The Hindu's interviews David Miliband : India Is The Success Story Of South Asia

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by Singh, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    20,305
    Likes Received:
    8,270
    Location:
    011
    [h=1]The Hindu : Opinion / Interview : Must Not Allow The Drumbeat Of War Against Iran To Become An Inevitability: David Miliband[/h]‘Iraq was above all a tragedy for the loss of life, the loss of trust that came from the absence of WMD.'



    David Miliband, man of ideas who contributed significantly to policy-making and strategising in the Blair-Brown era of New Labour, U.K. Foreign Secretary between 2007 and 2010, and an influential figure who has chosen to stay out of the Shadow Cabinet after narrowly losing the contest for the Labour Party leadership to his younger brother, Ed Miliband, was in Chennai recently to deliver a well-attended lecture on “The emerging new world order: economics and politics” at the invitation of Vijay and Preetha Reddy. The 46-year-old statesman visited the offices of The Hindu where he was interviewed, on a range of political and economic issues, by an editorial team comprising N. Ram,Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, Nirupama Subramanian, and Raghuvir Srinivasan. The interview is being published in two parts.


    Part I:


    For a leading politician who made a very significant contribution, in terms of ideas and policy, to the rise of New Labour, how does it feel to be where you are?


    I think for everyone in the Labour Party, it feels very frustrating at the moment. Because opposition is a permanent lesson in frustration; you can talk but you can't do anything. Britain now has quite a radical government. Some people thought that a coalition government would be centrist. In fact, this is a pretty hard-Right government in economic terms. The austerity plan that is being imposed across Europe is being replicated in the U.K. And so many of the most cherished aspects of British life are being systematically challenged by the government. So I see in my own constituency the reduction of poverty being reversed, the reduction of unemployment being reversed — and that's pretty painful. So the whole Labour Party is frustrated by [being in the] opposition. Equally you can't be in government forever! We had thirteen years.


    There's a debate in the Labour Party about how we should understand our record in government, what we should be proud of and what we should apologise for. But I think it's very important to be proud of your achievements and humble about your mistakes — but always understanding that politics about future. So we have a responsibility to understand the fundamental ways in which the world is changing and Britain's place in the world is changing. And make sure we are able to challenge the Conservatives because in the end it's them who we have to challenge. It's a coalition government but it's the Conservatives who're the real enemy. We have to challenge them in an ideological and intellectual and political way.


    What are the solid achievements of the [Tony] Blair prime ministership and the [Gordon] Brown prime ministership, in totality?


    I think Britain was richer, fairer, and more confident at the end of thirteen years than at the beginning. And the fact that there were record levels of employment, notwithstanding the crash. That we were the first government since the [Second World] War to leave crime lower than when we came into office. That we were the first Labour government in a hundred years to finally introduce a minimum wage, which Britain never had. A government that transformed the National Health Service, [about] which, in the late-1990s, people were debating — will the National Health Service survive in the 21st century? A tax-funded, free-at-the-point-of-use health service, and we left office with a satisfaction rating of 90 per cent among patients. Not to mention the small matter of peace in Northern Ireland. I think you can forget these, you can even take these things for granted!


    Obviously on overseas matters, I think there were some things that are consensually of credit. Notably in respect of overseas development where we reversed the factual position of reducing overseas aid spending. Most people would say that the Kosovo adventure was a successful one. And then you have very divisive conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    I think the Blair premiership gave Britain a sense of its place in the world which was modern and forward-looking — not harking back to Empire as the Conservatives sometimes did or harking back to isolationalism, which sometimes has been the problem on the left.


    And the mistakes? Iraq?


    Well, Iraq was above all a tragedy for the loss of life, the loss of trust that came from the WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction], the absence of WMD. And obviously if we had known in 2003 that there were no WMD, there would have been no war.


    A lot of people knew that there were no WMD.


    Well, no — I don't accept that. I'd like to see anyone saying that. Because even those intelligence services in countries which opposed the war, like the Russians, were firmly of the view that there were WMD. And people like Hans Blix, who subsequently has spoken against the war, produced three weeks before the war a 172-page document outlining the unaccounted-for contents of WMD. So it's not the case that there was a debate at the time about [President] Saddam [Hussein].


    The debate was whether it was the right thing to do. Obviously, if we had known then that there were no WMD, there would have been no war.


    There is a view among commentators, Andrew Rawnsley, among others, that Prime Minister Blair was pressured, to put it mildly — virtually forced — into aligning the U.K. with the U.S. position, notwithstanding the voices of dissent. And it was a U.S. decision that was pushed down.


