Transcript of Robin Cook's lecture


  • This is the text of the lecture given by the Rt Hon Robin Cook, MP, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Monday 23 August 2004. The lecture was introduced by journalist Brian Taylor.

Listen to the 2004 lecture

It's an immense personal pleasure to me to be giving a lecture in memory of Donald Dewar. Donald would actually get very cross with me if I now got very worthy and serious about his memory, because actually I think the reason that we all regarded Donald with such affection was his tremendous sense of humour and his immense capacity for self-deprecation.

I was with him the weekend after we had won the first elections to the new Scottish Parliament. Elizabeth Smith arranged a dinner party at Valvona and Crolla, down on Leith Walk, and Donald arrived exhausted from the weeks on the road. But, cheerful as ever, and as self-retiring and self-effacing as ever, was appalled when Elizabeth told him he had to make a speech. Didn't want to take any credit at all for what had happened. He was eventually propelled by Elizabeth and I into a vertical position from which he had to make a speech.

He opened his speech with a very characteristic 'Dewarism' in which he had noticed that, when they came into the room, Gordon Brown, the consummate politician that he is, had worked the room and gone round all the tables, whereas he, Donald Dewar, was now in the posture most familiar to him and most comfortable to him - standing with his back to the wall. Here was a wonderful example that, even at the moment of his greatest triumph, Donald remained a man who was popular, inspired affection, because he was so lacking in any humbug or any sense of aggrandisement.

A new democracy

I'd only just say, Brian - and it's a serious point, and I hope that those who write these things will take it to heart - I get very cross when I read about the criticism of Donald in relation to the new building, because Donald's not here to answer for himself. And I think we should remember that what Donald achieved for Scotland was not a building: it was a new democracy. His real achievement is that the has restored to Scotland our first Parliament for 300 years. When I say 'restored, if course, I'm being very generous to the Parliament of 1707, which was not in any way representative of the Scottish people, of whom less than 4,000 got any say as to who went there.

Perhaps the true statement about Donald's achievement is that he laboured in Westminster, in the Cabinet, through Parliament, at the elections, in the referendum, to ensure that, for the first time in our history, Scotland has a Parliament that represents the Scottish people.

Now I'm very conscious, Brian, that the Scottish Parliament does not receive universal praise from all members of your profession. It is a natural characteristic that we like to put down anybody who is in danger of getting above themselves. Shortly after I was elected - as you unkindly reminded everybody, 30 years ago - I was invited to a rather grand event, and I was foolish enough to say to my father that I wondered what my grandfather - who had been a Lanarkshire miner - would say if he could see me now. It was a very unwise question. After a thoughtful pause my father replied: 'He would say you were a traitor to your class.' Which had the effect it was intended to - of bringing me back down to earth.

Scottish Parliament's achievements

It is no accident that the Scots have perfected a religion in which we believe that you can only achieve salvation through suffering, and that pleasure must immediately be followed by punishment. We would not be so fond of whisky if it did not guarantee a headache the next day. And so it is with the Scottish Parliament. After waiting 300 years for one, we cannot let three days go by without criticising it.

I would like to say to those who criticise the Scottish Parliament: give it a break. This Parliament has achieved as much as any Scottish Parliament could possibly hope to do, and has achieved a lot more for Scotland than we'd ever have achieved without it. In the last five years it's passed over 70 Acts of Parliament. Now I tell you as somebody who was at Westminster through 25 years of a non-devolved system: we would have been lucky, in the days when we jostled for Scottish legislation, for space and time in the English calendar, to have got a dozen of these Acts through. And some of them have addressed issues which we've long known are crucial to Scottish political life, but which Westminster neglected. We've known since the days of the crofting rebellion that one of the big rural issues in Scotland are the large number of tenants who have to farm the enormous estates of absentee landlords. There was never any remedy offered to that until we got a Scottish Parliament.

We've known for over a century one of the cruelest acts of urban poverty are the warrant sales, which Westminster never abolished, and if I'm honest I don't think would have abolished if we had left Scottish legislation at Westminster.

Sometimes I feel that the Scottish Executive and their pioneering policy of free care for the elderly. I'm perplexed that in the last few days this should have been attacked because it turns out that there are more elderly benefiting than the number we thought of in the first place. I mean, I would have thought the fact that more people are benefiting from this policy makes it an even better policy than we thought of before, rather than a ground for criticism. And as somebody who has spent all of the last decade heavily involved in the international scene, I would say to you I think the Scottish Parliament is a very modern response to the realities of today's world. It has increased Scotland's power to decide the matters that affect the Scottish people and can be decided within Scotland, without reducing Scotland's influence on those decisions that affect us that are taken elsewhere, whether that is London or whether that is Brussels.

