1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech made at an event run by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Association, held at the Locarno Suite at the Foreign Office in London on the morning of Wednesday 29th November 2006.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
I’m delighted to be back at the Foreign Office this morning.
Foreign Secretary 94 days: golden age: went to war with no-
My time here was too short: I wish it had been longer. Today I can speak as an individual -
We live in a world that is changing comprehensively and rapidly. There are short term imperatives that cannot be ignored: and long term issues that should not be ignored.
Economically, the world is turning to the East which -
Now, China is re-
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 on internal problems -
Their hands are full.
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-
Nor is Latin America the "old" Continent of lost opportunities.
Budget deficits and country debts are falling.
Even Africa -
For the last quarter of a century, the principal engines of world growth have been the US, Japan and the EU. Soon, China, non-
Moreover, over the last two years, every emerging economy in the world has out-
So, too, has the mode of political thinking. In the last 25 years -
I am suspicious of ideology. Policy is often at its best when compromise and pragmatism are seen as virtues -
Before I turn to some pressing problems, let me make some brief assertions that, hopefully, may stimulate questions.
Britain is a medium-
I, therefore, consider it an extremely bad policy to cut our overseas representation at a time when we should be increasing it. If that seems like special pleading to this audience -
Secondly, international bodies.
There is a mode of neo-
On Europe, I’m not sure what British policy is at the moment. Certainly it is in flux.
For over 30 years -
I think we should be looking for policies to help Europe work more efficiently -
Some issues are very pressing now.
Much of the Middle East is in conflict. Our task in this generation is to ensure that future generations do not have to re-
We need a dose of reality, too. We had better accept that may be no ideal solution. We may have to compromise.
And we should recognise that every situation will require diplomacy and statesmanship to be enlisted alongside military power.
Our preferred outcome may be un-
It may be unfashionable -
It is unprovable -
In Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to be clear about the mission, and we need an exit strategy. If I asked everyone in this room to write down what they thought that mission was, I would get a wide variety of different answers.
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 the troops move on, the insurgents move back in, because the Iraqi armed forces cannot hold the ground. This failure to hold the territory gained, means that to some extent, policy is simply chasing its tail.
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 -
Many Iraqis are arrested and detained a long time without charge. You will never build a democracy without rule of law and due process is badly needed. So is money. The Chancellor’s £150 million is welcome -
In the US and Britain there is pressure to leave.
From where we are today there are no simple solutions, but it is clear we need diplomacy and statesmanship alongside military power. And -
Much of this is relevant to Afghanistan.
To promote democracy and destroy terror is a noble mission but the justice of the cause doesn't lessen the need for a clear-
The Afghan mission 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 -
We have 5,500 soldiers in Helmand Province of whom less than 2,000 are -
It is a woeful tale for young soldiers who -
The conclusion I draw is that there must be a political as well as a military strategy. 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.
One continuing problem is terror. It pre-
Without an intellectual victory, there will be no lasting military victory, and no respite. If we are to safeguard 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 in our own Party opposed this. More doubted it would ever succeed. Some said it was folly. Others were less kind.
And yet it began a peace process that has transformed Northern Ireland.
The same principles apply, even to the core disputes in the Middle East, and the ideological divides that are so dangerous today. Dialogue can be productive. But that dialogue cannot be with a megaphone. It must be face-
The alternative -
I know it sometimes seems as if there are a vast array of insurmountable and daunting problems.
Well, there are -
None is as dangerous as the nuclear confrontation that preceded the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Today, the free market has comprehensively won the battle of philosophies that scarred most of the last century.
Future generations will see the growth of democracy in Europe as a huge achievement.
The growth of emerging economies will give more nations of the world a greater stake in a peaceful future.
Ahead of us is a new world, with many intractable problems. We must see this new world as it really is if we are to help shape how it could be.