether we are prepared to take account of their ancient rights and their political and economic concerns.
The same is true for Israel. In the end, these conflicting needs can only be resolved in a peaceful settlement which will enable all the peoples of the area to live in dignity and security. Egypt and Israel have already demonstrated their wish to coexist in peace. This is a major step. But it is only half way towards a solution. A lasting peace must resolve the Palestinian problem, enabling the Palestinians, through their representatives, to participate in the negotiation of a settlement, and in that framework to determine their political future in a land of their own. Only a peace of that kind can meet the aspirations of the Arab people. Only such a peace can guarantee the long term security of Isreal. Only if they believe that the world is moving towards such a peace will the Arab countries be fully able and prepared to take account of all the implications for them and for the rest of us of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Islamic Conference at the end of last month condemned the Soviet invasion without equivocation and there is great significance in that. This is the background against which the West must now shape its policy towards the Soviet Union. In framing all its policies, whether these involve military, political or economic measures, the West must be sensitive to the views and aims of the countries of the Third World. The log jam is beginning to break. But there is a long and difficult way to go. The Third World do not want or need our lectures. They do not want us to import a crude East-West rivalry into 1371 their concerns. They do not want us to complicate their own disputes by seeming to give assistance to one at the expense of the other. Yet, at the same time, they look to the West for support and assistance, and we must give it to them. Time and time again in the course of the last year I was told that the West was allowing its positions to wither by default.
The arrival of strategic parity, people argued, meant that the Russians now felt more free to seek out and exploit opportunities to project their new-found military power into regions where they had never before appeared. Soviet and Cuban adventures in Angola, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere seemed the proof. People all over the world had begun to conclude that the West had lost its way. Some of them began to think of closer accommodation with the Soviet Union.
I said earlier that I think things are changing. I underline the need for discrimination and a sure touch in our policies, and in the manner in which we offer assistance to countries beyond the Soviet frontiers which are increasingly threatened. We must ensure, for example, that our aid strengthens the social and political fabric in those countries. In the final analysis, only they themselves can safeguard their security by developing their economies and their institutions while maintaining watchfulness against outside aggression and internal dissention. A united people is the surest defence for any country.
I began by drawing attention to the weaknesses in the past management of East-West relations. This weakness was that we in the West operated to one set of rules but the Russians operated to another. According to the Russian rules, it was quite compatible with the idea of détente that they should push their luck wherever opportunity presented itself, except where the lines between East and West were firmly drawn.
In the first decade after the war they probed in Europe, and they probed in the Far East. The West organised itself to resist, and gradually lines were drawn and implicit rules were formulated which the Russians have shown themselves cautiously willing to accept. On this understanding, East and West were able to construct concrete arrangements which benefited all 1372 concerned—particularly perhaps us in Western Europe. But these arrangements have never been explicit with respect to the Third World, and now the Russians have begun to probe again. In Africa, in South-East Asia and now in South-West Asia, their probing is in deadly earnest.
The crisis they have provoked in Afghanistan is a testing ground comparable to the crises they provoked so many years ago around Berlin. It is in the interests of the countries most closely affected, as well as the rest of the world, that this probing should be contained and that positive understanding should be built thereafter. This is going to be a long process. It is far too early to envisage how it may come out. Our immediate aim must be to limit, contain and, if possible, repair the damage which the Soviet invasion has caused.
But we must look to the future. This means that we must maintain our lines of communication with the Soviet Union. We must continue our negotiations with the Russians on issues in the fields of, for example, arms control, where everyone on both sides has an interest. In the long term, we must construct a system of détente free from the illusions of the past, and provide a firm framework for the management of the difficulties which will inevitably occur in the future. I think that we have made a start. There is an underlying unity of purpose in the West and we in Britain are doing our share.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ Lord HOLDERNESS
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter and I had a long political association in another place. He was always very patient and bravely bore my many shortcomings. When he was translated to your Lordships' House I begged him, in the words of the Psalmist,Remember not the sins and offences of my youth: but…think thou upon me, oh Lord, for thy goodness".Now he has added to my debt and, I believe, to the debt of many of us not only by a brilliant speech but by giving me the opportunity to address your Lordships' House for the first time. Naturally, before doing so, I searched my memory for occasions equally formidable and—obviously only in the literal sense—equally awful. I will not divulge to 1373 your Lordships the result of my researches but will merely comment that when I addressed another place 30 years ago for the first time, in a year when this place was another place, and I spoke from exactly the same position as I speak now, I chose an hour when all but a handful of my colleagues had mercifully left the Chamber for more important political meetings elsewhere. On this occasion, judging by the over-generous attendance of your Lordships, I have been rather less skilful.
Overshadowing the debate, as we have already heard, is the heavy cloud of events late last year in Persia and Afghanistan. As my noble friend pointed out at the beginning of the debate, the Russian occupation of Afghanistan has reminded thousands very forcefully of events of just over 40 years ago which I have particular cause to remember with immense clarity and which led to consequences we all pray will not be repeated. But no cloud that is visible can be of unrelieved blackness, and from two aspects of the Russian aggression I believe we can extract a few very modest crumbs of comfort. I believe it has administered a shock to public opinion, both in this country and far beyond, that is likely, I hope, to survive the soothing effects of any subsequent peace offensive which, on past experience, we can expect from the Kremlin in a few months' time. Most memories are alarmingly short, and the cynical behaviour of Soviet Russia in Hungary and Czechoslovakia may have faded from them; but the unwanted and clearly un-popular presence of Russian troops in Afghanistan may be less speedily forgotten. I hope, in this sense at least, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, suggested, that we shall not quickly forget the whole grisly business.
Secondly, the domination of the world by Russian Communism seems less likely to be attained, and even less likely to be maintained, by force of arms than by the successful conquest of the minds of men—or perhaps in these sexless days I would be on more careful ground if I said, "the minds of persons". Far from conquering men's minds, as my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has just suggested, the present use of force has driven away a great many prepared to be sympathetic and otherwise prepared to listen. The con- 1374 sequence of this invasion, both in the short and the longer term, may be a retreat from rather than an advance towards the objective of world Communism. None the less, this southern advance towards the Indian sub-continent and Ocean, represents in military terms a defeat for Western interests which British policy in particular has, for well over a century, striven to prevent.
When I myself visited Afghanistan in the early 1970s, I drove north over the Hindu Kush—an exciting journey, made rather more so by the sudden and unscheduled stops to which I have become used during Ramadan. Next morning, I gazed for the first time across the Oxus at the southernmost limits of Russia. Mainly because of Matthew Arnold, the Oxus has always been a river of very great romance to me, but I had in mind that morning an even grimmer struggle than the one he describes in that magnificent poem. As I looked with some circumspection at the Russian frontier posts across the river and later inspected some other Russian activities in other parts of Afghanistan, I could not help wondering then how long it would be before Afghanistan's vast brooding neighbour decided to take the whole country under its firm control. These were neither original nor particularly prescient thoughts. Your Lordships, obviously, would agree that they must have been in the minds of many people in this country almost exactly 100 years ago, during the time of Lord Roberts's march to Kandahar, followed by the wise evacuation by Britain and the installation of Abdur Rahman Khan as Amir of Afghanistan.
Over Christmas, I read again with immense pleasure Kenneth Rose's superb life of Lord Curzon with his account of Curzon's interview in 1894 with the Amir of Afghanistan, who told him that:… while in exile in Samarkand, he had secretly learned Russian and had enjoyed hearing his hosts discussing their plans for the occupation of Afghanistan in the presence of a seemingly simple-minded and unsophisticated visitor".Now, nearly a century later, that occupation has taken place. Russia is at the gateway to the Indian sub-continent. All too obviously, it remains at the gateway to Persia, with all the political problems of that country, and to Turkey, with the great economic uncertainties ahead of them. And only a few hundred miles 1375 away across Persia there is the Gulf, with its undoubted significance to the whole of the West.
In the circumstances of the late 1960s, in company with my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter—and perhaps this may be in the memory of the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts—I was firmly opposed to the complete destruction of the British military presence East of Suez. Now, in the light of President Carter's recent declaration, the West has to rebuild the credibility of its defence capability in this area, and I welcome both the President's declaration and the very robust support given to it not only by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister but by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary. It is clear that it is on the United States that will fall the main burden of making it effective; but I hope that in this country we shall do all in our more limited power to play our part, and that our partners in Europe will show a more united resolve to do the same. Although today's news is far more encouraging, and what my noble friend has said is more encouraging, so far, the European Community, which I still fervently support, has not earned a reputation for bold, united and farsighted leadership in international crises.
Our own sights cannot be raised as high as many of us would like to raise them. Even were our economic strength far greater, I am sure it would be unacceptable in the present crisis to consider such a measure as conscription; but it seems to me that our regular forces would gain great strength if fuller use could be made of the Territorial Army—now happily again so called—which, in my opinion, provides the Government with the best value for the money that is spent on defence I must clearly declare the interest of my close connection with the volunteer battalion of the Royal Green Jackets, which I visited quite recently.
The Territorial Army already has an important role both at home and abroad, but I believe that its effectiveness, and therefore its contribution to the effectiveness of the Regular Army, would be greatly increased by the provision of more and more up-to-date arms and equipment. This will naturally make further demands on our slender resources, and for that reason will equally naturally be resisted; 1376 but while completely sharing a preference for what might be considered more constructive investment, expenditure on defence of Britain and the rest of the Free World is, unhappily, the indispensable foundation of everything that we do.
It is a real disappointment to me to be driven to argue in this way, particularly as it must to some extent damage the objective, which to me remains very important, of trying to raise economic standards throughout the world. Nor can this objective be safely neglected because it has a part—and a very important part—to play in the conflict in which we are all engaged and in which I fear we shall all be engaged probably for the rest of our lives.
Our world struggle today seems to me to be on three levels: military, economic, and what I earlier called, "the struggle for the minds of men". This third, and perhaps most important, of the levels of this struggle is influenced, first, by military power and economic development. But I believe that ultimate victory depends on our ability to convince millions who at present remain inconvinced that freedom, however imperfectly attained, as it always will be in any human society, still affords a greater opportunity for the development of the human personality than the cruel restrictive tyranny of Communism. Today I detect in this country and in other countries of the world a widespread, perhaps almost universal, feeling of individual powerlessness in the face of great events; but it is at this third level of the struggle that each individual action of each individual human being can be shown to have an almost infinite importance, because I am convinced that every failure to value freedom, both for ourselves and for others, and the consequent demonstration of the low opinion that we have of it, becomes a small surrender to the march of those who despise it and want to destroy it, and brings nearer the day, which I pray we shall never see, of the triumph of tyranny across the world.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Lord STEWART of FULHAM
My Lords, it is a recognised duty for anyone who speaks in this House after a maiden speaker to congratulate the noble Lord who has made it. But, for me, having the good fortune to congratulate the noble 1377 Lord, Lord Holderness, it is very much more than a duty. It is a renewal of the pleasure that I and many others have had in listening to his speeches in another place, to find that here, as there, he speaks wittily, wisely and humanely. I trust that the contribution that he made to our debate today will be the first of many that we shall listen to with very great pleasure. I have done my best to discharge that duty, with all the maturity that befits somebody who made his own maiden speech rather less than three months ago. I must ask for Lord Holderness's sympathy for me, as well as our indulgence and goodwill to him.
I think it will be something many of us have heard that at the Congress of Vienna, when it was reported to Metternich that one of the Russian delegates had died, his comment was "Died, has he? What can have been his motive?" The speculation about Russian motives is an occupation with a long history, and it has been much in fashion during recent weeks. Did the Russians take this action in order to get nearer to warm water, to oil, to the Straits of Hormuz? Did they take it to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan, which they had themselves disturbed and which was getting out of hand? Did they take it because they feared that an independent Afghanistan might be a rallying point for discontent among ethnic and religious minorities in the Soviet Union? Did all those motives play a part and, if so, in what proportion were they mixed?
I doubt whether we need spend too long in speculating on this. We have no certain evidence. No questions, starred or unstarred, are asked in the Supreme Soviet. There is no Motion for Papers, nor debate on the adjournment, which might have enabled the Soviet leaders to reply to criticisms, to explain more fully what they had in mind. We can rather concentrate on certain known facts, which are that this action, however motivated, is dangerous and is wrong. It is dangerous to us, to our allies and, by implication, to the peace of the world. We may argue this way or that; whether the Russians took this action because they wanted to get nearer to the industrial lifeline of the West. What is undoubted fact is that they have got nearer, and that we cannot fail to regard that as dangerous. Nor, I think, can it be disputed that it is wrong, and the fact 1378 that it is wrong is not altered by the endeavour in some quarters to rake up every improper action by members of NATO, or other nations friendly to us, that might by a stretch of the imagination be compared with it.
It is quite out of the question to compare it with the British-Afghan wars 100 years ago. They may well be deplored for a number of reasons, but there was at that time no Charter of the United Nations, whereby everybody had solemnly sworn to respect everyone else's rights; there had been no Final Act of Helsinki and, above all, there were not the frightful weapons of today. Actions which in the last century may have been deplorable, are now a deadly peril to the whole human race. That is why we have endeavoured, in things such as the Charter of the United Nations and the Final Act of Helsinki, to outlaw them. This action has been taken in defiance of all that and on top of many other comparable, though I think less serious, aggressions by the Soviet Union.
You may find an excuse in each particular case, but it goes on. It reminds one rather of Mr. George Joseph Smith. It is possible that a young man may marry a young lady and insure her life in his favour, and that she may, unfortunately, be drowned in her bath a few days later. It could happen once. It is when it happens for the third or fourth time that suspicion begins to mount. I say, therefore, that we had better concentrate on the fact that these actions are dangerous and wrong.
Nor need the West labour the argument that it is wrong, because we have now backing up, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, pointed out, the judgment of almost the entire world expressed in the United Nations, and coming from many countries which have usually been inclined to put the most favourable construction on Soviet actions. That, then, is the situation that we are faced with.
What is to be the British response? The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, to whom I am indebted for initiating this debate, suggested, I think rightly, that its purpose was for each to contribute what ideas we had in mind about the nature of the British response. My first comment on that, building on what I have just said about the judgment of the whole world against the Soviet action, is that 1379 this is a moment to try to get on more cordial and warmer terms with many of the countries that are commonly called the Third World. For some time East and West have stood before the Third World in a somewhat undignified posture, each, in the Dickensian phrase, trying to persude the Third World that it was Codlin and not Short that was the friend. But now we have a real opportunity, where opinion in the Third World has been obliged to take a more patient view of us and a more harsh view of the Soviet Union.
This is a moment, therefore, for looking afresh at aid programmes, for trying to understand more fully the problems of the countries of the Third World. And I must add this. We must recognise that many of the countries of the Third World belong to the non-white section of mankind, and that if, therefore, we want to cement our understandings with them we must make clear, over and over again, the British Government's total opposition to racial policies throughout the world. We must be prepared to do that, even if it means, as it must mean, that we distance ourselves more and more from the position of the South African Government. That is one of the lessons.
Secondly, we must strengthen our defences. There is no dodging that at all. We must do it, of course, in company with our allies. Two speakers already have lamented the disappearance of the British presence East of Suez. I must say that I regard that as a vain lament. I think that with a country of our size and resources—I do not underestimate them, but we cannot police the world on that scale—it is a vain lament to say that it is a pity our presence East of Suez has gone. If we had attempted to maintain it, it would have been totally beyond the military and economic resources of this country, and the attempt to do it would have done us further damage. We should have been in the same position as those who made attempts to maintain the French empire in Indo-China. We have to recognise that the world has changed, that we are now not a super power, but, as was rightly said in the Duncan Report, a major power but of the second rank; and in politics, so often, the recognition of necessity is the beginning of wisdom.
But that being so, we now have to ask 1380 not only how we strengthen NATO's defences, in the ordinary conventional sense of having more hardware and men at our disposal, but where is NATO going to exercise its responsibilities? I have just argued that Britain alone could not police East of Suez. President Carter has said, in effect—and I am one of those who rejoice that he has said it—that an attack on the Straits of Hormuz would be a direct attack on the interests of the United States and would be treated as such. He has, as the Foreign Secretary put it, drawn the line and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. made the same analogy.
What is the position of the United States allies when that line is drawn? The alliance has got to make up its mind about that. If I understood the Foreign Secretary rightly, he suggested that the line which was so plainly drawn in Europe, the drawing of which did so much to preserve the peace of Europe, must now be drawn over other areas of the world. I think that it has. I would not presume to suggest offhand exactly where that line should go, nor, I think, would the Foreign Secretary or anybody else. Obviously it is a matter for very close consultation with our allies. Indeed, almost everything that we do in response to this situation has got to be done in consultation with our allies in NATO and our partners in the European Economic Community. That is part of the process of recognising the kind of power that we are today. It is not a dishonourable position. It is common sense to recognise it for what it is: that we must act in groups, of which, for our immediate purpose, NATO and the European Community are the most important.
Plainly, all this is going to cost money. If we are to have larger forces and a more generous provision of overseas aid, if we are to help some of the members of the alliance who are in the greatest difficulty—I have particularly in mind Turkey—it is going to cost money at a time when we are worried about where every penny is coming from. Here I am obliged to make two entirely partisan remarks, and I do not see why not, because if we are in for a national effort, some of the things which will have to be sacrificed are some people's political beliefs.
At a time when we are obliged to consider greater expenditure on defence, 1381 I think it is unfortunate that this Government began their life by comfortable reductions in taxation for the richest people in the country. If they take defence seriously, I say that they will have to revise their ideas about where the money is to come from in the future. I would add that if we are to take defence seriously, we cannot go on allowing the steel industry of this country to be, as it were, stretched on the operating bench in a vivisection laboratory in order to prove or disprove the soundness of the economic and social theories of the Prime Minister and Sir Keith Joseph. We have got to think over those things if we are serious in saying that this country needs stronger defences.
I have spoken of the need for a new approach to the uncommitted world—the need for strengthening our defences. May I now say a word on the tangled problem of our various contacts with the Soviet Union and what our attitude ought to be about that. It is a difficult question. Sometimes one has to play it by ear. I remember that at the time of the invasion of Czechoslovakia I, as Foreign Secretary, had to decide whether a tour of this country by a particular Russian musical team should or should not be allowed to take place. The decision was made easy by the fact that the musical team in question was the Red Army Ensemble. It was fairly clear that here common sense, emotion and everything drove one to say, No.
It is not always so easy to assess the matter with regard to cultural contacts. I hold the view that in general—the Red Army Ensemble was an exception on that occasion—the maintenance of cultural and scientific contacts is, in the long run, to the benefit of the West. Wherever the minds of those who have grown up in a free society are brought up against those who have been grown up in a tyrannical society, it is the faith of those in the tyrannical society that is shaken. I did hear that it was thought wise to discourage people in this country from learning the Russian language or studying Russian literature. I hope that there is no truth in that; it would be a complete nonsense. However, I do think that we should put an end to those contacts which obviously and plainly strengthen the Russian economy and the Russian military potential: high 1382 technology, grain, EEC surpluses. There is a perfectly clear case for putting an end to them.
One other kind of contact is the most important of all. I was glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say that the Government propose to continue—difficult though this will be—discussions about the possibility of getting agreement on the limitation of armaments. That is to say, the word "détente" still has meaning. I have urged for many years that the posture of the West towards the East must be a balance of defence and détente. There are times—and this is one of them—when one has to speak and act more plainly on the defence side, but one must never lose sight of the need also to try to create a situation in which we and the Russians can live together.
The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, compared the present situation to the 1930s, but think he will agree that there is one important difference. We were dealing then with a man demoniacally possessed, a man who was determined to wage war. As the 1930s moved on, my impression was that either he would destroy us or we would destroy him. There was no possibility of living for any length of time in the same world with his régime. I do not believe, fortunately, that that is the situation now, unattractive as the Russian structure is in many respects. I believe that if' we make it clear beyond doubt to them that we have the will and the power to resist aggression, they have reason enough—whatever other virtues they may be deficient in—if we can make them believe it, to accept the logic of that situation. It will then be possible to argue out the ways in which we and they can live together. While we can hardly describe ourselves as friends or comrades, we are of necessity shipmates together on this tormented planet and we have got to come to terms with that.
I have been saying this for a good many years and I have often been accused of being platitudinous. The important thing to remember, though, about platitudes is that they are true, and I think that what I have just been saying is true. There is no magic wand of policy which can be waved that will suddenly transform the world situation. The \Vest has got to go steadily along with a combination of defence and détente. That requires courage, patience, 1383 determination. I believe that we and our allies together can show that, and that if we do future generations will have reason to be grateful to us.
§ 5.7 p.m.
Lord HOME of the HIRSEL
My Lords, my first words must be to echo the congratulations which were given by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, to my noble friend Lord Holderness. His thoughtful speech was, of course, up to the high standard which over the years another place had come to accept. I am particularly glad to be following close behind him in this debate because I served with him for quite a time in the Foreign Office and was able to see his outstanding work in the field of overseas development. Everywhere he went outside Britain his wide sympathies ensured that he was a most effective and a most popular envoy. I hope that we shall hear him very often.
Secondly, I must apologise for the fact that, foolishly, I accepted an outside engagement which I cannot break. It may mean that I can hear only the first half of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. My compensation is that I feel sure that in tomorrow's Hansard I shall find that we thought the same.
Lord HOME of the HIRSEL
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter and the Foreign Secretary have both delivered stern strictures—so has the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham—on the Soviet military takeover of Afghanistan. In his admirable speech, neither my noble friend who sits behind me nor the Foreign Secretary exaggerates the possible consequences of that action. Without any provocation, the Russian leaders have broken the one rule named in the United Nations Charter as the touchstone of peace or war. They have intervened in the internal affairs of another independent country and they have occupied its territory by force. The Foreign Secretary came very close to this point.
Non-intervention is the sole protection of a non-aligned country. There is no 1384 other. Russia has flouted that rule. Russia was a signatory of the Charter and Russia is apparently totally careless in this matter of world opinion. As has been recognised by every noble Lord who has spoken, that clearly compelled the countries of the world to react, and each country is bound to ask whether Communist Russia now feels free to use her military power anywhere in pursuit of a political aim. The rest have lived for long enough with the dialectics of Communism, with the constant repetition by the Soviet leaders of the themes of victory and perpetual struggle, and that has been for long enough part of the Soviet vocabulary. A methodical, predetermined plan of subversion of society followed by takeover is a thought which is of course totally alien to the democracies. Our minds simply do not work that way. But now our lives literally depend upon the question whether or not the Soviet Union is engaged upon such a strategic exercise of that kind of imperial ambition, and whether they are prepared in any particular circumstances that suit them to use force to achieve that aim.
For more than 30 years now I have done my best to study Russian foreign policy in the hope that I could avoid that conclusion. Most of what I have to say this afternoon will be familiar to your Lordships, but the sequence of events, the third and the fourth time, as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, described them, is not sufficiently known outside and particularly in the Third World.
I was first alerted to the probability of the military occupation of Eastern Europe by some words of Marshal Stalin at the Tehran conference of 1942, and at Yalta the probability became a certainty. Reasons were given: the militancy of Germany. The plea was that the occupation of Eastern Europe was merely temporary pending a peace treaty in Europe. But, my Lords, in spite of an entirely new situation in the Continent of Europe the occupation has lasted 35 years and there is no sign of the grip being lifted.