National independence

I say it is a very modern response, because I know from my experiences in opposition and as Foreign Secretary that we live in a modern world marked by the accelerating contact between the nations and the countries across the globe, in which we are immediately and directly affected by events that take place in a different hemisphere to our own. The youngest of you out there have seen in your lifetime a growth in trade faster than the growth in trade between the Industrial Revolution and the Second World War. Now I will not embarrass those of you out there as old as me as to quite how fast that growth in trade has been in our longer lifetime. We've seen an explosion in communications between the nations round the world.

A hundred years ago - which is not that long ago: I mean, it's only slightly less than double my lifetime - only a hundred years ago, with only six men in the General Post Office in London, and a kettle kept constantly boiling, it was possible for the Government in Westminster to steam open every diplomatic communication coming in to Britain. (For the avoidance of doubt, we don't do that any more, I should say, in case there's anybody out there doing a telegram home to their diplomatic embassy.) Today you can transmit documents the length of the Bible around the globe at the click of a mouse.

'Globalisation' is a very ugly, unloved word. I promise I will use it as few times as is consistent with the content of this lecture. But it does contain a profound truth, which is that in the modern world the concept of national independence is of increasingly doubtful relevance.

If I may be mildly controversial, which Donald would approve of (providing I'm only mildly controversial) I think it is wise of many of those in the SNP to argue that they should focus on how they operate through the devolved Parliament, rather than make their pitch to deliver an independent Parliament. Because in the modern world it is difficult to see how Scotland could be more meaningfully independent than devolution has already provided. We live in a world in [which] what we aspire to is not our national independence but successful interdependence with the rest of the world. I'm reminded by the [rain] noises above me that we cannot control even our weather. If we want to aspire to a better quality of Scottish weather, we can only do it with international agreement on climate change. Brian's bulletins over the last week have been full of road closures in Scotland, as hillsides are washed away. Well, we can solve that in Scotland by pouring more concrete on to the hillsides. We cannot tackle the root problem of the increasing extremes of climate change unless we get global co-operation to halt global warming.

Now, for politicians this new world is challenging. It is not comfortable. The problem is that the pace of change is at a speed faster than the psychology of our voters can keep up with. It was brought home to me rather abruptly two or three years ago, when I made a speech in which I unwisely pointed out that the most popular dish in British supermarkets these days - yes, some of you remember it - the most popular dish in British supermarkets these days was chicken tikka masala. It was an example I had used - naively? - to show how our life, our culture, our cuisine had been enriched by the many people who had come to Britain to make their homes here. But it is one of the paradoxes of globalisation that some of the most powerful advocates of free trade and free investment are also the most hostile to the freedom of movement of people. As if we can move goods, capital, electronic communications round the world at an increasingly dizzy rate, but everybody stays still in their own country of origin. Thus my observation about chicken tikka masala did not go down well in certain English newspapers, who believed that the most popular dish should still be roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, even if in the upper strata of Islington these days it's roast beef and polenta.

Reactions to foreign contacts

I do not wish to distress my critics further, but in the interests of truth I should record that the most popular dish in British now is not chicken tikka masala, nor Yorkshire pudding and roast beef. The most popular dish now is Thai green curry, which merely confirms the cosmopolitan character of modern reality.

Which brings me to the central theme I want to leave you with this evening.

I believe that, in this 21st century of a global world, global economy, global politics, the major dividing line is going to be between cosmopolitans and chauvinists. Between cosmopolitans, who welcome contact with foreign people as enriching, whose natural instinct is to work in partnership with other nations and other people, who feel at ease with their own identity and therefore have the confidence to make the compromises necessary to reach agreement in the interests of their own nation with other nations.

And on the other hand? We will have chauvinists who regards contact with foreigners as threatening, whose instinct is not to welcome them but to lock them up, and possibly their children as well, who will assert their own identity by their hostility to people of different cultures. And who view with suspicion all the compromises that are necessary to get an international agreement, and describe them as a 'sell-out' of the national interest.

