EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Authoritarian Challenges to the Liberal World Order
DATE: 3pm, 8 March 2021
SPEAKERS: Bob Seely MP, Theresa Fallon, Alexander Lanoszka, Rob Clark
EVENT MODERATOR: Robert Clark
Robert Clark 00:00
Great stuff. Thank you to everybody tuning in to this Henry Jackson society event this afternoon. I’m Robert Clark, defense fellow here at the Global Britain programme. This event I think really touches on some key considerations not just British policymakers. also those of Allied democracies, including our counter partners, the United States, European allies and our democratic partners across the indo Pacific. The ongoing global pandemic has highlighted the authoritarian states and the the threats which they seek to circumnavigate the rules based order of which Britain remains an ardent defender questions over mounting human rights concerns and abuses, debt diplomacy, and the wholesale suspension of the rule of law, and the wider attempts of seeking to undermine the liberal order upon which global security and prosperity is maintained. These are all crucial factors which all effects liberal democracies, as the world is beginning to adjust to a post COVID age, so to most of the geopolitical tools in which we seek to utilise be changed and updated also. No longer a West versus East narrative, but rather democracies united the world over in seeking to uphold those very virtues, principles and values, in which the freedoms of those nations are underpinned and increasing increasingly seen as an ideal, which authoritarian and revisionist states are so afraid of, in seeking a broader basis for consultation and inquiry. It is my great pleasure this afternoon to introduce you to three expert speakers, who will all discuss some key themes, which are pertinent to these broader issues. Our first speaker this afternoon is Dr. Alexander Lanoszka, Dr. Lanoszka is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Waterloo. And his research agenda encompasses international security, Alliance politics and theories of war with special focus on Central and North Eastern Europe. Dr. Lanoszka, thank you.
Alexander Lanoszka 01:28
Thank you so much, Rob, for putting together this panel. And for inviting me to participate. It’s quite a privilege. Chances are the four of us and much of our audience are attuned to the political and security challenges posed by either Russia or China. Of course, we may disagree on the severity of these challenges or the likelihood of particular scenarios. But what I want to do today is focus my remarks briefly on what we are doing or more importantly, what we’re not doing. After all, so much of the political challenge that Russia and China pose is partly our fault. Now, I don’t mean to say that we are we have done things that have fueled our grievances and that those grievances explain or justify their behaviour rather, we give them opportunities to be a problem. One relates to corruption. Putin’s Kremlin is a kleptocratic regime seeking to enrich itself through criminal means internationally and domestically. Unfortunately, we abet this behaviour. For example, much dirty money is laundered through London, going towards the purchase of property, private schools and looks for goods. Some of this money does come directly from Moscow, but most of it comes via Britain’s offshore centres and other networks of tax havens around the globe. This results of course, in a lack of transparency. Since we can’t tell apart good investment from that, the implications I think, are significant. Not only can this all fuel inequality, which can make for greater political polarisation can also mean that politicians are liable to be captured. It’s not just a matter of tightening tax and investment laws to confront this particular challenge. It’s also a matter of giving law enforcement the resources needed to enforce existing rules, as well as providing leadership from our politicians on this very problem. Now, this very problem is not restricted to countries where finance looms large like in Britain. In just the last few days, we have seen an Austrian export Minister mind you one link to a far right party who had dance with Vladimir Putin at a wedding in 2018, being nominated to the board of directors at a Russian state, oil giant, of course, I mean, here Rosneft, and this harkens back to what had happened over 10-15 years ago when Gerhard Schroeder notoriously took up a position on Gazprom’s board just weeks after stepping down as Germany’s Chancellor. And we can point out examples in Hungary as well. We can also point out examples of neighbouring France, or party neighbouring to Britain Of course, whereby Marine Le Pen’s political party received Russian loans from banks linked to the Kremlin. Even when neither corruption nor dubious financing is involved, there can still be hesitation to affirm or assert red lines when norms are being violated or egregious behaviour ensues. In Canada, where I’m presently located, the government has been very reluctant to label China treatment of its Uyghur population as genocide or even as a crime against humanity. It is even more problematically, from Canada’s own perspective has refrained from singling out China, despite two Canadians held in arbitrary detention there. Despite in addition to that, having signed a multilateral text condemning arbitrary detention. So why might that be the case? Why, arguably Ottawa is deterred, out of fear of economic retaliation, even though, funny enough, their opinion polls that indicate that most Canadians aren’t supportive, much stronger measures against China, even the prospect of relocating the 2022 Olympic Games from China, as dim as that prospect may be so in some, as much as it is important to understand the aggressive and opportunistic behaviour as it happens and assign blame to those culprits as appropriate. I think still, we need to look our selves in the mirror and ask ourselves how much of our own failings are enabling the misbehaviors of others and creating these challenges to this liberal order?
