Hurd: Danger Rising in Asia

Former British Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, is not happy with the present British foreign policy, particularly in reference to Iraq, and feels it has been badly mishandled from the outset. Hurd also warns of a looming danger in South and Central Asia

Hurd: Danger Rising in Asia

Hurd, a seasoned diplomat who served under Conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, retired as Foreign Secretary in July 1995, after a distinguished career in government spanning sixteen years. The highly eloquent former diplomat spoke at a reception at the European Research Institute, in Birmingham Monday night on the range of issues affecting the world today. 


ON IRAQ WAR: He described the UK's relationship with the United States as important but uneven. Calling Britain a junior partner to Washington he lambasted the Blair governments decision to go to war on Iraq in absence of a proper mandate from the international community. 
"No one can be satisfied with how we handled the Iraq question. We Europeans made a hash of it, I think - all of us," he said. 
"It is a fact, that the some major countries of Europe like Britain, France, Italy are governed by leaders who are on their way out. Germany has already got a new chancellor. It is likely that none of the other three will be here in two years time. For some this is a disastrous change, but for some this is a rather good idea," he said. 
On relations with the United States, Douglas Hurd said, there was a need for a valid partnership between Europe and the United States. But to achieve this partnership, he said that Britain would have to move away from its present 'subservience to the United States, and France from its unreal pretensions to rivalry'. 

EUROPEAN UNION: A strong votary of the European Union, Hurd touched on subjects of terrorism and climate change, though he described both as modern examples and stressed on the need for a strong and imaginative European Union to tackle such issues. "In future I hope that our peoples will judge the European Union not on the number of its legal instruments or the scope of its rhetoric, but on the imaginative success with which it deals with the challenges of the real world," he said. 


ON IRAN: He was critical of the delay in Turkey's inclusion in the EU but he defended the Western concern on the alleged nuclear programme of Iran. He said: "Though it is hard to explain why Iran, surrounded by several nuclear states, should be denied what Tehran thinks is its right, but since an uncompromising regime is in power there, which advocates destruction of Israel, it can not be trusted." 
He, nevertheless, laid emphasis on dialogue to end the potential crisis. 


ON PALESTINE: Hurd supported the creation of an independent Palestinian state and stressed on the need for a more accommodative approach from all sides. "Settlers who live in Palestinian areas have to be loyal citizens of an independent Palestine as do the Palestinian Arabs in Israel or else they should vacate the occupied areas," he said. 


ON NUCLEAR THREAT: Hurd, who is a member of the House of Lords, said Europe was safer than ever before from the dangers of any major conflict as the threat of nuclear exchange has been almost eliminated. 'Thankfully our children and grand children can now live peacefully' he remarked. 


KASHMIR ISSUE: Hurd, who currently holds the chair at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolutions, London (CEDR) expressed hope that the outcome of recent Indo-Pakistan engagement for dispute resolutions would bear fruit. 
He told Kashmir Observer that in his view both India and Pakistan have come a long way and attained a mature status whereby they can minimize the chances of conflict. 


ARC OF DANGER: However talking in the broader context, Hurd observed that an 'arc of danger' was emerging along China right the way down to the other end of Central Asia. 
He fears more dangerous times ahead with possibility of greater conflict breaking out there. "The conflict over energy resources like gas reserves, water and other issues will take precedence in the next decade or so.The threat is real with dangerous consequences," he said. 
When the Kashmir Observer remarked that his comments could cause alarm among the people of the region, and asked him what the British government in the capacity of an important member of the commonwealth and a key American ally was doing or should have done to avert such a scenario from emerging, he evaded a direct answer but said that "Such crises will require greater partnership - between EU and US for that matter," he said. 


THE DIPLOMAT: Contrary to the claim that a diplomat is paid to lie for his country, Douglas Hurd contends that from Machiavelli to Metternich, from Sir Edward Grey to Boutros-Boutros Ghali, a top diplomat's main function is the genuine search for peace. His chronological narrative of the international affairs of the 20th century focuses on the lead-up to World War I, the peace of 1919 and its failure, the build-up to the 1939-45 war, the post-war settlement, to Suez, the United Nations and the Congo, Kissinger and Vietnam, and the war in Bosnia. 
His varied pursuits include writing, walking and reading. His latest books are THE SEARCH FOR PEACE (with the 1997 BBC TV series), a novel THE SHAPE OF ICE, TEN MINUTES TO TURN THE DEVIL (a collection of short stories, 1999) and a political thriller IMAGE IN THE WATER (2001). His memoirs were published in October 2003. 

 

Source:

http://www.kashmirobserver.com/more1g.htm
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