I'm going to be partisan and patriotic here and say that I believe that for Scots it will be easier to be part of the cosmopolitan side of that dividing line, because Scots after all practised globalisation long before the word was invented. It was a minister from Paisley who became Principal at Princeton University and wrote the most popular tracts that helped to inspired the rebellion against George III. It was a shepherd's son from the Tweed valley who first mapped the Niger Basin. It was another Scot from the Borders who discovered, in the foothills of Assam, a strange and unknown plant, which, when identified, turned out to be a wild tea plant and became the foundation of one of the greatest colonial industries. And, continuing further east, it was a Scot from Sutherland who founded Hong Kong. (Admittedly he did it with the proceeds he made from the opium war, but given the intense patriotism of this passage we'll gloss over that awkward reality.)

What other country in the world has bank notes on which they print their missionaries to Africa, like David Livingstone or Mary Slessor - a wonderful emblem to the extent to which commerce and church have mingled down through Scottish history.

John Smith and Europe

Donald Dewar was a natural inheritor of that Scottish tradition of internationalism - as also was his lifelong friend John Smith, who remains Labour's great lost Leader. Both of them were clear and passionate in their support for a united Europe. When I was the campaign manager for John Smith during his successful bid to become Leader of the Labour Party, I took him to Strasbourg to canvas the Labour MEPS, and at the end of the day we had a wonderful, bibulous dinner with them, at the end of which John got to his feet and made an impassioned, frank, open address to them on how the proudest moment in his career had been when he defied the Labour Whips to vote for British membership of the European Community. As his campaign manager I remember sitting there at the time wondering if it was really wise of him, on the verge of become Leader of the Labour Party, to praise the virtues of rebelling against the Whips. But it spoke to a deep truth of John, which was his passionate commitment to internationalism and specifically to building a European Union.

Europe is now the major fault line in British politics between the cosmopolitans and the chauvinists. I think if John was with us now he would be profoundly depressed by the present state of the debate on Europe in Britain. It is bedevilled by the chauvinist view that international relations is a 'zero sum' game - that if one country gains, then another country must lose, that negotiations in Europe are remorseless struggle for the upper hand.

This view is serious 'old think', is a left-over from the vanished era of free-standing nation-states in which Britain could boast of its splendid isolation. Isolation is the least-desirable option in a globalised world. The reason why we go through that painstaking, difficult process of negotiating agreement in Europe is because each of us is stronger in a union of 15 or 25 than any of us would be going it alone.

I'm going to say, Brian, that currently there is a failure of political leadership in making that case. Three-fifths of our exports of goods and services to the countries of the euro-zone. Yet not only are we not going to be joining the euro in this Parliament, now that we're committed to a referendum on the European constitution as the centre of the European debate in the next Parliament, it is unlikely that we're going to join the euro in the next Parliament either. Meanwhile the euro has established itself as a major world currency. Last year there were more international bonds issued in the euro than in dollars, which contrasts starkly in the period before the launch of the euro, when twice as many international bonds were issued in dollars as in all the European currencies added together.

I'm confident that one day economic reality will bring Britain into the euro. My worry is that, as so often in the history of Europe, we will end up joining desperately, from a position of weakness, running to catch up, rather than joining when we could be strong enough to set the agenda. I simply do not believe that if John Smith had lived we would find ourselves now in a position in which we do not even have a date for Britain's entry into the euro. Nor do I believe that on Iraq Britain would have found herself stranded on the American, rather than the European, side of the Atlantic.

No regret at resigning

Which brings me to the career change to which you referred in your introduction, Brian. I compliment you on the fact that you mention a number of other things as well. I did get an introduction when I spoke to the STUC a couple of months ago in which I was praised for my very first act on entering Government, when in the very first week I extended union recognition to the workers as GCHQ, 'and the other thing for which we'll always remember Robin is his resignation' - which missed out the intervening six years.

At the end of the year I was walking along the Strand and one of our compatriots was sleeping in a doorway there, in a prone position (I think he was in a state in which the prone position came comfortably) and looked up at me and, being a compatriot, recognised me as I went past and said: 'You were great when you resigned. You should do it more often.'

Well, I don't expect the opportunity to do it again, and I've no regrets that I did it, although there are moments where I'm slightly puzzled that the only people who left the Government over the greatest blunder in our foreign and security policy since Suez are those of us who opposed it. It seems cruel now to remind those who canvassed for the war of what they said about the threat from Saddam Hussein. But it's possible to overcome that inhibition in the case of Donald Rumsfeld, who said: 'We know where they are', meaning the weapons of mass disappearance. Sadly for us, we don't know where a single one of them are.