Robert Clark 06:32
It’s very interesting. Alexander, thank you. Potentially, could I just draw out something? I think with one of the greatest threats, which is quite an interesting take to sort of liberal democracy at the moment. And this is recently witnessed in the US, of course, is this notion of democratic backsliding. Democratic alliances are of little use if liberal forces are able to erode them from within. How can we challenge this democratic backsliding when it occurs in order to ensure both social resilience and institutional integrity from a liberal state who will only seeking to weaken these forces? And I use the example of of the the Kremlin’s response to to the recent US elections.
Alexander Lanoszka 07:15
Right now, I’m a little to be sure. I’m a little wary of arguments about democratic backsliding. I mean, sure, relative to 10 years ago, we have seen democratic institutions under duress, relative to 30 years ago, I’m not so sure. In fact, I would just as well argue they’re even more democracy than 30 years ago, depends on the metric that you use, democracy is going to be fractious, because after on theory, at least, you’re inviting everyone to participate in political order, conflict will therefore be inevitable. But I still take your point about how there needs to be this effort to boost social resilience. And we don’t want to become liberal, illiberal. And if we are to confront illiberal threats, and frankly, we just don’t need to be. Now I’m not someone who’s known in my own circles as being a person of the left. But I think in the post COVID period, we’re going to have to, perhaps, accept the need for a higher taxation, especially on very high income earner earners in order to address the problem of inequality that only worsen over the course of the pandemic. The economic dislocation that this pandemic has caused is going to be prime fodder for grievances and even more anti systemic disenchantment of the sort that might not have yet been seen, even the West in the last 5-10 years. So boosting social programmes aimed at reinvigorating the middle class may just as well be crucial. closing those tax loopholes and tightening those investment rules may also get out the dirty money problem, which too is an exacerbating factor, giving resources, like I said, just to enforce the rules in the books may be important. So already we’re starting to see these efforts, the United States has just passed the Anti Money Laundering Act, the National Security Adviser has named kleptocracy as a threat to US and allied interests. And so it’s just a matter of seeing other politicians step up and therefore putting more resources into these problems and making a decent effort of it because with a pandemic, these challenges can only become more severe if they’re unheeded.
Robert Clark 09:33
That’s a great observation. Thank you for that. It’s now my pleasure to introduce our next speaker is Theresa Fallon. Theresa is the founder and director of the Centre for Russia, Europe, Asia studies in Brussels. Teresa, thank you very much for your opening remarks. Thank you.
