Leonardo Baldwin July 2017

Harriett Baldwin MP

Minister for Defence Procurement

Ministry of Defence,





Wednesday, 16 November 2016




Thank you for finding time to meet with me yesterday to discuss the situation in Yeovil, following the GKN redundancies.


I was glad to hear of your work abroad to sell the AW159 Wildcat helicopter and to know that you believe this aircraft has wide market appeal in other countries.


But I am sure you will agree with me that it is vital that the benefit of the work and skill enhancement of these sales, if they are achieved, should benefit, not just Leonardo, but the Yeovil site and its workforce. You know my concerns on this matter, which I repeated to you in detail during our meeting. It seems to me that there is nothing in the Government’s Strategic Partnership Agreement with Leonardo which would in itself prevent Leonardo from effectively siphoning off technology assets and skills from Yeovil to Italy, while transferring Italian costs to the Yeovil site. I am, I should stress, NOT saying this is happening – only that the terms of the agreement as it stands means that it could happen – with very grave consequences for the Yeovil site as a whole. I accept, of course that any such “siphoning” strategy would be contrary to the spirit of the Strategic Agreement. But unhappily it is not, it appears, contrary to its letter. I asked you for an undertaking that the Government would keep a close oversight on the conduct of the Strategic Partnership in order to ensure that the Yeovil site is not disadvantaged. I hope you will be able to provide this in your response to this letter.


I also pressed you, as I have in my letters to the Secretary of State, for a clear undertaking that the forthcoming Government Green Paper on the national industrial strategy, due to appear you said before the end of the year, would include a clear statement that the Government regards Britain’s stand-alone ability to design, manufacture and assemble helicopters as an essential part of our national aero-space industrial base which should be preserved. I was, I confess, surprised to learn that, even at this late stage you were unable to provide this assurance, on the grounds that the Green Paper is being drafted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. But surely it cannot be the case that, as Minister for Defence Procurement whose decisions have a profound impact on the country’s aero-space industry, that you have not had – and do not intend to seek – input into the Green Paper? I hope you will be able to re-assure me on this matter. If it were to be the case that there was no such statement in the Green Paper, then people would be bound to conclude that this Government, unlike its predecessors, was not fully committed to maintaining the full range of skills, integrated assembly and technology, which only the Yeovil can provide for the nation.


Finally, there is the matter of the GKN tooling for the AW 159 Wildcat work currently being carried out in Yeovil. This tooling is, as you know, essential for the production of the AW159. I pointed out to you the fact that the MoD owns this tooling gives the Government very substantial leverage over what happens next. It is open to the MoD, as owners of this tooling, to insist that it will not be shipped abroad, but maintained on the Yeovil site. This will, of course ensure that much the work involved will stay in Yeovil, rather than being allowed to leach away elsewhere, along with the technology and skills involved, We both agreed that the Government’s intention is to ensure that the Leonardo relationship should enable “the Yeovil group to continue to be a centre for the design and development of the AW159 and other aircraft”. I cannot see how this commitment could be fulfilled if the Government fails to use its ownership of the 159 tooling to ensure that the lost GKN work stays on the Yeovil site, instead of being shipped abroad, along with the jobs involved. I hope that you will be able to give me this undertaking in the near future.


Thank you again for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.








Paddy Ashdown

Packaging – The Sunday Mirror

How HAVE the packaging industry got away with it?


We are all commanded to reduce land fill disposal – yet more than half of the rubbish I put out for this collectors next week was Christmas packaging for the local dump.


We are all instructed that we must recycle all we can. Yet all the packaging I am ditching is unrecyclable, non biodegradable plastic which gives off deadly toxic fumes if you burn it.


We are all told to reduce our dependence on hydro carbons. Yet all of this is made from invaluable petrochemical feedstock.


And by the way it is dangerous, too. . I cut myself to the quick on Christmas day opening the plastic packaging round my granddaughter’s present, which was so thick, I had to use the garden shears to open it. Where are our Health and Safety busybodies when we need them? Why were they not involved in this mortal threat to my fingers, when they are in so much else ?


Answers on a post card to next week’s Sunday Mirror please.

Remembering Richard Holbrook-m The Times 14 December 2012

The Times

Richard Holbrook

14 December


When the news of the death of Talleyrand’s old sparring partner, Prince Metternich, arrived in Paris in XXX XXX, he is said, famously to have asked “Now what can the old fox mean by that?”


