ConservativeHome noted Liam Fox’s US speech earlier today. Pasted below are key extracts of William Hague’s address to the John Hopkins SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations. Mr Hague’s remarks are wide-ranging but very measured. On the day that a UN report has called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay BBCi has focused on Mr Hague’s remarks about prisoner abuse. That section of the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s speech is highlighted below but Mr Hague stopped short of calling for Guantanamo to close. His remarks also focused on climate change, Iraq and the dangers of European integration.
"Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the attendant threat
of nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists have risen to
the top of the international community’s agenda. The AQ Khan experience
shows that the control of nuclear weapons technology and the prevention
of secondary proliferation is difficult, even when the state in
question is willing. The danger is brought into focus by recalling that
terrorists wishing to wreak nuclear havoc, unlike states seeking
nuclear weapons, do not need access to uranium mines or nuclear
facilities, or to master the complex technology necessary to build a
deliverable weapon – all they need is enough smuggled or stolen fissile
material to build a crude bomb."
THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
"In the British Conservative Party, we have had a long period in opposition but we are now preparing for government again. Before we come into government, we want to have the deepest possible understanding of how foreign policy should be conducted and in doing so we are looking at many questions afresh. But in one thing we are clear from the onset: our relationship with the United States is central to our foreign policy, and will be one of deep and enduring partnership."
PRISONER ABUSE AND EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS ARE CAUSING "CRITICAL EROSION" IN US MORAL AUTHORITY
"The relationship should be solid but not slavish, firm but also fair… Winning the battle against the perpetrators of terrorism requires moral as well as military strength – the kind of moral strength in the eyes of the world which America so richly deserved for carrying the burden of two world wars, painstakingly rebuilding Japan and Western Europe and, in more recent times, resolutely leading NATO in stopping another wave of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. In the light of these actions it has always been possible to view America as a great but compassionate power. But lately we have seen the tensions created by the new realities of the War on Terror. Reports of prisoner abuse by British and American troops –however isolated- and accounts, accurate or not, of the mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition flights leading to the torture of suspects, have led to a critical erosion in our moral authority. This has resulted in a loss of goodwill towards America which could be as serious in the long-term as the sharpest of military defeats. It is ludicrous that opinion polls indicate that a majority of Europeans now believe the United States poses the greatest threat to international security, but, shockingly, it is also true. We therefore must not forget that the most important quality of democracy, which we are trying to spread today in Iraq and elsewhere, is respect for the rule of law. In standing up for the rule of law, we must be careful not to employ methods that undermine it. To do so would be to set a poor example to those who look to the Western world for leadership, and would undermine our achievements among emerging and new democracies."
DIFFICULTIES OF OCCUPYING AND REBUILDING IRAQ WERE UNDERESTIMATED
"I still believe that we were right to support the war in Iraq, but it seems obvious now that the great difficulties of uniting and securing such a country were seriously underestimated. More ground troops were needed, not to win the war but to secure the peace, and it was evidently a mistake to disband the Iraqi army so early."
LATEST UK DEPLOYMENTS IN AFGHANISTAN
"To hand Afghanistan back to the Taliban is unthinkable, but given our experience in Iraq, and given our concern to use our armed forces wisely and not to risk their lives unnecessarily, they are many questions we are asking in the British Parliament about the fresh deployment of NATO forces in Afghanistan, which is spearheaded by Britain. Are there sufficient troops to meet our objectives? Is it possible to simultaneously achieve the twin objectives of creating political stability and drastically reducing the opium trade? And are we receiving sufficient support from our allies?"
EUROPEAN INTEGRATION DOES NOT SERVE US INTERESTS
"Some policy makers in Washington have continued to support every effort towards closer European integration, even in the field of foreign affairs and defence. The assumption has been that a unified Europe would inevitably prove more pro-Atlanticist, and more pro-American; in other words that a wholly integrated Europe is in the US interest. Today, however, following the transatlantic rift over the Iraq war and disagreements over Afghanistan, such an analysis is at odds with the reality of the post Cold War transatlantic relationship. America’s interests are best served when European states act flexibly according to their national interest."
"We must face the reality of climate change, arguably the biggest threat facing our planet today. We are working to a timetable set by nature rather than our own choice and we cannot afford to be sluggish in our responses to a challenge that threatens the very sustainability of our life on this planet. Following the President’s State of the Union Address the world is looking to the United States to offer sustained leadership in tackling this momentous issue. This will require the type of cooperation which I consider to be the essence of the special relationship – the ability to put aside differences and work together for the common good, and a willingness not to shy away from difficult choices. It is vital that these practices endure.”