Theresa Fallon 09:53
Thank you to the organisers. I’m delighted to be here. You can hear me okay. All right. To paraphrase the historian Timothy Snyder, the arc of history does not bend toward justice. In fact, there is no arc of history. So that means that the way I interpret what he said is that we have to continue to support and defend that liberal international order. It’s not set in stone as Francis Fukuyama tended to think. So I, I’ll make three broad points, because we’re limited, and then we’ll get into more details during the q&a. So my first point will be about China. We’ve just seen the National People’s Congress held in Beijing, and the, the accent really was on dual circulation, which means that China wants to be less dependent on the rest of the world, and they want the rest of the world to be more dependent on them. And so this is an interesting challenge for the rest of the world really. And they don’t mind sacrificing economic growth now for security, which is very different than how the rest of the world is really looking at the economic situation in a post COVID-19 landscape. So this idea of strategic decoupling, or at least in strategic issues, like personal protective equipment, PPE, which the covid 19 pandemic really highlighted that we really needed that. And so we saw this idea of China’s self sufficiency made in 2025, they wanted to be at least 70%, independent from the rest of the international economy. So this creates a paradox because I’m based here in Brussels, this will be my third point, but I’ll address the comprehensive agreement on investment, because as countries want to become more closely intwined, with China, China wants to step back from that. And in fact, China’s not 10 feet tall. This economic, this NPC is, you know, designed to dazzle the international community, as well as China’s domestic audience. But we know that China faces serious headwinds in regard to demographics and ageing population. border disputes we saw recently with India with 24 soldiers killed there on the border, and then a declining international popularity, especially during COVID-19. So my second point is about Russia, China. And so this idea that Russia, since I’m based in Brussels, that’s how they tend to look at the world. They look at Russia as a competitor, or a real threat to them. So this idea that Russia China linkage is something anathema most countries in Europe don’t want to see this type of linkage. And there have been many books written about maybe the axis of convenience or a marriage of convenience. But in reality, if there’s a marriage of convenience, there are children. So we have seen actually a growing like mindedness among Russia and China. So this poses a real dilemma for Europe. And we we have seen this idea I call them that arm chair Kissinger’s this kind of simplistic notion that if they can reset relations with Russia, they no longer have to worry about China. So I think that High Representative BOrrell’s recent visit to Moscow should have disabused others from that view. For those who might have missed the story love for Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov really gave him a shellacking. Dismiss three European diplomats during the press conference and really humiliated him. So he was advised not to go by many. There’s 27 EU member states in here since Brexit, but many had advised him not to go he went to anyway, because the French initiative is you know to have this reset. Macron has been pushing that since 2017. And it was a huge failure. So when he returned, they tried to spin it into more positive stories. And now all of us are on the same page about Russia. But we’ve just seen a bilateral visit or meeting with Germany. So Germany is still kind of cultivating this idea of a Russian reset. And also we see this issue of the Nord Stream pipeline, which also causes problems in transatlantic relations. So this kind of inability to be on the same page on seeing common threats is a problem as well. Okay, and then, let’s see. So let’s move on then to the third point transatlantic relations and cooperation on China. So we know that when I mentioned China earlier, one of the biggest Achilles heels is the silicon semiconductor. They need chips, they actually import more chips, the value of chips are more valuable than oil. And that’s huge words an economy like China. So we’ve just seen recently the US has made it quite clear they have blocked certain semiconductors from being exported to the PRC. And then just this recently, over the weekend, I believe ASML, a Dutch semiconductor manufacturer has renewed a contract with China. So this is another problematic issue in transatlantic relations. This is part of a trend I mean, the difficulties in transatlantic relations have their ups and downs, I would say they date back to the Gulf War. And then also, there’s kind of a narrative here in Europe that these problems really are from the period of Trump. But if you go back in time, I think there have been ups and downs in the transatlantic relationship, especially in regard to China. We saw with the Obama administration, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB, of the UK, as well as other countries joined without so much a heads up and President Obama had lobbied them not to join. So there has been these kind of tensions in the