The question which will be being asked after the death of one of our own age’s most significant diplomat, Richard Holbrook yesterday, will be “What an earth do we do now”


He was a very big man and not without flaws as diplomat. He had huge and at times even intimidating physical presence which he would often use, quite deliberately to bully others into acquiescence. If you were going to win Richard’s respect you had to show him you could stand up to him. Then he was a most wonderful ally and a most intelligent friend. A fellow diplomat once said to me about his iconic work to bring peace to the Bosnian wars “When Richard was about the sound of breaking bones was not far away”. It worked well in the Balkans – arguably less well in Afghanistan. I remember once having Richard and the recent French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner to dinner at my house in Sarajevo. Both were out of Government at the time and both clearly positioning themselves for a return after the coming election in their country. I asked them both to speculate on what the world might be like of Richard fulfilled his lifetime’s ambition of becoming US Secretary of State, and Bernard his, of becoming President of France. A furious and fascinating pyrotechnic display followed from both sides – though I remember concluding afterwards that it would be a world in which I would take some pains to ensure I was never far from my tin hat.


Richard Holbrook was above all a magnificent public servant for his country, from his very earliest days as a young Foreign Service officer in the Mekong Delta, through his life times triumph at the Dayton Peace Agreement, to serving, often uncomfortably I thought, under Hilary Clinton and President Obama in Afghanistan.


His greatest gifts were his clarity of mind, his sense of grand strategy and his ability to deploy power. I remember him telling me how he had fed false US intelligence to the Bosniaks about the strength of the Serbs at the end of the Bosnian war in order to bring the conflict to an end and create the conditions for peace. Subtlety was not in his armoury. But then, his heyday was during the years when America’s raw power was its most potent diplomatic attribute. This Richard used with huge skill and complete focus. He was a mover of pieces on the chess board when the world was mono-polar and all our compass needles, for or against, pointed at Washington. Palmerston would have understood very well where Richard Holbrook came from.


Richard was the ideal US diplomat when the US proposed and disposed in every corner of the world. Perhaps he found coping with the US’s new position in a multi-polar world, less congenial and less suitable to his skills. He seemed somehow like a great beast confined, in his recent role in Afghanistan, where he had all the right ideas (seeing more clearly and earlier than most the fact that a military solution was not possible and that therefore the military’s job was not to destroy the enemy, but create the conditions for a political peace) but was constantly hampered both by inter-Washington jealousies and by lack of the direct ability to influence things at the top in the way which he was used to.


Bosnia’s peace will be his greatest legacy. His legacy in Afghanistan is not without its critics – especially from those amongst the Afghans who found his forceful ways an assault on their sensitivities and those in the wider world for whom diplomacy in this part of the world is a matter of subtlety and manoeuvre not might. But he was correct about what needed to be done and right where others were wrong. Now everyone understands that a political peace, not a military victory, is the way out. If they had understood that earlier, things would be better.


When in due course the Afghan peace is assembled, based on reconciliation with the Taliban and a wider involvement of the neighbours, it will be the kind of peace Richard worked for.


America has lost a great public servant, albeit one more suited, perhaps to a different age. Those who knew him well, have lost a wonderful, congenial, loyal and intensely engaging friend. And I an age too full of smaller figures, we have all lost a really big one.



Public Servant Article April 2012

Public Servant article


Over the past few months, the nature of the new security challenges we face has been clearly highlighted by the rapid global spread of the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ pandemic. Experts have warned that several million people across the UK may be affected by the virus, with some scientists predicting that in a worst case scenario, as many as 1 in 200 people who contract the disease may go on to die. The ripple effects of an epidemic of this magnitude would be considerable: beyond the serious costs in terms of human life, large numbers of schools would be forced to close, and severe pressure would be put on hospitals, local GP surgeries, transport networks and other vital public services.


It is important to keep this threat in perspective. Concerted action on the part of government, the emergency services and the NHS has meant that the UK is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than ever before, and there are sophisticated contingency plans in place to cope with the social and economic disruption that would result. But questions remain about how well equipped we are to deliver on these plans at all levels, from the international right down to the local.


This speaks to a wider problem with the government’s current approach to national security, which has not adapted quickly enough to keep up with the profound changes in the international security landscape that have taken place since the end of the Cold War. In a world where climate change poses arguably a greater threat to our long-term security than terrorism or war, the protection of our country can no longer be left solely in the hands of the Ministry of Defence. It now requires all government departments to coordinate their activities much more effectively, and to move away from the stovepiped structures that inhibit the development of an integrated and strategic approach.


It also requires a fundamental change in the way that we think about national security. Henceforth, policymaking must encompass global, regional, national and local domains and better understand the roles that civil society, business, local communities, frontline professionals and citizens can play in delivering a secure United Kingdom. Our capacity to network UK government effort across these levels of action and with this wider range of actors will be crucial in meeting the complex challenges ahead.