The next signal of, at best, non-cooperation and, at worst, hostility, was Russia's refusal to take part in the scheme of Marshall Aid for the economic reconstruction of Europe after the War. The 1385 formula, which I recall well, was to my mind ominous: that Marshall Aid would represent—and here I quote:an unacceptable infringement of Russian sovereignty".Simultaneously with that formula was the constant use of the veto in the United Nations on collective peace-keeping. The formula of the "unacceptable infringement of Russian sovereignty" is one with which many of us have become very familiar in the field of disarmament, and in particular in relation to the inspection of Russian armaments. Everyone is familar with the Berlin wall. Suffice it to say that this offence against every civilised value is still there, still with us in Europe.
My next experience of Soviet methods was when I was co-chairman with Mr. Gromyko of the conference called to design non-alignment in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. There, over a period of years, I saw Mr. Gromyko under instructions deliberately reject the collaboration for peaceful settlement offered by Britain, the United States, France and China in favour of force imposed on South Vietnam by North Vietnam with Russian arms, giving them the power to occupy South Vietnam and to cause chaos in Cambodia. Twice in that period of ten years I recall that the Russians made use of practical peace treaties, solemnly signed, but in spite of the terms of the treaty never did they cease to rearm North Vietnam and to pursue their own political aims of installing Communist Governments throughout South-East Asia.
There is a pertinent and topical moral in this tale, for in 1979 so acute was the dilemma posed to Communist China that they either had to capitulate and accept the total domination of the Soviet Union in the whole of South-East Asia, or they had to decide to teach North Vietnam a lesson on the spot—and a military lesson at that. They chose the latter. It was the most dangerous decision but they considered that they had no alternative. That decision could easily have led to a war between the Soviet Union and Communist China, which possibly could have expanded into a world conflict. We could be faced with that situation, that dilemma, in other parts of the world today.
1386 My Lords, I must telescope history. With regard to Czechoslovakia I must be content to recall to your Lordships Mr. Malik's words to the Security Council in New York at the time of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. He said:The entry of these units"—that is the Russian forces—is purely temporary and they will of course be withdrawn as soon as the Socialist Government of the Republic of Czechoslovakia find their presence to be unnecessary".The occupation of Eastern Europe was 35 years ago; the occupation of Czechoslovakia was 12 years ago. Therefore the Russians are capable of a sustained policy of subversion and occupation, sustained over a great number of years.
I come to today. The pattern of Czechoslovakia is being followed in Afghanistan, and the pattern of South East Asia, South Vietnam and Cambodia is being followed in Ethiopia. In the case of Ethiopia Russian troops are not directly engaged. It is war at second hand, using Cubans and East Germans. It is not generally known at this moment that the refugee problem in Ethiopia is becoming comparable to that in Cambodia. South Yemen, as has been said, is a Soviet base—nothing less—for subversion and penetration of North Yemen and Oman. The hard evidence of historical fact indicates very clearly that when the Soviet Communist leaders speak of struggle and victory they mean what they say, and whenever it suits their political aims they act. As I have said—and we must learn the lesson from this—they are capable of sustaining their action over many years. I think all your Lordships would agree—and this is the general consensus so far—that in such circumstances the free countries have no option but to seek ways and means to contain further expansion. That lesson at least is forced upon us.
The Foreign Secretary has outlined the kind of things which have to be done. Clearly NATO has to be reinforced. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, that NATO should not operate outside the boundaries of Europe. But, as he said, there is nothing to stop the members of NATO, separately, or together if they wish, from laying down the lines beyond which the Free World cannot allow Russian agression to go. I have one 1387 reservation on our plans for the reinforcement of NATO. I do not believe that the 3 per cent. increase in the national budget is enough; nor do I believe that it will operate quickly enough to make very much impression on the Soviet Union's calculations.
My Lords, to the actions which the Foreign Secretary has suggested, and Mr. Brzezinski has suggested on behalf of the United States, I would only add one. I believe that world opinion should be mobilised, either inside, or, as the veto is likely inside the United Nations, outside it, to require the Cubans to withdraw from Africa. I can imagine nothing which would have a more immediate and a better effect than if they were to go. ft' Cuba could not co-operate in this, I believe that penalties should be applied.
Is there any better prospect in the years ahead? I think so. I think there are, as my noble friend Lord Holderness has expressed it, crumbs of comfort. The first is that the pretence is over, the excuses are over. There is a better chance to co-exist—and this is certainly my own experience in dealing with the Russians—when the Russians know that everybody else knows exactly what they are up to. The Third World—and again the Foreign Secretary more or less said this—cannot any longer dismiss the anxieties of the Western democracies as capitalist propaganda. So, although this is not a decisive turn in events—and the Foreign Secretary was quite right in that—the difference between yesterday and today is that now a climate of world opinion openly hostile to the policies of expansion of the Soviet Union is apparent, and that is a pretty big difference. The Russians can have no illusions any longer that the Free World will allow further aggressions against countries which are non-aligned.
There are two more facts of which I think the Third World countries will take notice; the first is that subversion and penetration can be met and reversed by resolution. Egypt is an example of that. The second thing of which the Third World also will be aware is that wherever the Russians have intervened, whether in Vietnam or Cambodia or Mozambique or Angola or Ethiopia, social and economic ruin has come in their wake.
1388 Finally, my Lords, what of the search for détente? The democracies cannot drop it; it is rooted in our nature. I would expect very soon from the Soviet Union a peace offensive. But now if that comes, or whatever comes, there is a difference. I think the peace offensive will be in the field of disarmament, with some very attractive proposals put forward. But now there is a difference. It is the free peoples who in future will make the running and who will formulate the rules of negotiation. It is the Soviet who will have to understand that they will gain nothing so long as subversion and force are included in their foreign policy. I agree with the Foreign Secretary. I think to come back to any kind of constructive coexistence will be a pretty long haul. But, for the reasons I have given, I am not entirely despondent. If and when the Soviet Union, from the force of world opinion, conclude that there are no gains to be had from subversion and force, then, my Lords, I think there may be a hope of a new progress towards peace.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Lord GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, sitting here listening to this debate reinforces the view that we ourselves hold, and sometimes others outside express, that the standard of debate in this House on issues of this kind is not only high in itself but notably higher than tends to be the case in the other place down the corridor. But, in noting that, one has mixed feelings if one is then proposing to take part in a debate oneself, not merely because of the risk that one will be agreeing with so much that has gone before, particularly when, like me, one is coming at the end of a procession of present and past Foreign Secretaries and anticipating a positive horde of Permanent Under-Secretaries who are to follow; one also is rather frightened that one may not hold the standard, and it is not altogether to one's comfort in starting to speak. I can assure my noble friend Lord Home that he may well rush and catch his train; there is not any grave likelihood of my overthrowing much of what he has said or indeed any of what he has said.
I, too, like everybody else, am very glad that Lord Boyd-Carpenter took or found the opportunity to initiate this debate today, and with one exception, 1389 which will emerge as I go along, I found myself in agreement with pretty well all that he said. I would like to join with others in congratulating my noble friend Lord Holderness on a maiden speech of, I would like to suggest, quite outstanding quality and meaning. One always, of course, congratulates maiden speakers, rather as one always opens a meeting outside this House by saying how pleased one is to be there. There is a varying degree of emphasis and truth in the statement when one makes it. But today it was a maiden speech which would have been entitled to congratulations even had it not been a maiden speech, because it was so well addressed to what we are considering. Again I found myself in very great agreement.
But, as I do not want to go on saying how much I am in agreement with much of what has been said, let me just, as it were in general, record that, in the terms in which particularly Lord Home and also others have expressed their summing-up of the Russian record, I am in total agreement. I think it is important that we all go on, at any rate briefly, saying it, because there is a great tendency outside the House, particularly among that section of public opinion which because of my background I perhaps understand best, to believe somehow that it really is not quite as black as it is. Therefore, it is very important, and especially for those of us who are still seated on those Benches or are still spiritually with those Benches, that we should continue to say to our people that the record is every bit as black as has been said and that, as Lord Home put it, there has been no point since the Soviet Revolution nearly 70 years ago at which the Russian State, the Kremlin, has shown the slightest intention of departing from historical Russian geopolitical ambitions in the world; there is no point at which it has shown any intention of doing other than using its worldwide Communist fifth column in order to add point to what the Czars were not able to achieve; there is no point at which it has ever shown any desire for détente in any sense in which we can recognise that word.
I have just asked my noble friend Lord Caccia, who is, as one would expect from his past, a very great adviser in these matters, what he thought the word "détente" meant when used by the 1390 Russians. He said that the best we can say is that to them it means reduction of tension. I suggest that, never in any of their actions have they been willing to contribute to the reduction of tension, except when that provided cover for them to proceed with their operations in a less obvious way. They have been very willing to destroy détente whenever it seemed that the raising of tension would better suit their purpose. I think that we would delude ourselves, but what is more important delude many of our friends outside, if we do not lay that down as the basis of the approach of all of us, or pretty well all of us, in this House.
However, to avoid going over the same ground and boring your Lordships, let me turn, as others have done, to concentrate on one or two issues that seem to me to arise on what lessons we now draw and seek to apply. I should like to begin by making a few comments on the Olympics. I do not go so far as, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who said that he did not think that it was either here or there. I believe that it is more important than that, but, of course, it is not the major reaction that the West can or should make. Let me say quite clearly that I have absolutely no sympathy at all with those, either in this House or out of it, associated with the Olympic sports movement, who are pretending to believe that they are not being made willing tools of a vast propaganda effort with which the Russians are seeking to cloak their operations. I repeat that I describe them as "willing tools". I can understand and sympathise with the kids, the young people in the back streets, who have been training hard and who have seen this as a great opportunity. Of course, I understand that youth is necessarily to be regarded as the age, possibly, of insensitivity and even of selfishness, and so I do not apply that description to those young people. However, it is impossible to exculpate noble Lords and the other leaders of the various sports committees in the same way. They have seen it before. They know what is laid on.
They know that the Soviets have cleared out of Moscow, and a vast radius around it, anybody with whom Western visitors might come into contact who might criticise or demonstrate the grim situation in the Soviet Union. It must be evident that the reason for Sakharov going in the 1391 end was that his flat in Moscow would have been a absolute centre for Western visitors, Western sportsmen, Western Press and Western television who would then have been able to show us what Sakharov was trying to demonstrate. So he was cleared away. To say that that is in the spirits of the Olympiad, that it is in keeping with its Charter and has nothing to do with politics, seems to me to be quite ridiculous.
Therefore, I think that it is important—I do not exaggerate it, but I think that it is more important than the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said—that all Western peoples should do their utmost to reduce, to disrupt, if we cannot altogether prevent, this so-called Olympic meeting in Moscow. It should have the least possible television coverage although I do not have much hope of ITV or BBC producers following that course very enthusiastically. There should be no public facilities or money made available. We should discourage our people, who will listen, 'from attending and do everything we can—if the Games take place there—to reduce their meaning, to reduce their importance and to show to the Russian people who will know—
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, I do not disagree with what the noble Lord says at all. All I was saying was that we must realistically consider the matter and realise that the Games are going to be held with the absence of many delegations, and we should ignore them as much as we can. That was all that I said.
§ Lord GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I know what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, was saying—I heard him the first time. He said that he did not think that it was either here or there.
That brings me to what, as I thought, was the quite pathetic attitude, if I may say so with deep regret, of Mr. Edward Heath in another place. The issue is not whether we should stay away from the Olympics or get them moved from Moscow to elsewhere; it is not a question of whether it would stop Russian aggression—we all know that such action by itself will not stop it. But it is the least that we can do, and it is an essential part of everything else that we are proposing to do, and not to do it and to let people go there—much less 1392 encourage them to go there—would be to take part in an obscene farce.
I do not know whether other noble Lords saw as I did (I am afraid I do not have it with me) a letter in The Times a week or so ago from a Jewish German lady who was treated extremely harshly in one of Hitler's prisons in 1936. She recorded very graphically and movingly in a few lines the impact made on her and those with her when they were told that the Olympics were being held in Berlin and that all of the Western countries were going there. There would be the same effect on the dissidents and those being ill-treated in Russia today if we were in any way to encourage this obscenity of holding a peaceful Olympics in Moscow at this time and in this situation.
I turn to the main issue that seems to me to arise. It is, of course, the clear Russian signal as I said just now, of what détente actually means to the Kremlin and I think that The Times today picks it out well. It is to keep all good things—good from their point of view—that they have successfully achieved during these past years of so-called détente; it is to keep all that has been won and has benefited them, but to retain their freedom of action in all else. That is their definition, and the only satisfactory definition, of how they see it.
Like the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and other noble Lords, I find great encouragement from the fact that, in response to this issue, the Western and the non-aligned worlds have both responded and reacted with a vigour, and a growing vigour, which has never been shown by either the Western or the non-aligned worlds to previous Russian aggressive actions. Not only was that the initial response, but it has steadily continued to grow and, as the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said, some of the non-aligned countries who were, in fact, falling under Soviet influence and domination as recently as a year ago—neighbouring countries of Afghanistan—have this time responded in a very robust way indeed.
However, as against that encouragement there is this—and this is a slight disagreement that I have with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. Clearly, the Russian leadership in the Kremlin is 1393 changing due to age and other reasons. I am afraid that what I see emerging is not a new political leadership that might understand the world better; I fear that I see the complete control by the military minds and the military leaders of Russia, taking over from the politicians who have been there until now. I have a great fear, which goes alongside the encouragement that I receive from the more wide-awakeness of the Western world—that the next few years will not be as the noble Lord, Lord Home, painted them, but will be ones of consistent and constant danger for us. For this new military leadership has more to do with the Russian historical aims than it has to do with the ideology of Communism and even the leaders whom it is supplanting. On that basis, no parts of the West can simply go through the ritual of saying, "Of course, we oppose this; of course we condemn it, "but—as the National Executive of the Labour Party did (and I deeply regret to say, with its leader apparently present but not dissenting)—although we condemn Russian aggression we are still against cold war and we are still for detente."
If détente means living together in understanding and toleration, with whom are we living together in understanding and toleration? If those words, as used by the National Executive Committee, mean anything, they must mean with the Russians in their present mood doing what they are presently doing. I was going to say that a cold war exists, but it is not so cold, is it? There is an active war being conducted at this moment by the Kremlin, by the Russians, not merely against the West, but against any country which, because of its refusal wholly to be embodied in the Russian maw, might constitute a danger—not merely a physical danger and not merely a military danger, but, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, a danger to the minds of their people.
We must signal the Kremlin in equally unmistakeable terms what détente means in our language and in our thoughts. The very minimum—I do not want to give the impression that because I say it is the very minimum I mean that it is a happy acceptance—is that détente must involve the Russians staying within the spheres of influence which have come to be accorded to them. Of course, it should 1394 mean very much more than that. I should have thought that we all now recognise that Yalta was a tragic folly; two old and sick men, one of them shortly to die, thought they knew better than anyone else how to handle Stalin, but did not. Therefore, that concept should never have been allowed to grow. But it has. Unless that very minimum is respected, we are not using détente in the same sense as the Russians. We cannot allow—and this they must understand—the disastrous outcome of Yalta to be widened still further. After Yalta, we have nothing left to concede. In fact, we have a good deal that we hope would be regained to Western civilised, non-Soviet morality and thought.
However, as other speakers have said, the significance of the last five years leading to Afghanistan has been continual Soviet probing to see how far they could push out beyond the gains based upon the division of the world into spheres of influence. They have continually pushed into Africa; they have probed for their places in Africa. They have continually tried in the Middle East, not necessarily openly exporting their doctrine and their ideology, but looking for the troubled waters in which they could gainfully fish. As the noble Lord, Lord Home, graphically showed us, they have tried in Asia. Of course, in every one of those actions the probing has been directed at what the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, called our essential lifeline, or parts of our essential lifeline.
I wanted to mention that in order also to note that, wherever that probing has been resisted by the Western powers or by the local regimes and then by Western interests, it is a fact that the Soviet has never been unwilling to withdraw. There is the case of the Cubans in Africa, which has been mentioned, where they have stayed on, but that is because the resistance was not there. Egypt is another case in point. There has been a willingness to withdraw if the resistance was evident enough, obvious enough and forceful enough. It is important for us to keep that in mind.
Many of my friends outside tend to say to me, "You are willing to run the risk of war". But one thing that comes out very clearly with the Soviets is that a willingness to resist does cause, and has in fact caused, 1395 a withdrawal by them from the risks of war. They do not have a public opinion; as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, said, they do not have an upper or lower House to bother about. Therefore, they do not suffer in the same way as the democracies suffer the debilities of loss of face or loss of pride when something proves to be too dangerous or too risky to continue. They can come back much more easily and they certainly do not suffer a fear of loss of face or pride, as we in the democracies seem to suffer the agonies of conscience in advance. If we can overcome our agonies and stand firm, and if local regimes can do the same—and some of the neighbouring States around the borders of Afghanistan are now showing a willingness to stand firm—I believe that we can deter the Russians. However, it is indeed true that deterrence must be absolutely firm and willing to be tested.
There are no grounds for belief that those who call for resistance to the Soviets are the warmongers. Quite the contrary. Like so many in this House, I grew up in the 1930s. The Spanish War, Munich and the catastrophe of 1939 and Poland cured my pacifist inheritance. It is natural on that side of the House to have that inheritance—most of us did. The events of the 1930s cured it for me. But the then Labour Party, the organisers of the Peace Ballot, the Peace Pledge Union, it has to be said, all shared equally with those we call the appeasers—the Chamberlains, and so on—the responsibility for the fact that it was appeasement, the appeasers, and the timorous who in fact landed us into 1939 and not those who were then urging resistance and rearmament and standing firm. As the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said so clearly, as it was then so, in my view along with his, it threatens to be now, and this should be firmly said in here and outside.
I too welcome the Carter metamorphosis. If I had been asked a little while ago who I would prefer as President in 1981, I think I would have said, "Almost anybody except Carter". I would have made one or two other reservations too, but that is by the way. Now there is a change, and a change that we can only welcome. I equally welcome—and let me say this in all fairness and honesty—our own Prime Minister's response at a time, let us 1396 remember, when so much of the rest of Western leadership was vacillating. I think her stand may have been decisive not merely because she took that stand herself, or her party, but because it succeeded in gaining time for other Western leaders, like the French and the Germans, to reappraise the situation and move from the stance they looked as if they were going to take to the much more acceptable stance they took yesterday. I think there is a lesson here for her and her Government, and indeed for all Britain, to learn.
I do not agree, I fear—and this is my disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter—with what the noble Lord said towards the end about our relations with America. If Winston Churchill did say that to him when Winston was departing, I can only think that somehow the emotion of the moment must have overcome them both. I am not anti-American. I do not need to prove that. I am not against the Anglo-American relationship and all that, but it is not enough for us to still be thinking in terms of being a faithful ally or, as other people would put it, a loyal 51st State to the United States.
There are dangers in France and Germany seeming to be the ones speaking for Europe, good as their change of stance is in other ways. It shows the tragedy of the loss of impetus since the early 1950s towards the integrated Europe of Churchill's conception, and its replacement by the loose union des états nationales which was the de Gaulle interpretation. What worries me still, despite what the Foreign Secretary says, is that that is still our approach: a union of like-minded but nationalist and independent European states.
I ask myself how much stronger we would be if we had had an integrated European community at this moment capable of producing a unified external affairs position not merely in this situation but leading up to it; if we had not helped to kill the European Defence Community; if we had transformed the North Altantic Alliance from an arrangement between one dominant and protective power and a large number of small dependencies into a genuine alliance of two roughly equal powers, Europe and the United States. I believe that moving that way and away 1397 from what I understand to be the Prime Minister's position is what we really have to do. I should obviously have liked to canvass much else, but may I leave it on that main essential note and hope that others will bring out the points I have missed.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I want to thank the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, for initiating this debate. We are old opponents. Even before we were elected to another place we were debating our opposite views, and I am glad that we now have the opportunity to debate here. I shall be critical of some aspects of the policy of the Government, and therefore in all honesty I feel it is right to acknowledge this; I have sat under 15 Foreign Ministers but I have never known a Foreign Minister who has shown such positive action as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has since he came to office. At Lancaster House, the intractable problem of Rhodesia; his journey to the five countries round Afghanistan; his consultations in Paris and Brussels with his European opposites. It is an extraordinary instance of activity for the policies for which he is standing.
I listened in fascination to his speech today. There are five determining elements in the world community: the Soviet Union; the West; China; the unaligned nations; and the Islamic community. He sought today, with almost instinctive statesmanship, to build bridges with the unaligned nations and the Islamic community. I should have loved to follow him in that debate. I shall say only that agreement about Afghanistan will not complete those bridges. Britain and the West will have to change their attitude towards the economic demands of the unaligned nations. So far as the Islamic community is concerned, if Iran is an example, there will have to be some change on their part about human rights and the equality of women.
I want to say as strongly as anyone can in this House that we on these Benches condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as strongly as can any Member of the House. The community of nations is absolutely impossible if there is to be committed invasion by a stronger power of a neighbouring nation. As has been 1398 said today, the unaligned nations are recognising that this is a threat to their stability and their future, and what the Soviet Union has done in Afghanistan must have an effect upon what we so urgently desire, détente and peace in the world.
Nevertheless, we must take what has happened in Afghanistan in correct perspective. It is not an isolated case of one nation invading another. Unfortunately, it has happened every two or three years since the last World War. Yesterday I listed 17 cases, but for the sake of time I will not recite them now. Three cases are by the Soviet Union—Hungary, Czechoslovakia and now Afghanistan; three cases are by China—Tibet, India and Vietnam; three cases are by the United States, Britain and France—Vietnam, the Suez Canal and Central Africa. We must recognise, unhappily, that since the last World War invasions of this character have continually taken place.
Intervention may take other forms. There may be the presence of military advisers and weapons, as in the case of Ethiopia and her war with Eritrea, where Soviet military advisers and weapons are undoubtedly present. It may be by the encouragement, financing and arming of internal forces against the Government. The record of the CIA is an indication of that—the Congo, the assassination of Lumumba, and Chile, the assassination of Allende. We must therefore recognise that the attack by one nation on another is not limited to military activity; it is continually taking place by these other methods as well.
I have been interested to study the justifications which have been made since the last World War of invasions of one country by another. The most frequent are an invitation to the invading nation or opposition to an oppressive régime. That is the justification which is now urged by the Soviet Union. I reject it, as I do in most of the other cases as well.
Why, if there has been this history of invasions, is there the deep and worldwide reaction to the Soviet Union now? I think we must acknowledge that in the first place it is because it is the Soviet Union which is guilty, not because of communism; our wooing of China shows that that is not the principle 1399 of action. It is because the Soviet Union is a super power. There is fear that what is happening in Afghanistan may be expanded, fears about the Soviets reaching the Indian Ocean. I remind the House that all the border countries of the Indian Ocean are demanding that it shall be neutralised, and the Soviet Union in the past has supported those claims. I ask the British Government: Is there any doubt that the neutralisation of the Indian Ocean would be to the benefit of mankind and peace? If, therefore one does not believe that the Soviet Union is sincere, why not call its bluff? Why not, at an international conference, challenge it by proposing action which would bring about the neutralisation of the Indian Ocean?