It's not entirely true that our American friends have not found anything to distress or concern them. Some of the audience here will be from south of the border and may therefore not be aware that at the turn of the year we were electrified in Scotland - I think that's a fair way to put it - to discovered that the American Department of Defense was secretly filming one of our distilleries on Islay. We know this because the Pentagon rang up the manager to say that one of the cameras had gone down - could he fix it for them? Of course, being a Highland gentlemen he said; 'Of course, I'll happily be fixing your camera, but first would you mind telling me why you're filming my distillery?' And got back the reply: 'Because the process of producing whisky is only a tweak away from producing a chemical weapon.' ... A truth which has been known to my constituents for hundreds of years!

In retrospect, Bush's mistake was that he invaded a Muslim country which has no distilleries. If only he had invaded Scotland. By now he could have closed down scores of these suspicious dual-use plants and announced that he'd saved the world from the threat of Presbyterian fundamentalism!

Trap set by Bin Laden

Of course, the serious point is we now know that we had the time to let Hans Blix finish the job and tell us there were no weapons of mass destruction, without the need to fight any was to establish that. And that is a very heavy conclusion, because it means that we did not need to go to war. We chose to go to war. And with the freedom of choice comes the responsibility for the consequences. And those consequences, I believe, are grave and go well beyond Iraq.

For me, as somebody who has observed international affairs for a number of years, I firmly believe that the most important question for, at any rate, the first half of the century, is: what strategic relationship can the West build with the world of Islam? It's clear what the answer to that question is from Osama Bin Laden. He attacked the Twin Towers to send an unmistakable message that the only relationship he can conceive of between the West and the world of Islam is one of confrontation and violence. My deep worry is that the way in which we have responded is to accept the terms of the relationship that he set. As George Soros has expressed it: 'We have walked into the trap that Osama Bin Laden has set for us.'

Iraq has set back by a generation efforts to create a positive relationship between the West and Islam. As Richard Clarke, who until recently was Head of Terrorism in Washington, has put it in his blistering book - which I can recommend to all of you - as he says in a concluding passage: 'We did exactly what al-Quaeda said we would do. We invaded and occupied an oil-rich Arab country that posed no threat to us.'

Damaging blow to world order

In terms of the struggle against terrorism, Iraq has been a massive 'own goal' - free propaganda, and we even provided the horrendous photographs from Abu Ghraib to accompany and illustrate the propaganda. Iraq is also a major reverse to cosmopolitan values. It's a triumph of unilateralism over multilateralism. The United Nations was founded among a world weary of war, on the principle that no one nation - or, for that matter, no two nations - should decide when to invade another. The decisions on war and peace must always be taken with international support. In Iraq we helped create a precedent - that it is all right for a couple of countries to decide which country they're justified to invade, and to ignore the United Nations is order to do so. And as a result we've struck a damaging blow to the painstaking, frustrating efforts to create a multilateral world order which regulates the right to use military force.

Of course that was some time ago. It is 18 months since the conquest of Iraq. It is nine months since we found Saddam Hussein down a hole. And yet all that time later the insecurity and violence in Iraq is as bad as it's been at any time since the invasion. Najaf makes the headlines, but there have been half a dozen cities in which there have been fighting over the past two weeks and in which hundreds have died. Fallujah, Samara, Ba'qubah are in the hands of the insurgents and are not policed by the Iraqi police or the American military. In Ramadi they have negotiated a rather eccentric agreement, in which the Iraqi police and the US forces are allowed to patrol the city for six hours of daylight and for the rest of the time it is controlled by the insurgents.

Three mistakes of the occupation

We have reached this point of crisis because of three mistakes of the occupation.

First of all we failed to deliver on the repeated promises of a representative Government. I personally think there is no excuse for the fact that, 18 months after we invaded Iraq, there is still no immediate sight of elections within Iraq. The Bush administration of course face a genuine dilemma, and one has to recognise that dilemma. They committed themselves to representative government - actually I'm prepared to believe that would like to have a representative Government of Iraqis. their problem is that any government now that is representative of Iraqi opinion will be hostile to the American occupation. That is why Paul Bremner ditched the plans to elect the Interim Government that is now in position. And the problem for both the United States and for Britain is that the hand-picked Interim Government he has does not command the legitimacy to bring the insurgents to heel.