At the end of June, the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) published Shared Responsibilities: A National Security Strategy for the UK, the final report of its two-year independent, all-party Commission on National Security in the 21st Century. Lying at the heart of this report is the conviction that for a positive influence to be exerted over the modern security environment, action must be distributed, coordinated and legitimate. Distributed in the sense that many different actors need to be involved in addressing the security challenges we face; coordinated in that they need to be made to pull in the same direction towards the same ends; and legitimate in that they need to be, and be seen to be, both legal and ethical.


This analysis has significant implications in terms of the government’s relationship with public service providers, for we would argue that to build a distributed response internally in the UK, and to deal particularly with challenges related to resilience, counter-radicalisation and counter-terrorism at home, central government must do more to share knowledge, power and resources with local government and the communities it serves.


For example, in the context of our national response to emergencies such as pandemic disease or extreme weather events, the Commission calls on both central and local government authorities to enhance and coordinate their efforts to assist communities in understanding risk-oriented decision-making processes and outcomes and enable them to access funding to build community level schemes, local networks and capacity to contribute to resilience on the ground. We would also encourage Local and Regional Resilience Forums to review how they might benefit from further third sector involvement, what relevant training they could facilitate for interested individuals and voluntary and community sector organisations, and how they could more widely consult on and disseminate their emergency plans.


Turning to the critical roles played by local government and community-level organisations in the national counter-terrorism effort, the Commission also believes that more should be done to push power and responsibility for preventive action down and out to these actors, which would involve moving from a ‘need to know’ approach to a ‘responsibility to provide’ mentality. In practical terms, this would mean sharing more sanitised information and intelligence products with Local Authority Chief Executives, Council Leaders and Police Borough Commanders regarding perceived vulnerabilities to radicalisation in their respective areas.


We also recommend that good practice on the prevention of terrorism nationally should be shared more widely: it is currently concentrated in only a small number of Local Authorities, usually those that have experienced terrorist or counter-terrorist activity directly, and the lessons learned need to be applied across the board.


A more broadly-based, joined up and inclusive national security strategy is needed. Public servants and the public they serve have key roles to play in its design and delivery.















“What will the world look like in the Obama era?” Private Banking Magazine 6 Nov 2009


“What will the world look like in the Obama era?”


Article for Private Banking Magazine

6 Nov 20-09


Three factors make the years ahead completely different from those of the last century and will force us to think in a completely different way about the world around us and what we have to do to prosper in it.

The first of these factors is not unique. But it is not going to be any more comfortable for that.

We are on the edge of one of those periods of history when the pattern of world power changes and a new order begins to emerge. And these are, almost always difficult times for the weak, tough for those whose power is waning and usually turbulent for almost everyone.

This economic recession is not like any other we have recently experienced. We will not, this time plummet down and then bounce back comfortably to where we were, before it all started. This is about something much deeper. Underneath the tectonic plates of global power are shifting. And when it is over we in the Western nations will, relatively speaking, be weaker and those in the Eastern nations, especially China will be stronger.

I am not saying that the rise of nations like China will be smooth or comfortable for them either. Beijing is trying to do something very difficult and, in a Chinese context, very dangerous, too. Their economy may be largely liberalised. But their society is not. And my guess is as they begin to loose the bonds of their old communist structures in favour of a freer society, as they must, there will be considerable turbulence in China too.

But, though this may alter the time scale and manner of China’s rise, it will not, I think, change the basic fact that great power status is her ultimate destination.

Nor do I agree with some of my more left wing friends who tell me that we are seeing the end of American power in the world.

The symptoms of decline in nations, as in humans are scleroticism, institutional arthritis and resistance to change. And the United States shows none of these – as the still remarkable election of Barrack Obama very clearly shows. I do not think that we have seen the end of the American century yet.

But, though the United State’s position as the world’s pre-eminent power, is not likely to change soon, the CONTEXT in which she holds that position is now certain to.

We are no longer looking at a world dominated by single super power. The growth of new power centres means the emergence of a much more multi polar world – one which will look much more like Europe in the nineteenth century than what we have seen over the second half of the twentieth.

And this will have a number of important consequences.

One will be a rise in regional groupings – of which history may say the EU was the first albeit highly imperfect, example.

Second and linked will be an increase in protectionism and probably a reversal of the movement towards free trade of the last half century – with all the implications that carries for a destructive period of beggar my neighbour economic policies.

The third implication of this new pattern of world power, is for us in Europe.

In such a multi sided world the eyes of the US are likely to be just as much, west across the Pacific as east across the Atlantic. The Atlantic relationship will not have the unique importance as a lynch pin for all other policies, as it has had over the last half century. The US security guarantee, under which we in Europe have sheltered since World War Two and which has given many the opportunity to take a free ride on Uncle Sam for their national security, no longer exists. There is hardly an American soldier left in Europe, beyond those whose purpose is not our protection, but the servicing of their operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

My guess is that Europe will be less important to every future US president, including Barrack Hussein Obama, than we have been to every past one, including George W Bush.