Then there is the fear that the Soviet Union may expand, attacking Pakistan, the North West Frontier and Baluchistan. There are thousands of refugees there. All of us will want the United Nations Commission for Regufees to do the utmost to meet their needs. But I warn the House against the policy of prividing arms to Pakistan. I sound that warning first because Pakistan is one of the most repressive, totalitarian States in the world today, with thousands of imprisonments of dissidents, censorship of the Press, martial law, no political parties and any general election indefinitely postponed. If our Government become identified with that authoritarian régime, they will be on the wrong side in Pakistan, and those who are demanding democracy and human rights there will feel that we are opposed to them.
Then there are the issues in the North West Frontier and Baluchistan. In both those countries there are demands for self-government and democracy. If we pour in arms to Pakistan, they will feel that we are identifying ourselves with their opponents. There is one perhaps even stronger reason. If we supply arms to Pakistan, we are in danger of antagonising India. I know that assurances have been given that the arms to Pakistan will not be used against India. Similar assurances were given at the time of the Baghdad Pact, but in three wars since then Pakistan used the weapons which the West supplied to attack India.
Today the scene is dark. I used to say that the chances of a nuclear world 1400 war were about 50–50. I must honestly say now that I believe the chances are 60–40. We will prevent the present situation developing into world war only if there is restraint on both sides. What we say may not influence the Soviet Union, but there is a very early hope that influence can be exerted. The Foreign Secretary of the Soviet Union is going to India and there the new Prime Minister, while denouncing Soviet action in Afghanistan, is nevertheless concerned that the war shall not sweep over Asia and shall not become a world war. I believe that in the discussions next week we can expect India to urge restraint on the Soviet Union.
In the meantime, all over the world we must be exerting pressure for détente and disarmament. There are some hopeful signs. There were the discussions this week between the Heads of State of France and Western Germany. The Press have hardly mentioned the fact that they agreed that they would continue to press for a European settlement. The Press has hardly mentioned the fact that they took the view that the unaligned nations must not be dragged into a confrontation between East and West. There is the news today, as reported in a headline in The Times, that the United States is drawing back from the brink of confrontation. There is the fact that the negotiations on the test ban are to be renewed. There is the fact that at this moment there is meeting in Geneva the committee authorised to implement the proposals for disarmament by the United Nations Special Assembly. These are the influences which we should be supporting.
General Eisenhower once said:The day will come when the peoples of the world will so demand an end to the arms race that Governments will be compelled to listen".I believe that that time is nearer than we think, and that before the renewed United Nations Special Assembly on Disarmament meets in 1982 there will be all over the world a great demand that Governments shall end these policies towards human suicide.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Lord GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, I ask your Lordships to accept from me one particular apology, as you have done already from my noble friend Lord 1401 George-Brown. I have watched very carefully the process of such few ideas as I may have had being eagerly mopped up by everybody else, and I have the further disadvantage that, unlike so many noble Lords who have, quite rightly, bagged these various subjects I am, in the Shakespearean expression, "no orator as Brutus is". I am not a professional speaker, and therefore I cannot make up the swings of eloquence the losses I have had from the list of points that might have been useful. However, there are one or two things which I think it might be useful to say, even at this stage.
First, I should like to suggest to noble Lords that there is one particular point that perhaps has not been made and which I believe to be valid. It is that in this episode which we are now discussing the Soviet Union has suffered a great loss—in political, constitutional, and other forms. After all, one may not lose militarily out of this onslaught on Afghanistan. Nobody will lose anything these days through anything so desperate as hostilities. But it really cannot be good for the prestige of this large country—where through radio people now know much more about what is happening in the rest of the world than they ever knew before—that it has probably had addressed to it more criticisms from other countries than has any country ever before. If that fact does not get through to the Soviet leadership in the normal manner, or is not immediately attended to by any of them—why should they read my speeches?—none the less its utterance and acceptance in the long run is extremely important, because a country cannot go on living for ever under the shadow of this utterly justified rebuke without some consequence adverse to its own interests.
Not for a moment am I prophesying anything quick or dramatic, but set into the history books of all the countries of the world—and brought to the attention of all kinds of private people—will be the fact that the Soviet Government were the Government who marched into a small, and not quite, but almost, defenceless, country without any provocation and when there was nothing to complain of in the status or behaviour of that country. I am not saying that Afghanistan was, or is, a great democracy, but even countries which are not great democracies have 1402 their privileges, and one of those privileges is not to be suddenly assaulted by a power of much greater moment in the history of the world against which it has commited no offence. That fact will go on around the world really for ever in so far as the world is interested in history.
That being so, for a moment one needs to consider why this has been done; what is the reasoning of the Soviet authorities. There was an interesting, but little noticed, line in a newspaper which reported Mr. Brezhnev, I think, as saying that this was a very hard decision. Well, in two respects this is both true and interesting. It is true if one accepts it as saying that the hardliners won. It is perhaps slightly interesting in that it revealed discussions within the Soviet machine. This is perhaps not greatly helpful, but it is interesting to know that there was a debate and that the hardliners won. It does not extend itself much futher than that. None the less, the fact that there was argument perhaps at the minimum gives one some hope for one day in the future. The failure vis-à-vis the whole world of this attempt by the Soviet Union again puts us in the position of looking to the future when this kind of behaviour cannot go on.
The second comment that I would make on the Soviet proceeding is this. As other noble Lords have said, the Soviet Union has been engaged in this kind of activity for many years. I have enormously profited from the debate. It is also a fact, I think, that the Soviet Union has committed a total crime against the United Nations. One or two noble Lords mentioned the United Nations, but it seems to me that hitherto this point has not been made quite strongly enough, certainly not in public, and perhaps not even in this debate. After all, it may be of some interest to remind those of your Lordships who might have forgotten that one of the chief architects of the United Nations draft when it was being concluded in San Francisco was no other than Mr. Gromyko. I hope that Mr. Gromyko has enough understanding, humour, or whatever one likes to call it, to feel enormously embarrassed. I doubt it, but he might be reminded of this.
I should like to speak for a few moments about the public relations aspect of this whole matter. A short time ago I asked the Foreign Secretary whether special 1403 consideration would be given to the public relations aspect of this whole matter. I asked the question rather badly, and I do not think that I gave the Foreign Secretary the opening really to give an answer.
The point of the present situation, in my view, is that the Soviet Government, being propaganda experts, have not left this field of activity untouched. Admittedly, their first effort, explaining the reasons why they were going into Afghanistan, might have been taken for somebody trying to make a mess of it; but none the less they tried, and this will go on. When I asked the Foreign Secretary a question about whether we were paying special attention to this, I do not think I gave him a fair chance to give me the answer that I was looking for, and I take full blame for that. My point is that if you are being, not attacked, but misled by a country which does not particularly wish you well, then I can assure your Lordships from experience that you have to make a rather special effort. It is not that you are yourselves likely to be misled, because you have a good laugh as soon as you look at it; and the media, too, have every chance of looking at whatever may be produced. The point of this is not that our media are necessarily going to be persuaded along a wrong course, but that there is a difficulty within the media, which is that they work extremely fast, they sometimes work in danger, and they may send news which is definitely wrong.
For instance, I have in mind the habit, which has already been picked up, I think, in the media itself, of calling the Afghans who are trying to defend their country "the rebels". This is carelessness, and is damaging. What one needs to be extremely careful about, I assure your Lordships—and I have been concerned in these matters myself—is that the interpretations of the news which are received can, in any part where we operate, be picked up quickly and, where necessary, dealt with by refutation or comment. I do most seriously express the hope that this function of government in times of crisis is "consciously being looked after" (and I think that was my point), so that we have enough people looking after this aspect of government and they are fully provided with the material that is necessary; because one cannot expect all the Press people to get it right, even if they are 1404 clearly hoping to do so. Great harm can be done if this is not looked after.
My Lords, may I take a moment to have a word about the Olympic Games. My noble friend Lord George-Brown dealt with it very well, but very little has been said about it generally, and I think I should like to say a word from the point of view of someone with my own background, but a little more addressed to the people themselves, who are worrying very much about what is happening and are raising much objection to what the Government would like them to do. On this point, I feel that our athlete friends also need a bit more briefing. I was particularly alarmed at suggestions that what was happening at the Olympic Games was more important than what was happening in Asia. Perhaps more for their benefit than even for your Lordships', for which I apologise, I think we have to emphasise the most fundamental point that it is nonsense to say that the Olympic Games are more important than what is going on in Asia. After all, what is going on in Asia could decide the way in which we live, the habits we develop and whether we enjoy peace or war. This is all in play in what is going on, because if we and our allies were not to do everything we could to thwart the purposes of the Soviet Union, then there would be a danger of a further Soviet advance, in which case we would begin to get a different style of life which we should none of us wish.
Moreover, there were some things said in the correspondence (I repeat, perhaps, what my noble friend said, but not half as well) which made it appear that there was also an attempt to make out that it really did not matter very much, that the Soviet Union was not going to press the matter, and so on, and also that they really did not mind whether or not the Olympics took place because the Soviet Union does not mind, I can say to your Lordships with the utmost assurance, because I have done some homework on this, that one thing which really is on the Soviet mind is that other countries should give them encouragement by attending the Olympic Games. It is as simple as that; and it just is no good trying to make out that that aspect of the matter is not important.
So, while I have great admiration for our athletes—we all wish them well and, 1405 as a second-class rugby player vis-à-vis all these champions, I am no one to speak to them in their language—it is important, because of what I have said, that the Soviet Government should realise that everybody cares about this. It is not that athletes are irrelevant when compared to soldiers or politicians, but that everybody is involved in this, and nobody can, so to speak, opt out of the political effect and influence of an important universal athletic engagement. It cannot be done. We have seen that it cannot be done in this or that detail. But I can assure your Lordships from everything that I have heard about this that it is really important and that the pressure we can bring to bear on the Soviet Union can best be exerted on them in this kind of way.
In this connection, I should like to say one more thing. I have heard it said, or it has been written, that this kind of activity—trying to divert the Olympics from the Soviet Union—is just a case of politicians meddling in other people's business. Having the privilege of being a Member of this House I want to say that I feel a personal resentment against that suggestion. After all, it is for the people we elect to run our affairs; and, even if they might have been a bit lighthearted before, in a situation like this everybody who is elected to Parliament becomes intensely serious and responsible. I wish to make my protest in this place, and I hope the people who have said these things will notice what I say. It is very wrong indeed to confuse the minor things in Parliament, which people occasionally enjoy rather than being very serious, with this event, which may bring one nearer to destruction than we have been as yet, should we treat it lightly.
So I beg athletes who are thinking about this—and with whom one sympathises very much indeed, particularly those who will never have another chance to go into the Olympic Games—not to insist upon going to Moscow but to follow the extremely wise advice of the Government and agree to the Olympics being held elsewhere. I beg our friends to look at it in the right proportions, and, knowing that they have our sympathy, to follow the Government's advice and to accept the idea of holding the Olympic Games elsewhere. If I may say one word on that, people have been saying that we cannot. I object to that because one can certainly 1406 have some kind of Olympics in America or Canada. Both countries are immensely efficient and quick in working. I beg people involved in this matter to agree to that very sensible plan and to co-operate in the Games being held elsewhere.
§ 6.30 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, always makes a deeply thoughtful and interesting speech, and today I find myself in complete agreement with everything that he said. I am not sure what he meant at the beginning when he said that he was not a professional speaker. I feel sure that if he were thinking of turning "pro", he would make a good living. There can be very few, if any, noble Lords who have not been encouraged by the speech by the Prime Minister in another place last week and by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary in this debate. For myself, I welcome the initiatives that the British Government have taken in NATO and in the European Community, initiatives which I think are admirable, positive and firm without being doctrinaire.
The invasion of Afghanistan, I think everyone will agree, has shocked the United States and Western Europe out of their complacency—something which the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia mysteriously failed to do. The invasion of Afghanistan also underlined the accuracy of the Prime Minister's analysis of Soviet intentions which appear not to have changed in any material respect since the war ended or (should I say?) since the Kremlin got the green light at Yalta. But it has done much more than that. It has exposed considerable disarray in the West which has been shown clearly not to have any counter strategy. On the other side of the balance sheet, it has exploded some major myths about the Soviet Union. The Cominform which we have not heard much about for a long time, is now stone dead and the only communist party in a free country in Europe which supports the Kremlin is in France.
Who would have thought to see, so soon after the Havana meeting of the non-aligned countries such total disillusion with the face value of Soviet promises so widespread? This is something to which a number of noble Lords referred, as did the Foreign Secretary. 1407 In future, anyone asked to sign a friendship treaty will look with a magnifying glass at the small print. Who would have thought that the highly skilful wooing of the Moslem countries by Moscow could have gone so completely sour. Apart from in Aden? I am not sure of its present name; I think it is the People's Democratic Republic of the Yemen), apart from Aden, they have no satellite Arab country, and I would guess that Syria's flirtation is likely to end as abruptly as did Egypt's. With 50 million Moslems inside the Soviet Union, it is well worth considering the implications of what may be the effect over the next few years of the invasion of Afghanistan. As for the Soviet satellites in Eastern and Central Europe, it can now be seen much more clearly that they pose a serious dilemma for the Kremlin, politically, socially and economically. The spurious cohesion of the Warsaw bloc can be seen to be crumbling just like the Iron Curtain.
So, quite apart from their growing military threat to us (which is undeniable), for the time being, Moscow's chances of wrecking ordered society in the noncommunist world—or, in the words of the late President Kennedy:"nibbling the West to death in a state of nuclear stalemate"—have had a considerable setback. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, there. Let us face it: they have been doing very well up to now. This setback offers an opportunity that we must not fail to seize, but it demands a degree of unity which at present we show little signs of achieving. This is something we must create and maintain, not temporarily as an awareness of crisis, but on a permanent basis. Clearly, there must be more rapid and regular consultation between Europe and the United States, something which the Prime Minister drew attention to last week.
My Lords, I want to say a word about that. NATO seems to me to be the obvious forum although it has had little mention today. It certainly has not been used as such, and perhaps it cannot be. The NATO area of responsibility is hounded, as we know, by the Tropic of Cancer in the South—which seems, I am not sure why, to inhibit them from countering what has happened in Iran or even considering it, inhibits them from countering a possible threat to the Hormuz 1408 Straits or from countering the invasion of Afghanistan; or even from discussing these, as far as I know—although all these areas lie North of the Tropic of Cancer. I do not understand the reason for that. I know that the North Pole is in the NATO area and that the Cape route is out. That seems to be most curious. I was sorry last week that the Foreign Secretary, in reply to a supplementary question of mine, should say that he saw no prospect of a majority in NATO taking the view that their area of responsibility should be extended further South. I hope that that will be something that Her Majesty's Government will continue to press and I wish them good luck if they do so.
If NATO is not the right forum for these discussions, we must look for closer political co-operation in the European Community, which, in any case, should be an urgent objective. We are not faced with a choice, as people often say, between specifically European attitudes and some alleged special relationship with America, so often criticised by the French who themselves claim some undefined special understanding with the Soviet Union. I think that where our relations with America are concerned there has been too much criticism recently. They are our real guarantor of security. I think that some of the criticism has been unfair and ungenerous.
My Lords, may I give a few examples? How often do we remember, even in this House, the casualties that America suffered in the Korean and Vietnamese wars? In the former, 34,000 were killed and more than 100,000 wounded; in Vietnam, 56,000 were killed and more than 300,000 wounded. I thought it worth putting these figures on record again; for we are apt to forget the immense sacrifices that they made and the shattering consequences for the nation's morale. As for their defence expenditure, let us bear in mind that on a per capita basis, theirs has been roughly twice what we have paid towards our contribution to NATO, and three times that (or even four times that) of some of our NATO allies. We should bear in mind these things and try to avoid undue criticism of the United States. We need a common and, equally important, consistent Western strategy which demonstrates to the Kremlin that they can neither divide Europe from America nor drive a wedge into Western Europe itself.
1409 The lack of such a common attitude has been highlighted in many ways recently, not least by the attitude of the countries of the European Community to the selective sanctions against the Soviet Union announced by America, for which I believe there is a powerful case. In my newspapers yesterday, I was far from encouraged to read a statement after the Franco-German mini-summit that the critical question of Western technological exports had been passed over in complete silence, as was the question of the Olympic Games. That seemed unfortunate and most curious. I am not quite sure why France and Germany had to hold a mini-summit at this particular time with such a fanfare of trumpets. I would prefer to see things settled inside the Community itself where the machinery exists.
The European Community, year in, year out, have used high-sounding phrases, such as the statement made in 1973 at the Summit meeting:The Nine intend to play an active role in world affairs and … progressively define common positions in the sphere of foreign policy which they will never do … if they neglect their own security"—"security" being a euphemistic word for their defence. They have paid lip service in this way year after year to the need for a common foreign policy. But very little has resulted. They continue to make an artificial distinction between Community and foreign policy matters, and the failure to set up a political secretariat closely linked with the Commission has led to the depressing failure of the Community to match their brave words with any really substantial deeds.
I was very glad indeed to hear the Foreign Secretary say today that the mechanism here needs improving, and that he has "some ideas" about this. I am sure that he has some very good ideas about it. I am optimistic that he will succeed in persuading them to adopt a common foreign policy where these great matters are concerned. I hope, if I may say so—and this is the only critical note I intend to strike—that we will not become paranoic about our great disappointment with the unfair system for assessing contributions to the Community budget. However, it seems to me that we are. It is grossly unfair; we are paying too much. But there are a lot of other matters of even more importance. I 1410 should not like us to take our eyes off the ball for that question.
I was a great enthusiast—as my noble friend the Foreign Secretary knows—for Britain going into the Community, and I worked very hard towards that end. It was always because I thought that this was politically imperative; and, so far as I am concerned, I feel very badly let down by the lack of progress towards creating a common foreign policy in the fields that really matter. One result of this has all too often been that the political implications of the Community's commercial relations, for instance with Yugoslavia and Turkey, as well as with the Warsaw Pact countries—I am thinking of the satellite countries—have been ignored. The political implications have been ignored, with unfortunate results. It has had the result of guiding Yugoslavia far too much into Soviet arms, which is not what they wanted. I think that 40 per cent. of their trade is with the Soviet Union now, and the Community has been "dickering" for some two years over commercial agreements with them. The same thing could be equally well said about Turkey, where the Community has shown a considerable lack of understanding of her real problems. Now the country is economically flat on its back and has to be saved.
The final point that I want to make under this short heading is that I should like to see the desultory Euro-Arab dialogue, as it is called, resulting very soon in an association agreement with all interested Arab countries on the same lines as the ASEAN agreement in the Far East which has been a success. This has been slow in coming and I think that these talks have been inhibited, even bogged down, by the refusal of some EEC countries to talk about the political implications of a trade agreement or an association agreement on those lines with these Arab countries. One cannot divorce these commercial matters completely from politics, and I think the Community has made the mistake of trying to do so.
Above all, I want to see the Community, with Britain in the van, make a supreme effort to solve the Arab-Israel dispute. I know that where the Government are concerned—not least my noble friend the Foreign Secretary—I am pressing upon 1411 an open door. The Carter-Sadat initiative at Camp David, which the Community rightly described as "courageous", has now virtually petered out or will do very shortly, and it has had considerable success in breaking the ice and exposing people's positions. The European Community promised in Copenhagen in 1973, and on many subsequent occasions, to help to find and guarantee—and I should like to emphasise that—a settlement based on Security Council Resolution 242; but the question of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians has always been slightly fudged, not only by the EEC, but by the United States and many other people. It was not fudged today, I am glad to say, by the Foreign Secretary, who spoke very clearly about this question.
I believe that until it is recognised that the rights of 3½ million Palestinians can be summed up in two words, "self-determination"—not "homeland", not "autonomy", which may mean anything or nothing—and until the PLO is accepted as their representative body, there is no hope of a lasting peace in the Middle East or of lasting good relations with the Arab countries. I firmly believe that. I think too that the continued occupation of a hundred Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 armistice line, between the Israel and Arab countries, just like the annexation of East Jerusalem, is illegal and totally unacceptable. The British Government have a clear position there and so does the EEC.
In the long run, too, Zionist territorial ambitions are a direct threat to Israel's prospects of living in peace with her Arab neighbours with secure and guaranteed frontiers. I really believe that to be the case. So, when moral obligations and self-interest point in the same direction—as I think they do where the Arab-Israel dispute is concerned—why hesitate? Here is a very clear field in which a British lead in the EEC is clearly indicated. I am sure that it would be welcomed throughout the Arab world.
I conclude by saying that our national decline has to be halted somehow. We have been in a decline for a considerable number of years. The Free World is crying out for leadership, and I believe that Britian can give it; I believe Britain should give it; and, indeed, at the moment 1412 we are giving it. Unhappily, our authority and prestige is greatly diminished by our lack of economic muscle, to some extent caused by, as well as contributing to, our social and industrial unrest. I think that the nation is in far greater peril than is generally realised. I pray that we have the resolve and the strength to regain our national confidence, the respect of our allies, and thus the ability to put into effect the foreign policy in which we believe. I am sure that we have that resolve.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Lord GREENHILL of HARROW
My Lords, it would be presumptuous of me to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, on his maiden speech, but I should like to say how interesting I found it and how much I look forward to his further participation in these debates. I wish, as I am sure other noble Lords do—and as the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood said—that this debate was taking place against a background of industrial peace and political stability. Regrettably, it is not. Our contribution to world affairs is thereby diminished. The sooner we can get our domestic situation into better shape, the more attention will be paid to the manifest good sense of the Foreign Secretary's analysis of the present situation and his proposals for action. I should like, if I may, to make six brief points which I am afraid are bound to reflect much of what has already been said, since I have worked professionally with the majority of the speakers who have taken part in the debate and have come to share their views—and, very occasionally, they have come to share mine.
First, the invasion of Afghanistan is in one way a relief. It should put an end to a whole lot of humbug about détente. The pursuit of so-called détente has been used by many countries in the West—not least our own—to put off doing expensive and burdensome things that manifestly had to be done. It has also been used by sympathisers of the Eastern bloc to mislead the well-meaning into believing that far-reaching and lasting agreements were just around the corner if only one had patience and indulged the Soviet leaders who were, it was said, being sadly misunderstood. I hope that an end has now been put to these lines of thought. I think that we are all in agreement that a measure of rearmament Is unavoidable.
1413 It is, of course, essential to maintain as close diplomatic contact as we can with the Soviet Union and the Soviet leaders, and to take our full part in any discussions on disarmament and force reductions; but I hope that all the countries in the West can now be sure that their eyes are a little more widely open. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, referred very interestingly to the origins of the First War and the mistakes that arose because the Germans failed to understand what we were likely to do or what our intentions were. The late President Kennedy referred to the same point, and in Washington at the time of the Cuba crisis, he said:The one thing we have to be absolutely certain of is that there is no misunderstanding in the Kremlin about what we think and what we propose to do".That is a very important lesson to learn and it is probably the strongest reason why we should seek ways to maintain a diplomatic dialogue with the Soviet Union. At the same time, I suggest that we should give a little more attention than has been given recently to an intense study of Soviet politics and the Soviet system. Once upon a time, some years ago this was very competently and elaborately done in the foreign offices of the Western countries. These studies have been diminished and I think they should be renewed.
