1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech at the Sir Edward Heath Memorial Lecture, held at the British Embassy in Paris on Tuesday 14th November 2006.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
This is the last of a Series of Lectures to commemorate the life’s work of Sir Edward Heath. It says much about the current political mood in Britain that these Lectures are in Paris.
Ted Heath had many passions -
And upon such matters he was resolute and immovable.
Very little is immovable today. We live in a world changing more comprehensively than ever before. In politics and economics, we can no longer rely on many of the assumptions we have lived with for generations.
Old disciplines once available to Government -
In recent years, corporate leadership has given us the global economy, the cellnet revolution, the internet and e-
In the face of this revolution, Governments often fall behind, out-
In the future -
When Kipling wrote those famous lines:
“East is East and West is West
And never the twain shall meet”
he had not factored in the global market.
Economically, the world is turning to the East which -
Now, China is re-
Today, China is utilising her natural advantages. She has space, and an inexhaustible supply of cheap labour. The lure of her gigantic market attracts US$ 60 billion of foreign investment each year. This combination has made her hugely competitive.
She does not have energy -
As her economy grows, so does her political influence. It is a sight I never thought I’d see: a once closed Communist economy challenging the Capitalist world.
But not all is rosy for China. She is not El Dorado. Accepting the advantages of the free market means she must face the problems of it as well.
Unemployment in China is huge. Hundreds of millions of workers from rural areas are migrating to the cities, in the hope of finding work. China faces serious problems of pollution, lack of water and shortage of energy.
Ironically, even her 9½% annual growth brings political problems. Greater economic wellbeing leads to greater expectations: resentment of a growing disparity of wealth; demands for a social welfare system; an appetite for more self-
Some people worry that China will be a threat to the West. Economically, of course, she already is. Politically, she is becoming more influential. But neither politically nor militarily is China a threat in the sense of the former Soviet Union. China's focus will be internal for many years to come.
Some of their problems are unexpected. The divorce rate in China has tripled as women exercise an independence they have never known before.
Above all, China must overcome a paradox that will challenge Communist rule: to retain popular support, the Government need successful economic growth, but to obtain that they must loosen their grip on the regions. This is alien to their philosophy, but essential to China's well-
Behind China -
Today, once more, she is in the midst of an explosion of ambition and has cornered a large part of the market in knowledge-
Although China and India are the biggest single ingredient in the economic shift from West to East they are not alone. Japan is an established economic giant but all SE Asia is growing.
There is even a North-
Budget deficits and country debts are falling. Prospects are rising.
Even Africa -
Other countries, too, are in phoenix mode.
Politically, Russia under Putin is regressing. Economically, she has problems with corruption, with the Russian mafia, with bureaucracy, but business performance is strong with many niche opportunities for investors -
The reason for economic growth in -
There are concerns about internal democracy.
I am, in no sense, a Cold War warrior, but we do no favours to Russia if we overlook this authoritarian, anti-
Externally, Ukraine and Georgia might also welcome the West letting her disapproval be known, so that Russia is aware there will be a price to pay if she slips back into her old ways. But -
Even within the EU, there is a drift from the mature democracies of Western Europe to the new European nations. It is easy to see why: the cost of a skilled engineer in Slovakia or Romania is 14,000 Euros a year, whereas in Bonn, Paris or London it is 92,000 Euros a year.
The Free Market has many virtues -
Let me pull all this together:
For the last quarter of a century, the principal engines of world growth have been the US, Japan and the EU. Soon, China, non-
And, added to the economic mix, is a new ingredient: over the last two years, every emerging economy in the world has out-
We can see this new phenomenon taking shape. As the world economy re-
The battle between Communism and the Free Market has been comprehensively won.
But the conflict between competing religious ideologies -
Much of the Middle East is in dis-
Although these problems may seem insoluble -
Every situation will require diplomacy and statesmanship to be enlisted alongside military power.
