New Challenges, New Opportunities in British Foreign Policy with Dr. Kim Howells speaking at the World Affairs Council of Northern California.
Dr. Kim Howells, Minister of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, will join the Council to discuss the British Government's policies regarding terrorism, immigration, Iraq and nuclear non-proliferation.
Howells was appointed Minister of State in May 2005 and is responsible for the Middle East, Afghanistan and South Asia, Counter Narcotics, Counter Proliferation, Counter Terrorism, UN and UN Reform. Dr. Howells was previously Minister of State at the Department for Education and Skills. He has also held Ministerial posts at the Department for Transport, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Trade and Industry. Dr. Howells is the first British minister to visit the west coast of the United States since the government of Gordon Brown took office in June 2007- World Affairs Council of Northern California
Dr. Kim Howells
Dr Kim Howells was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in May 2005.
His responsibilities include: Middle East (including Iraq and Iran), Counter Terrorism, Counter Proliferation, South America and North America, Drugs and International Crime, UK Visas, Migration Policy, Leads on Afghanistan/Sub-Continent in Commons.
He was previously Minister of State at the Department for Education and Skills. He has also held Ministerial posts at the Department for Transport, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Trade and Industry.
Dr. Kim Howells, Minister of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom joins theCouncil this evening to discuss the British Government's policies regarding terrorism, immigration,Iraq and nuclear nonproliferation. He was appointed Minister of State in May 2005 and he isresponsible for the Middle East, Afghanistan and South Asia, counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation,counter-terrorism, UN and UN reform. Have I got that right, doctor? Close?More or less, okay, thank you. Dr. Howells was previously Minister of State of Department forEducation and Skills. He has also held ministerial post at the Department for Transport, the Departmentfor Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Trade and Industry. We are delighted to have Dr.Howells here with us this evening as he becomes the first British minister to visit the West Coast to theUnited States since the Government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown took office in June of this year.Please welcome Dr. Howells with a warm - World Affairs Council's meeting.Well ladies and gentlemen and my friends, it's a great pleasure to come along to address the WorldAffairs Council in Northern California, an organization that is much more distinguished but slightlyyounger than I am. And I think I am exactly the same age as the UN, of course my mother keepsreminding me when she says I am drifting to the right.America particularly San Francisco is the right place to make a speech on the challenges of foreignpolicy, not least because this is one of the spiritual homes of innovation, risk taking and sheer brains.We need all of those qualities to face the threats and challenges of the world today. The first challengeI want to talk about is climate security, where California is acting as a pace maker to the rest of theworld. Climate change can be considered no longer simply as an environmental problem. It representsthe security and prosperity imperative for all countries. Developed countries like Britain and the USmust work with the developing world, particularly growing emitters like China, Brazil and India tocreate a global low carbon economy.Now, this represents I think a huge opportunity for a globalized hi-tech economy such as California's.These developing countries are conscious of the threat of climate change. But countries like the US andthe United Kingdom must take the lead not only in tackling our own domestic emissions, but also tobuild mechanisms for technology transfer on funding that supports the efforts of others. In terms of theway our national government's view of climate change there are substantial differences. And I have tosay that we are fascinated in Britain that the state of California should view this issue largely as we do,but that the Federal Government in Washington has it apparently a good deal lower down its list ofpoverties. Now given that California can and it does lead by example, and like the United Kingdom thisstate has made a commitment to a low carbon economy which will demonstrate that there is no tradeoff between prosperity and climate security something I believe absolutely. In searching for solutionsthere is no magic bullet, no one right answer to climate change. We have to look at all of thepossibilities, because any solution or combination of solutions might work. We know want to achievewe need to put scientific and intellectual resources into finding what it takes to maintain a sustainablelow carbon economy. And diplomatically in convincing others that they need to work with us toachieve that sustainability.We need these qualities, resourcefulness, engagement and intellectual innovation, in defining otherthreats to our worlds. And I want to deal with some of them here, this evening. Some, but by no meansall of course, include terrorism, conflicts that involve our armies and our development and reliefagencies, crime and in particular, the international drug trade. In my experience it has been the UnitedKingdom and the US that have been most willing to take on these difficult issues and I think we shouldask ourselves, why? And probably the answer is, because we see that they are a threat to both of us.Everyone here in this room, no matter what you do for a living, what your political beliefs, are underthreat from global terrorism, conflict and crime in my mind just as clearly as we are under the threat ofclimate instability. And what distinguishes our two countries is that we are willing to put out. Wedidn't just talk about a new vision for Iraq and for Afghanistan, we acted. And we are not just standingon the sidelines wishing things were better, we are trying to make them better. We are at a crucial onIraq. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will report shortly to Congress. So it's timely toremind ourselves of our nations' shed goals in Iraq and progress we made so far.Our clear objective in Iraq has always been to help the Iraqis develop a functioning state withinstitutions capable of protecting their people. And we also promised that as part of this process, wegradually would handover responsibility for security to the Iraqi authorities. My country and yourshave sacrificed their young men and women. We've spent huge amounts of capital, hard earned taxesto lay the foundations of a democratic state that does not pose a threat to the region. Our goal is todevelop after years of neglect and violent oppression under Saddam, Iraqi institutions which can takeon responsibilities for their own communities. No one expected to develop in the space of four shortyears the kind of democracy you enjoy here in the United States. But the country has a newconstitution, its first ever democratic elections. Iraqis are beginning to understand what it means to begoverned by representative government. We have systematically put money and expertise into buildingIraqi capacity, at both national and local levels to govern effectively. And we've provided thousands ofinfrastructure projects, better roads, hospitals, and