The second point I wish to make is self-evident; that it is no good revising a political and military strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union unless there is, additionally and simultaneously, an economic strategy. Over the last decades there has been far too much "business as usual", and the West has been lavish with credits and with technology. Short-term gains, irrespective of long-term consequences, have been the order of the day. I submit that this is not good enough. It is of course immensely difficult to implement such an economic strategy in the present state of the world economies. National interests of Western countries are not the same and are often in conflict; the temptation to score off each other when one or other is unpopular is almost irresistible and fully understandable, but if we in the West are not prepared to repair some of the past errors in this field we shall have to pay the price of our political and military strategies being undermined.
1414 Thirdly, we must be aware of, and exploit, the weaknesses of the Soviet position. It is perfectly true that they have accumulated a massive arsenal of modern arms and they have secured the services of willing mercenaries. It is not surprising that they try to put these advantages to full use and gain as much as they possibly can by intimidation; but it is well to remember that the Soviet Union has in recent times lost ground in certain specific ways. It has, as I think your Lordships will agree, failed to solve the domestic problems of its own society. It is intensely bureaucratic; it has acute problems of internal nationalities and the beginnings of racial problems. It is class-ridden and, except for largely military spheres, it is technologically lagging and the failures of its agricultural policies are known to the world. As a result of all this, in the eyes of the world it no longer has the key to a just society, and the respect in which it is held worldwide arises from its readiness to use its military power and not from the successful practical application of its ideology. Nor has the Soviet Union a world propaganda advantage, although, as I have said, up to now it has exploited the fascination which the possibility of continuing détente has for Western democratic States, particularly at election time.
All these present circumstances put a special responsibility on the BBC's external services to get their priorities right and to make the substance of their programmes appropriate to the present circumstances. Sometimes I think that noble Lords have been too fulsome in their praise of the External Services and I suggest that all of us should give our attention critically to what is being put out at the present time and make perfectly certain that full advantage is taken of the splendid reputation which these services have established over many years.
The fourth point I would make is another simple point: that is, that protection of the interests of the Western and democratic world is not the sole responsibility of the United States. We often act as if it were; and it is perfectly clear that in the past powerful European and Far Eastern countries have not borne their full share and have been glad to escape doing so. I was pleased to hear the other day the Japanese Foreign Minister 1415 quoted as predicting that Japan will take a more prominent part in world affairs in the future. Its strength certainly justifies it, and I think its people are beginning to realise that they must use this strength if they are to protect their own interests, many of which they share with us. Our European partners have also fallen short of doing what they should outside the European area, although we must be grateful for some of the initiatives which the French were prepared to take in Africa and from which we benefited. But in the future, to my mind, there must be an acceptance by all of us in the West that the burden of protecting the interests of our people and the standards of our people's living cannot be shuffled off on to others.
Sixthly, there has over the last few months been an intense preoccupation in this country with espionage: but, instead of learning the lessons of the past, the chief intention of many of those who speak and write so profusely about these matters is to weaken and obstruct the work of the security services. The dangers that existed in the past exist now, and our security and intelligence services deserve the full support of the Government. I am sure they intend to give this support, but I am also sure the House would like to hear from the Secretary of State that this point is fully accepted by the Government.
I should like, if I may, to refer to two other matters: one which the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, has mentioned and which the Secretary of State himself raised. The Arab/Israeli dispute and its solution is directly relevant to the present situation. President Carter took a far stronger initiative in tackling this terribly difficult problem than any other American President. Some would think he tried to go too far and too fast, but the fact is that he was alone and received precious little support from many of those who were in a position to help him. It is urgent, when the danger in the world is as intense as it is today, that we should not forget that this problem continues to sap the strength of the Free World. I would ask the Secretary of State to make sure, as I am sure he will, among all his other duties, that this problem is not overlooked and that the contribution we may be able to make is made promptly.
1416 Finally, the last point to which I want to refer was made by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham. Another problem which has a destabilising effect in the world is that which arises from the policies of the South African Government. That Government will, I think, be tempted to say, in the light of what has happened in Afghanistan, "There you are. We were right. You were wrong. You underestimated the Communist danger. "There may be truth in that, but the plain fact is that their domestic policies are destabilising and weakening to our position. I hope, therefore, that the Government will try, in whatever way they can, to help the South African Government along the very difficult road of adjusting their affairs to the climate of world opinion.
That is the only contribution that I can make to this debate, but I want to make one other observation, which is that, excluding my own share, it has been an exceptionally important debate with a lot of important and eloquent speeches. Sometimes, it is very difficult to find any mention of our debates in the daily newspapers, and I hope that the Press will give proper attention to some of the speeches that were made at the beginning of this debate.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
My Lords, I have listened with great interest to the debate, particularly to the Foreign Secretary's statesmanlike exposition. Even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forbear to cheer at it, because it was not at all a rumbustious speech. It was the speech of a man who was struggling to find a diplomatic and constructive way to deal with the problem of the Soviet Union.
But very little has been said today about the real problem. This is Caucasian man, Western man, talking here and every speech has been made after looking at things through Western man's eyes. We have to learn to look at the problems of Asia through oriental eyes. In the area of Afghanistan, Baluchistan and the River Oxus, we have a massive geopolitical problem which we must learn to understand. Not only one diplomat has been murdered in Afghanistan; American diplomats have been murdered as well as Russians. It has been so throughout history and, at first, it was singeing the beard of the British Empire.
1417 I want to know, and I think that the British public should know, what are the definitions of our spheres of interest. They have never been made crystal clear and spiked down. We hear whiffly-whaffly speeches—one today took over 36 minutes—all over the world, but where do our interests lie? Do not let us pretend any more that we shall get the Australians, the New Zealanders and the South Africans rushing their troops to defend the British Empire. Those days have gone.
The editor of Third World, who lives in Sri Lanka, said clearly—and this I agree with—With the Soviet move into Afghanistan the second cold war is in".The Foreign Secretary did his best today to modify that cold war.There is to be a re-run of the way Washington sought to enlist the Third World for the containment of communism".I ran around the Asian part of the Third World. I did not interrupt the Foreign Secretary, but there was a slight slip in his speech and it would have been pompous of me to interrupt or to stand up at the end to correct it. When he uttered the term "ASEAN", he called it ASEAN/African nations. It is of course, the Association of South-East Asian Nations. I am sure he will spot that. The editor went on:By and large, American relations with the Third World have been distorted by miscalculation, misappreciation and misconception. It is a nagging thought that through insensitive analysis the USA may have lost the opportunity to seduce Afghanistan from the Soviet orbit".I do not like the word "seduce", but we know exactly what he meant.
That is true. There was the insensitivity of sending Muhammad Ali to Africa to act as a diplomat, magnificient athlete though he is. I could name three Welsh rugby players or three Welsh snooker players who would have done as well. What I am afraid of is that we can have a holocaust or incineration for the sake of presidential elections in the United States, in order that one or other will gain the top place. None of that has been said today and, consequently, we have a duty. The Foreign Secretary has performed that duty today in a moderate, constructive speech showing the difficulties of getting détente.
I agree with the definition of "détente" of the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, 1418 because he wants to keep alive the diplomatic approach. We shall have to find out what we mean by words. What do we mean by the "Free World"? The United States is tempted to paint red everybody who struggles for nationalistic independence and modernisation, and we bandy the word "communism" about to describe people who are struggling to be free. Had we been in the Europe of 1848 and if, magically, modern man had been plunged into it, he would have called every national revolution in Europe "communist". Therefore, first, our spheres of influence need to be defined; and, secondly our phraseology needs to be polished up and made accurate. We do not call Afghanistan, Pakistan or, surely to God, Chile the "Free World".
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
The noble Lord said it. The point is that we should be much more accurate and should not use the loose phraseology of a cheap weekend newspaper.
I should like to talk about the then Sir Anthony Eden and Lord Reading—and a tribute should be paid to Lord Reading. I wrote this a long time ago. On 1st May, 1954, Sir Anthony and Lord Reading had "an exceptionally difficult discussion" after dinner. Your Lordships will find all this in Sir Anthony Eden's book Full Circle, at page 111:Dulles was asking for our support in any action that America might take in Indo-China and when Sir Anthony Eden tried to find out what kind of action,Dulles had the audacity to say that it had not yet been decided. Nevertheless, he asked the British to support any action that was taken. Mr. Kissinger is using almost the same phraseology, because only last week he said that we have to do something about Morocco and something about South Africa, and he has thrown the area of his sphere of influence around the entire world. I am not exaggerating.
I shall not trespass on the weariness of the House, but I just want to get back to the other part of my speech. Anybody would think that the Russians had done nothing but create revolutions in Asia. But around the River Oxus and Uzbekistan the Russian spheres of influence are now 1419 being industrialised. Anybody who visited those areas 20 to 30 years ago and who saw them now would find that their towns had been electrified and modernised. There will be a struggle one day to get down to a port like Karachi. We might even find a solution, like with Danzig. One of the outstanding problems of this area is to get an agreement between Baluchistan, Pakistan and India over access to a free port—a road through to a port for the exports of that part of Western Asia.
The House will remember that Sir John Freeman was our High Commissioner when I was in India. We had then the problem of the Rann of Kutch. When speaking today of Afghanistan, nobody mentioned this important treaty—the Tashkent Treaty. Well, what was it? Everybody said that the Russians were starting to upset everything that had been done in Asia, but the Western World failed to settle the problem of the Rann of Kutch and Kosygin and Gromyko were called in.
The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, who made a 36 minute speech, was sent out to represent Britain at the death of Shastri. After signing the Treaty of Tashkent, poor old Shastri dropped dead. The late Lord Mountbatten went out to represent the Queen, and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, who was praising the Prime Minister's efforts not so long ago but who was then on our side of the House, went out to represent our Government and helped to carry the cortége of Shastri. Now Shastri, bless him—we must not look at Eastern men with Western eyes—died penniless. His income per month was £253 and he gave it to a brotherhood to which he belonged. I know that some people will laugh about this but we have got to understand the spiritual depths of some of these Moslems, Hindus and other types of people who are not within our type of religious orbit. With their eyes they look at economic and social problems in a way which is completely different from the way that we look at them.
I can put that to the proof. When we criticise Russian aid, let us be factual. Everybody who gives aid to a nation wants something back from that nation. The New York Times puts it better than that. In October 1950 it said: 1420America has a right to demand a dollar's worth of fight for every dollar which it spends in aid".If you approach Asiatic man with economic aid like that, there is no future for the success of our philosophy against the contest with nationalism and modernisation in the Asiatic world. I think it is worth while to remember that the Russians succeeded in stopping that war between India and Pakistan by the Tashkent Treaty. Why? There may have been an ulterior motive, because of the development of the Oxus region, but it served the West at that time.
I have spoken for 11 minutes. Most of the points have been made, but I think that mine were different. Have no illusions. Mrs. Ghandi, who is a great Prime Minister, objects to the Russians being in Afghanistan, but she is not going to join in any ululation and shouting, because she wants the aid of Russia—and, as she says, she may be needed.
Perhaps I may ask the noble Lord one question. I was amazed the other day when Mr. Blaker, representing the Foreign Office, marched around Thailand and promised that under the Manila Treaty of 1954 we would go to their aid. But we cannot manage Ireland. What is the matter with us? What is this folie de grandeur? Are we going to revive the Manila Treaty? If we do, Indonesia will say that they want nothing to do with it. Nor does India. So before we talk about this part of the world let us define our spheres of interest. As the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said, if we can manage it, let us keep the Indian Ocean as a nuclear free area.
I think it is my duty to say that I was delighted, although he is a Conservative, with the speech which was made today by the Foreign Secretary. It was one of the most constructive speeches that a Foreign Secretary has made during one of the most difficult transitional periods in the last 20 years of our economic, social and military history.
§ 7.16 p.m.
The Marquis of HEADFORT
My Lords, nearly two years ago in this House, in a debate on Rhodesia initiated by my noble friend Lord George-Brown, I advocated the restoration of British rule in 1421 Salisbury pending a settlement of Rhodesia's problems. Although I am sure it is only a coincidence that my advice would seem to have been taken, I would like again to make a constructive proposal in the face of another crisis in international affairs.
Russia's annexation of Afghanistan has led to a reaction in the rest of the world which has been feeble in the extreme. The most abject feature of that reaction has been fear expressed in various quarters in the West and elsewhere lest anything be done in response to Russian aggression which might endanger détente. Taken literally, détente means the relaxation of tension. This has appeal for the West and the world at large because it holds out the prospect of its people being able to forget about war and concentrate on economic and other forms of salvation. The Soviet Union, however, thrives on tension since this is all that holds it together. The only thing Moscow is interested in relaxing is the resolve of the West to defend itself.
On that view, the Kremlin's seizure of Kabul was a mistake, further compounded by sending Mr. Sakharov, the leading Russian dissident, into "internal exile". While many in the West still delude themselves with the hope of détente, others have woken up to reality and rightly see in Afghanistan a new threat, certainly a warning not to be ignored. This should be of concern to the Soviet Government, but as it is the West risks making an even greater mistake—that of allowing the Russians to get away with theirs, as Hitler was allowed to get away with the reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936.
There have of course been those who say Russia must be made to "pay" for occupying Afghanistan, as though, having "paid", that will balance the account. While perhaps not the most congenial country in the world, Afghanistan is of considerable importance to Russia, as it was in Tsarist days, and the price so far named—boycotting of the Olympic Games, withholding some grain shipments and curtailing ministerial exchanges and other contacts—is one the Kremlin would be pleased to pay if that is all there is to it. Meanwhile, having put the highest price tag we dare on the property Moscow has appropriated, we are left with deciding where next to draw the line 1422 beyond which the Russians must not be allowed to step.
The Kremlin has long known, and is now demonstrating, that there are large areas of the world which the West is not prepared to defend with the only effective military weapon at its disposal: its nuclear strike capability. Awareness of this must be demoralising for the many countries which lie outside the West's nuclear palisade. Pakistan must be feeling particularly naked, looking up the Khyber Pass, receiving from America not enough arms to defend itself effectively against Russia or to upset the Indian Government unduly, but sufficient to allow the Russians to feel provoked, when it suits them, into making another push, this time through the Indian Ocean.
A sorry state of affairs. And yet it need not be so. The way to deal with the crisis is to concentrate not on Afghanistan itself but on the Achilles heel of the Soviet system: its lack of popular domestic support after over 60 years of unparalleled tyranny and political, philosophical and economic stagnation. If an Ayatollah, sitting cross-legged in a Paris suburb, can bring down the Shah of Persia with all his might and his secret police by an exercise in will power; if the Viet Cong, with the help of the media, could sap the will of the American people to continue to wage war in Vietnam; if the German general staff in 1917 was able mortally to infect the Russian body politic by injecting into it the virus of Lenin, are there not lessons staring us in the face to be learned?
We can just about hold our own in the nuclear weapons field, we are no match for the Soviets in conventional warfare, but there is no reason why we would not mobilise the superior political skills of the West and other democracies, particularly those in the Commonwealth, to out-manoeuvre the Soviet Government on ground on which it is at its clumsiest and most vulnerable. Steps in such a policy would aim at showing more direct sympathy with the oppressed in Russia. We espouse the cause of individual dissidents there when they have the immense courage to defy their political gaolers. But what are we going to do to make their task easier?
The thing that most sustained Adolf Hitler when he came to power was not 1423 the Gestapo but the fact that the British, French and other Governments appeared to treat him as legimately entitled to their respect. If Hitler and his thugs had been treated as the gangsters they were, it is doubtful if they would have lasted more than a couple of years. The German people would rightly have been ashamed of them and would have got rid of them. It is time to shame, and indeed frighten, the Russian people into getting rid of their malevolent and dangerous masters. This will not be done by merely increasing the Russian language service of the BBC, important though that is, or by boycotting the Olympic Games, valid as that would be in the context of more important measures. World opinion has got to be organised into completely ostracising the Soviet Government. The Soviet Union must be expelled from the United Nations. Diplomatic links with Russia must be reduced to the purely consular level. A trade boycott would be difficult to enforce, but cheap credit must be stopped as should the continued transfer of high technology. In addition, the nucleus should be formed of a provisional alternative Russian Government, not in exile, for it would not have been exiled, but in the Free World. This Government should be given a seat in the United Nations, there to hold in trust on behalf of Russia the legitimate interests of its people pending free elections in their country.
These are some of the ways of bringing home to the Russian people that their leaders have forfeited the right to international respect and are individually no longer persona grata in the world at large. Such measures would produce a lot of foaming at the mouth of the organs of Soviet propaganda, but they fall short by a long chalk of any kind of nuclear brinkmanship. They are the safest and by far the most cost effective means of achieving what we would all dearly like to see: an end to the Soviet dictatorship and therewith the release from bondage of the people of Eastern Europe—not to mention Afghanistan. Thus might the slumbering, vodka stilled volcano of the people of Russia be made to erupt. The time has come to lay political siege to the fossilised dictatorship of the Soviet Union with a view to reducing what has become a grotesque political anachronism in an 1424 otherwise, for the most part, reasonably civilised world. We shall be better able to deal with the one or two rather nasty exceptions when the main boil plaguing us all has been lanced.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Lord CHALFONT
My Lords, may I begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter for making this debate possible and also by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, on his distinguished maiden speech. If I do so briefly it is because I do not wish to speak long, if only because I think almost everything that needs to be said about this subject has now been said. Indeed, I feel a deep sense of irony and of world weariness as I listen to the almost unanimous voice of your Lordships' House joining the great thunder of the National Press outside, saying things with great cogency and unanimity that a few short years ago were being said by only a few voices crying in the wilderness and being met often by scepticim and even derision. But I am happy to say that we hear less nowadays about "reds under the bed" and the "hawks" and the "cold warriors", because it seems to me that at last people have begun to awake.
The only surprising thing about the invasion of Afghanistan was that so many people were surprised by it. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Soviet strategy or Russian history could have foreseen that sooner or later when the time was ripe this would take place, but although what has happened in Afghanistan may be—and indeed is—a terrible tragedy for the people of that country I hope I shall not be misunderstood if I say that it may yet be a bonus for the West; an uncovenanted blessing perhaps for the whole of what I am afraid I still call, unrepentantly, the Free World, although there seem to be a few people about who do not quite understand what that means.
I say that it may be a bonus for the Free World because it means, or it seems to mean, that people really have now woken up to the reality of the Soviet threat, and I hope that those who have awakened will not relax again into some kind of torpid complacency when all the eloquent speeches have been made and all the thunderous articles have been written. It is all very well to say, "Yes, we now understand 1425 the real nature of Soviet foreign policy", as President Carter somewhat surprisingly said a few weeks ago. It is all very well to say that and also to say that we must now contain Soviet aggression. The question is, how are we going to do that'? We must not make only noises of repugnance and of outrage, but we must do something. Of course we must do many of the things which have been mentioned here this evening. We must look again at the question of transferring high technology to the Soviet Union, of sending them supplies of grain, usually on long and advantageous terms of credit. Of course we must look again at the Olympic Games but it seems to me that the real offence to the human conscience was in ever having the Olympic Games in Moscow in the first place, and the fact that it has taken the invasion of a tiny country in Asia to awaken our outrage against that, seems to me to be somewhat extraordinary.
But none of these things will change the course of Soviet foreign policy. We should be deluding ourselves if we believed that any kind of denunciation or any kind of economic or cultural or diplomatic action would change the fundamental course of Soviet foreign policy. We shall have to do much more than make noises and gestures. It seems to me that what is needed is a coherent strategy in the West of the same kind that informs everything that the Soviet Union does. The Soviet Union has a cohesive, organised, thought-out world strategy. This is not to suggest that everything it does fits into a neatly tabulated plan—today Afghanistan, tomorrow Pakistan, the day after Iran, perhaps after that Yugoslavia and Berlin. I daresay there is no such plan, but what there is in the Soviet Union is a clear world view within which they carry out their individual acts of foreign policy according to the master plan.
I believe that it is not sufficient for us now to talk of drawing lines and of determining our spheres of influence or spheres of interest. What we need, in my view, is a fundamental review of the whole of Western strategy and foreign policy, because in the past, indeed almost since the end of the Second World War and certainly for the last 15 or 20 years, Western strategy has been based upon a collection of fallacies and illusions. Now that we see the realities, now that we see 1426 what the threat really consists of, it seems to me there are some fundamental reappraisals to be made.
We must look again at the whole organisation, the whole aims and the whole policies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I do not share the view that we can lightly dismiss the suggestion that NATO countries should be encouraged to operate outside their prescribed territorial areas. The threat to the Western alliance and the threat to the West is global and the defence against it must be global, and if we cannot persuade some of our more continentally minded allies of the truth of this observation then perhaps, without of course in any way weakening the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, we should be looking elsewhere for friends. Perhaps we should be looking around the world at the possibility of establishing some kind of global defence system, consisting of those people who share with us fears and doubts and concerns about the expansionist nature of Soviet foreign policy.
Of course, if we do that, we shall find ourselves hand in glove on many occasions with countries with whose internal policies we do not entirely agree. But the threat is not only a profound one, it is an immediate one, and we must decide where out best interests lie. We must look, for example, at our relations with the People's Republic of China. This is a complicated matter, but the People's Republic of China, although it is a Communist country and to a very large extent a totalitarian country, has shown no signs of embarking upon an expansionist foreign policy, and has shown no signs of threatening us or threatening the Western World. I believe we must consider our relations with that country, in the light of the Soviet threat, with very great care.
We must, as several noble Lords have already said, consider very seriously our attitudes and policies towards the Arab countries, and indeed more than the Arab countries, the countries of the Islamic world as a whole, not all of which by any means are Arabic. We must certainly reconsider with great care our attitudes towards the Arab-Israeli confrontation, and the need, before we can ever hope to achieve any kind of stability among the countries of the Middle East, to solve the problem of the Palestinan people.
1427 But most of all, I suppose—because, although I believe that we in this country can take a lead in all these things, we cannot do many of them ourselves or on our own—we must look at our own military policies and look at them in the light of what has now happened. We must ask ourselves, as I think at least one noble Lord has already said, whether our plans for a modest increase in our defence budget are enough. It seems to me that, with the kind of things that one can do with a 3 per cent. increase in the defence budget in real terms, we shall still leave enormous gaps in our defensive apparatus. We have to consider things like the relative priorities of spending whatever money we have from the national budget on nuclear weapons or on what some people might regard as being more important, repairing the gaps in our conventional defences, repairing the gaps in our ability to place reserve forces in the field quickly, as indeed our potential enemies can. All these things and many others are going to have to be looked at.
However, I return to the major point which I want to make, which is that this has all got to be done within some kind of strategic concept, some kind of coherent view about what kind of world we live in and what kind of things threaten our way of life. We do not seem to have done this with any degree of organised analysis and approach before: We need now careful thought about the practicalities of effective defence and foreign policies, devoid of fantasies about détente, devoid of the illusions about Soviet intentions that have plagued our foreign policy for so many years, and devoid certainly of pipedreams about such organisations as the United Nations.
I believe that if we had had some kind of cohesive strategic concept in the West and if that had existed only a few short months ago, the invasion of Afghanistan would never have taken place, because the Soviet Union would have known quite clearly where the line was drawn; it would have known not only that we would deplore, not only that we would feel and express a sense of outrage, but also that we had the resources and the will to back them up. People have talked about the Soviet's miscalculation in Afghanistan. There was no miscalculation. The Soviet 1428 Union knew precisely what it could get away with. It knows where our weaknesses are, where our material weaknesses are and where our spiritual weaknesses are, and where our deficiencies of political will lie. They knew perfectly well what they could get away with, and of course they were right, because, although Western Governments knew weeks in advance—even if they had not the vision and the perception to see what was likely to happen—that Soviet forces were massing on the frontiers of Afghanistan, nothing was done because both the will and the resources were lacking. We must ensure that that never happens again.