    It was obviously a U.S. decision and the tragedy is that all the focus was about the war, not about the peace. Ali Allawi wrote this book, Winning the War, Losing the Peace, about Iraq. I think that's a pretty good description of what's happened.


    And Iran, how do you see it going?


    Well, I've written in the Financial Times [“Risks of sleepwalking into a war with Iran,” David Miliband and Nader Mousavizadeh, December 1, 2012] that I'm very concerned about the drumbeat of war. I think that's very foolish. I support a twin track of engagement and pressure. But the engagement track needs to be revived. That's very difficult when there is truculent noise coming from Iran, which there is. But there is a massive set of divisions within the Iranian regime; they're competing against each in the way they play off each other against the international community. We've got to be smart about that. We've got to understand that while some of what is said is for foreign consumption, a lot of what is said by the different factions in Iran is for domestic consumption. I wrote my piece in the FT because I think it's very, very important that we don't allow the drumbeat of war to become a sort of inevitability.


    Yes, you called it sleepwalking, in the FT piece. But this has got wider ramifications in the region. The Iraqi coalition government has just about collapsed, and it's left a Shia-led government of dubious status, to say the least, in place without significant opposition. What would the former invading powers say, or how would they see the prospect of increasingly explicit Iranian involvement in Iraq?


    Well I think everyone, whatever position you took ten years ago, would say that the territorial integrity of Iraq needs to be respected, the independence of Iraq needs to be respected, the devolution within Iraq needs to be respected, the federalism needs to be developed. I think that's a very important point. I say very clearly, the list of negatives outweighs the list of positives since 2003, but the situation of the Kurdish regional government, the position of the Kurds in northern Iraq, is on the positive side in the last nine years. I think that one would enjoin the Iraqi leadership to develop its federal structure, and one would also enjoin the other powers to leave Iraq alone, to sort out its own problems.


    Now you've got tumult in the Middle East, much of it in the name of universal values of human rights, of human dignity, and democracy, and personal freedom, and that's one of the remarkable things about the modern world, how ideas transition right through the barriers of the most repressive regime, and that is being played out in a very bloody way in Iraq. There was this terrible bombing yesterday [on January 6], and the spectre of Sunni-Shia conflict is horrific, really — but what you'd say to Iran is to leave Iraq alone.


    You've been Foreign Secretary, that was in Gordon Brown's Cabinet, and you've recently criticised Prime Minister David Cameron for a ‘phantom veto' over the attempts to save the eurozone, in effect for walking away from significant engagement with the rest of the EU over this very significant and perhaps decisive matter — but what kind of issue does this make the EU within British politics?


    Britain is unusual, has been unusual for the last 20, 15 years, for having a debate that is for or against Europe, whereas in the other European countries that debate hasn't existed. Now Euroscepticism is growing a bit, there's Le Pen in France, who is running on a pretty sceptical platform. But Britain still has, I would say, an illusion, or some parts of the British political spectrum have an illusion, that there's a future for Britain as the sort of Switzerland of Europe, or as an imitation Switzerland. Now I think that's really foolish.

    But one has to have the humility, if one's on the pro-European side, to recognise that we haven't shifted public opinion in a pro-European direction; if anything, the other is happening. Now there are a number of reasons for that. One, the European Union has been consumed with a not particularly edifying constitutional renewal exercise, an institutional renewal exercise. Secondly, you can't really divorce the European Union question from the euro question; the travails of the euro have given the European Union a bad name, and threaten the European Union. But in terms of British politics, I think there's a short-term bounce for David Cameron in two senses. One, he's tried to claim that he's standing up for Britain, and secondly, the pact is as yet undefined; there is no treaty for us to sign, and that's why it was a phantom veto. He didn't actually stop the 26 other countries, 17 in the euro, and nine outside, fashioning a compact. What he said was he wasn't willing for that to happen with British consent, even though it didn't actually affect us; none of the rules would have affected the U.K.

    So I think it will come to be seen as something for which Britain is in danger of paying quite a high price. The other thing to say is it's bad for Europe for Britain to be on the sidelines, not just bad for Britain.



    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/article2785864.ece





     
  2.  
  3. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    20,305
    Likes Received:
    8,270
    Location:
    011
    The Hindu : Opinion / Interview : India Is The Success Story Of South Asia

    [h=1]The Hindu : Opinion / Interview : India Is The Success Story Of South Asia — That Is A Fact: David Miliband[/h]This is the concluding part of The Hindu's wide-ranging interview with David Miliband, man of ideas, former U.K. Foreign Secretary, and a charismatic figure in the Labour Party who has chosen to stay outside the Shadow Cabinet. Mr. Miliband, 46, who was recently in Chennai to give a lecture on ‘The emerging new world order: economics and politics' at the invitation of Vijay and Preetha Reddy, was interviewed in the newspaper's offices in Chennai by an editorial team comprising N. Ram, Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, Nirupama Subramanian, and Raghuvir Srinivasan. Part I of the interview was published on Monday.