And the second failure was to bring material benefit to the ordinary Iraqis. Paul Bremner has visited upon Iraq a free-market fundamentalism for which it was not prepared. The contracts for reconstruction have not gone to Iraqi businesses - they've gone to US multinationals, with the result that we've been creating profits and taxes rather than jobs in Iraq. Three-quarters of the Iraqi males are still unemployed. Is it any wonder that there is discontent and alienation? Conversely, if you look up the website of Haliburton, the oil giant with which Dick Cheney was previously the Chief Executive, you'll find it tells you cheerfully that it's moved from loss-making to profit-making as a result of its Iraq contracts. Those Iraq contracts it got without any competitive tendering. When I expressed to Madeleine Albright that it was incomprehensible to me as a European that Haliburton could get a contract worth over a billion dollars without a competitive tender, she replied it was incomprehensible to her as an American as well. But it is, of course, the company whose Chief Executive is now the Vice-President of the United States.

I have no brief from Moqtada Al-Sadr. For all I've read about him I do not think he and I would have much in common. But he does draw his strength from the dispossessed, poor, jobless of urban Iraq, and we make a major mistake if we imagine he is the source of the chaos and the unrest in those cities. On the contrary, he is a product of the alienation and the discontent in those back streets of the urban poor, and if we remove him they will simply find another focus for their discontent.

Effect of military action

But the third, and the most fundamental, failure of the occupation is that the US military never made the transition from waging war to keeping the peace. I think one of the problems here is that the phrase 'war on terror' is deeply unhelpful. Personally I do not believe that we beat terrorism by dropping even bigger bombs than the terrorists themselves have. We beat terrorism by isolating the terrorists, by finding common ground with the host community, by making the terrorist our joint enemy with the Islamic world, not somebody who fights us on behalf of the Islamic world.

The problem if you describe it as a war is that fighting a war makes winning more important than minimising casualties. And if you look at the code names the US military gives its operations they give the game away. If you describe an operation as 'Iron Hammer', you are conveying a pretty clear impression to the Iraqis that this is not about winning their hearts and minds. Kofi Annan had it right when he said that violent military action by an occupying power can only make the situation worse. We are told that the US action in Najaf has the full-hearted support of the Iraqi Interim Government. If I am honest, that does not reassure me: it makes me even more worried. I think Iyad Allawi's focus should be not on crushing his enemies, but more on broadening the degree of support for the Government. My worry is that while there may be many in Iraq who would welcome the defeat of Al-Sadr's militias, the same Iraqis will also be outraged by military assault by Christians on a site that they regard as holy as Christians regard the Vatican.

I do not know, and it would be presumptuous of me to offer an opinion as to whether Iyad Allawi will in the long run have a positive effect on Iraqi politics. I do know he has already had a major impact on British politics. His organisation is, after all, the source of the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction ready for firing in 45 minutes, which has done more to corrode confidence in British politics than anything done by Michael Howard. Much of the rest of our intelligence appeared to come from Ahmed Chalabi, the other Iraqi exile, who, of course, has an outstanding conviction for bank fraud in Jordan, where he nearly brought down the Jordanian banking system. And it is a great irony that we appear to have committed ourselves to military action on the basis of intelligence from somebody who would not pass a background check for a job with a used-car firm.

Reliance on intelligence

Tony's defence of intelligence is that he did not lie. I do not doubt it. The Downing Street machine is too large, too wise, too experienced to allow its Prime Minister to commit flat lie. But neither was Downing Street honest with us. The Butler Report spells out, in embarrassing frankness, just how unsubstantial was the intelligence on which we went to war. The committee recorded itself as 'struck' by the thinness of the intelligence, by its 'inferential' nature, by its second- and third-hand nature. And they were looking at the same intelligence on which the Prime Minister went to Parliament and said that it was, in his words, 'beyond doubt' that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

For four years I saw intelligence reports. Doubt and intelligence reports go hand in hand, and, to be fair, most of the time the intelligence agencies were quite frank about their doubts. After all, what you are trying to do is you are trying to guess what the other man is trying to keep secret. If you could walk into the National Library of Scotland and look up in the reference section the information you are looking for, it wouldn't be secret intelligence. Intelligence, by its very nature, can never put anything beyond doubt. And we must never again end up in a situation in which we commit British troops to military action on the sole basis of intelligence.

