Speaking in Islamabad, David Cameron will today outline five steps for dealing with modern foreign policy threats. In his speech, he also discusses Pakistan and Russia at length, calling on Pakistan to bear down on extremists, and on Europe to work out an agreed approach to Russian aggression.
A liberal conservative foreign policy: “My starting point is the philosophy that I believe in, the philosophy that I would apply to international affairs if elected. I am a liberal Conservative. Liberal – because I believe in freedom, human rights and democracy, and I want to see more of these things in our world. But Conservative, because I believe strongly in the continued relevance of the nation state and because I am sceptical of grand utopian schemes to re-make the world according to a politician’s timetable. My instinct is to work patiently with the grain of human nature; with the flow of culture, tradition and history."
Modern challenges: "Robert Kagan and others argue that the rise of China, and the resurgence of Russia, call into question the assumption that the growth of economic liberty would eventually lead to a global embrace of liberal political values. The rise of these autocracies, some believe, offers an alternative political model rising living standards in a framework of order, unencumbered by the chaotic inefficiencies of Western democracy.
“At the same time, the Western democracies have faced problems of their own. The experience of trying to build democracies in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and the way in which Western democracies have conducted some aspects of the fight against terrorism have undermined our standing in the world.
“So faced with these challenges, what is the liberal Conservative response? I believe there should be five essential steps to our response.
“First, we must hold fast to our values. Second, the democracies must stick together. Third, we need to understand the full nature of the threats that face us. Fourth, we must display stamina and patience. And finally we must always strive to act with moral authority.
Holding fast to our values: "Holding fast to the basic idea – not losing confidence in freedom, human rights and democracy. That is the liberal part of liberal Conservatism, and we should welcome the opportunity to make the case for the open and plural society once again. But we should also remember the Conservative part. We should accept that we cannot impose democracy at the barrel of a gun; that we cannot drop democracy from 10,000 feet – and we shouldn’t try.
“Put crudely, that was what was wrong with the ‘neo-con’ approach, and why I am a liberal Conservative, not a neo – Conservative."
Democracies must stick together: "They are stronger when they stand together… As a country that has recently reasserted its democracy, you understand that very well. The importance of standing together is one reason why I felt so strongly about what has happened many miles away from here in the Caucasus and why I felt it was important to go to Tbilisi and underline my support for Georgia at this decisive moment in its history."
Understanding the threats we face: "Today none is greater than that posed by terrorism. We can see that clearly in both Britain and Pakistan.
“Pakistan has suffered terribly at the hands of terrorism. 56 suicide bombs in 2007, over 640 dead and injured. It is an appalling – and rising – toll of misery. In Britain, we have had our own attacks, and many more attempted attacks which have been thwarted – some thanks to co-operation with Pakistan, for which we are grateful.
“Let’s be clear that the threat we face – principally from Al Qaeda and its affiliates – remains a formidable danger to your society and to mine.
"… The longer the Taliban can operate with relative freedom in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the more they will threaten not just the future of Afghanistan but the future – some would say the survival – of Pakistan itself.
“Forgive my candour. But it is the candour of a friend. The truth is that we will only tackle this scourge successfully if we work together.
"We need you to bear down on extremists, including those madrassas that are indoctrinating and recruiting young people. We need you – and I do not underestimate the difficulty of what I am saying – to bring greater governance and control to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, to disrupt Taliban activity there, and to deny them as a safe haven for terrorists. We need your continued co-operation on counter-terrorism, and we need to be sure that all your governmental agencies are fully committed to this goal.
“Because – and I say this not in a spirit of recrimination – it is on your commitment to delivering these goals that Pakistan’s international reputation will depend. So for your own sake, as well as ours, this is an issue on which there is no room for ambivalence."
Stamina and patience: "[I]n both our promotion of democracy and in our fight against extremist terror we must demonstrate patience and humility; commitment and stamina.
“Freedom, human rights and democracy take root over decades, not years. A liberal Conservative approach recognises that democracy must be built around the institutions, habits and culture of each country. Democracy should be the work of patient craftsmanship and not of a uniform mass production line, if the final product is to be of a quality that endures."
Upholding moral authority: “Of course the conduct of international affairs must always be tempered by realism. But these great international challenges of the 21st century they are moral questions, not just questions of realpolitik. We must strive to address these questions in a way that is consistent and enhances our reputation rather than undermines it.
“A moral mission requires moral methods. We must not stoop to illiberalism, whether at Guantanamo Bay or by passing legislation for excessive periods of detention without trial. We must not turn a blind eye to the excesses of our allies – abuses of human rights in some Arab countries, for example. Otherwise might becomes the only standard of right, we open ourselves to charges of hypocrisy, and we sink in the eyes of the world."
"Britain has a valuable role to play in the world, standing on the side of those who are struggling for democracy and justice. That is our continuing duty and responsibility. To stand, as one of the world’s oldest democracies, alongside some of the world’s newest democracies. And I earnestly hope Pakistan will join us in that endeavour."
The speech also touches on democracy promotion: "Today people say that democracy can never take root in Muslim lands, or that democracy is un-Islamic. I regard that view as another prejudice, like all those prejudices from the past, which seek to deny human dignity. As Benazir Bhutto argued so powerfully in the book she wrote before she was murdered, there is nothing in Islam, and nothing in Islamic nations, which means that those nations cannot be democracies.
“Quite the opposite. There are majority Muslim nations like Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey which are all democratic. There are Muslim voices, in Iran, in Egypt, in Lebanon and in Palestine which speak up for democracy."
Russia: “According to the Russians, as Philip Stephens has noted, this is somehow all our, or rather the West’s, fault. If only we hadn’t provoked the Russians by welcoming the likes of Ukraine and Georgia into the democratic community of nations. If only we had, instead, slammed the door shut when they – and the former subjects of the Soviet Empire from the Baltic to the Balkans – had sought to protect their security as part of NATO and enhance their prosperity by joining the EU. That is Russia’s claim. There are some who echo it.
“We need to show greater understanding of Russia’s position, they argue – of her historic anxieties about encirclement, and her difficulties in adapting to the loss of empire. I take a different view. What Russia has done is profoundly wrong. It cannot be excused, condoned or explained away. Russia’s actions in Georgia throw into sharp relief the new shape of old powers.
"… Now is the time to take a long-term and united view, particularly in Europe. There must be no more scurrying of European leaders to Moscow to compete for Mr Putin’s favours. This got us nowhere. And let’s be clear the EU does not need a new Treaty to work out an agreed policy on Russia, taking account of the views of Russia’s neighbours in Eastern Europe, who are now our full partners."
3.30pm update: Following today’s assassination attempt on Pakistan’s Prime
Minister, David Cameron stated:
“It’s not yet clear exactly what
happened to Prime Minister Gilani’s convoy here in Islamabad but the
incident is a reminder of the permanent threat from terrorism that this
country faces. I think that coming so soon after Benazir Bhutto’s
appalling assassination, and the terrible number of suicide bombings
here, it shows how we must work together to defeat terrorism.”