    Do you think that Britain's stand of not joining the eurozone has been vindicated by the events of the last couple of years?


    The short answer is yes. The flexibility to set your interest rates and to have exchange rate flexibility has undoubtedly cushioned what is nonetheless a pretty tough blow over the last three or four years of the economic situation. If we had been in the euro, it would have been much more difficult.


    The one key point that I would put to you is…our argument in the Labour Party in the run-up to the decision not to join the euro in 2003 was: have we converged sufficiently with the European economy in order to join? Whereas the argument of those who created the euro and eventually allowed 17 countries to join was that membership of the euro would drive convergence. Now that latter claim has been shown not to be true, because relatively labour cost has become more imbalanced over the last ten years of the euro. The relative labour costs in Greece, Spain, and Portugal have grown relative to the Germans, because German wages have been held down while German productivity has gone up a lot. So far from driving convergence the eurozone, as someone once said, is a hard currency union with some countries behaving as if it were a soft currency union. And that's why you've got a problem.


    I have one other point to make. The first people to break the Maastricht criteria well ahead of the Greeks, the Spaniards, and the Portuguese; they were the French and the Germans in 2003.


    Any insights into the pre-eminence of Germany among the economies of Europe and indeed of the world?


    Well, only the obvious. Which is that after 1990, Germany took on East Germany — a monumental project; it [Germany] has done it with compassion and solidarity and ingenuity, and some sacrifice, and it has come out stronger. It's the biggest country in Europe. It has held on to its historic economic strengths, you know, fantastic manufacturing capacity, the world's second biggest exporter now.


    But what's interesting is that while they are a pre-eminent economic power, they're deeply conflicted about what it means for Germany to be a leading political power. Someone said to me in Berlin in June, ‘We want to be harmless,' which is sort of the German ethos. And given its history, you can understand that. But if you think of the decisions about nuclear power, in some ways on the euro, on Libya, Germany is conflicted about the political power that comes with its economic standing. One can understand that and respect it. The trouble is that if Germany doesn't lead, which it hasn't really done in the last 18 months on the euro crisis, the problems get worse.

    Germany, regardless of the political complexion of the government, has stayed away from the troubles that have affected the United States, or the U.K., or France.


    In economic terms, you mean?

    No, politically. Isn't that an advantage?


    Yeah, but I don't think there is any alternative to engagement in the modern world. It's a global village and you're affected whether you want to be involved or not.
    What they have done is that the [Gerhard] Schroeder reforms undoubtedly helped the economy significantly. And one interesting thing is that the Social Democrats in Germany completely failed to take any credit for the Schroeder reforms — and in a way paid the price for that.

    Maybe your decision to not join the eurozone was right, in retrospect. But you have still been affected by the economic events in Europe.


    Absolutely.

    Do you think you could have done better by joining the bandwagon and trying to work within the system?


    Well, that's a very interesting way of putting it. I think the economic price would have been too high. People argued in 2003 that if we didn't join the euro, we would lose political influence. That didn't really happen because on energy, climate change, a whole set of issues, the Blair government said that we were going to put ourselves in a leading position in European affairs and that more or less happened. Being in the euro doesn't guarantee you a leading position; it wasn't a very good argument. I can see the point you are making but my experience is that other Europeans know that the European Union is much stronger for Britain playing a central role. So although we weren't into the euro, they wanted us to be engaged on foreign policy, defence policy. You can't have a European defence policy without U.K. really.

    You were a vocal advocate of the war in Afghanistan, and considering there is now talk about talks with the Taliban, where are you on that? And looking back, could there have been talks back then, before the war began?


    To be fair to me, I've been a very vocal advocate of peace in Afghanistan. I was carrying the flag for a political settlement inside Afghanistan and a regional political settlement including India, practically the first person to argue for that. And I argued…

    For the neutrality of Afghanistan?


    …well, for the independence of Afghanistan. I argued very, very strongly that there was no military solution in Afghanistan, which other people then said [there was]. But the corollary of there being no military solution is that there has to be a political solution. And what I argued for was a two-track political solution: a political settlement inside Afghanistan that involved all the peoples — it's probably not right to call them tribes — all the peoples of Afghanistan, including the Pashtuns in the south.