In future we are likely to be judged by Washington, not on the basis of emotion and history, but on a rather more brutal appraisal of what we can deliver when it comes to pursuing our joint interests – and here the answer is not much, if Afghanistan is anything to go by.

The United States is increasingly going to have interests in the world which do not always coincide with those of Europe. And Europe is going to have interests which do not always coincide with those of Washington. For Europeans this will mean having a rather more sophisticated foreign policy in the future, than simply hanging onto the apron strings of our friendly neighbourhood super power, as we have in the past.

And things are more threatening for us elsewhere, too. We now have an increasingly assertive Russia, prepared to use the lever of energy, skilful at dividing and ruling, asserting the old Brezhnev doctrine of spheres of interest and backing it with military force when the opportunity arises. And beyond that we have a rising China and increasing economic power in the East.

If we Europeans do not realise that the right reaction to these new circumstances, is to deepen the integration of our institutions, especially those of defence, foreign affairs and economic policy, then we are fools and the next few decades are going to be much more painful than they need to be.

The last and arguably most important consequence of this new shape to world power is this; we are reaching the beginning of the end of perhaps six centuries of the domination of Western power, Western institutions and Western values, over world affairs. If we want to get things done, such as re-designing the world economic order, or intervening for peace, we cannot any longer just do them within the cosy Atlantic club; we are going to have to find new allies in places we would never previously have thought of. And they will probably prove less congenial and more demanding than we find it comfortable to cope with.

Iraq and Afghanistan may well be the last interventions we attempt depending on Western power alone. In future, if we cannot find wider partners for these affairs we will probably not be able to do them.

The global financial crisis has made it very plain. If we want a more ordered world at a time of great instability, we are going to have to provide a space at the top tables for nations that do not share our culture, our history, our world view or even, in many cases, our values.

This is going to be uncomfortable, even painful.

We are going to have to accept deals we would have hitherto have found completely unpalatable.

I suspect it will not be long before we look back at the deal we spurned when the Dohar trade talks failed, with the chagrin that comes with the realisation that this was an opportunity lost and we are not going to get anything as good again.

The second factor which is likely to make these the times to try men’s souls, is that, we are seeing a double shift of power.

Power is now not just shifting laterally from West to East; it is shifting vertically, too. Power is now migrating out of the structures of the nation state, which we created to hold it to account and make it subject to regulation and the rule of law, and into the global space, where the instruments of regulation are few and the framework of law is weak.

There is a rule of history. Where power goes, governance must follow. And if it doesn’t chaos, conflict and turbulence are the consequences.

What makes this even more urgent – even more dangerous – is that it is not just power that has been globalised; problems have too. The truth which our politicians in Westminster refuse to acknowledge and our old institutions can find no way to cope with, is that there is now almost no problem which affects our citizens well being or our nation’s future, which can be solved within the nation state or by its institutions acting alone; not our ability to protect ourselves; not our the cleanliness of our environment; not our capacity to tackle global warming; not our health; not our jobs; not our mortgages.

All of these and more now depend, not on the actions of our governments, but on their ability to work with others within a set of institutions which are global in scope and international in character.

The problem is, as the global financial crisis has showed and the issue of global warming showed before it, we have neither the institutions nor the political leadership to do this.

If one of the key phenomena of our time is the globalisation of power, then one of the key challenges of our time is to bring governance to the global space. And I suspect that this will be achieved more through treaty based institutions, such as Kyoto, the G20 and the WTO, than through a further spawning of UN based institutions.

Meanwhile we have a third factor to cope with which is now shaping this age in a way which is different in scale from anything we have ever seen before. Our increasing global interdependence.

Of course nations have always been connected. But today’s interdependence is of a completely different order. Nations today are not just linked by trade, commerce and diplomacy, they are intimately interlocked in almost every aspect of our daily lives.

An outbreak of swine flu in Mexico affects becomes relevant to our health in Britain, mere hours later.

The collapse of Lehman brothers sets in train a domino effect across the entire global economy in days.

The revelation of 9/11, is the revelation of our time.

That, to paraphrase John Donne, every man’s conflict affecteth me.

Even if you are the most powerful nation on earth, the consequence of ignoring what is happening in a far away country of which you know little and care less, can be death and horror one bright September day in one of your most iconic of cities.

One of the primary revelations of our age is that, today everything is connected to everything.

Which means that, in the modern age, the most important part of what you can do, is what you can do with others.