transatlantic relationship in regard to China. But we’ve seen a huge increase in cyber attacks, information, warfare, as well as disinformation during COVID-19. So this has changed dramatically, and the EU has only two people to work on China’s disinformation and Burrell last week, commented that they don’t have the resources to deal with this disinformation. And this is a very serious issue. it erodes a lot of these institutions. And it’s something that’s should have resources, I think there needs to be more cooperation on these issues. And there’s also deep European ambivalence. This dates for a while they see China as the future, the US is in decline, they want to, you know, kind of hitch their cart to the Chinese economic model. But we see also a moral slippery slope here. And the big biggest issue here is now German dependence on China now with at the same time as the comprehensive agreement on investment was being negotiated at the end of December, we saw the final conclusions of the Brexit negotiations. And the calculus in Europe has changed dramatically with the exit of the UK, because Germany is actually far stronger now. And so they try to dress it up as a Franco German engine. But clearly what we’ve seen with the comprehensive agreement on investment, the negotiations, if you take the next five EU member states combined, they do not equal Germany’s investments or trade with with China. So clearly, they were in the driver’s seat on this. And the other issues are Hong Kong, Tibet, Shin Jang, we see Europe largely silent on these things, we’re sending out very low level types of statements, flagging these issues, but really just saying, we are concerned or we are deeply concerned, which really doesn’t seem to turn the tide on these issues. So what we need to do is Joint Economic leverage. There are many discussions, alright, it’s early days of the Biden administration. But I think that there is a need for a joint approach and economic leverage to punish firms that you know, steal technology, intellectual property engage in other unfair and illegal practices. We also need, you know, everyone talks about burden sharing, but there’s almost a need for burden shifting as the US focuses more on the indo Pacific, Germany, for example, even decreased spending on their military. So there’s a big issue in Europe about even taking care of the immediate neighbourhood. And we need to revitalise international institutions and those elements of rules based order that can limit competition between states. And then finally, rule of law. Basically, South China Sea, we see this heating up. And in 2016, it was the first time you really could see that the EU was not able to speak with one voice on China, with the arbitral tribunal decision. On Philippines versus the PRC, the EU had a very watered down statement. For example, it was Croatia, Greece and Hungary, who were blocking agents on this, Croatia had a maritime dispute with Slovenia, so I understand why they set that aside, but Hungary and Greece actually watered down the statement to something, we just acknowledge that it exists. So they were not there to support rule of law in the South China Seas. Since then, member States have independently written statements to support it, but I think that we really need these organisations or countries to support rule of law in the South China Sea.
Robert Clark 19:19
No, I completely agree absolutely, wholeheartedly, particularly with that last comments series are some fantastic points brought out and hopefully just a reminder to the audience watching. I’ll introduce the third and final speaker in a moment. And then after that, we’re going to open up for the the audience q&a. So for those of us who are watching on the live streams, if you have any questions you’d like to ask either myself or our speakers, our panel, please do feel free to comments directly and we’ll adhere to to address those shortly. So, Teresa, thank you again for those those great observations. And our third and final speaker this afternoon is is Mr. Bob Seeley MP and Mr Seeley is the Member of Parliament for the Isle of White, as well as which he sits on the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Thank you, Bob over to yourself.
Bob Seely MP 20:07
Thanks, actually, Robert, thank you for the for the other two speakers a very interesting listening to them. And I’m just going to make three or four brief points. And then we can move to some questions. When it comes to understanding authoritarian states, you have to understand different notions of war and peace. In the West, there’s a very fixed, very limited idea of what is war supposed to what is peace. And in countries like Russia and China, effectively countries that have a revolutionary tradition, there is a very different form of understanding of sort of virulent and aggressive state competition. Russia, arguably in the 20th century had two ways of war as a way of war that we know about, which is the Red army, some fantastically creative, original thinking, especially in the 1920s, and 30s selection, insertion all these people that sadly ended up being shot by Stalin. The Americans look for inspiration in the 1980s and 1990s. From a lot of Russian creative thinkers, military thinkers in the 1920s and 30s. However, there was a hidden way of war, that we’re only really