    And so of course I welcome the setting up of a Taliban office in Qatar. But I never fall into the trap of believing that there are only two sides to the Afghan conflict — Taliban and the central government, with the West looking on. Afghanistan is a multifaceted political entity, which I saw for myself when I went to the funeral of King Zahir Shah in July 2007. All the people were represented there. And you realised then that it's not just about pacifying the Taliban, you've got to recognise all the different peoples in the internal settlement. But there will never be an internal political settlement until there's a regional political concordat.


    And I argued very strongly for that as being vital for any durable peace. That must be based on the recognition of the sovereignty of Afghanistan, the independence of Afghanistan — no one can have Afghanistan as a client state, any of its neighbours.

    So I would argue I was a very strong proponent of peace in Afghanistan rather than war in Afghanistan.

    The civilian toll in Afghanistan has been appalling.


    Yes. Actually there, U.N. figures show 85 per cent civilian deaths as caused by the Taliban. So you've got to be careful — the Taliban putting people in, slaughtering people. The Western doctrine that was developed after 2007, which is you protect the people, was absolutely right. No one can win in military terms. But that is not the question; the question is whether or not you can get stability through a political settlement. I'm very concerned that there's an end date for Western engagement in Afghanistan, but no end game! And this end game has to be this twin-track political drive. I think India has a really important political role in that; always argued with the Pakistanis that they should be welcoming Indian engagement in a structured regional concordat.


    How do you see the India-Pakistan relationship going? You have had discussions with leading political figures in both countries.


    Well, India is the success story of South Asia — that is a fact. You can understand why there's huge frustration and pain associated with the way Pakistan has developed, and the sufferings being caused here from there. What I always say in Pakistan, very loudly, is that they have to deal with their own internal enemies, that the historic spectre that their enemy is their neighbour needs to be replaced by a recognition that their enemy is an internal one. And I always use every opportunity to say they still have responsibilities in respect of the Mumbai bombers [the terror attack of 26/11] and the prosecution of those associated with it.


    I think from the outside, the recent Indian moves on trade and on support for Pakistan's place in the U.N. Security Council are extremely admirable and thoroughly to be commended. And it's precisely that kind of outreach that the region needs.


    A few years ago, your remarks on Kashmir were not particularly welcomed by the Indian Foreign Ministry…


    My remarks are always the same, which is that this is something that has to be resolved between the two countries. That's the truth of it.


    The final question: you come here, you see, I suppose, two issues. One is you see high growth — and mass deprivation. You've been to some places — the real India — and witnessed it yourself. That's one issue. The other is the issue of corruption, which since your previous visit has assumed very major proportions. How do you react to this?


    Anyone who comes to India sees a vibrant economy but also a vibrant political system. That is one of the great things about this country, that it has a vibrant political system, it's a standing testimony to the value that's placed on different opinions expressed often with great force and passion. Every democracy is trying to figure out, how to make its democracy work better. And it's interesting that every autocracy is having to recognise that the bar for accountable government is being raised. The taking into account of legitimate popular opinion is an increasingly important issue even in autocracies. But there are dysfunctions in all the democracies; we have to address them.

    In the Indian system, you've got your own debate about how best to do that; you don't want people coming from Britain to tell you how to do it!


    But I think you probably do recognise that people from outside are passionate about the things written up in the Indian Constitution, such an inspiring document — which is about human rights, but it is about democracy, it is about pluralism, it is about the equal value of all of India's people. I'm sure it's right to take this corruption issue seriously, which obviously all the politicians are now doing. You'll have to figure out a way of doing it structurally — because if people lose faith in democracy, that's a very dangerous thing.



    The Hindu : Opinion / Interview : India is the success story of South Asia — that is a fact: David Miliband


     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    Can't stand the chap.

    He was pro Pakistan when he was the Foreign Secretary of the UK

    This man overrated himself.
     
    Singh likes this.
  5. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Messages:
    4,404
    Likes Received:
    2,783
    Location:
    Gangtok, Sikkim, India
    TBH, I really don't find the "South Asia" dimension's top spot reward very appealing considering that most other countries are either failed states or basket cases or terror harbors.

    It simply means that we have to remove the word "south" and focus on the top spot at least in Asia.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    It is politicians like him, who pander to the Pakistani origin people of UK, the very same people that also kick them in the teeth every now and then. It is the David Milliband type of people who have given coinage to this word 'South Asia'.

    There is nothing like 'South Asia'. It is the 'Indian sub continent'!
     

Share This Page