The key part of modern structures is not their internal order, but their external docking points.

It is not the effectiveness of the hierarchies which matters most, but the efficiency of the interconnectors.

And if you want to see the price of failing to understand that, you need look no further than Afghanistan. Here the chief reason for the fact that we are losing, lies, not in the ineffectiveness of the Afghan Government who we love to blame, but in our own complete failure to have any co-ordinated international plan; in our inability to work together between the nations of the coalition to a single international plan enacted with unity of execution and purpose.

The age when even the most powerful can expect success if they choose to at act unilaterally, is over. In the new multi-polar world which we entering, nations will raise the chances of success in their enterprises to the extent that they can make them multilateral and raise their chances of failure, if they are unable to do this.

There are going to be difficult times ahead. But they should not be impossible one, if our leaders, in politics and in business, can learn a new way of thinking. But the question is, can they ?


1982 words

Obama visit Ashdown Sunday Times Piece (16.04.16)

Ashdown Sunday Times Piece (16.04.16)


Barack Obama is coming to Britain next week. Brexiters from Boris Johnson downwards, say he shouldn’t – or at least if he comes he shouldn’t give his views on Europe (though they are happy to quote lower rank US right-wingers giving theirs). They say to do so, is “hypocritical” and interferes in a decision that is only ours to make. They are right as far as they go. But they only tell half the story.


Ninety-nine years ago next month, the United States entered the World War I and sent its young men and women over the Atlantic to fight for our freedom. They did it again in the Second World War. And again in the Cold War which followed, when the peace of Europe depended more on Washington than on any other single capital in the world, including those on the European mainland. They made none of these sacrifices because it was in our European interests. They made them because they were in their own – or rather because their interests on that side of the Atlantic, and ours on this, coincided.


For the last century, the Atlantic relationship has been key to our peace and security. And the key to the Atlantic relationship has been its strongest strand – the partnership between the United Kingdom and the US. Together we have done more than any other two nations in the world to up-hold a peace based on the values we jointly share. Surely that entitles a US President to tell us if he believes we are about to take a step which diminishes both our influence in Washington and the strength of our partnership?


As the White House said following Boris Johnson’s intemperate criticism of our closest ally: “the US deeply values a strong ally in the UK as a part of the EU.” Ever since Kissinger and Kennedy, Washington’s policy has favoured a “twin pillar NATO” based on a strong US and a united Europe. They understand that a weakened – or worse, disintegrating – EU would give opportunities to Vladimir Putin and damage the Atlantic relationship as an instrument to pursue our joint interests in a turbulent and instable world. If that is Mr Obama’s view, then surely he is duty bound to put it?


And he is not alone. All our friends in NATO, the Commonwealth and well beyond, take the same view – and for precisely the same reasons. There is, however one person who does agree with Messrs Johnson and Farage – but he is very far from a friend. It has long been a cardinal strategic aim of Vladimir Putin’s to bring about the break-up of the EU. Some even claim that Russia secretly funds some of Europe’s anti-EU political parties. I am sure that is not happening in Britain, of course. But that does not alter the fact that, while all our friends would mourn Brexit, Vladimir Putin would cheer it. It’s what he wants us to do.


Next week will mark President Obama’s last visit to Britain while in office. Who will be our next US Presidential visitor? Though I do not predict it and pray for the opposite, we have to face the fact that by next year Donald Trump could be in the White House and American foreign policy will have taken a turn towards the incoherent, the bizarre and the dangerous all at once. This is a man who has proposed South Korea and Japan arming themselves to the teeth with nuclear weapons to deal with the threat posed by North Korea. A man who has called NATO “obsolete”. Trapped between an overbearing, senseless Trump to our West and an increasingly emboldened Putin to our East, the last thing our continent needs is to become more fractured and less secure.


These are most dangerous times for Europe – arguably more dangerous than any in my life time. To our west we have United States in the throes of a convulsive and unpredictable election; to our east, the most assertive – some would say aggressive – Russian leader of our times, prepared to use military force to deny a European democracy its chosen future; to our south-east an Arab world in flames; to our south a Maghreb in turmoil right down as far as Mali in central Africa. And all around us new economic powers emerging which are as strong or stronger than any individual European nation acting on its own.


If now, in the face of these threats, we were to abandon our European solidarity in favour of a lonely isolation which rejects the advice of our allies, then the difficult decades ahead of us, will be much, much more difficult and dangerous, not just for all of us in Britain, but also for all of Britain’s friends around the world.


802 words



The age of global interdependence The New Statesman October 2013

The age of global interdependence

In a world where everything and everyone is connected, nations and their governments must learn the power of the network

We are on the edge of one of those periods in history when the pattern of world power changes; when the established order shifts, and a new order begins to emerge. These are almost always difficult times for the weak, tough for those whose power is waning, and usually bloody for almost everyone.

