Friday, 27 March 2009

Paddy Ashdown: The World Will Never be the Same

Yesterday evening Paddy Ashdown gave a lecture at Edinburgh University entitled The World will never be the Same.

There was poetry, a song, accents of Northern Ireland and Somerset, an Afghan war revisited, Bosnia and Herzagovina, China, Obama, India and Africa all visited. Plus the introduction of Ashdowns 3rd Law*. There was also a look at the cover (the inside is embargoed) of his new Autobiography A Fortunate Life which two lucky people will be winning a signed copy of. However, after retiring from the campus to a Indian meal with the man himself, some of the students, Fred Mackintosh and Simon Clarke, then moving on for a few drinks after Paddy had left I didn't get around to writing this up until now.

The Scotsman reporter who was present gave a brief overview. This is my recollections with the aid of my copious notes of what was said.

On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.
Far and near and low and louder
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.

From On the Idle Hillside A.E. Houseman 1896

Paddy started by telling us that after periods of stability we often tend to end up in periods of conflict and blood. (Well actually he started with some light hearted banter about introductions but the crux of the matter was as stated). There is a shift of power from the West to the East that is coming. There are things in the economic instability in the West that mean a that the West cannot achieve a solution by themselves.

There is the beginning of a sea change of economic power. China will be going through the turmoil from being a Liberal Economy to being a liberal society. China has gone through such changes in the past and to ignore the possibility that they are capable of doing so again in disingenuous. India and others in Asia will also rise up as economic powers as the West lies helpless from its own excesses.

Some will say that the American economy has gone past its zenith and is in decline. But those that show resistance to change are those that have past their zenith. America over the past 40 years has shown that that they are still open to change but Europe is faltering on this score. For the next 10-15 years Paddy said he sees the USA as still being the most powerful nation in the world, but after then what?

We're moving away from the premise of having a single Super Power to having different centres growing, more in line with Europe’s 19th Century Concert of Power. When there five great powers who between them, mainly because of the UK, kept the peace more or less in tact. The European existence as a prime mover on the world stage is also something that is liable to be diluted as the new powers come to the fore. You only have to look at how the Obama regime started out with its foreign policy. Paddy said they looked across the Atlantic [sic] to Japan and Hillary went to China these are relationships that are seen as important to the USA now. Of Europe of course Britain is still the pre-eminent but what of the rest. They are losing their significance as Obama and America are looking at how best to effect the change that the world can believe in.

Of those emerging there is an assertive Russia, a rising China and a prospering India. Of these Russia's strength is also their biggest weakness. Paddy said that their criminality and acceptance of criminality was potentially their undoing. They also don't have the population to man their domain, let alone defend it and are heading back to be like the 19th century feudal Russia.

Now as never before power is shifting not just laterally but also vertically. Out of the institutions. Unto the global space. But the global space is a lawless space we do not have the means in place to control what happens in that global space. Lawless spaces always help the powerful for a bit. Our multinationals have taken advantage of this but eventually the lawless space becomes more helpful to the destroyers. International terrorism, international criminality these are things that use the prosperous for their own devices then retreat back into that lawless space where they cannot be touched. As Paddy pointed out 89% of the funds that went to fund the 9/11 attacks had passed through the institutions that had offices housed in the Twin Towers.

We are heading to another time of change like in the middle of the 19th Century. The Liberals in Britain foresaw that and brought in the 1832 Reform Act to allow for that power shift in the UK. Unlike our European neighbours, this ended up resulting in the 1848 revolutions. Governance of that global space is the challenge of this age. We need to establish institutions to bring law to that global space. If we fail the consequences are going to be like nothing never seen before.

However, it may not happen through the UN institutions. Good though it has been in maintaining some semblance of peace over the last 50-60 years is it not good at taking executive and swift action. Treaty based organisations may be the way forward. Organisations like the World Trade Organisation working for trade, Kyoto working for the climate, the expansion to the G8 to the G20, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. All of these are treaty based organisations that have and are seeking to make a change.

(Personal comment here)

Next week as the G20 meets in London the anti-globalisation protestors are going to argue that the big businesses move into the global space, which Paddy has talked about, has been a bad thing. They are ignoring that fact that many of our issues are no longer confined to national boundaries and therefore there is a need to work across those arbitrarily draw lines in the sand. But more of that is a bit back to Paddy.

(Go on Paddy)

Not just is our power globalised but so are our problems too. In Africa Oxfam say 16m people currently live in uninhabitable space. They rely on aid from those of us who have to allow them to carry on existing in those spaces. However, with the credit crunch how much of that aid will be cut leading to starvation. If global warming continues the amount of habitable space in the region shrinks many more will come to rely on those limited sources of aid. Worldwide there is estimated to be 50m people living in uninhabitable space.

We are living in a completely interdependent world. Lehman Brothers collapses and the world economy spirals out of control as a result. We are more connected now than at any time in history both internally and externally.

