Blair en campagne pour l’internationalisme démocratique
Tony Blair a prononcé hier le premier de trois importants discours consacrés à sa politique étrangère, qui loin d’être à la remorque de Bush a déjà été énoncée en 1999 à Chicago — c’était encore sous la présidence de Bill Clinton. Je cède à la facilité des morceaux choisis en v.o. plutôt que du condensé en français, mais je ne saurais trop recommander la lecture ou le visionnement de l’original en entier!
The basic thesis is that the defining characteristic of today’s world is its interdependence; that whereas the economics of globalisation are well matured, the politics of globalisation are not; and that unless we articulate a common global policy based on common values, we risk chaos threatening our stability, economic and political, through letting extremism, conflict or injustice go unchecked.
The debate on world trade has thrown all sides into an orgy of political cross-dressing. Protectionist sentiment is rife on the left; on the right, there are calls for « economic patriotism »; meanwhile some voices left and right, are making the case for free trade not just on grounds of commerce but of justice.
The true division in foreign policy today is between: those who want the shop « open », or those who want it « closed »; those who believe that the long-term interests of a country lie in it being out there, engaged, interactive and those who think the short-term pain of such a policy and its decisions, too great. This division has strong echoes in debates not just over foreign policy and trade but also over immigration.
Progressives may implement policy differently from conservatives, but the fault lines are the same.
Where progressive and conservative policy can differ is that progressives are stronger on the challenges of poverty, climate change and trade justice. I have no doubt at all it is impossible to gain support for our values, unless the demand for justice is as strong as the demand for freedom; and the willingness to work in partnership with others is an avowed preference to going it alone, even if that may sometimes be necessary.
I believe we will not ever get real support for the tough action that may well be essential to safeguard our way of life; unless we also attack global poverty and environmental degradation or injustice with equal vigour.
Neither in defending this interventionist policy do I pretend that mistakes have not been made or that major problems do not confront us and there are many areas in which we have not intervened as effectively as I would wish, even if only by political pressure. Sudan, for example; the appalling deterioration in the conditions of the people of Zimbabwe; human rights in Burma; the virtual enslavement of the people of North Korea.
It is in confronting global terrorism today that the sharpest debate and disagreement is found. Nowhere is the supposed « folly » of the interventionist case so loudly trumpeted as in this case. Here, so it is said, as the third anniversary of the Iraq conflict takes place, is the wreckage of such a world view. Under Saddam Iraq was « stable ». Now its stability is in the balance. Ergo, it should never have been done.
The effect of this paradigm is to see each setback in Iraq or Afghanistan, each revolting terrorist barbarity, each reverse for the forces of democracy or advance for the forces of tyranny as merely an illustration of the foolishness of our ever being there; as a reason why Saddam should have been left in place or the Taliban free to continue their alliance with Al Qaida. Those who still justify the interventions are treated with scorn.
Then, when terrorists strike in the nations like Britain or Spain, who supported such action, there is a groundswell of opinion formers keen to say, in effect, that it’s hardly surprising – after all, if we do this to « their » countries, is it any wonder they do it to « ours »?
So the statement that Iraq or Afghanistan or Palestine or indeed Chechnya, Kashmir or half a dozen other troublespots is seen by extremists as fertile ground for their recruiting – a statement of the obvious – is elided with the notion that we have « caused » such recruitment or made terrorism worse, a notion that, on any sane analysis, has the most profound implications for democracy.
There is an interesting debate going on inside government today about how to counter extremism in British communities. Ministers have been advised never to use the term « Islamist extremist ». It will give offence. It is true. It will. There are those – perfectly decent-minded people – who say the extremists who commit these acts of terrorism are not true Muslims. And, of course, they are right. They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian. But, unfortunately, he is still a « Protestant » bigot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it.
This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don’t mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.
But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists.
« We » is not the West. « We » are as much Muslim as Christian or Jew or Hindu. « We » are those who believe in religious tolerance, openness to others, to democracy, liberty and human rights administered by secular courts.
This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy. It is just that; it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong.
So here, in its most pure form, is a struggle between democracy and violence. People look back on the three years since the Iraq conflict; they point to the precarious nature of Iraq today and to those who have died – mainly in terrorist acts – and they say: how can it have been worth it?
But there is a different question to ask: why is it so important to the forces of reaction and violence to halt Iraq in its democratic tracks and tip it into sectarian war? Why do foreign terrorists from Al Qaida and its associates go across the border to kill and maim? Why does Syria not take stronger action to prevent them? Why does Iran meddle so furiously in the stability of Iraq?
Examine the propaganda poured into the minds of Arabs and Muslims. Every abuse at Abu Ghraib is exposed in detail; of course it is unacceptable but it is as if the only absence of due process in that part of the world is in prisons run by the Americans. Every conspiracy theory – from seizing Iraqi oil to imperial domination – is largely dusted down and repeated.
Why? The answer is that the reactionary elements know the importance of victory or defeat in Iraq.
Across the Arab and Muslim world such a struggle for democracy and liberty continues. One reason I am so passionate about Turkey’s membership of the EU is precisely because it enhances the possibility of a good outcome to such a struggle. It should be our task to empower and support those in favour of uniting Islam and democracy, everywhere.
To do this, we must fight the ideas of the extremists, not just their actions; and stand up for and not walk away from those engaged in a life or death battle for freedom. The fact of their courage in doing so should give us courage; their determination should lend us strength; their embrace of democratic values, which do not belong to any race, religion or nation, but are universal, should reinforce our own confidence in those values.