This economic recession is not like any other we have recently experienced. We will not plummet down and bounce back comfortably to where we were before. This is about something deeper. The tectonic plates of global power are shifting, and when it is over we in the West will, relatively speaking, be weaker and those in the East will be stronger.

The last time we saw a shift of power on this scale was when leadership of the world passed from the old powers of Europe to the emerging power of the United States. And we all remember the convulsions which followed that collapse of empires and the emergence of a new order.

Some propose China’s ascent will follow a straight line, but I do not believe that. China’s ascent to great power status – and great power is her most likely destination – will not be smooth. Their economy may be largely liberalised, but unlike India, their society is not. My guess is as they begin to lose their old communist structures in favour of a freer society, there will be considerable turbulence. Chinese history is littered with instances when the nation, as disparate and ethnically diverse as Europe, stood at the edge of greatness and then descended into dissolution and chaos.

Nor do I agree with friends who tell me, often with ill disguised glee, that the United States has passed the zenith of its glory. The symptoms of decline in nations are scleroticism, institutional arthritis and resistance to change. And the United States shows none of these – as the still remarkable election of Barack Obama clearly shows.

But though the United State’s position as the world’s pre-eminent power is unlikely to change soon, the context in which she holds that position is certain to. We are no longer looking at a world dominated by a single superpower. The growth of new power centres means the emergence of a multi-polar world; one which will look more like the nineteenth century balance that great British Foreign Secretary George Canning used to call “The Concert of Europe”.

This will have a number of important consequences.

The Atlantic relationship will remain key on the both European and American side. But it will not serve as a lynchpin for all other policies, as it has over the last half century. The United States will have interests which do not always coincide with those of Europe, and vice versa. For Europe, this will mean a more subtle and sophisticated foreign policy, not simply hanging onto the apron strings of our friendly neighbourhood superpower. And for both, it means developing a more mature relationship, in which we can disagree without shouting betrayal.

Arguably the important consequence of this new shape will be this: we are reaching the beginning of the end of six centuries of the domination of Western power, Western institutions and Western values over world affairs. We are already discovering that, if we want to get things done – redesigning the world economic order, intervening for peace – we can no longer do them within the cosy Atlantic club. We will have to find new allies in places we would never previously have looked.

Power is not just shifting laterally from West to East; it is shifting vertically, too. It is migrating out of the structure of nation states and into the global space, where the instruments of regulation are few and the framework of law is weak.

Look at the institutions having difficulties at the moment – national governments, political structures, the old establishments. Note that nearly all depend on the nation state; their range of action confined within borders. Now look at those institutions growing in power and reach: the internet; the satellite broadcasters; the trans-national corporations; the international money changers and speculators; international crime and terrorism. Note that all operate oblivious of national borders and largely beyond the reach of national regulation and the law.

Not only power but problems, too, have been globalised. The uncomfortable truth – which Westminster refuse to acknowledge, and our old institutions find no way to cope with – is that almost no problem can be solved within the nation state or by its institutions alone. Not our ability to protect ourselves; not the cleanliness of our environment; not our health; not our jobs; not our mortgages. These and more now depend not on the actions of our governments, but on their ability to work with others in a set of institutions which are global in scope and international in character – of which history may say the EU was the first, albeit highly imperfect example.

Another factor is shaping our age in a way different in scale from anything before, and this is our increasing global interdependence.

Of course, what happens in one nation has always been of interest to its neighbours and allies – that’s why one of the oldest government functions is diplomacy. But today’s interdependence is of a completely different order. Nations today are not just linked by trade, commerce and diplomacy, they are intimately interlocked in almost every aspect of daily life.

What happens in one can have a profound, direct and immediate consequence on another. An outbreak of swine flu, the collapse of Lehman brothers, the revelations of 9/11 – these can set in train a domino effect across the entire globe in a matter of moment.

Everything is connected to everything, and this interconnectedness applies not just to external relations; it applies to internal organisation, too. But the problem is that our governments are not structured to do things in an interlocking way. They are made up of vertical stove pipes, steeped in a stove piped culture and are run, in the main, by people with stove piped minds.

Our present government took its form – as did every advanced Western democracy – in the nineteenth century. It followed the fashionable structures of the Industrial Revolution and the era of mass production: strong command chains; vertical hierarchies; specialisation of tasks. This was right and appropriate, for it suited the age.

But it does not suit our age. For this is the age of post industrial structures, of flat hierarchies; of networks dedicated to bringing disparate inputs together at a single focal point.