schools for the Iraqi people. And in the southernprovinces, which have already been transferred back to Iraqi control, local authorities have respondedrobustly to recent violence.Now, we need to think about what our role in Iraq should be four years after the invasion, because ourrole is evolving. In many areas the role of training, mentoring and supporting the Iraqi security forces isas important as providing security through our own efforts. Decisions in Iraq must be based on thesituation on the ground, what our commandoes out there tell us. We must also consult our allies and thewider international community because we are not alone in Iraq. We are part of a multi national forcethat's mandated by the United Nations. And so our approach to handover the security responsibilities tothe Iraqis, province by province, as the capability of Iraqi authorities grows will determine our actionson the ground and our allocations of resources for the future. We think this is the right approach. Weare committed to maintaining security until the Iraqis have developed their own capability. But on thisand on the other aspects of government, the Iraqis have not just the right to rule, but the responsibilityto do so. They are missing sure the rule of law, must be governed for the benefit of all Iraqis and allIraqi communities and that's improved security for all Iraqis regardless of ethnic or religiousbackground, through professional and impartial security forces.In Afghanistan, the question of finding the most productive and effective role for our governments isequally relevant to Afghanistan. There too huge efforts are being expended and sacrifices are beingmade. There too conditions on the ground in Northern or Western Afghanistan are very different tothose in the South and East, where our troops, British troops, engaged in fierce fighting against theTaliban and Al Qaeda. There too we must build up and encourage the Afghani Government to takeresponsibility for addressing issues like corruption, that undermine the international effort to helpAfghanistan become a stable, independent state, capable of ensuring that Afghanistan does not onceagain become a safe haven for brutal terrorists like the Taliban or Al Qaeda. We know what we want;we want a strong government that can continue to rebuild the country torn apart by years of purposeful neglect.The Afghan government needs to build the resolve to tackle corruption at the highest levels in nationaland provincial administration. Corruption weakens that government, it turns off potential investors, butit helps criminals. By making life easier for criminals to smuggle drugs, people or guns, corruptioncreates an environment where terrorism can thrive. If it is not tackled decisively our hard won successto drive out opium, to build civil administration, and migrants back to Afghanistan will be put at risk.British government can't solve this by ourselves, neither can the US government. The primaryresponsibility lies with the Afghan government, and the Afghan people. But we can help them to stampout corruption in their own public administration.We are in Iraq and Afghanistan because we believe those operations are the best means of ensuring thatwe contain those who advocate terrorism and destruction as a means of realizing their aspirations.There is no doubt that instability in these regions, the Middle East and South West Asia threatens theUnited States and the United Kingdom. The headline threats from terrorism are easy to see. ButAfghanistan also serves as an example of how foreign policy impacts on domestic policy. Our policy isto get drugs and guns off our streets, to fight illegal immigration, need a strong international element.International crime networks know no boundaries. They move from commodity to commodity. Thedrugs trade can be used to finance terrorism, and smuggling routes that criss-cross the Middle East andSouth West Asia can be used to transport both drugs and fire arms as well as the illegal migrants. Manyof these are of course destined to end up on our streets.It amongst to a network of threats, which at distance look different, but on closer examination we cansee that they are connected. So we must connect the solutions too. Good governance, the rule of law,strong policing and border control, as well as economic opportunity. And Afghanistan is a goodexample of this. In parts of the North and the center of the country, where the farmers have access todevelopment aid, security and above all the rule of law, the number of poppy free provinces has risenfrom six to 13. In the same period, in the most volatile conflict ridden part of the country, the SouthernProvinces, cultivation has risen for the second successive year. In those provinces the narco gangstersand the Taliban will continue to do their utmost to resist the advance of government and administrationby the elected President of Parliament in Kabul. Decent government and economic advance isanathema to both of them.Finally let me say a few words about the Middle East peace process. There is now I believe realopportunity for progress. The critical need is for a resumption of talks on a two state solution, resultingin a comprehensive and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We need now to seeboth parties; the Palestinians and the Israelis, make real commitment to the progress outlined in theroad map. The violence must end, the settlements must be removed and the barrier where itcontravenes international law must be dismantled. The next few months offer good opportunity forprogress. First and most crucially, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas should maintain aconstructive dialogue. The international community will need to support these efforts. Tony Blair, theQuartet Representative, currently is visiting the region and the Quartet will meet at the United Nationslater this month. The United States is backing an international conference scheduled for this autumn.And the Palestinian authority have called for a donor conference in December.The growing Arab Peace Initiative offers an opportunity to normalize relations between the Arab worldand Israel. The International Community must do all it can to grasp these opportunities and push thepeace process forward. It won't be easy but it's necessary. And it's an example of my main point today.The greatest foreign policies are those that don't shy away from the difficult issues. Climate security,terrorism, conflict, international crime. These are not the only challenges we face today. But if we lookat them next to humanitarian action, or international trade, they look perhaps wrongly, harder toachieve. It takes more intellectual rigor to imagine possible solutions to these issues. And thosesolutions require difficult sacrifices.This is what it means to be engaged in the world. It means squaring up to threats that can seem eithertoo remote to be real or too intangible to be fought. America and Britain have recognized the realityand scale of these threats, and we have shown that we have the courage to act to overcome them. Wehave engaged, not only when it has been easy for us to do so, but when it has been and remains hard.That is why the US will remain our most important bilateral partner in a world where both of ourgovernments understand the need to work to persuade other nations and the great multilateralorganizations such as the UN and the NATO that there is a common need to address and solve the hugeissues of terrorism, conflict and international crime that threatens all. Thank you very much.