When the committee reported that there was no new intelligence on a threat from Saddam, when we changed our policy from containment to one of invasion, there was no evidence that anything had actually changed in Iraq. There was no intelligence that there was a greater threat from Iraq. What changed, of course, was that there had been regime change in Washington, and the return - I try in the case of the Bush administration to avoid the word 'elected', since they got fewer votes than the other guy - the return of the most reactionary administration in American history, an administration that was determined to invade Iraq long before 9/11 gave them the pretext.

The real reason Britain entered into that invasion of Iraq was because Downing Street was determined to convince the White House that Britain was its most reliable, most loyal ally. And that is why their defence of the war often appears so 'pained' - because they dare not tell us that the real reason why British troops were committed to action hung on the outcome of an election in the United States.

Relationship with Islam

We are a month away from the Labour Party conference, and Brian will already have it firmly fixed in his diary. You will remember at last year's conference Tony Blair famously told us that on Iraq in the same circumstances he would do the same again. Tony Blair constantly surprises me. He may surprise me on this as well, but I don't imagine he's going to say that again next month, if only because nobody will believe him. If he were to announce now that he's going to build on the success of our strategy in Iraq by invading Iran or Syria, or even Liechtenstein, the Labour Party would implode, Parliament would rebel, and the Chiefs of Staff would mutiny. Iraq is unique: it's a one-off. It has exhausted Tony Blair's capacity to take the nation to war against any substantial domestic resistance.

But unfortunately we are all left with the consequences of that adventure. And for cosmopolitans one of the gravest consequences is it sharpens the challenge of how we answer that question I posed at the start of this passage, which is: 'What kind of strategic relationship do we want with the world of Islam?'

We've already seen the answer to that question which the chauvinists offer, because the White House is in the hands of the chauvinists at the present time. They have sought, through Iraq, to resolve tensions with the world of Islam by imposing their own values on it, which is a doomed project. There is no more prospect of succeeding in turning Iraq into the culture and values of Texas, however desirable that may be, than there would be of a project to turn Texas into the culture and values of Tuscany - however much more valuable that might actually be!

Those of us who are cosmopolitans must fashion a different, alternative answer - one that stresses co-operation over prosperity and security, respect for our different great cultures, tolerances for our differences. Yes, there are specific policy prescriptions we should follow. I put top of the agenda giving priority to bringing peace to the Middle East, which I still think should have been a much higher priority than bringing war to Iraq. I'd also put high on that agenda providing the development that supplies opportunities and jobs to the young people of the Islamic world, so that they have another way of achieving dignity, self-respect, identity, than the bogus identity and self-respect they can get from fundamentalism. I also think it might be valuable if we were to reform the Security Council so that there was one permanent member who came from the Islamic world.

Change of attitude needed

But more fundamental than any of these policy prescriptions is, I believe, we need a change of attitude. Living successfully with globalisation means not feeling threatened by people who are different. As the Koran said: 'We made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other, not that you may despise each other.' We need to find what the Arabs describe in the word 'mustaraq' - 'common ground'. We perhaps should remind ourselves how much we owe to Arab culture. After all, the success of the West is built on the computer. The computer is only possible because of Arabic numerals. Not even Bill Gates has ever imagined building a computer working with Roman numerals.

It's a savage irony that over the last two millennia the three great Abrahamic religions of the Book - Islam, Christianity, Judaism - have spent so much of history in confrontation, despite the enormous strong correspondences between them. Perhaps we could afford that hostility and differences 1,000 years - 200 years - ago. In a world so intimately interconnected as at present, we cannot afford the disruption of those ancient hostilities. In a world in which technology has created weapons of awesome power, we cannot risk the conflict that comes with that hostility.

That's why the greatest imperative of the 21st century is whether we can replace the hostility and distrust between the West and Islam with a relationship of partnership and respect. Whether we can do so will depend on whether the cosmopolitans get the upper hand in domestic politics in both the United States and Britain. Am I optimistic that we will? Well, I cannot do better than quote Jean Monet, the father of the European Project, who was asked in his later life if he was optimistic or pessimistic about the prospects for the future of Europe, and replied: 'Neither. I am determined.'

I could not give a better answer to a question which I believe will be at the heart of whether or not we have security and peace in this century.



Recording of the 2004 lecture   |   NLS Donald Dewar Lectures page

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