Government structure and culture remain resolutely stuck in the past. Ministers and Senior Civil Servants are judged on how well they hold the territorial integrity of their department, preserve its budget and defend its payroll. Networking with other departments is regarded as a threat, not an opportunity. The screaming of gears heard in Whitehall is the sound of institutions knowing that they ought to network, but finding it impossible to do so.

Time now to unveil my third law for the modern age: The most important part of what you can do, is what you can do with others.

It is an institutions’ ability not to do, but to network, which matters most. If you want to see the price of failing to understand that, you need look no further than Afghanistan. The chief reason for failure lies not in the ineffectiveness of the Afghan government, who we love to blame, but in our failure to have a co-ordinated international plan: our inability to work between nations, our determination to look solely through the prism of national, rather than international action and our refusal to speak and act with a single purpose. The real scandal of Afghanistan was that our soldiers paid with their lives because our politicians could not or would not get their act together.

It does not matter if you are an army unit, or an NGO, or an aid deliverer like DfID, or a Ministry like the Foreign Office – the most important part of what you can do is not what you can do by yourself, but what you can do with others.

And because everything is connected to everything, another revelation of our age is this: we increasingly share a destiny with our enemy. This concept is not new of course, for it has always been the proposition of poets and saints and visionaries that we should learn to live together. The great John Donne poem No man is an island says it all: “every man’s death affecteth me, for I am involved in mankind. Send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”.

[William E.] Gladstone said it too in 1879, when Lord Roberts invaded Afghanistan, in his second Midlothian campaign:

“Do not forget that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan amongst the winter snows, is no less inviolate in the eye of Almighty God as can be your own. Do not forget that he who made you brothers in the same flesh and blood, bound you by the laws of mutual love. And that love is not limited to the shores of this island, but it crosses the whole surface of the earth, encompassing the greatest along with the meanest in its unmeasured scope”

But here is the difference between their age and ours. For Donne and for Gladstone, these were recommendations of morality. For us they are part of the equation for our success and maybe even our survival.







Mrs Thatcher 8 April 2013

Mrs Thatcher


“There is nothing I have done in my life which frightened me so much as standing up in the House of Commons as a wet behind the ears new Liberal Leader and being ritually hand bagged by her in front of the radio microphones of the nation (TV in the Commons did not arrive until later). I opposed almost everything she did (but found myself following many of them when I tried to get the Bosnian economy going by lowering taxes and freeing up the market). Though there will be many who saw her as the author of much destruction that we still mourn, much that she pulled down, needed to be pulled down. She was better as destroyer of old tired institutions and lazy ways of thinking than she was as the builder of new ones; better at defining divisions than building cohesion. But, probably that’s what Britain needed then. Had we on the left had not grown so lazy about our addictions to the easy ways of state corporatism, she would perhaps have been less successful at so cruelly exposing their hollowness. The pre-eminent attribute in politics is courage; the moral courage to hold to the things you believe in. And this, like her or loathe her, she had in abundance. Personally charming to all except those in her Cabinet; fearless when taking on her enemies, even to the extent of making up some of her own; utterly implacable in her patriotism, albeit of a kind which didn’t always serve the country’s long term interests. She won great victories for what she stood for at home and huge respect for our country abroad. If politics is the ability to have views, hold to them and drive them through to success, she was undoubtedly the greatest Prime Minister of our age, and maybe even the greatest politician.”