beginning to find out about now, as we are learning or relearning Russia’s ways of war. And that is a subversive political conflict. And we over focus far too much on information war, without it’s not really about information, why information is the tool, but it’s what the Russians do with it, creating a parallel universe of fake reality and artificial reality. You know, this is the Bolshevik tradition, the left in this country got very excited when they can start adding fake news to Trump, the Bolsheviks have been practising fake news, revolutionary anarchist movements in the vaccine fake news ever since the second half of the 19th century. And it’s been part of the of the radical tradition on the left, but also on the right, if you look at the Nazis and the fascists in the 1920s, and 30s. So I think when it comes to notions of war and peace, and the the struggle, the ideological struggle as it was called in the Soviet Union, that I think that we have to understand these, these the differences between war and peace. And the fact is that we are in a period of fairly intense state competition with Russia, which is very destructive, but also with China, which has a slightly longer term and slightly more subtle game, and far more focused on economic means. And then that sort of builds into the development of covert influence. People like Clive Hamilton be very effective in describing that. Couple of other points alliances, when it comes to dealing with authoritarian states, we need to develop we need to renew our alliances. And there’s a problem there because Canada and the US, I think we are going to reach a like minded attitude Canada, Australia, the United States, or hopefully even New Zealand and ourselves. I think EU as two previous speakers have said is slightly more difficult. I think the EU is pretty weak on China. And Nord Stream shows that the the German business lobby is very powerful in the European Union. And I think Nord Stream may worst case scenario, enable Russia to have a much more aggressive, maybe conventional orientated war in Ukraine, depending on the circumstances over the next few years. Thirdly, new alliances. So India is going to become incredibly key in the future, because of India, permanently joins to the democratic open societies, that is going to be a significant significant boost for the free world effectively. When it comes to dealing with authoritarian powers, so little of it is about sort of waving bony fingers at Russia and China and being outraged in the House of Commons and all that sort of stuff. But I find it hugely frustrating so much, it’s just waffle. Actually, what we need to be doing is protecting ourselves. And both previous speakers were talking about that banking and finance the use of these sort of oligarchs using shell companies using the western system, and then sort of corrupting individuals, you have to look at how many members of House of Lords of Russian business interests, I mean, it’s a real shocker. So to use of shell companies our investment in security bill instead of having a much more robust attitude, national security is going to be defined by the Secretary State for days. I don’t think that’s balanced. If you look at CFIUS, the equivalent in the United States is much, much more rigorous, and you’ve got much more of a defensive security angle to it as well. Home policy, also universities, I mean, the the amount of UK universities, a junior somewhat recent Telegraph recently, might have universities lining up to do work with with secret and military universities in China are just going to use this technology, either to oppress their own people potentially to oppress him oppress others, again, just like where’s the long term strategy in this? I mean, I think Huawei’s entry to the UK about 15 years ago and how they were effectively able to come up to co opt to BT to become a vehicle for Chinese interest in this country. I think it’s would make a really good PhD subject for somebody who wanted to do it. And I think that’s I’m gonna leave it there for Managers I’m aware of time.
Robert Clark 25:04
That’s Great, thank you, Bob, in particular your comments regarding Huawei and especially the US CFIUS as a model where potentially we can we can replicate here in the UK, I think is absolutely crucial to carrying of debate forward. Okay, we’re now going to open up to the to the audience q&a. And if I, if I can use my prerogative just to start there’s a there’s a great question sent in from, from a man who I’ll pose to, I’ll pose to all three of you. And the question is as follows. The Chinese Communist Party on those Xi Jinping is inexistant to a rules based international order, a threat to rules based global economy and prosperity. Does the panel agree that the US on the Biden has understood it correctly, and hence, it is looking to prioritise its Indo Pacific tilt, where India is and will play an even larger role in balancing the CCP threat to the world order. And the second part of that is, with the panel agree that here in the UK, we should press ahead to prioritise the push for the so called detail and the Democratic Alliance with urgent sincerity and engage with an India and Australia leveraging our shared values and geopolitical interests in a much bigger way. So if I can try ask in reverse order, Bob, if I start with you.