This country can take a lead, but I believe, as I think more than one other noble Lord has said, that the key to all this lies in our relations with the United States of America. Of course, it would be foolish to suggest that we should support the United States in everything they do or everything they plan to do, even when they do not tell us what it is. That is to carry the concept of United States-British collaboration to absurd lengths. But what we must do now is at least to deny ourselves the luxury we have enjoyed for so long of relying upon the United States to protect us against attack from outside while denigrating and sneering at everything the United States has done in the rest of the world. That is a luxury we can no longer afford.
My Lords, I said that I would not speak for long. I am delighted to discover that the Western world has at least and at last woken up to one of the great realities of the second part of this century, which is that its way of life, its freedom, is under threat from Communist imperialism and that we must now do something to defend ourselves against that threat. Having woken up, we can only hope and pray that the West does not go to sleep again.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Lord SEGAL
My Lords, I should like at the outset from these Benches to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, on his truly magnificent maiden speech. I do so all the more readily because of a long-standing personal friendship and out of admiration for the wonderful work he did as a Minister.
My Lords, I am not one of those who accept for a single moment the view that 1429 President Carter has over-reacted to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Indeed, I accept the view that we are facing today a situation far graver than any since 1939. It is so easy to take a passive attitude towards events and to delude ourselves that we are merely spectators on the sidelines and not deeply involved. Many of us still recall the atmosphere of appeasement—the word détente was unknown in those days—and the capitulation at Munich, when the voice of Winston Churchill was almost a lone voice crying out in the wilderness warning us of the dangers that lay ahead.
Today we would do well to heed the warnings of every single one of the commanders of NATO. The danger is not of nuclear warfare, but that Russia will exert the uttermost pressure to achieve her aims with conventional weapons, in which she has such a crushing superiority. She will trade on our horror of war and our reluctance to use the nuclear deterrent, in order to gain world domination.
I fear that we have no grounds whatever, after all that has happened in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and more recently in Aden, Angola, Abyssinia and Afghanistan, to delude ourselves any longer. Why should Russia have designs now on Pakistan, India and Eastern Asia? Is it not far more likely that she will now turn towards Western Asia and the Middle East where the prizes are far greater; towards the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz and the vast oil resources of that region? Of one thing we may be certain: the Arab States cannot offer any effective resistance against Russia. Indeed, they are more than likely to fall like a ripe plum into her lap with hardly a shot being fired in anger.
Russia may well acquire, with the minimum of cost, the richest oil reserves in the world. The West has already drained much of its wealth into the sands of the Arabian Gulf. Now we are likely to see its chief oil reserves pass into Russian hands. The lifeblood of our industry and that of Western Europe, as well as the entire oil supply of Japan and a large part of the oil needs of America and the Third World, can be in Russian possession. Let us remember that Russia can well afford to bide her time, as she watches us lull ourselves into complacency in the 1430 hope that the worst may not happen yet again. For time is strongly on Russia's side.
A dictatorship can be wholly single-minded and crush ruthlessly all forms of opposition. Democracies, on the other hand, are vulnerable on every side. We can no longer assume that victory will be on the side of justice and freedom, or that moral forces will prevail. Today victory may well be on the side of the big battalions, with their enormous superiority in tanks and submarines.
So, short of war or placing ourselves on a war footing, so disastrous in its consequences to our economy, how can we face up to the situation created by the invasion of Afghanistan? I believe that there is very little positive action that we can take at the present juncture. President Carter has been right to try to rouse the free nations of the world to the imminent danger that threatens them. But we have already missed the bus. In fact, we have missed a whole procession of buses while Russia has cynically built up her forces in readiness for the day of her own choosing. There is every likelihood that, after Afghanistan, we shall wake up one fine morning to find the oil of the Gulf in Russian hands following a massive paratroop invasion or a landing from oceangoing submarines.
I believe that we are wrong about Pakistan. Certainly there should be aid for Pakistan to relieve the plight of the Afghanistan refugees. I believe that we are wrong in hoping for a strong Arab resistance, and wrong in our lukewarm attitude towards Camp David. In fact, if Israel were liquidated completely, blotted out of existence, if Yassir Arafat were installed tomorrow as the first President of a new Arab State in Palestine, it would not help one iota in strengthening any effective Arab resistance to Russia. In fact, it would do quite the reverse. It would remove the most efficient fighting machine that exists today in the Middle East.
One very important practical step that we can take now, while the Russian menace draws nearer to the world's main oil supply, is to strengthen the hands of those countries known to be steadfast and implacable in their opposition to Russia. They cannot hope to overcome the Russian menace, but they will not capitulate to it. The United States has 1431 already understood the gravity of the situation and, as a realist, President Carter has begun to face up to it. He has increased American aid to President Sadat and is negotiating for the use of Egyptian airfields. Three years ago President Sadat bundled the Russian agents out of Egypt lock, stock and barrel, and rid himself of all Russian influence. What a pity we have not given him the full support that he deserves in fighting for our cause and for the cause of peace.
At this stark moment in the world's history it is impossible to see very far ahead. But of one thing we may be quite certain. In the face of the brutal invasion of Afghanistan, it is of little use to harp on moral issues or to hope for much from détente. The bitter lessons of Prague, Budapest and Helsinki are staring us in the face. Naked aggression, in the most powerful form, is achieving world power, threatening our future, our freedom and the whole of our civilisation.
Therefore, moral issues can have no effect on the Russians, although we ought to keep them steadfastly in front of us. What we can do in the meantime is to strengthen the hands of those countries genuinely campaigning for peace: the United States, our allies in Western Europe and, nearer the scene of events, Egypt and Israel. Active campaigning for peace should be an aim in itself. It involves the elimination of hatreds, the healing of enmities and an end to the nursing of old wounds.
We must try to realise the dangers now facing us and refuse to be side-tracked into irrelevant side issues by the blandishments of ineffective allies. Today, the shadows are darkening all over the world. Aggression and violence are rampant everywhere. I only hope that our present Government, and particularly the present Foreign Secretary, whose work for peace in the brief space of less than 12 months has been more than that of many other Foreign Secretaries put together, may have the wisdom to see the way through the darkness to the road that lies ahead. The only safe road for us to travel must first be to use all our influence to try and unite the Arab world, which is at present torn by medieval obscurantism and internal feuds.
What a pity that the Foreign Secretary missed out Cairo on his last tour of the 1432 Middle East! I understand, of course, the pressure and the difficulties under which he was working. But Cairo has 10 million inhabitants; it is the largest city in the Middle East and the capital of the largest of the Arab States, with a population of more than all the other Arab States combined. For it is people, not potentates, that count when issues of peace and war are at stake.
So I now appeal to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary to use all his persuasive powers to urge the Arab States to make their peace with President Sadat—the one leader of world stature in the whole of the Arab ranks—in order to strengthen his hands in his efforts to bring peace and stability to the Middle East and to establish a united front against the common aggressor.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, I must apologise for playing musical chairs with the speakers' list. I thank those noble Lords and the Whips who have allowed me to do so. I cannot completely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Segal, that time is on the side of Russia. As regards subversion, time probably is on Russia's side, but that is not so on military matters. The West has now woken up and, from what my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has told us, we shall now take measures to put some rather hard objects in the way of Russian military expansion.
I feel like saying "I told you so". Ever since I have been in the House I have warned about Russian subversion, Communist cells in all our industries, their aggressive tactics if they can get away with it, and Communist cells in universities. I could go on ad infinitum, but I shall not because to say "I told you so" is a very barren attitude. The saying "There are reds under the bed"—I suppose under beds, too—was regarded by most as a funny saying, but we have been seeing for some time that there are reds actually in the bed. I have been saying this for a long time. Many years ago I remember warning about the Horn of Africa and that the Russians had designs on it. However, I must not say, "I told you so".
I am surprised at the number of men in high places who have been utterly mesmerised by Communist propaganda. I find 1433 that very hard to understand. Perhaps I have been fortunate in that I have not suffered from that hypnosis. I am amazed at the great surprise expressed in high places that the Soviets have consolidated their position in Afghanistan. Equally, the Russians must be surprised at the reaction in the West. For we must not forget that Afghanistan has been, I might almost say, a Soviet protectorate for close on two years. The time for the West to have taken note was when Mohammad Taraki and his Russian backers deposed and killed Mohammad Daoud. Then was when we should have taken action.
For 100 years the British kept the Russians out of Afghanistan, and now the worst has happened. I am glad that President Carter has now turned from a dove into a hawk. As I have said before, it was surprising how he appeared to base his foreign policy on love. One can only base a foreign policy on power. We must be careful to ensure that, after all this has blown over, détente is secure. Public memory is very short and we must be careful to bear in mind that the ultimate aim of the Russian bear is global revolution.
It appears that Stalinism has now returned in Russia and Stalin, in his book, The Problems of Leninism, said:The Soviet Union has a sacred duty to further revolution in other countries using, when necessary, the Red Army".As your Lordships know, Marxist-Leninism is a global revolution philosophy; it is a religion. We must bear that in mind. Although Russia prefers to gain her aims through subversion, if she thinks that the West is weak—which apparently she does at the moment—she will use her armed forces, and she is adept with her vast propaganda machine to brainwash peoples; she is equally adept at using her armed forces for blackmail.
As we have heard today, we now see Russia strategically placed to cut off the West's oil in the Persian Gulf; and in large parts of Africa she is equally well-placed to deprive the West of essential minerals, especially in the southern half of Africa. At this late hour, what can we do? The Foreign Secretary, in his very able Statement on 24th January, concerning his tour of the Near East and the Middle East, told us, at columns 530 and 531, that one 1434 point of agreement that emerged—and this is an important point—was:that the West and the countries of the area have a common interest in the stability and integrity of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz".That is cheering.
We must remember that during the last few years—and I do not go back as far as the Berlin air lift—support for the West against the Soviets has proved to be rather a broken reed. In order to obtain the confidence of States threatened by Russia, we must show that we mean business. The Shah of Iran was a great friend of the West, but to him it must have appeared that to be a friend of the West is to be given the kiss of death. He may be an exception, but we must prove to threatened nations that it pays to support the West.
A few years ago, we had a great network of bases to protect the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Where have they gone? We have given them all away. There was Aden, Bahrein, Gan, Singapore and Simonstown. We have lost them largely through party politics. When we gave Aden away, I and many others warned that the Russians would probably walk in the next morning. Well, it was not the next morning, but it was fairly soon afterwards. When the sheikhs of the Gulf asked us to stay in the Gulf with our military forces they also offered to pay for those forces, which was generous. I understand that at that time Mr. Healey was Foreign Secretary and he refused to accept that offer, so we withdrew our forces. That I cannot understand. We all know the saying:Those whom the gods would destroy they first drive mad".It appears to me that the gods must have driven our rulers mad. We must try to organise something on similar lines to that offer. It will not be easy; it is going to be expensive. Of course we must have the backing of America. She must be primarily responsible financially.
We still have friends in the area. We have Oman, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Singapore, Pakistan; and of course we have Somalia and Egypt. We must remember that both latter countries have experienced the Russians as allies, and they found it far from satisfactory, so I imagine that they would prove good friends. We must try 1435 to beat the Russians at their own game. It is not in our nature to be subversive, and I do not necessarily say that we should be, but we must try and encourage politicians in threatened countries to see the advantages of being pro-Western. We have seen that the Russians are adept at going into countries on the excuse that those countries have asked them to liberate them. In fact, as we all know, it is because they have put stooges into the Governments of those countries.
There is one thing I should like to say in reference to the excellent maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Holderness. He said, and I agree, that what we must do is capture men's minds. I was therefore pleased to see in his Statement on 24th January that the Foreign Secretary said that we were going to give more money to the External Services of the BBC. Of course, at the same time we must see that the power of the transmitters is boosted. It is no good broadcasting if the people you are broadcasting to cannot hear the broadcasts, because they can be jammed.
There is a considerable amount of unrest in Russia. They are short of consumer goods, and I thoroughly support America's move about grain supplies and that we are not going to help them with technology, at the moment anyway. We must show Russia—and here the Olympic Games come in—that she cannot flout the rules of international behaviour without being hurt. We must give her no more credits until she mends her ways—which of course in the long run I am afraid she will not. I am completely behind the Government on the Olympics. I was a poor athlete. I used to be able to run a fair distance but otherwise I was second rate. Of course it is extremely hard on people who have trained for the Olympic Games, and if they wish to go there I understand that they can, but the moral of the question must be explained to them. It is a matter for their consciences, but they must have explained to them what they are laying themselves open to by going.
I understand that for a year or so the Russians have been running buses showing thousands of people the Olympic Village and the stadium, and it has been a tremendous propaganda exercise for them. It would really be a mortal blow to Russian prestige, if, as I hope, the Olympics 1436 are not supported in Moscow. People say, "Well, they will hide that fact from the Russian people because they control the Press and radio". But they cannot, because it will go by word of mouth and the Russians will want to know why the Games have been a failure.
I do not know where Russia will strike next. Probably she will not strike anywhere for some considerable time; she will try to get back to détente, but we must beware. It may w ell be when she does try it next, that she may even strike in South America, but after President Carter's warning, I doubt whether she will strike at Baluchistan, or across the Straits of Hormuz.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Lord MILFORD
My Lords, I wish to express my disagreement with the military intervention which the Soviet Union has carried out in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. That also happened to be the verdict of the British Communist Party. But I am equally strongly against the efforts of the British and American Governments to exploit the developments in Afghanistan in order to increase international tension, step up the arms race, and create new obstacles in the path of détente. I am extremely worried by the danger created by the hysteria of certain cold war warriors—and our Prime Minister is one of them, having loudly boasted of it immediately she took office.
The Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, was very interesting on Islam and in his remarks on the Third World countries, but to me he avoided mentioning the main danger of world war from the policies being carried out by his Government and the Americans. I deplore the Soviet armed action on two counts. First, the principle, and, secondly, because it is handing on a plate ammunition for the hawks. But I do not think that Soviet action was one of pure naked aggression. Nearly two years ago there was a socialist revolution in Afghanistan to overthrow an extremely backward feudalism. Quite naturally, many capitalist Governments did not welcome it, and hoped that it could be overthrown.
The West had already been shaken by the revolution in Iran, especially the Americans for whom the CIA had interfered and who imposed the Shah 1437 several years ago. It would be natural for reactionary forces in countries bordering with Afghanistan, such as Pakistan, to recruit for its overthrow, and widely held views suggest that America, China, and Britain supported them in this effort. Only the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary can tell us how true those reports are, and of course he will not.
Afghanistan has always, unfortunately for it, been an important buffer state. When the Brtish Empire held sway in that part of the world we had three disastrous wars against Afghanistan. Reading Kip-ling again is absolutely fascinating. Again I emphasise that if the Soviet Union was aware of the counter revolution being hatched by foreign powers she should not have compounded it with military intervention. She should have gone to the United Nations, stated her views on what was happening there and said, "If you continue with your plotting on our borders, we will have to do something about it."
The principle of non-intervention must be upheld by everybody, including the CIA. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, did not mention the CIA's activities, always aimed at destroying Left Wing movements in the Third World and nonaligned countries. Alas, this latest military intervention has given ammunition and encouragement to those who have always wanted tension, who have always wanted to block any attempt to work for détente and coexistence and who have always called for more arms and total confrontation.
What is needed to get the world out of this very dangerous situation? Surely what is wanted first is a cool examination and appraisal of what has happened and is happening, and why it ever arose—and I must admit that in the debate in the other place Mr. Heath went a long way towards speaking in this tone. What is so important in this crisis is to try to see the Soviet's point of view, how they feel, as well as examining our own.
I have no "in the know" Soviet friends and I am not connected by a hot wire to Moscow; you need not tap me. I just want to try to understand. Ever since 1917 the Soviet Union has had to face a very powerful, hostile, capitalist 1438 West. Her major crime to the West was Socialism. She was ostracised, driven into complete isolation, sabotaged in every possible way and suffered wars of intervention in her internal affairs launched from this country. Even Fascist states were encouraged to destroy her. What was behind Munich? And would it not be honest to say that to many in your Lordships' House we became their ally in the last war only to save ourselves and not to save the Soviet Union?
Now, in the last year or two, an enormous new threat faces them—China. The Foreign Secretary did not mention China: China which says the greatest enemy in the world is the Soviet Union; China which succeeded through its slander and hatred of the Soviet Union in being accepted as an ally of the West, in fact of NATO: China which also preaches that a third world war is inevitable, and against the Soviet Union. No wonder Soviet military foreign policy has had to make vast changes. It is now faced with war on two fronts and, in building its military budget, it must consider that. China once used to be the number one enemy of Britain and America. We on the Left in this country were ostracised for backing the Chinese Revolution.
Our Prime Minister, in her loathing for Socialism, has jumped at the opportunity to align Britain behind all the posturing and manoeuvring of an American President engaged in an election campaign in the richest country in the world. Our Prime Minister has demanded that poor, impoverished Britain, having had to cut all social services, education, health and housing, should spend more huge sums on arms. She has never made one single gesture towards saying, "Let us get together and discuss and try to find ways of easing tension and reducing the threat of the arms race". Instead, she wants more American nuclear arms sited in Britain against the Soviet Union and more and more hotting up of the cold war, and even some European political leaders are getting worried about her naked hawkishness. She has rebuffed Brezhnev's proposal for a get-together to discuss the reduction of arms all round, she applauds Carter's shelving of SALT, and now she and her Ministers, along with President Carter, have welcomed China; thus, as I say, threatening the Soviet Union on two fronts. I cannot find it surprising that the 1439 Soviet Union is fearful of these last developments, but I think her tactic to counter what the cold warriors are doing was wrong. It has worsened her position.
What is the issue of human rights now? I am a great supporter of the campaign for human rights, but what has happened to all that hypocritical cant of President Carter and Mrs. Thatcher? Look what regimes we are now supporting, roping in as allies and friends. And what about this telephone tapping? Has that anything to do with human rights? On the question of wars of intervention in the internal relations of another country, what hypocrisy one sees everywhere. Have we shown ourselves concerned on occasions in the past? What about the war we waged at Suez? What about our support for the American war in Vietnam? And what is the aim of the CIA if not to interfere in the affairs of other countries?
We are not choosy about who we support against Left movements all over the world. In the case of Chile, I remember the cheers in the Chamber when Allende was murdered; in that of Greece, I remember how one could not get any support at all in this Chamber when we were condemning the Fascist Colonels; and in that of South Africa, financial relations with the apartheid Government are more important than any principle. They are all Rightist Fascist régimes, as I have mentioned. When have we allied ourselves with Left reégimes?
In relation to human rights, it would be seen as rather hypocritical, if it were not so shaming, that any third rate ballet star from the Soviet Union can be welcomed here and given political asylum immediately, while in this acute crisis Her Majesty's Government refused entry into this country to the Indian, Romesh Chandra, President of the World Peace Council. Was it not the right moment for the President of the World Peace Council to come to this country and talk about how to keep peace?
I turn to the question of the Olympic Games. Sport belongs to the young people, of both sexes, of every religion, of every colour, and from every part of the world. These young people are completely dedicated to sport, with which politics has nothing to do whatever. The young people of this country want to 1440 compete in stadiums with the young people of other countries. Trying to force these young people into the world of supra-national politics is immoral and unethical, and is an absolute crime against them. Hitler did that. The young German athletes had to join the Hitler Youth. Jewish sports organisations were liquidated. There were Nazi banners and Nazi salutes everywhere. The Nazis broke every Olympic rule and agreement.
According to all the sports organisations, the Soviet Union has categorically agreed strictly to carry out the Olympic Rules, and is doing so. At Question Time last week, on 31st January, the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, was the only one in this Chamber who still remembered what sport was all about and how, through it, the young people can get together in friendship and understanding—
§ Lord MILFORD
I think that noble Lords are showing immoral behaviour in the way that they are treating this matter; they can laugh until they are blue. President Carter and Mrs. Thatcher want to destroy that wonderful moment, for their own politics. I have been told, "But you are against sport with South Africa on political grounds". Yes, I am, my Lords, because South Africa rules apartheid in sport itself.
Judging from letters in our Press over the past two or three years, there were people in this country who wanted the Games taken away from Moscow because it was in a Socialist country—that was long before Afghanistan. Surely the way for supreme statesmanship to get us out of this very dangerous situation which is threatening the whole of mankind, is not by hatching up reprisals so as to increase confrontation and tension, but by seeking a strategy which will cool things down and produce an atmosphere in which mutual discussion can take place. Should not our Government have welcomed Gromyko's proposal to come and talk?—and surely the aims of such talks should be reduction of arms, ratifying of SALT, how to increase détente and peaceful coexistence, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. In this way nations would find it easier to follow their own paths of development without interference.
1441 We must get back to sanity. That is why I welcome the initiative of the noble Lords, Lord Brockway and Lord Noel-Baker, who set out to build up a World Peace Convention. In the days of the former cold war a grass roots movement such as the CND played an enormous part throughout the whole world. One could go to any country in the world and if one was wearing a CND badge one was welcomed by several people in that country as someone who was on the same side as they were. We need such a movement resurrected from the grass roots now—all those men and women who want peace for themselves and their families.
§ 8.25 p.m.
The Earl of BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, I was completely fascinated by the last two speeches. My noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard spoke a great deal about "reds under the bed", and then when the noble Lord, Lord Milford, rose to his feet I wondered whether perhaps he had not been one of those under the bed, but in a funny way he was not quite so red as I had expected. Indeed, at the outset he at least protested against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, even if his following remarks did not perhaps quite fit in so well with that protest. But I was very glad to hear him protest; that is something.
Like other speakers, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, for moving this Motion and for giving the opportunity to my noble friend the Foreign Secretary to expand on the comprehensive Statement which he made in this House on 24th January. I make no excuse for repeating the congratulations already extended by many of your Lordships to the Secretary of State for the masterly, and indeed statesmanlike, way in which he has dealt with recent crises, not only in Rhodesia, but also in the Middle East, to which he flew out with such speed to reassure our friends in countries which are most immediately affected by the invasion of Afghanistan. As usual, I think he got there first.
I should also like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Holderness on a very wise maiden speech. He has considerable knowledge of the part of the world we 1442 are discussing, and his was one of the most useful contributions to the debate. I hope that we shall hear from him very often in the future.
The situation is indeed of the utmost gravity, and it is not mitigated by the dire economic crisis in Turkey, uncertainties in Iran, and, unfortunately, some continuing hostility between India and Pakistan. I was glad to hear what my noble friend the Foreign Secretary said about Euro-Islamic relations. As co-chairman of what is called the informal Euro-Arab dialogue and the North-South dialogue (which is organised by the Robert Schuman Centre in Luxembourg) I am particularly concerned with establishing closer relations between the European Community and the Islamic countries, whether in the Middle East or indeed in Africa.
With my noble friend Lord Chelwood (who is still here), I hope that it will be possible to get going again the official Euro-Arab dialogue, or perhaps on a wider basis the Euro-Islamic dialogue. I fear that recently it has been, as one Arab leader told me, something of a dead duck. I believe that that duck needs reviving or resuscitating. I know how much representatives of Arab and African countries to the European Communities in Brussels appreciate these informal meetings, which are mostly attended by the heads of missions or the ambassadors of those countries, as well as businessmen who know the countries, too. As I say, these meetings take place usually in or around Luxembourg, and certainly it seems that at present there is no other framework within which such informal discussions can take place. I am glad to say that we hope to hold the next meeting of this organisation in London, in April.