Iraq – Observer 17 Feb 2007

Whatever your view on invading Iraq, as we move into the end game, there is one thing we can all agree on. Building the postwar peace has been a catastrophe. This is going to sharply influence what the world might look like post-Iraq. Western leaders are now going to be less enthusiastic, their domestic populations less supportive and the wider international community less biddable in providing legitimacy for such enterprises in future.
That may be a good thing if it leads to a renewed understanding of the importance of multilateralism in these affairs. But it would be a tragedy if the response to failure in Iraq were to be not ‘How do we do it better?’ but ‘We must never do it again’.
We live in dangerous times as the world moves deeper into the era of globalisation, scarce resources, global warming and massive shifts in the tectonic plates of power. The revelation of 9/11 still applies: our peace depends on the extent that we are willing and able to work together to prevent conflict or recreate stability in other parts of the world.
Some say that ‘little’ brush-fire wars – there are 74 in progress around the world – are the only wars there will be in future – and that the age of great wars has passed. I am not one of them. There is too much tinder lying around and far too many firebrands. Competition between states, especially in the developing world, is not diminishing it is increasing. And the best structures for fighting wars, the most powerful ideologies for driving wars and the most destructive weapons for using in wars, remain in the hands of nation states.
Since the end of the Cold War, the UN has, on average, intervened in the domestic jurisdiction of one of its members every six months, and six of the last nine of these interventions have been in Muslim countries. What’s more, around 65 per cent of them have been successful in preventing a return to conflict. Overall, the world is safer because we have been prepared to intervene. It will be much more dangerous if we stop doing so. Our failure to intervene in Darfur has only resulted in spreading the conflict, first to Chad, with other nations to follow if we cannot stop it.
The Iraq experience represents the triumph of hubris, nemesis and, above all, amnesia over common sense. We have abandoned experience in favour of a kind of 19th- century ‘gunboat’ diplomacy approach to peace making. And it isn’t working. Getting intervention right is not rocket science and it’s not new. Spend at least as much time and effort planning the peace as preparing for the war that precedes it. Base plans on a proper knowledge of the country. Leave ideologies and prejudices at home. Do not try to fashion someone else’s country in your own image. Leave space for its people to reconstruct the country they want, not the one you want for them.
Don’t lose the ‘golden hour’ after the fighting is over. Dominate security from the start; then concentrate on the rule of law. Make economic regeneration a priority. Understand the importance to the international community effort of co-ordination, cohesion and speaking with one voice. And do not wait until everything is as it would be in our country. Leave when the peace is sustainable.
At present, we intervene as though democracy was our big idea. It is not. We are not even particularly good at it ourselves. Good governance is our big idea; the rule of law is our big idea; open systems and the market- based economy – these are our big ideas. A stable democracy, fashioned to the conditions and the cultures of the country concerned, is what comes afterwards. It is the product of good governance, not its precursor.
Above all, we must remember that we cannot reconstruct states at the point of a bayonet – only with the support of the people. So winning their support for what we are doing is absolutely crucial. Without that, we will fail, as we see in Basra and Baghdad.
What has made the insurgency in Iraq so dangerous for the future is that our enemy understands better than we do that this is not just about winning the battle of armies, it is also about winning the battle of ideas. But this too is not new. The strength of al-Qaeda and its sister organisations lies, just as that of the IRA lay before it, in their potency as a concept, not just in their military capacity. They understand that warfare is carried out not only in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, but in the hearts and minds of the Islamic community. They understand this and are waiting for us in countries like Sudan, where we might intervene in the future.
For them the battle is not just with the West, but also for control of Islam. I suspect most ordinary Muslims no more want to see their great civilising religion captured by the forces of fanaticism than we, in the past, wanted our religious fanatics to take over Christianity. Yet Western leaders persist in their language and actions to portray this as a great struggle for ‘our Western values’, in language which mirrors and strengthens our enemies’ concept of a global jihad.
This is both stupid and historically illiterate. It was Islam and the Arab universities, especially in Baghdad, which absorbed into Islam the Hellenic thought we regard as the foundation of ‘European values’ and preserved its crucial texts for Europe to rediscover at the start of the Renaissance, while Europe was still sunk in the barbarism of the Dark Ages.
And so we have chosen the wrong mindset to defeat al-Qaeda. We have chosen to fight an idea primarily with force. We seek to control territory; it seeks to capture minds. This is, at heart, a battle of ideas and values. Unless we realise that and can win on that agenda, no amount of force can deliver victory.

e are not winning. In those regions of the world where this struggle is fiercest, civilisation is losing and medievalism is winning. We have to reverse that if we are to give ourselves a better chance of building peace in future.
So to be successful, we will need  more than the right structures, good intentions and a warm desire to do something to help. International intervention is a very blunt instrument, whose outcomes are not always predictable. It is not for the fainthearted – or the easily bored.
It needs steely toughness and strategic patience in equal measure. And strategic patience needs strategic vision – and we seem to lack that, too . It also requires a willingness to commit a lot of troops at the start, a capacity to provide sustained international support to the end and an ability to endure a time frame that is measured in decades, not years.
The only reward for success is that all the expenditure and all that pain will be less than the cost of the war that was avoided, or the price of the chaos which would have ensued if the international community had stayed at home. Leaving early, or doing it badly, may end up making things worse – and nearly always means having to return and do it again.
Intervention should not be undertaken lightly or because something must be done and no one can think of anything better. It is important to remember the effect on the interveners, as well as on those subject to the intervention; intervening has a tendency to make the former arrogant and the latter, either angry or dependent – and often both.
The bad news is that, as Iraq shows, intervention is expensive, tough and difficult. The good news is that if we can learn to do it better, we will get our fingers burnt less and, in the process, may make the world a much safer and less painful place than it is now.

Paddy Ashdown, European Union special representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 until 2006, will expand on this subject at the International Institute for Strategic Studies on Wednesday. His latest book, Swords and Ploughshares – Building Peace in the 21st Century, will be published by Orion