The world now operates as a network. The structures we have created thus far are vertical but the reality is that our connectivity in networked and interlinked. This is why those structures we currently have in place have been unable to cope.

Twenty or thirty years ago when you were talking about defence you knew who to turn to the MoD. But now the defence minister has to be interconnected. He has to talk to the Dept. of Health about the threat of a pandemic being released, the Dept. of Agriculture about the security of our food, Industry about our companies and businesses being infiltrated, the Home Office because of our connection to so many through immigration. The capacity of our country to make us secure depends on everything being able to connect.

Paddy asked us if we knew of Lord Roberts of Kandahar. There were nothing but blank stares. Roberts was the man who in 1879, some 30 years after the massacre in Kabul, led the British force in to Afghanistan. It was one of the few successful campaigns by anyone into the Afghan lands. But in those 30 years the preparation had been laid, mainly through working to bring together the tribal forces in the Helmand provinces.

Accounts of his exploits don’t mention the importance of the poppy fields. They were there but they weren’t the issue. No was there mention the need to suppress of mad Jihadists living in caves in the southern hill country, though there was also one of those the Wali of Swat. Nor was there concern of collateral damage, though there was plenty of that two, it wouldn’t get reported back home for 6 weeks.

The important lesson from that parallel to today in its not what you do that matters but what you do with others. This Paddy said was Ashdown’s third law.

The age of unilateralism is over, George W. Bush tried it and we have seen where that left him. We have a need to reach out for new allies and some of those will be uncomfortable, but we need to work with them, make compromises and work for the common good. One of those we will need to work with is Iran. The key to the solution in Afghanistan is not our western allies but moderate Muslims. 25% of Afghanistan is of the Shia sect so we will need to get moderates from Iran the epicentre of Shi-ites. The phrase that we use that we are protecting our values ignores the facts that Christianity, Judaism and Islam share many of the same values.

"No man is an island, entire of itself; everyman is a piece of the continent, a
part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less, as well
as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own
were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and
therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for

John Dunne from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions 1624

Paddy then moved on to talk a little about what he is currently doing in Northern Ireland. He’s working with Sinn Fein and the DUP and others in trying to resolve the contentious issue of parades. The thing about what is happening in Northern Ireland that is different from the Israeli/Palestinian issue and the fundamentalist Muslims and the West is that both parties have realised they have a shared destiny. There is something there they need to work at. Israel need to realise that and progress will not be made until they remove the occupation settlements from Palestinian territory which make it impossible for a Palestinian state to operate even if other things weren’t in its way. Cross all the main roads and access points is a mean of subverting that ability to reach for a shared destiny.

He finished he talk near the heart of Midlothian quoting the words of another great Liberal spoken not too far away in Dalkeith during his 1879 Midlothian Campaign.

"Remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan
among the winter snows, are as sacred in the eye of Almighty God as are your
own. Remember that He who has united you together as human beings in the same flesh and blood, has bound you by the law of mutual love, that that mutual love
is not limited by the shores of this island."

William Ewart Gladstone

*Nobody in questions afterwards dared ask about one and two.


  1. So no mention of his support of the child sex slavers in Bosnia.

    No mention of his perjury in the Milosevic "trial".

    No mention of knowing the KLA were Nazis, drug lords & organleggers armed by NATO as genocidal terrorists & police when he was training them.

    No mention of knowing the Nazi antecedents of his allies & their public commitments to racial genocide.

    No mention of conversation with his friend Mr bin Laden in the Bosnian Moslem Nazi President's office.

    No mention of him being a war criminal who has been willing to tell absolutely any lie to promote racial genocide.

  2. Neil you are here again coming very close to breaching the comments policy of this blog. I will accept it is too the point but the marginally legality and civility of your postings both here and around the blogosphere.

    Paddy did acknoweldge that there wer problems in Bosnia Herzegovina without going into specifics. But said that the biggest problem to working with these troubled and often unlawful factions was in getting the West to stay involved in seeking to find a peace. So possibly the only thing that I may say is that when you are seeking to move forward Paddy did say "you have to work with people over whom you have issues" but the goal is for a greater good at the other end.

    However, seeing as you have accused me of being a facist in the past, without being as far as I'm aware fully conversant in my viws, I would suggest you urgently need to read a dictionary definition of the words you brandish about.

    BTW I have noted you IP Address as a matter of course this time over your posting in case I have a legal query or challenge, again.

  3. "Paddy did acknoweldge that there wer problems in Bosnia Herzegovina without going into specifics"

    Oh good. I understand Hitler acknowledged there were problems with the Jews without going into specifics too.

    The fact is that everything I said is true. I do know enough about your views to know that you have no visible problem with supporting a party undeniably involved in what are, by the legal standards applied at Nuremberg, war crimes.

  4. Neil I've read your piece from Wednesday and notice that you referred to humans as creatures.

    Regardless of what you are accusing people of, if you are going to demean them in the same way as the National Socialist Party demeaned Jews, Homosexuals and the Romany community it leaves a lot to be desired. It also makes it poor or less impossible for anyone attempting to entered reasoned debate with you.