I think it is true to say that, although the invasion of Afghanistan took place over Christmas, the West did eventually react reasonably to it, as was indicated by the massive vote in the United Nations condemning the aggression. I certainly agree very much with what the Foreign Secretary said over the weekend—he did not repeat it in his speech—that even if we were not singing in unison, we are singing more or less in harmony. I think that my noble friend Lord Chelwood would agree, as indeed my right honourable friend Mr. 1443 Heath would no doubt agree, that the Community choir has still not reached the point of being able to sing completely in unison, although I certainly believe that over the years they have been beginning—and will, I hope, continue—to do so more and more over different, if not all, issues in foreign affairs. Even if there are differences of view in the Council of Ministers, it was certainly worth noting the formidable vote in the European Parliament condemning the aggression. I am glad, too, to read and to hear from my noble friend that, at yesterday's meeting of the EEC Foreign Ministers, they came closer together. That was encouraging.
While I am sure that my noble friend is doing everything possible to co-ordinate action through the European Community and NATO, like the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, I should be interested if my noble friend Lord Trefgarne, in winding up, was able to tell us what the position is in regard to our relations with the People's Republic of China on the present situation. I think it is no secret that representatives of NATO have been meeting, even if informally (or, as the French say, officieusement), representatives of the People's Republic, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, knows, and as we all know, Sir Neil Cameron made a significant visit to China last year. I am not going to press the Government on this, but, like the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, I believe we must think in terms of the reaction of the People's Republic to these events.
My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter stressed how essential it is to maintain close relations with the United States, and I, too, welcome the reaction of President Carter over Afghanistan. I am sure that he now recognises Soviet threats in the world as a whole. I do not think he forgets, either, Hungary and Czechoslovakia and the Soviet penetration and subversion in many countries in Africa and the Far East, about which much has been spoken this afternoon. Perhaps I might say this, that those countries in Africa penetrated by the Soviets and the Cubans, and also Vietnam and Kampuchea, are no more part of the Soviet bloc than Afghanistan. Much has been said about Afghanistan not being in the Soviet bloc, and therefore this is much more serious. I recognise that the size of the military intervention in Afghanistan may 1444 be more massive than in other parts of the world. However, I am glad that President Carter has now recognised the seriousness of the Soviet threat on the land masses and in the oceans of the world.
I fear I find it hard to accept Mr. Brezhnev's assurances that he is not threatening oil resources in the Gulf or seeking to gain access to a warm seaport in the Indian Ocean. I believe that the Russian threat is much more dangerous, deep-seated and deep-rooted than was that of Hitler and the Nazis. It goes back through the Tsarist regime, way back to Genghis Khan, who, in the 13th century, was able to subdue the Turkish confederacy as well as penetrate the Northern Chinese Empire. I have gone a little further back in history than my noble friends Lord Boyd-Carpenter and Lord Holderness, but I think this is a point worth making. It is interesting that Romania, which some of us have visited fairly recently—and, indeed, I have had more than one long talk with President Ceausescu—has not supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In that respect he may be like the noble Lord, Lord Milford; but from that, can we ask this question: Is the Soviet bloc itself beginning to crack? Personally, I fear that this is unlikely on any major scale, and that General Hackett, in his book on the Third World War, was somewhat wishful thinking on that score.
I welcome, as others have done, all the different measures proposed by the Government in the Foreign Secretary's Statement of 24th January, and certainly agree with the vast majority of my noble friends that it would be better if our athletes and those from other countries which have condemned the aggression should not attend the Games in Moscow. Sakharov's removal makes me feel this even more strongly. But, in my experience—and I am sorry to have to say this in the presence of the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter—sport so often exacerbates rather than fosters international relations. There have been many examples of this in the past, and I am not therefore a tremendous enthusiast, generally speaking, for international sport, especially on this scale, although I am very much in favour of it from the point of view of exercise and of keeping us all healthy, wealthy and wise. Yes, I support sport in that way, but not when it arouses strong nationalist feelings.
1445 We must, I think, get our priorities right. Sport cannot override or ignore a dire political situation; and I warmly endorse the remarks of my honourable friend and colleague in Government, Christopher Chataway, for his very sensible stand, as well as that of Sir William Hayter and, most recently, today, in a brilliant article by Bernard Levin in The Times. I hope my noble friend Lord Exeter will forgive me for saying this. I know he won the hurdles a little before my time, but I would tell him that I won the junior hurdles, and I feel I have a right to speak, too.
To return to consultations with the EEC for one minute, I wonder whether Member States should not reconsider establishing, perhaps, a political secretariat for the European Council, which would enable Member States to act sooner in harmony, if not always in unison. Depending, as the European Council does at the moment, on the national officials for any given six months of the President in office of the Council must, in my view, make it less easy to arrive at harmonious solutions. We must work towards developing an effective European foreign and defence policy if Western Europe is to survive. I cannot emphasise this point too strongly, and I think it was very much in the mind of my noble friend Lord Chelwood when he spoke.
One other point about trade with the Soviet Union. I recognise that this trade is much more important to France and, particularly, West Germany than it is to ourselves. I observe from the graphs in an excellent article in Now! magazine this week that, regrettably, West Germany's exports to the USSR are three times the size of ours. I can, in a way, perhaps, understand the attitude of West German and French industrialists if they do not wish to lose this important business to other nations, but I agree with Lord Chalfont that it would be interesting to have a complete review of Western strategy at this time.
My Lords, I would end, as I began, by congratulating my noble friend the Foreign Secretary—and I am glad to see he is back in the Chamber—on his own forthright response to recent dramatic events in the world. How right he is to keep up the momentum. I kept my 1446 fingers crossed for him most mornings; I touched wood, unberufen, for someone to whom I think we should all be greatly indebted.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Lord GARNER
My Lords, we have had a distinguished, if somewhat lengthy, debate, including, incidentally, speeches from no fewer than three of my former Secretaries of State and three of my former Diplomatic Service colleagues. There is not much left to say and it will be my ambition this evening to make, at least, the shortest speech so far.
The noble Lord, Lord Holderness, to whose maiden speech we all listened with delight, mentioned that there were some bright spots on the scene, as, indeed, there are. First, in Britain itself, which otherwise seems to be tearing itself apart at the present juncture, there has been extraordinary unanimity of view, which, very broadly, has been reflected in the debate this evening. If only we could transfer some of this harmony to our industrial and social scenes! Secondly, in America, as other speakers have pointed out, after an agonising period of self doubt and inaction, the American nation has gained self-confidence again and seems willing to give leadership to the world. But, most importantly, President Carter has made it clear that it is a leadership which he is willing and anxious to share with others. In Europe, too, especially after the dramatic events of yesterday, on which the Foreign Secretary has reported, there has been a remarkable coming together after a somewhat uncertain start. But at last there seems to be a desire for wholehearted co-operation. All this, together with the reaction in the non-aligned and Moslem worlds, adds up to a shattering rejection of the Communist philosophy and action. This, in itself, gives tremendous opportunities for public relations, for the BBC and for the battle for men's minds to which the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, referred.
My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, for initiating this debate. I agree with most of what he said but I have some comments to make on one or two points which have been touched upon already. In his interesting analysis of the analogy with the 1930s, I think he is quite right to say 1447 that the lesson of that time is that we must be absolutely clear and firm. I think he said, "We should make our position crystal clear". I am sure that that is the lesson, and I agree that that is right; but, as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, pointed out, there is no exact parallel between Hitler and the men in the Kremlin today. History can teach us valuable lessons, but it seldom repeats itself in the same way. I think that it is dangerous to assume, as many seem to assume, that we are back in the 1930s—even to the extent of arguing, as I have heard some argue, whether we are now in 1936, 1937 or 1938. There are risks of talking oneself into a war mentality and fatalistically sliding down into it.
I disagreed with one other point that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, made in regarding Churchill's dictum in 1950 as relevant even to that situation. I think that by that time—
§ Lord BOYD-CARPENTER
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to say so, the quotation from Winston Churchill was from what he said in 1955.
§ Lord GARNER
My Lords, I am sorry; I accept that. But my thought is still the same: that really it had ceased to be valid even by 1955 that the United States and Britain alone could run the world. I think that this was mentioned before. I agree entirely with the many speeches which touched on this, that we should give full support to the United States' stand in this matter. I think that the Government response to that has been entirely full of praise. I totally agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in his ideas of what should be our attitudes towards the relationship with the United States and the spirit in which we should approach them. But I agree also with the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, that Europe must clearly come into this picture—and we are part of Europe.
I think it is disappointing that the response from Europe was not given in a clearer and louder voice to begin with and that, in recent periods, Britain appears to have been somewhat cold-shouldered. No doubt there are special reasons for that. Perhaps it is dangerous to get too far out of step with our partners and cause them to revive some of the suspicions 1448 which some of them have always entertained about our insularity. I do not want to stress this, but the Foreign Secretary himself showed that he was aware of it. I am delighted to hear that he has ideas, and I hope that he may be able to put more unity into the response of Western Europe as a whole.
Then, as to the countries bordering on Pakistan and in the Gulf, I think that the Government are right to do what they can to reassure those who are in need of reassurance and to give them support. I think that they are right to provide economic aid to those who need it and, above all, to Pakistan which faces a hideous refugee problem. But the handling of this area will need considerable tact and skill, especially if we are to bring about a change in the attitude of some of the Moslem people towards the West and particularly, and most importantly, if we are going to be able to encourage the growing sense of realism that there now appears to be in Iran.
I think that there are some matters on which we should take care. We should not attempt to force the pace—and I am not suggesting that the Government are doing this—with proud nations. We should not repeat the mistake of arming with substantial modern weapons an unpopular régime that may not last, and we should be careful not to find, in an effort to stabilise the situation, that we aggravate it and invite the risk of what we have always avoided; namely, a direct confrontation between the super powers on the spot.
There is one other point in this area that I should like to emphasise; and again, the Foreign Secretary touched on this. It is that I think we ought to be sensitive to the rather special position of India and the problems in the sub-continent as a whole. If Pakistan is heavily re-armed, I think there is bound to be a serious reaction in India, as was, unfortunately, the case in years gone by. And India, we must remember, is very heavily dependent upon the Soviet Union for her arms supply. It would be only too easy for India to turn to Russia for further support—with the sort of dangerous consequences which we can foresee for the whole of that area.
Finally, there is another dimension to this whole problem that we should not 1449 forget, although it has not been stressed very much in the debate this evening. We should not be obsessed by the fear of nuclear war; neither can we afford to forget it. The prize that we are searching for is not some short-term solution in Afghanistan itself, although that will prove difficult enough. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown seemed to imply that there had been occasions in the past when Russia had withdrawn when pressure was applied. This has been so in some remote, peripheral areas; but I suspect that it is only realistic to think that Russia is not going to find it easy or to be in a great hurry to withdraw from Afghanistan or, certainly, to yield to threats.
When the time comes, therefore, I think it will be the task of diplomacy to find a way out, possibly by new ideas and imaginative means, perhaps by bringing in the United Nations in some form and avoiding merely bilateral discussions. At the end of the day, some attempt to find a means of living together must be worked out; and I was delighted that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary himself laid emphasis on this. If we are to survive, the dialogue must be continued.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Lord GRANVILLE of EYE
My Lords, I should like to add my tribute to those that have been paid in this debate to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, for his speech and for the manner in which he is handling not only the Rhodesian crisis but the Afghanistan problems as well. I am sure that he has the support not only of your Lordships' House but of the great majority of the people in this country in the work that he is doing.
I was greatly interested in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and the powerful case which he made out in his historical survey on appeasement before the war. He referred to our abandoning the Gulf. I remember when I was there a year or two ago one of the Gulf Prime Ministers told me that when we abandoned our defence of the Gulf nobody knew what was going to happen in the future. That was one of the mistakes that we made.
The noble Lord also referred in his historical survey to the errors and prob- 1450 lems of appeasement, the period of 1914, Sarajevo and what happened there because they knew that we would do nothing. Also 1934, 1935 and 1936 in Berlin. My mind went back to, I think, 1934 or 1935, when the then Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State at the Foreign Office visited Berlin for a conference with Hitler, to try and get some kind of an agreement with him. At that meeting, Goering asked the Minister of State: "If France attacked Germany unprovoked, would you come to our aid under the Treaty of Locarno"? The answer which was given was: "We have no strong army or air force. We are not re-armed and certainly not continental intervention minded".
The noble Lord's speech reminded me of the period when Mr. Baldwin said: "I could not tell the country the truth about re-armament". He put before the country a rearmament programme of £500 million which in effect was a programme of £1,500 million. He was afraid to say this publicly because of what he thought was the opposition of the trade unions to that at the time. Those were the days when every Minister in the Foreign Office, and any Minister in the Cabinet, was looking at the peace vote and what he could do and the effect that it would have upon him. Listening to the noble Lord's powerful speech today, I wondered whether we were back there again; if that was the position for us. I hope not, my Lords. I hope the warning which was given about vital rearmament and the 3 per cent. will be listened to by the Government.
In this debate many references have been made to the Olympics, which, frankly, is now a foreign affairs subject in debate. It is, if I may say so, not much good going to Moscow for the Olympics unless there is whole-hearted enthusiasm by those who are going to take part. I think that the present attitude will be that it can only be half-hearted. Even at this late hour, I would emphasise that Russian Olympic participation now is an Iron Curtain department of foreign policy, no less. The athletes behind the Iron Curtain are professionals. They are supported by the State, trained by the State, financed by the State, entered by the State and promoted by the State. There are no amateurs in the Iron Curtain contribution to the Olympics not even from East Germany.
1451 Of course, they realised a long time ago that this is the most magnificent form of international propaganda and they seized it. All over the world—if it is held—television and the media will blare forth this carefully planned propaganda which has been referred to over and over again in this debate by many of your Lordships. It will be for the gullible, for people who love sport.
I wonder whether those who are sponsoring our own athletes really understand what they are sponsoring today in Moscow. The Australian Prime Minister on television last night read it out as a quotation from Moscow. What chance have the amateur athletes against the State sport enterprise of the Iron Curtain foreign policy? I think we need a new Olympiad, a new international sports gathering in Greece. This one is finished, and I hope that the international committee do not feel that they have a vested interest in maintaining it. In 1936 we had Berlin, and the Nazi exploitation of the Games. This was followed by the assassination of the Israeli athletes. Then we had controversy about medical checkups, about the sexes and so on. I think that it is time we buried it, scrapped it, and began again with a new set-up altogether.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Lord MACLEOD of FUINARY
My Lords, if my purpose was to repeat the invocations and injections which have come from so many places regarding what we ought to do about Russia, I would not speak at all and let it stand because of the number of people who have spoken in vituperation about the entire Russian situation. I stand because I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Milford, and I think I even go further than the noble Lord, Lord Milford. I should say, in passing, that I speak in the name of other people. I speak in the name of 350 Ministers of the Church of Scotland; of 4,000 laity in the Church of Scotland; of 90,000 members of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation; of something like 500,000 Members of the Society of Friends, the Quakers, right across the world. I am speaking for at least a million people when I urge two things: the first is to stop moralising about Russia, and the second is to start fraternising by renouncing nuclear weapons now.
1452 First of all, on stopping moralising, Afghanistan has been dealt with by several people, I do not intend to go into it; but we all know—do we not?—that three times, in 1839, 1876 and 1919, we as a country did precisely what Russia has done in Afghanistan. That has been so often argued that I am not saying it. Of course, we are horrified by what Russia did in Afghanistan; but let us stop moralising.
Again, let us stop moralising about Iran. If indeed it is true that Russia is going to take a look in by reason of the disturbances there on its own behalf, do not let us forget the situation there. In 1941 the Shah's family took charge. In 1951, the nationalist party, which was very much against the Shah and his family, argued that Iran should nationalise the oil. Is there any great crime in Iran saying they should nationalise their own oil? It was not allowed to happen. The CIA walked in with the backing of Britain. We walked in and put the Shah back on his throne. We are responsible by doing that for both the tens of thousands of deaths that took place in his time, and the thousands of deaths taking place in the Islamic situation of today. Let us stop moralising about Iran.
You may say Russia was wrong in that regard and this regard, and I agree with you in that. You may be saying, "You are not paying much attention to the massacring of dissidents who disagreed with the Communist thesis, people who have been sent to Siberia, many of whom have been killed". But what about us? What about 1967? Let us go for a moment to Indonesia, where Suharto took over from Sukarno. He was assisted by the World Bank, by the International Monetary Fund, and Suharto became the Commander very much against the Communists. He killed 300,000 Indonesians for being suspected of Communist leanings—300,000 dissidents the other way, whom Suharto destroyed. That is the man whom our Government, not more than three months ago, entertained royally in this country—to get an order for arms so that they might kill more people in East Timor, I take it.
Against these backgrounds, what are we doing moralising in this situation? Let us start fraternising. I must say I was 1453 irritated by the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, and the intensity with which he took up everything that Russia was doing and said that it was done for a cynical kind of reason. What about aggravating the arms race? Let us fraternise by not aggravating the arms race by yet another possible expenditure of—is it?—£5,000 million in the next 10 years on Cruise missiles and so on. To exercise our rights in that regard is to leave Russia with nothing else to do but come level with us—and when they come level with us I suppose we shall get the kind of speeches we have been getting here today.
For 33 years international conferences have said the right things and for 33 years nations have done nothing except re-arm. Some people say: "Nuclear disarm now? Are you really advocating that?" We have some new advocates—though they are not really advocates at all—for getting rid of nuclear arms. There are just two short quotations I should like to make: it is better to quote rather than seek to interpret them. The late Lord Mount-batten, shortly before his tragic death, said this:As a military man I have given half a century of active service, and I say in all sincerity that the nuclear arms race has no military purpose. Wars cannot be fought with nuclear weapons. Their existence only adds to our perils".So, apparently, according to the late Lord Mountbatten, it is no good considering the possibility of using nuclear weapons.
There is also the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, who was better known as Solly Zuckerman before he joined this House. He was a senior representative of science and Chief Scientific Officer to the British Government from 1964 to 1972. In an article in The Times, which many of your Lordships must have read, on 21st January 1980, he quoted scientific experts by the half dozen of many countries, all of whom have been trying to get across to the political leaders that nuclear war can succeed for neither side. He himself concluded his article by asserting that all Salt II—(which has never yet been ratified)—claimed to do was to establish a "nuclear equivalence" between the two sides. He went on to say that were the balance of deterrence ever to break down it would be well above the threshold needed and would destroy utterly, without 1454 hope of repair, all the cities of the North American and Eurasiatic continents, with hundreds of millions killed in a flash and with vast numbers of those not so lucky as to have been killed instantly in fact dying some weeks later of the effects of radiation.
Indeed, I shall tell you of the names of people who are pledged to the idea that we should get rid of nuclear arms now: one of the most recent signatories is a retired Air Marshal, Sir Victor Goddard, who joins with us and also with the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, and the late Lord Mountbatten in saying that nothing can come of this situation if we use nuclear weapons.
This is what makes me interested when so many people say, "if a war comes", because it is not a war which will come: it is going to be a natural, human annihilation if anything comes. It was not an irresponsible man but a man who was Defence Minister in the United States Government, who said, while he was Defence Minister:We will fight with conventional weapons till we are losing; then we will fight with nuclear weapons till we are losing; and then we will blow up the world".So if you start with ordinary weapons and it does not come off, someone is going to use nuclear weapons, and when we use nuclear weapons nobody is going to live at all. The whole of our societies in all countries, and possibly the whole of life, will go down.
These are not quotations from pacifists. They are quotations from men of the Navy and the Air Force and from scientists who have been judged the right people to advise Prime Ministers. This is the situation which is going to come, and some of us increasingly feel that the only thing to do is to go right against the whole business and stand up—that is to say, fraternise with Moscow. That obviously means fraternising by going to the Olympic Games. It was Romain Rolland who said:This world has become a unity and for this high destiny mankind is not yet fit".And it is never going to be put right, except by somebody taking the vital action of saying, "We are not going to use it". I personally believe that Russia might then stop, listen and correspond.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, I wish that I could be as optimistic as the noble Lord, Lord Macleod, who has just sat down, but having had a great deal to do with disarmament in my time I think that it is very questionable. I agree with all that the Government and our most able Foreign Secretary have said and done about the Soviet takeover in Afghanistan. The aspect which interests me most, and which I believe concerns all of us, is the light it throws on Soviet policy towards the outside world and on Soviet methods of achieving their objectives.
First, let me say that, having dealt with the Soviet Union for a number of years in the Foreign Office and having served in two East European countries under Soviet domination as well as in Jran and two other countries neighbouring on Russia, I am painfully aware how very hard it is to foresee what the Russians are going to do, or to interpret Soviet policy in any detail at any point in time. But looking back at events in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and now at Afghanistan, it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Kremlin likes to pick up any quick trick that is going. We really must try to see that other quick tricks do not lie too ready to their hand.
I was immensely impressed by the speed and force of the Soviet army's panther spring into Czechoslovakia in 1968, and perhaps even more by their most skilful onrush by air and by road into Afghanistan over the Hindu Kush mountains. It is interesting that they had secured a concession from the satellite government, which they had established some years ago in Kabul, to build a four-lane highway over the mountains. Without that, it would have been very much more difficult. I mention that, because intelligence about road building, railway building, communications and airfields can, in my experience, be very interesting pointers to what the Russians are thinking of doing.
Very probably, the Soviet Government will, if sufficiently pressed, try to withdraw most of their forces, but only when they have established an effective secret police in Afghanistan. Do not be misled, my Lords, by any such withdrawal 1456 into thinking that the Kremlin are becoming reformed characters. The effectiveness of a police force in combating internal subversion varies directly, in my experience in many countries abroad, with the proportion of it which is in plain clothes. After a time, the so-called rebels—or I prefer to call them freedom fighters—will find the armed police and the army waiting for them, when they come down to get food or to attack a town or road. They are then liable to suffer heavy losses, and the boys in the hills will get very hungry. The Russians do not usually make the same mistake as we have made in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. They know that the use of troops, or even too many uniformed police, presents easy targets, inflames the situation and is asking for trouble.
So one conclusion, as I see it, is this. Soviet political and economic penetration is the prelude to a possible Soviet takeover, and subsequent police and intelligence penetration prevents disorder and makes their control very durable and very hard to shift. Incidentally, it also abolishes truth, mercy and justice.
I was glad to hear from my noble friend Lord Chalfont that British and American intelligence authorities did, in fact, know and give warning of the Soviet troop concentrations in the South of Russia, because if they had not known of them the future likelihood of our being able to resist a sudden Soviet drive into central and western Europe would seem to be very much diminished. Can we be taken by surprise in Western Europe or not? We really must now be very careful and build up our strength and our sources of information.
So where is the next danger point now? I see two. First, there is Yugoslavia. There were rumours of Soviet military manoeuvres in Central Europe recently when President Tito had his operation. It seemed to me very similar to the ominous "normal summer manoeuvres" mentioned in a Polish communiqué sometime before the Soviet leap into Czechoslovakia in 1968. Fortunately, the Yugo-slays have made it quite clear that they would resist any Soviet invasion. But I strongly suspect, without having any evidence, that Mr. Gromyko, on his visit to Bucharest, may have mentioned the 1457 possibility of the Soviet army passing through Romania if and when the time comes. It would be the quickest and shortest way to Belgrade. If this was mentioned, I hope that President Ceausescu said "No".