We need a dose of reality, too. We had better accept there may be no ideal solutions. We may have to compromise.
Our preferred outcome may be un-
In Iraq -
Iraq is messy and getting messier. Those who predicted the coalition would be greeted as liberators on flower-
Both casualties and civil violence are mounting especially in the 30 miles radius of Baghdad. As American soldiers clean up districts, the insurgents move to neighbouring areas. As those troops move on, the insurgents re-
At the same time, the Iraqi Government refuses permission for troops to enter the most violent areas, on the grounds that it would be inflammatory. This is an Alice-
Decisions that are fundamental to the future of Iraq are not yet made. We do not yet know how oil revenue will be shared. The boundaries of the future Federalist system are not known. The future of Kirkuk is still uncertain. The new Police Force is -
For the average Iraqi, life is dire. Many are killed each month. Unemployment is huge. Inflation is at 70%. Electricity supplies -
The situation is full of ironies. The Iraqi Government is weak and unstable. It is possible that only the presence of the coalition prevents a coup.
And yet -
But such a departure would create a double-
From where we are today there are no simple solutions, which is why I spoke of the need for diplomacy and statesmanship alongside military power. And -
All of this is relevant to Afghanistan. The catalyst for democracy's response to terror was the attack on New York five years ago.
To promote democracy and destroy terror is a noble mission, but the justice of the cause doesn't lessen the need for a clear-
In Iraq, the most dangerous place is Baghdad, where American forces take the lead. In Afghanistan, it is Helmand and Kandahar Provinces, where British and Canadian forces are in the front line.
The Afghan mission, as seen from the UK, is uncertain.
Is it a peacekeeping mission?
Or a nation-
Is it to catch Bin Laden?
Or to defeat the Taliban; drug barons; warlords; Iraqi infiltrators; Pakistani bandits; and the local population fearful of their poppy crop being destroyed?
Or is it all of the above -
History tells us Afghanistan is a very tough place to be. In the Afghan Wars -
A senior British General warned recently of the danger of an aggrieved population turning back to support the Taliban.
From our perspective of the Taliban -
Moreover, as we destroy the poppy crop -
There is a common thread that runs through Iraq and Afghanistan: both are ideological conflicts that must be fought by intellectual as well as martial force.
If we are to lift the curse of terror from the next generation -
Without an intellectual victory, there will be no lasting military victory, and no respite. If we are to protect our way of life we must mobilise our best instincts as well as our military might.
The West must counter the malign way in which it is misrepresented. We will not be able to persuade the hard-
All around the world, even in the grimmest of circumstances, people hope for something better. Hope for something better is the most powerful antidote to anti-
This is not some impossible dream. We saw hope triumph when the free market defeated communism. Now it must do so again, to help democracy defeat terror.
We have one great advantage. The on-
This will mean dialogue. It will mean enlisting other nations. It will mean working with regimes of whom we strongly disapprove.
Some say this can't be done. I say it can. Tough -
Sixteen years ago, I began a dialogue with the IRA when they were still bombing Northern Ireland and the British mainland. Many opposed this. More doubted it would ever succeed. Some even said it was folly.
And yet it began a peace process that has transformed Northern Ireland.
The same principles apply today, even to the core disputes in the Middle East, and the ideological divides that are so dangerous. Dialogue can be productive. But it must be dialogue -
The alternative -
The political and economic challenges arising from the Near and Far East are more complex and far-
I’ll read you a poem you may know and I learned as a child:
For the want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For the want of a horse the rider was lost.
For the want of a rider the message was lost.
For the want of a message the battle was lost.
For the want of a battle the war was lost.
For the want of a war the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Benjamin Franklin, 1758
It is the classic illustration of how a chain of events can follow on -
If that was true in the world of Benjamin Franklin, how much more true it is in the integrated global world of today.
Our task in this generation is to look at our world with a critical and honest eye and see how it is -
We have the ability to do so. Only time will tell whether we have the wisdom -