    As the the Nuremburg Principles and the accusation of perjury from General Bozidar Delić. Nuremburg laid the principles but also laid down the need to establish fuller international law. And Delić went though a series of discrediting as many witnesses as possible to try and deny everything to protect his former Commander in Chief Milosovic.

    As for you denial that genocide was going on in the area shall I take you the grave of one of University friends and her Bosnian in-laws and the many more of the village to stop your denial of what was going on in July '95.

  5. Stephen you are trying to mislead by quoting from my blog out of context. What I said was that I didn't think anybody could dispute that NATO's leaders had committed war crimes & genocide & that these creatures deserve punishment. I note that you cannot dispute the accuracy of that. I think that by the very action they have demeaned themselves far more than I could. I have seen Nazi concentration camp guards described as behaving in an inhuman way - it may be that you are on record as defending them from that charge, in which case I could accept your criticism as honourable but misguided. However I suspect not.

    On your 2nd point readers may not know that Delic was the one who, in the Milosevic "trial", produced the maps showing that Ashdown couldn't possibly have seen what he said on oath he had seen because there were mountains in the way. Are you saying that he fabricated the mountains or indeed that there is anything whatsoever dishounourable in "discrediting witnesses" by proving they are lying when they are? This is a very strange legal or moral principle.

    As for your last remark - I very much doubt if you are telling the truth if you are claiming - as you imply - that this alleged friend was killed in Kosovo. After all you say she, or at least her in laws, were Bosnian not Albanian. If she actually had been living in Kosovo she would have been a target for NATO trained KLA/NATO police terrorism.

    Nobody disputes that there was a war Bosnia - caused by the EU using an openly genocidal ex-Nazi Moslem leader, who was not even the lawful Bosnian President (Karadzic was) to break up Yugoslavia & attempt to put millions of Serbs under the control of someone publicly committed to their genocide. Not only was this contrary to all international law. Being advised by every independent Balkan expert that this would quite obviously mean starting a genocidal war it proves that the EU leaders were deliberately involved in both war crimes & genocide. Ashdown was, of course, continuously enthusiastic about doing so.

    The one person who cannot be blamed for starting that war is Milosevic - well except by people like Ashdown's Nazi friend Tudjman who blame the Jews for the Holocaust.

    Stephen I would be interested in knowing if you are actually denying the primary & only undisputed 1995 Srebrenica genocide - that of over 3,800 Serb men women & children (but mainly women & children because the men were in the militia) in surrounding villages. That's the one that Ashdown attempted to burn all copies of the report of.

    If not then lets see when you have denounced the genocidal EU & Moslem Nazi leaders, who were more involved in starting that war than Milosevic, for your alleged friend's death. Had the western powers merely attempted to carve Yugoslavia up on mainly ethnic lines that would have been merely 19thC imperialism. What they, with the full support of the Nazi led "Liberals" did was to, quite deliberately, try to give "lebensrum" to your Nazi catspaws & to assist them in the "cleansing" of Serb majority areas. That was Nazism & the Serbs have an undeniable human right to attempt to resist such genocide.

    Do you deny that there is, at the very least, a legal case to answer against the western politicians who did those things & engaged in those criminal wars. If so is it not corrupt of our legal system that these mass murderers have not been?

  6. Neil that you have sunk so low to deny that in this multicultural world that I would make up a friend who in the first few weeks of my course taught me that the Serbo-Croat for Irish was "Irates" my claiming that my friend is a alleged friend yet you expect me to take your alleged comments as fact when I'm dealling with a first hand source and you are not makes a mockery of this debate and your comments.

  7. Well a little thought will prove that my "alleged comments" are not alleged - I actually wrote them as anybody can see. Regretably some of us live in a world where people occasionaly dispute the veracity of what we say & when it happens to me I produce the evidence rather than having an attack of the vapours. You haven't even gone so far as to explain what your Bosnian friend was doing in Kosovo. In any case the fact that you have not withdrawn your attack on Delic for having the audacity to produce the "rock solid" facts that proved Ashdown a perjurer does indeed show, to put it at its nicest, a cavalier attitude to truth.

    In fact what you have now done for the 2nd time is try to personalise this to avoid having to face the issues. You are clearly unable to dispute a word of what I said:

    "No mention of his perjury in the Milosevic "trial".

    No mention of knowing the KLA were Nazis, drug lords & organleggers armed by NATO as genocidal terrorists & police when he was training them.

    No mention of knowing the Nazi antecedents of his allies & their public commitments to racial genocide.

    No mention of conversation with his friend Mr bin Laden in the Bosnian Moslem Nazi President's office.

    No mention of him being a war criminal who has been willing to tell absolutely any lie to promote racial genocide."

    All of these are supported by the facts as, having read my blog, you clearly know.