Some may say "Well, after all, isn't Yugoslavia a Communist country already? So why worry? "Yugoslavia is one of the principal members of the non-aligned nations and it has its own form of Communism, with a great deal of economic decentralisation. Soviet control or occupation of Yugoslavia would give them direct neighbourhood with North Italy which, although part of NATO, is generally in a pretty dicky state. I am sure that this was the Soviet plan before the Kremlin quarrelled with President Tito in 1948. I just leave this thought with noble Lords: watch Yugoslavia and President Tito's health.
Noble Lords may ask: do we really think that the Russians want a war? My own answer is, No, but they say in all their scriptures that by "exploiting the contradictions", as they say, in the outside world they intend to undermine it and to bring it to its knees. They calculate, no doubt correctly, that before the outside world finally collapses it will resist by force, and when it does they intend to be stronger and win the war.
Marshal Sokolov's standard book on Soviet strategy—a most interesting work—makes it quite clear that when that happens they must at all costs seize the advantage of surprise and make the first nuclear strike. When I was in the Soviet Union with a parliamentary delegation in 1968, they gave us an interesting memorandum on their foreign policy aimed at resisting imperialism and securing peace. It contained a crucial sentence which I quote from memory:It must be borne in mind that a war of liberation is never a war of aggression".I am going to repeat that:… a war of liberation is never a war of aggression".That is still a pregnant sentence today in the light of Afghanistan.
So now with this background and remembering Afghanistan, I think we must look again at the Middle East. The Russians will be short of oil in the 1980s. All the economists seem to be 1458 agreed on that. Where will they most easily get more? May I ask noble Lords to dump themselves temporarily in the Kremlin and have a good look round. The Ayatollah Khomeini—a cunning but narrow-minded bigot who obviously cannot rule Iran effectively—has created an economic and military vacuum there. A quick trick there by the Soviet Union, no doubt preceded by an attempted coup by the Tudeh Party or the Leftists, would not only meet Soviet oil needs but would put immense pressure on the various States of Arabia and the Persian Gulf and pose a vast threat to the ability of the West to keep its industries and its armed forces in efficient operation in all circumstances.
I think I am right in saying that 40 per cent. of the oil used by the NATO countries has to come by that long sea route round the East and West coasts of Africa from the Persian Gulf—and certainly Japan's supply comes from there also. Thank goodness that President Carter has seen the danger and warned the Russians off. To avoid Soviet miscalculation, I think, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said, that we must all stand firmly together on this and, above all, make our position clear and convincing.
There may be a very important question of timing in front of us. There will be a dangerous period before, during and after the American elections next winter when the President's initiative and power may be weakened. It is really essential that we should not be caught napping while the attention of the West's leadership is diverted or falters. Let us remember that this invasion of Afghanistan took place at Christmas and the New Year, which in 1980 will fall just between the American elections and the inauguration of the new President. Well, you may say, I don't show as much confidence as I should in President Carter or the Americans, or NATO. I can only say that on the basis of what we know of Soviet policy and Soviet aims, I think Western policy towards Russia and towards Soviet penetration has, for some years past, been totally inadequate. There has been a dramatic change in the balance of power, and in the West we have done nothing about it. In fact, hardly anybody mentions it. We have allowed ourselves to be bamboozled by the Helsinki Conference and by quite superficial talk of 1459 détente. I think it was my noble friend Lord Chalfont who warned us that we might shortly face another peace offensive. It would not surprise me at all. The Western Powers have neglected their defences and talked a lot about human rights.
I have worked for years for better understanding with Russia, but look at the facts. The Russians have done the very minimum on human rights, but they continue to launch a nuclear submarine almost every month. They have multiplied their production of tanks, aeroplanes, guns, rockets and nuclear and other horrors. Why indeed should they do that if there is any real detente? We were bamboozled. They have masterminded a Cuban military take-over of Ethiopia and Eritrea. They have established a powerful base and a Communist dictatorship in Aden and South Yemen so that they have control of the Red Sea, which is an essential thoroughfare for the Western world—as we should indeed know by now. They have by force established satellite regimes in Mozambique and Angola and they have armed and financed guerrilla movements in Rhodesia and elsewhere.
They have been trying to get bases for their fishing fleets, whose interest in real fish is probably a side line, all over the world and recently at Hobart in Tasmania. Mr. Fraser has fortunately turned that down. But the Russians really have a horny hand already on NATO's throat all along the vital sea routes for oil. And what have the Western powers done during these vital years? Almost sweet nothing. The French are almost always uncooperative and egotistic. The Germans and some other NATO allies are understandably afraid that allied attention will be diverted away from central Europe. So NATO has not been able to do much to co-ordinate allied policies in the vital sea areas beyond NATO's official scope of action, which is limited by the Tropic of Cancer. We have all gone on talking about human rights, which are indeed vital but we have achieved almost nothing with the Russians. The Americans have put off decisions about the neutron bomb and the cruise missile and have done nothing visible to restrain Cuba.
Our own Labour Government were equally open to criticism, although they 1460 did at least make preparations to bring Polaris up to date, to their great credit, though they did not dare to tell their own Leftists, who curiously enough always seem to be on the Soviet or Marxist side, as we have noticed all too often in your Lordships' House. If I may say so with all respect, my noble friend Lord Carrington deserves every praise for the imagination, skill and concentrated energy which he has put into the consolidation of relations in the threatened area of the Middle East. I certainly wish he had been on the job before.
Please do not be under any illusions, my Lords; we are heading into a period where a so-called war of resources is likely to develop, starting of course with oil. The Afghanistan affair points the danger. A shortage of resources, especially oil, was the Achilles heel of Germany in the last war. It must not become ours now. I often feel that the Soviets do not need to control Africa; they only require chaos there because then we simply could not get the resources, which are so necessary for the functioning of sophisticated Western economies.
To conclude, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is just the latest in a long series of Soviet moves, mostly made with skill and some success, aimed at bringing the Western world to its knees. Solzhenitsyn was right when he warned us some years ago that we were losing the third world war in advance. We absolutely must now pull ourselves together, internally and externally. I warmly support the interesting suggestions made by my noble friends Lord Greenhill and Lord Chalfont and all the things said by the Foreign Secretary.
There are certain conclusions to be drawn from this. The United Kingdom itself has long been a major target of Marxist and Soviet penetration for both intelligence and industrial subversion. Looking at the situation generally, I think it is time the Government grasped a lot of nettles very firmly, because in the light of Afghanistan there may not be much more time to pussyfoot around with them. I shall list a few essential ones. First, amendment of our laws on industrial relations which at present favour and promote industrial chaos, which we cannot afford and which our people really expect the Government to correct soon. This is a first and absolutely primary requirement 1461 for any sort of recovery industrial, economic or military, in this country. Second, the introduction of a proper civil defence system; our friends just do not understand our slackness about this. Third, registration for possible military service if and when needed. I am not advocating conscription, but registration and categorisation of the population is a long and big job and it cannot be done in a crisis.
Fourth, strengthen the armed forces. We really must be able to defend convoys and to have forces along the oil routes. The Navy and Air Force seem to me totally inadequate for this at present. But building ships, to take only one item, would greatly help steel, coal, shipbuilding, machine tools, electrical engineering, electronics and innumerable other industries. The same applies to the Air Force. It is better and perhaps less inflationary in the end to pay more for men to work and to produce than to shell out redundancy, unemployment pay and social assistance, much of which is spent on imports. Maybe an intention to do all this would even help settle the steel strike. The effect on our economic and social morale would I think be dramatic. If we could keep industry busy producing instead of drifting into a recession, our unit costs of production would decline, we might even export more steel and machine tools once more, and our workers might have less reason to fear the rise of productivity on which we really have, obviously, to insist.
In the battle for the hearts and minds of men and women at home and abroad, which is so vitally important in the position we are now in, I believe such measures as these and others would have a most enlivening and heartening effect. And if we thereby make our enemies more careful about planning future exploits like Afghanistan, it would greatly assist our foreign policy and might even avoid a war. My Lords, in the light of Afghanistan, I am quite sure it is time for the Government to take their problems by the scruff of the neck and solve them soon. They will have the mass of their countrymen behind them if they show themselves to be effective.
§ 9.28 p.m.
§ The MARQUESS of EXETER
My 1462 Lords, I think I should preface my remarks by referring to a most interesting fact which Lord Bessborough told us in his speech, that he won the junior hurdles at school, and I would congratulate him though I was never so successful. Passing on from that, like your Lordships in this most serious and important debate, I feel just as strongly as everybody else does about the invasion of Afghanistan. I welcome, therefore, the speech from the Foreign Secretary, and many of the other speeches, which have pointed out that we must look alive about this and see what we are going to do, and do the right thing.
But there is one thing that I am very much against doing, and that is using the Olympic movement, and the Olympic Games, by a boycott, as a political weapon. It is quite clear from many of the speeches that have been made referring to the Olympic movement that people are suffering under considerable misapprehensions. I should like just for two or three minutes to tell your Lordships something about it. The Olympic Games were founded by Baron de Coubertin after visiting, I believe, Rugby School, way back in the 'nineties. He realised then that if he got all the young people together, joining in with the activity of sport, it would create a wonderful amount of international goodwill and understanding. He set about that, and the Games were renewed in Athens.
He then came up against the question, who could he get to ensure that the Games went on, that they would be kept with the main objectives which he laid down in only four sentences, and which are:To promote the development of those physical and moral qualities which are the basis of sport; to educate young people through sport in a spirit of better understanding between each other and of friendship, thereby helping to build a better and more peaceful world; to spread the Olympic principles throughout the world thereby creating international goodwill; to bring together the athletes of the world in a great four-yearly festival of sport".He then added in later rule:The Games are between individuals and not between countries".He decided, I think probably quite wisely, that if he wanted these great principles to be kept he must have a special sort of committee, because when the Games became as popular as they undoubtedly 1463 would, and have done, there would be tremendous pressure from certain Governments in the world to have their political nominee put on the committee to do what they wanted for political reasons and not for the main reasons which I have just given as the reasons for the Olympic Games.
Therefore, the International Olympic Committee is in fact a self-elected body. They pick their own members of their committee in their countries. They are motivated by no politics; they are motivated only by those rules. Of course, the world is not perfect, and in certain countries pressures are brought to bear on them. But the great bulk of the members are still motivated by those particular aims.
That is how the Games started. In 1908, they got well on their way in London. They went to Stockholm in 1912, then in 1920 to Antwerp; then Paris, Amsterdam and Los Angeles. I competed in the last three. Then came the Games in Hitler's time. Everybody is misinformed about those Games in 1936. People do not seem to understand that the International Olympic Committee owns the Games and not the country in which they take place. The country's job is to arrange for accommodation; for the stadiums; the equipment; television and all the other things that have to be arranged. However, the moment the flag goes up on the opening day, the host country hands everything over to the International Olympic Committee and the international federations which govern all the sports. That is what happened in Berlin in 1936. The Games were given to Germany in 1932, not in 1936. They had done the preparations, the applications and so on long before Hitler's uprising. As a matter of fact, in 1936 he tried to put propaganda into the stadium and the International Olympic Committee, when it took over, had it all taken down. That is an instance of the International Olympic Committee sticking to the matters that it is supposed to deal with.
Let us consider the backing of that body. Its backing is 137 National Olympic Committees in the world—in other words, almost every country in the world has one. They are controlled by the sports which take part in the Olympic 1464 Games. If there are winter games there are 26, but 21 for summer games. Those Olympic Committees are in complete control and they have the IOC rules embodied in their rules and they must conform to those too.
As regards those controlling bodies—in this country we have 26 or 27—there are 59,000 branches of active athletes, and they do not just comprise members interested in the sport, but their relations, friends and other people interested in amateur sport. Throughout the world, there are tens of millions of people in this movement and taking an active interest in it. Every four years come the Games. There is a special warm charisma. It is not like a series of world championships. People who have competed in the Games will say that they feel something quite different. When asked about the Games they say "Yes, I competed there". One does not only say, "I was first or second". There is a feeling of friendship with everyone who has been there.
There is no doubt that the Games are doing a great deal too through the activities of the international federations which look after the technical side of the sports, the arenas and so on. I was for 30 years president of the largest one, with 150 member countries, so I know. I am not just guessing: I have been to almost all those countries several times over and I have met all the athletes and competitors. Wherever one goes there is a warmth of welcome. I originally played a part in bringing Russia in, in 1947, when I first became president. I felt that you either snarl at each other across the fence or you bring ordinary people to meet other ordinary people, and they find that in some countries the people are very different from what they have been told they would be. There is great friendship building up.
That is the Olympic Games and what it means. The IOC lays down strict conditions for holding the Games. One is that everyone that it says is eligible must be given unhindered entry. Israel, as regards which there is always a problem, has already been to see its accommodation in Moscow and is quite satisfied with it. We firmly insist on those conditions and the Russians, like their predecessors, have stuck to those conditions. On Monday we shall be inquiring of their organising committee to ensure that they are still 1465 doing so. However, we have a signed agreement. If they are doing so the IOC will not break its word and the Games will go on. However, after that, it comes down to the National Olympic Committees to decide whether or not they go. That is not my responsibility. I am a senior member of the International Olympic Committee, but as regards the National Olympic Committees—I have for 40 years been involved in them, but I am out of it now—they must make up their minds.
Incidentally, there was a meeting of the NOC's executive board in Mexico yesterday, at which they all said that they would go to Moscow.
This is something which is bringing people in the world together; it is something which is infinitely worthwhile. It would be a short-sighted policy to give it a savage blow and make it impossible to hold the Games. They cannot be held elsewhere. All the talk that is taking place about that possibility is up in the clouds. If events were held in separate locations they would not be the Olympic Games any more; they would be similar to a world championship. They cannot be postponed.
All the great international federations have their own championships. There are the Asian championships, the European championships, the World Cup and so on. These international federations have their programmes planned four or five years ahead. They always put a period by for the Olympic Games which have this special significance. I hope that the Olympic Committee will look at this very carefully and think not only of the advantages which the Government tell them will arise from boycotting the Games, but also of the disadvantages of putting the clock back for 30 years. During that time some of us have spent our lives bringing people closer together, and until now have met with a good deal of success. I hope that the Government will look at that again. The Olympic Committee must make up its own mind.
Finally, if anyone is chosen and has a conscience, he need not go. No one has to go. He can only go through his Olympic Committee. I hope that that Committee will take the decision to go and then leave it to individuals to decide whether or not they should go.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ Lord BANKS
My Lords, the House is undoubtedly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, for initiating this debate this afternoon and also for giving us the opportunity to listen with such appreciation to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Holderness. As I am speaking so late in the debate and after so many distinguished speakers, it is very difficult for me to say anything fresh. However, listening to the debate today, I was very vividly reminded of when, immediately after the war, I was involved in the military government in Trieste. At that time there were many Communist demonstrations in Trieste. People used to come in from the Yugoslav military government area alongside—Communist demonstrators complete with their red flags. They came in by sea, a great fleet of them. At that time we had no idea that Yugoslavia would become the kind of non-aligned power which the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, described a few minutes ago. At that time Yugoslavia was lined up with the Cominform and seemed to us to be part of the Eastern bloc.
After one of these demonstrations I remember seeing this fleet going out to sea, with the red flags hanging up on the masts as they were going back down the Istrian coast and thinking that that afternoon the East has spilled over into the West. At that time, with the tensions that there were and with the difficulties we were facing, I found it hard to believe that we would not be faced with a war with Russia in a very short period of time. I was apprehensive about it because I knew that people at home were not prepared for that sort of confrontation. Of course, there was confrontation. Yet 34 years later we are still at peace with Russia, despite all the difficulties.
It has been a precarious peace because it is based on an horrific balance of power. It has been a very uneasy peace and the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, this afternoon outlined to us all the different events in that uneasy peace and the various crises that followed one after the other. But we might have despaired at any one of those crises, as I nearly despaired back in 1946. So when I look back I take some encouragement from the experience which we have had, and although 1467 I appreciate all the dangers of the present position—and they are very considerable—I take what I hope is a reasonable and a hopeful view of the future. But at the same time I hope that it is a realistic view.
Each one of the crises which the noble Lord, Lord Home, described to us this afternoon had to be dealt with carefully, firmly and calmly. The present crisis is undoubtedly one of the most serious. The invasion of Afghanistan took place against the background of the Russian military build-up, to which many noble Lords have referred. I think that almost all speakers in this debate have condemned the invasion, as we certainly do on these Benches; the invasion which the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, described as dangerous and wrong; 104 nations took a similar view at the United Nations, and 36 Islamic nations took a similar view at their conference last week-end.
This latest crisis is more serious for what it might lead to rather than for what has actually happened, reprehensible though that is. Noble Lords have raised the question this afternoon of whether or not the Soviet Union wants to get to the Gulf, to the oil, and to the warm water. There has been much speculation; but again the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, said that we do not have the answers to that speculation and therefore we must assume that the worst could happen. That is where I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who spoke of the danger of miscalculation. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, thought that there had not been a miscalculation on the part of the Russians in the case of Afghanistan, but whether or not that is so, there has been in the past and there could be miscalculation in the future.
I agree with those who have said that it is important that the West should draw a line—the noble Lord, Lord Garner, said this a few minutes ago—and that there should be a clear understanding of Western intentions. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary spoke significantly of our relations with the Third World, and of our relations with the Islamic countries in particular. The reaction to the invasion of Afghanistan has been something much wider than just the natural 1468 reaction of a rival power bloc. We must be anxious that this reaction should continue in that way.
Arising out of consideration of our relations with the Third World, the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, drew our attention to the importance of aid programmes; the importance of dealing with the demands that are made by the developing countries over such matters as commodities and markets for commodities. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, also drew attention to that, and I would strongly agree with what they had to say. The noble Lords, Lord Brockway and Lord Garner, gave an important warning against the danger of supporting regimes which do not enjoy popular support. Past experience underlines the significance of that warning.
A number of noble Lords spoke in terms which we from these Benches would support most wholeheartedly about the need for closer European co-operation. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary stressed the importance of European unity. I agree strongly with all that the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said about the need for greater integration; for having a more integrated Europe; for having a European voice. That point of view, with particular reference to foreign policy, was stressed in words which are fully supported by the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, and again by the noble Lord, Lord Garner.
Finally, what about detente, which of course has inevitably been discussed at great length, and rightly so, in our discussions this afternoon? The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said that we should keep our lines of communication open, and that we should continue to seek arms control, despite the need to take the measures which he himself announced in relation to Russia in response to the invasion. I am not clear whether the Government have it in mind that there would be any conditions for entering into further discussions in the matter of arms control. I have seen it suggested in the Press today that at the French-German leaders' meeting it was suggested that certain steps would not be taken unless there was a withdrawal from Afghanistan. I do not know whether the noble Lord who is to reply can say something about that.
1469 The Vienna talks have, of course, been held. They have met since the actual Afghanistan invasion. While the West made the point there that the situation in Afghanistan had made these talks very difficult and made it difficult for any immediate progress, nevertheless the meeting was held, and I wonder whether other meetings in other fora are also to take place and to continue.
Many noble Lords have said that we must maintain our forces at an effective level, and we on these Benches certainly agree with that. The suggestion has been put forward by more than one noble Lord that NATO should operate outside the purely NATO area. Whether or not that is the solution I am not sure, but clearly the West must act as a unit in the world 1470 and have a global strategy; whether it is to be done through NATO or whether it is to be done in some other way I do not know, but the idea behind that particular point I would endorse to the full.
If we express our disapproval of the invasion in positive ways, if we draw the line clearly about our future intentions, if we speak in Europe with one voice, if we maintain our strength, if we see that the NATO powers, whether through NATO or not, think in global terms, if we continue our efforts to secure agreement on arms control—if we do all these things, I do not despair that we may yet bring our relations with Russia on to what the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary described as a sensible basis.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, deserves the warmest thanks of the House for the admirable speech with which he opened the debate. Once more he displayed an enviable combination of parliamentary skill and intellectual clarity. We also had what was technically a maiden speech, but it is very difficult to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, and to sympathise with him on speaking for the first time in Parliament, because those of us who have experience of his distinguished contributions in the other place knew what to expect this evening and indeed we were not disappointed. He as much as anybody Deserves the respectful attention of this and every other place for his most distinguished service to this country and to democracy in war and peace.
As for the speech of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, it was a statement of quite exceptional importance and I very much welcomed its tone and content. I felt that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, not for the first time, was showing an extraordinary grasp, if I may say so without presumption, of the deeper demands of this crisis. We have been here before and we have attempted before now to answer the same question: how do we, the democracies, react to the enormities of a brutal totalitarianship?
Some of us who are older than others must be forgiven for recalling the 'thirties—the period from 1930 (not 1933) to 1945—when the democracies, so superior in strength and purpose to dictatorship, were practically paralysed from one crisis to another and reacted always to what was done to them without grasping the initiative and using the international instruments ready to their hand, given the will, and leading history in a way contrary to that intended by the dictators.
Once again we are trying to answer the same question, and, as before, when confronted by this kind of crisis, the answer is a mixture of denunciation and détente; in the 'thirties it was rearmament and appeasement. Surely there must be another approach. I do not want to read 1472 into today's speech of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary more than he would wish the House to read into it, but I feel encouraged. I think that there is new, constructive thinking going on, led by the present incumbent of the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. If I may say so, I had the same impression time after time when I served as Minister of State under the present Leader of the Opposition when he was Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. It was an impression of a capacity for new thought, for trying a new approach, instead of falling back on the repetitive techniques of the past.
Everybody has joined in the denunciation, even the noble Lord, Lord Milford, who ventured beyond the Curtain to disagree with the Soviet Union in what it had done in Afghanistan. Well, we are thankful for small mercies, and always for the advent of very latter day saints. However, there is room for ample denunciation of this gross and brutal take-over of a sovereign independent country, as has happened in the case of Afghanistan. It is the violation of international law as clearly set out—as the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, reminded us—in the United Nations Charter, of which the Soviet Union was a principal architect as well as an eager signatory. As my right honourable friend Mr. Peter Shore said in the other place the other day, it is also a signal of alarm not only throughout Asia, the Middle East, and the West, but also—and this is most significant; this is one of the new ingredients in the present crisis—throughout the non-aligned countries. They are as startled, shocked and alarmed as anybody in the West, and perhaps a little more cohesive in their response to the crisis and its demands.
But here I return to the point of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, regarding the United Nations. So far this has been the most significant reaction to the Soviet action—the fact that the United Nations in the General Assembly by a vote of 104 to 18 condemned the Russian action. It passed a vote of censure, the censure of the world—not only of the West, but of the non-aligned countries. The significance of this vote lies not only 1473 in the overwhelming majority, but in the content of the majority, because a majority of the majority was drawn from the non-aligned world. Significant also as a cohesive, concerted response was the outcome of the Islamic Conference at Islamabad, where the Moslem world denounced the Soviet aggression. They at least got together to state a common view.
What evidence is there even today of a concerted attitude and common action by the democracies, even in the Economic Community of Europe?—very little. Individual countries have in varying degrees expressed themselves, and have announced varying degrees of action. But it must be admitted that so far what the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, among others reminded us of is a fact: that the political co-operation which had been growing in Europe in the past two years, and which was the fundamental justification for our joining Europe, has in the past two or four weeks diminished rather than progressed. As the noble Lord put it, the Members of the Community were found to be in disarray. The position may be improving now—I do not know. I see very little evidence of it, I regret to say.
The Foreign Secretary said the other day that if the nations of Europe, or the Economic Community, were not exactly singing in unison, they were nevertheless singing in harmony. The question is: Are they all singing the same song? The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, who always speaks from experience and so attractively, went so far as almost to exempt France and West Germany from having to do too much, in practice, in denunciation of the Soviet action—because, after all, they have a very big trade with Russia. Well, well, well! Is this what European unity means, that individual nations—
The Earl of BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, I did not express any approval of this. I merely stated that one can understand a country which is trading extensively with the Soviet Union—very considerably more than we are—taking up that attitude. I never for one moment defended it, necessarily.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, I am sure that a great many elements both in France and West Germany, and in the rest of Europe, will welcome the noble Earl's understanding almost as much as if he had approved. In these circumstances, to understand is to go some way to approving. The fact is that relatively short-term economic gain is felt to be more important than the vital longer-term purpose of true European unity and an effective answer to the incursions of dictatorship. I hope the situation will change. So far, I see very little evidence of it.
Our own country has been more active, I think, than most, but what does our action amount to? There is the gesture of refusing to renew the credit agreement with Russia—a facility which the Soviet Union were very slow to take up in any case. One would be interested to know how much of the £1,000 million credit has been used since it first became available in 1975. Then, so far as the Community is concerned, they have decided not to make up the shortfall of grain exports to the Soviet Union created by the withholding of American supplies. They could hardly do less. At the same time, the export of barley and animal feedstuffs at cut prices is to proceed uninterrupted in the coming year. At cut prices, my Lords! Where are we? Is this real denunciation, or is it just words?
What else is proposed? There is a reduction of cultural exchanges, including an ill-timed proposal by our universities drastically to curtail the teaching of Russian. This is precisely at a time when it is obvious that we shall need to acquaint ourselves much more with the Russian scene, and particularly to do so through knowledge of the Russian language and literature. I do not see the dictatorships cutting down on the study of English in Moscow or Gorky. I hope nothing comes of this ill-advised and ill-timed suggestion, and I am surprised that it should come from the reaches of higher education. There are to be the usual diplomatic sulks. Mr. Gromyko has been told not to come over; there will be nobody at home. Nobody is to come to tea any more—or, at least, not for a few months. Then the whole thing will be changed. There will again be cultural exchanges and an exchange of diplomatic 1475 and scientific and technological visits. The denunciatory part of our reaction lacks reality. One fears that, as happened 40 years ago, the only reality that will come out of this is an accelerated arms race; and that, in the context of the nuclear age, could be continuously deterrent or could be disastrous. It is a tremendous risk.
On the detentive side, while all the denunciations and gestures are going on on the denunciatory side, détente is to be kept alive somehow—if we are willing to continue to pursue détente in Vienna, Geneva and Madrid; there will be a light slap on the left wrist and an extension of the right hand for a detentive handshake at the same time. This has all been done before—this mixture neither part of it properly thought out or properly applied.
I think that the question we must ask—and many speakers have answered it for their part—is, do we or do we not regard East-West relationships as fundamentally adversarial? Is there an ineradicable conflict of interests? Are there two blocs of power and "face" which cannot come together and which can only be kept apart from each other by an ever-escalating level of deterrent armament, of thermo-nuclear armament?
Is the answer that no agreement is possible? If so, the whole of détente is a dead letter and there is nothing left but to arm to the teeth until we can convert the entire world to a smouldering cinder. Or is the answer that all countries, all systems, have a common interest, not a conflict of interest? Have we talked enough to the Russians and others?—and they are not the only totalitarians in the world; democracies are in a marked minority when you count. Have we been talking too much to them and among ourselves about a fundamental conflict of interest, an assumption that we should react in a hostile fashion and outdo them in the techniques and quantums of strength? Is the other answer not equally probable?—that the interests of governments and peoples, of all peoples, of all countries, no matter what their systems may be, are the same and that, beginning with the overriding one, the East, like the West, the Moslems like the Israelis, North and South, the human race, all have a common interest in survival.
1476 I do not believe that 230 million Russians place survival at a lower priority than the rest of us. If they do, we had better tell them otherwise; and influence them to see it for themselves. But there is no influence without contact. There is a fundamental argument for increasing contact, diplomatic and cultural, and sporting exchanges, when things are at their worst. To cut them down now would be to do so at a time when the offensive of the spirit, the crusade, the persuasion by example, is most necessary.
I wonder whether a new approach is not necessary. I believe it is. I do not pretend to know exactly what the parameters of it could be. What many of us think is that there are these common interests, beginning with a big one and going on to the other common interests that my noble friend Lord Brockway and others referred to today.
The East, like the West, and certainly the South as much as the North, need the means of life, not only oil but the new minerals—vital to us all—and food. There has been a tendency in this country and, I think, in the Western world generally, to acknowledge in words the importance of agriculture and food production without quite realising that, with the march of industry and standards of living, land is contracting, even though productivity may be increasing, but not increasing to keep pace with the numbers of the human race and their needs. We all have these common interests in satisfying vital needs—food, oil and minerals among them. It is understandable that the Russians, like any other country, should seek to safeguard their access or to expand their access to vital resources of that sort.
Everybody is in agreement, so far as I can see, with President Carter's statement that if a vital interest relating to oil or the United States were to be seriously threatened, then he would have no hesitation in using armed force to safeguard it. This is approved by a great many people. It is so natural, one must understand it. This is a motivation which applies to every country, every system, if it feels itself seriously threatened as regards the essentials of life or foresees a time when it may be seriously threatened.
What is wrong is not that countries, especially in complicated communities, 1477 should be concerned about access to these resources, but that they should act unilaterally to secure them, to take over rather than to organise with others who share the same needs and the same rights. The new approach might well be to say to the East: "Look, like you, we need these things. Like you, we may from time to time feel that we can protect or acquire them by main force. You denounce us as former colonialists and we denounce you as present-day colonialists. Now let's cut it out. Let's get together and identify our common interests, beginning with the interest in survival and going on to the economic interests which are a real worry to all governments under all systems and which are causing increasing anxiety. Let us organise a system of entitlement between us, East and West, and also bringing in the Third World".
One of the deficiencies of our attempts in the West to help the under-privileged—and the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, made a distinguished contribution on this as a Minister—was that the Russians did not join in. We might well see whether we can join in with the Russians, their friends and allies, not only in identifying and organising the satisfaction of our common needs but also in working with them, hopefully, to satisfy the needs of the Third World.
I have been asked to say something about the Olympic Games, and very reluctantly I do so. I do not believe they have rugby in the Olympic Games, do they? No, then that explains my reluctance.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, I understand the fact that feelings run very deep on this issue. We have heard them expressed today notably by those who have pressed us to accord an inevitable political importance to the Games. We have also had speakers like the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, who urged us to continue with the Games since they are a means of international understanding and friendship. As I say, feelings run very deep indeed. I wish there were other aspects of the situation which evoked feelings quite as deep; and here I must confess that I agree to some extent 1478 with what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said. is there not a danger—I put it now in my own words, having expressed general agreement with the noble Lord—that action over the Games may overshadow all other action?
The whole question of our relationship with the East, the Foreign Secretary in his speech rightly reminded us, has to be resolved, and somehow we have to live in the same world: our entire relationship with the East might turn on whether or not we had gone to the Olympics when they were held in Moscow. It is rather like taking a nut to crack a sledgehammer; there is a certain lack of proportion. I do not denigrate or diminish the importance of the Games in the least, but they have been given such prominence in the thinking and the talking about this crisis that there may be a danger of our being distracted and that our energies of thinking and acting may have been channelled into this particular question.
I do hope we may agree that a new approach is necessary. I believe the noble Lord is as capable as—perhaps more capable than—any of a new appraisal of the situation. May I make a personal suggestion. He has achieved a very great deal already in bringing widely differing and hostile elements together in conference and making them see, in part at least, that their interests were common. There are difficulties in Zimbabwe and no doubt there are things we need to put right as we proceed to the election day, as I tried to say this afternoon, in support of the Governor. But the great achievement of the noble Lord is that he has substituted, at least in part, a sense of common interest among sections, tribes in fact—but what are Europeans but tribes, come to that?—and among ideologies, in place of an entrenched assumed hostility. I believe that he would receive very considerable support if he went to the United Nations. The General Assembly, in its decision on the Soviet transgression, has shown that it is capable of acting as a real world authority. If he went to the UN with the same purpose and in the same spirit, he would certainly deserve, and receive, our full support.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Lord TREFGARNE
My Lords, this has been a most timely and interesting 1479 debate and, as every noble Lord has said, the House is grateful to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter for introducing it. A Russian diplomat once told me that the Hansard of your Lordships' House is regularly studied in the Kremlin. I hope that the one recording today's proceedings is read with particular care.
The debate has made clear that the invasion of Afghanistan, which has shocked and angered the entire international community, has been of the widest political significance. We have heard from many distinguished speakers and, if I may do so without seeming impertinent, I should like to welcome the quite brilliant maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Holderness. I think that your Lordships' House is greatly enhanced by his presence.
The Soviet action has demanded a response not only from the nations of the democratic West and from those countries in the region directly threatened by the Soviet action, but from all countries who value their sovereignty and independence; and that response has, indeed, been overwhelming. As the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, reminded us, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for Soviet withdrawal by 104 to 18. The Islamic Conference in Pakistan at the end of last month was equally unanimous in its condemnation of the Soviet action.
But opposition by words alone is not enough. The Russians have violated the most basic principles of international relations, and the world must not let them forget it. By their action, they have forced many countries to reassess their true interests and the pattern of their policies. Realities are at last being recognised, and a new pattern is emerging.
The debate has drawn attention to the very serious implications of the Soviet action, but it has emphasised, too, some positive aspects in what has occurred. As my noble friend the Foreign Secretary said, there is a remarkable identity of Western interest and unity of purpose. Within the European Community and within the Atlantic Alliance there is close agreement on the nature of the Soviet threat; the need to support and encourage those countries in the region directly affected; the need for members of the 1480 Alliance to review their role outside the central area; and the importance of a co-ordinated and sustained response. But there is agreement, too, on the need to maintain a dialogue between East and West, which is important for our security: whether we like it or not, the Soviet Union is a powerful nation. Detente, then, is not dead. But it must be both indivisible and a two-way street.
I have already referred to the unequivocal reaction of non-aligned countries to the crisis. It does not mean that these countries will now see their interests as lying exclusively with the West. They do not; nor would we expect it. We respect the right of all countries to reach their own decisions on the issues which face them. But members of the Non-Aligned Movement have, perhaps, been too ready in the past to accept at face value the shortcomings of Soviet ideology and the distortions of Soviet propaganda. They will be much less ready to do so now. It is difficult for even Cuba to explain away the presence of some 80,000 Soviet troops now occupying Afghanistan. We are confident that if non-aligned countries consider objectively the balance of their interests, they will conclude that the Soviet Union has little to offer but guns and empty rhetoric.
By contrast, OECD countries provided no less than 80 billion dollars to developing countries in 1978 for the purposes of peaceful trade and economic development. Still more significantly, we offer respect for the provisions of the United Nations Charter, the principles of non-alignment and the sovereignty of independent countries. The Soviet Union has demonstrated by its actions its utter contempt for all of these.
Arising out of this, the debate has drawn attention to issues, particularly in Iran and with respect to the Arab-Israel dispute, which have soured the friendship between Western democracies and the Moslem world. These are very serious matters and they are bound to affect our relations, yet there is much which unites the West with Islam and much less which separates us. We hope that the present crisis will illuminate areas of common interest between us.
Almost every noble Lord, I think without exception, has raised the subject of the Olympic Games. The Government's 1481 policy in this matter has to be set firmly in the context of the events we are discussing today. Soviet aggression has created a situation which has wide-ranging implications. A country which aspires to be the host to the Olympic Games has certain obligations and must act in conformity with the Olympic Charter. It is inconceivable that the Soviet Union should be allowed to host these Games while it continues to commit aggression against one of its neighbours.
I am aware of the argument that sport and politics should not be mixed, but this is not a principle to which the Soviet Union adheres. The choice of Moscow for the 1980 Olympic Games is being openly described there as:… convincing proof of general acknowledgment of the historical importance and correct foreign policy of the Soviet Union";and again:and its huge services to peace".Those words come from a book on sale in Moscow for the use of party activists.
It is precisely because of this Soviet attitude that the Government have made it clear that they believe that the International Olympic Committee should move the Games from the Soviet Union. We are sure that, given co-operation between like-minded countries, it should be possible to hold the Games in one or, if necessary, more than one other place. In this we do not stand alone. There is a rising groundswell of opinion in favour of cancelling, postponing or moving the Games. Over 40 Governments have now declared this to be their view. Most recently, the Foreign Ministers of the European Community meeting in Brussels yesterday voiced their concern at the situation. There was agreement that in the atmosphere of tension created by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan it was difficult to see how the Games could be held in the thoroughgoing sporting spirit intended by their founders. In this situation, the International Olympic Committee carry a heavy burden of responsibility. It is their decision and theirs alone whether the Games should take place as planned in Moscow, or whether they should be cancelled, moved or postponed. The Olympic movement itself may be at stake. I hope that they will rise to their responsibilities.
1482 I was interested to hear the recollections of the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, about reactions to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. I agree that we should be careful not to cut off all cultural contacts or to interfere with things like language training, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. Few important cultural events, as it happens, were planned in the near future, and I think it is generally best for those outside Government who have organised cultural events independently to take their own decisions about whether they should proceed. However, the Soviet authorities were told that we expected them to cancel a tour of this country by the Red Army Choir in May and June, and this has now been done. We have also advised the British Council to cancel a tour of the Soviet Union during March by the English Chamber Orchestra with British Council sponsorship; and we shall not be offering, as we had planned, Government support for a Soviet Film Week, due to take place in April.
The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, asked me about Pakistan and in particular what our thoughts were on the re-arming of Pakistan. We have offered the Pakistanis increased training assistance this year and are looking into the possibility of meeting some of their needs for defence equipment. In present circumstances we wish to reassure the people of Pakistan that they can look to us and to other friends for assistance against the Soviet threat. I do not believe that there is any reason for India to feel threatened by this and I hope that the present crisis will encourage both countries to a greater appreciation of their common interests. The question of the future system of government in Pakistan, which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is for the people of Pakistan to decide without outside interference.
My noble friend the Foreign Secretary said in your Lordships' House on 24th January—and I am coming now to the question of the NATO interest in this matter—that we do not think that so far there is any inclination on the part of most members of NATO to increase the geographical area for which NATO is responsible. This is clearly something that we can only pursue in consultation with our allies, but we shall continue to do that.
1483 Referring now to our own national defence capabilities outside NATO, and particularly in the Gulf area, the Government will continue to provide defence equipment and military training assistance and advice to our friends and allies outside NATO. We shall also continue to deploy naval, air and land forces outside NATO from time to time. We do not at the moment intend to re-establish a substantial permanent United Kingdom military presence in any non-NATO area, especially the Gulf, but we are keeping under review our forces' capability for flexible operations in the areas.
The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and I think one other noble Lord, referred specifically to the importance of civil defence. The Government are reviewing our preparedness in this field and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has said in another place that he will be making a statement on this issue in due course. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, asked how we are to afford an increase in military expenditure, but your Lordships will perhaps forgive me if I do not embark on an economic debate tonight in addition to the other matters which we have covered.
The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, raised the question of Mr. Blaker's reference to the Manila Pact on his recent visit to Thailand. Mr. Blaker in fact did no more than confirm that the Manila Pact remains in existence. SEATO was of course dissolved at the request of the regional members and any action which members might take to meet a threat to the regional partners would depend upon the circumstances of the time, but so far the pact has not been invoked.
My noble friend Lord Bessborough asked me specifically about consultations with China on the Afghan crisis. We now hold regular exchanges of views both in Peking and London on a wide range of international issues. This is a development which is greatly to be welcomed. Events in Afghanistan and their implications are naturally among the subjects discussed, and I can say that the views of China on Soviet actions in Afghanistan are very close to our own. My noble friend Lord Bessborough asked me further about the European Community dialogue with Gulf countries. The European Coun- 1484 cil heard a report last week on the Community's relations with the Gulf States and they will continue to study it. Her Majesty's Government are keen to examine ways to strengthen relations between the European Communities and those Arab States of the Gulf region with which the Community does not yet have any agreement.
Going further into the Arab-Israeli dispute, which subject was raised by several noble Lords, Islamic and Arab reactions to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan have been affected by their views that the West should do more to promote a settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict and to end Israel's occupation, particularly in East Jerusalem. We fully recognise the urgency of the need to find a just and comprehensive settlement, and we shall be working with our European partners to achieve that.
There are just two more points that I will deal with as quickly as I can. The noble Lord, Lord Hankey, asked whether we were aware of the Soviet plans in advance. Perhaps I may answer that by saying that on 20th December a senior official in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office summoned the Minister Counsellor from the Soviet Embassy in London and expressed our concern about the situation. He referred to the statement made a short time before by the Foreign Ministers of the Nine that the people of Afghanistan should be free to determine their future for themselves.
The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, raised, as he so often has, the question of disarmament talks in the light of the current situation, and other noble Lords joined him in this. As I have said to your Lordships before, at Question Time especially, we certainly plan to continue to engage in what I have referred to before as meaningful talks. These I would define as talks which are going to lead to effective and verifiable disarmament and which are not sterile propaganda exercises for the Soviet Union. The noble Lord asked me particularly about the proposal for a neutral zone or an arms-free zone in the Indian Ocean and said we should call the Russians' bluff on this matter. My Lords, I think we have already called it.
My Lords, we have spoken today of "threatened countries". In truth we are all threatened. There has been some 1485 discussion in this debate as to whether the Soviet Union has followed a grand strategy for the domination of South-West Asia, and the control of world energy supplies or whether it acted for local reasons simply to maintain control over Afghanistan. Whatever the motive, the simple fact is that the Soviet Union has invaded a nonaligned neighbour in massive force. And whatever may be its future plans, we cannot ignore the fact that it is now encamped less than 400 miles from the heart of Western energy supplies. President Carter has said that a Soviet incursion into the Gulf will be repelled by the use of any means necessary, including military force. The British Government wholeheartedly welcome that statement.
Our determination to resist Soviet expansionism has not been merely verbal. The measures announced by my noble friend in this House on 24th January are just one part of our response: we will not renew our credit agreement with the Soviet Union. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, about 60 per cent. of that facility had been taken up.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, it was to run for five years from 1975, was it not? Had the Russians taken up only 60 per cent?
§ Lord TREFGARNE
That is correct, my Lords; the facility was due to expire on 16th February, and up to now, with just a week to run, they had taken up only 60 per cent. of the facility. We are studying tighter application of the COCOM rules; with the Community, we will ensure that we do not undermine the resolute United States action in withholding grain and other food supplies. In addition, the Government continue to attach great importance to the BBC's External Services, especially in the present period of international tension. Following discussions with the BBC, broadcasts in Russian to the Soviet Union have been stepped up by a total of 30 minutes a day, and an additional 30 minutes daily have been introduced in the Farsi language, which is understood by a large part of the population of Afghanistan. And we are determined to provide necessary support for those countries in the regions which face particular problems.
1486 But in the last resort these countries must help themselves—and they can best do so by developing and defending internal political structures which meet the needs of their populations. Our assistance is of particular value if it serves to strengthen the political fabric of recipient countries and if it helps to create a more productive and stable relationship with their neighbours.
The Soviet action in Afghanistan has helped to restore a sense of perspective in Iran. The American hostages are still being held. I cannot re-emphasise too strongly how intolerable we find this continuing flagrant disregard for all the norms of international law. The hostages must be released, and I hope that this will be one of the first problems to which Mr. Bani Sadr, the newly elected President, will devote his efforts. Moreover, the hostage issue is irrelevant to the present concerns of Iran. The Soviet invasion shows only too clearly where the real threat to that country lies, and in recent condemnation of the invasion by leading Iranian figures, including the new President and, most recently, Ayatollah Khomeini himself, there is evidence of the growing awareness of the threat to Iran from its northern neighbour.
The invasion has helped to restore a sense of perspective in the West also. During the last decade we have seen the spiralling of oil prices and a growing realisation of the implications of global energy shortage. We have seen but slow growth in world economy, persisting inflation, and rising unemployment. And until recently we have seen, too, a faltering of American confidence in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate.
These problems have, perhaps, diverted us from the need to demonstrate clearly to the Soviet Union that we are ready to defend our interests and our beliefs. That is why we need to maintain our defence expenditure. We will not be panicked into ill-considered new policies. We remain ready to discuss our mutual interest with the Soviet Union; but we must do so on the basis of clear understandings about Soviet behaviour in the Third World. We must demonstrate to the Soviet Union that she cannot with impunity invade sovereign nations nor continue to subvert and intimidate member countries without incurring our total opposition.
1487 The security of the world depends upon the assumption that every nation may live within its borders, free from the threat of invasion. That security has been shaken to its foundation by this monstrous and intolerable aggression.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ Lord BOYD-CARPENTER
My Lords, when, a little more than seven hours ago, I opened this debate, I expressed the view that this House could muster on this subject a greater body of experience and knowledge than any other legislative chamber in the world. Whatever else this debate has demonstrated, I think that it has established that and, having heard virtually all the speeches made during this debate, I am sure that it has been an exceedingly impressive one. If, as my noble friend suggests, it is read in the Kremlin, I would not like to answer for the consequences. Indeed, I found my noble friend's suggestion that our debates are regularly read there somewhat alarming in view of the recent trends of Russian foreign policy. I hope that he was not suggesting that we had any responsibility for them.
However, the debate has certainly been of very great value. It has elicited a speech by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary which will obviously be the classical exposition of British foreign policy for some time to come. We had the great advantage of three speeches of great distinction by former Foreign Secretaries, and it was also the happy occasion of one of the best maiden speeches of modern times from my noble friend Lord Holderness. Therefore, I hope that your Lordships will feel that the debate has been justified.
I should like to add that I think that the whole House admired the characteristically gallant way in which my noble friend Lord Exeter fought his somewhat lonely corner. However, he will himself have noted, because he was conscientiously present throughout the whole of the debate, the very general anxiety about the possibility of an attempt being made to continue the concept of the Games being held in Moscow; and, perhaps even more significantly, he will have noted the limited sources from which support came for the idea that the Games should so continue. 1488 I hope that he will take the hint—it was rather more than a hint—given by my noble friend the Minister just now to the effect that it is not a question that if the Moscow Games are held this summer, they will be a fiasco, but rather it is a question of the future of the whole Olympic movement which is in jeopardy and dependent upon the decision which he and his colleagues take when they meet at Lake Placid shortly.
This debate has taken place on a Motion for Papers. I have in mind a salutory warning to the noble Lord who moves such a Motion. In the days when the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, led this House with a somewhat gallant disregard for the niceties of procedure, he once accepted a Motion for Papers. The consequence was that the noble Lord who moved the Motion received the next morning an entire van-load of surplus Government Papers. As I am anxious to escape that historic fate, I now ask your Lordships to allow me to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.