Bob Seely MP 26:17
It’s a very good point. So it builds on what I was saying about India, I mean, I think it’s very much in India’s interest to to align itself with the United States and counter nations. So Australia, Canada, the United States, for Australia, and ourselves. So I think that’s very important. And I do think, I think the detail is a really good idea. And I’d like us to push on with it. That I mean, if you look at sort of the idea of United, just look at the UK, and you look at the idea of UK strategic culture, we’re an island. So Navy Empire, so global Navy, Europe, preventing one single power from becoming dominant, we’re gonna have to change that dynamic now, because he thought the European Union was a failing federal state, sadly. But if there’s one thing that, arguably, United Kingdom is unique about it in the global order, it is our ability to develop alliances. And it’s not necessarily the thing you think of when you think about strategic culture. But without our alliances, we probably wouldn’t have survived World War One, we certainly wouldn’t have survived World War Two. And so it’s that alliances that has made us prosper, but also kept us safe. And it’s those alliances and because we’re good at alliances, generally, you can criticise us for leaving the European Union, park that, we need a new new century of global alliances. And that’s going to be not only reinvigorating CANZUK, it’s going to be keeping the US relationship, and folding that into a wider CANZUK relationship and then bringing on board other nations as well. And not just India, but Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, you know, Brazil, all these all these other nations in a new alliance are detailed. I think it’s a brilliant idea. I think India is really critical. I think it’s massively in India’s interest not to go down the same authoritarian model as China and Russia, but actually to be different. Because if you look at sort of geopolitics, you know, you’ve got Russia as an authoritarian state, China as an authoritarian state, that massive landmass and India as the odd one out, and I think India needs to keep being the odd one out and be part of a global, a global alliance of free states. I think that’s a much better future. But it’s also much better future for us as well. The interior is part of that that alliance of democracy. So rolandi term, a great idea. And I think we should be part of it. And we should be really leading the charge to make this happen. Because there’s one thing the UK is good at is building alliances globally.
Robert Clark 28:51
I agree completely. Thank you. Theresa, would you like to weigh in on that on those questions?
Theresa Fallon 28:56
Okay. Okay, three points. The indo Pacific strategy is something that will be published next month by the EU. So France had already published a paper on this two years ago, under the German council Presidency of Angela Merkel, this was also one of their priorities. So they published guidelines. And the Netherlands also published that. So the indo Pacific is definitely on Europe’s radar. But what the paper will say if it will really push back, it remains to be seen. They do want to promote diversification, which is a key issue because even though Europe is signing FTA, with Japan, South Korea, there’s actually more intensification of the market in China. So they’re investing more in China, even though they have these FTAs with other countries. And the whole idea behind these FTAs was to diversify. The second point is about the D10. I think this is a brilliant idea. I think that we really do have to emphasise the values of democracy because it is really in decline, as we know from Freedom House. And I think that what is most telling is that on the sidelines, of Davos, Chancellor Merkel said that she would not join any sort of block that would counterbalance China. And then a few days later, President Macron said the same thing to the Atlantic Council. So you have France and Germany saying that they will not join any sort of counter balancing block that would help shape China’s choices. I think it’s very worrisome. So I’m glad that you know there will be a Coalition’s of the willing and the D10 I think should be a place to start. Now we saw with the Munich Security Conference speech of Angela Merkel, she kind of changed it a bit, but it’s really unclear where they stand. And then finally, to pick up on the previous speakers comments about the UK. The one thing about the UK being outside of the EU, is that now there’s some competition going on. And so I think that this is very healthy. And for example, even with vaccines, I mean, the EU, we know it’s been shambolic rollout of the vaccine programme, and they’re always looking at the UK. And it rankles, you know, Angela Merkel even said, Oh, it rankles, you know, to see how well they’re doing. So I think that’s healthy competition. And the fact that the BBC banned CGTN, the Chinese, they called it a propaganda channel. So that was banned for about one week across Europe because of these older agreements. So once the BBC decided that it was a propaganda channel, it wasn’t able to be played across Europe and on any station, and Xi Jinping picked up the phone and called Macron. And guess what, it’s back on the continent. So I think the UK can be a conscious and I think that’s very, very important for the rest of Europe.
Robert Clark 31:39
Very interesting remarks. Alexander, would you like to weigh in on that?
Alexander Lanoszka 31:43
Sure. And I’ll just focus on the first part of the question, the one that dealt with the threat assessment of the Biden administration. So as you know, many observers were worried at the outset that the Biden administration would adopt a much softer line towards China, there seem to have been some mixed signalling on the part of the transition team in the months before the inauguration. But it does seem to me at least that the threat assessments of the buyer ministration have been more or less in line with even the Trump administration has spoken of extreme competition with China. The documents released so far limited in numbers they may be emphasise the challenges associated with China. There’s much focus on the indo Pacific. There may have been, of course, the extension of the New START treaty, but that was largely due to a desire to simply buy time, especially in light of the staffing issues in the Biden administration, there’s a lot of vacancies that probably will not be filled for another year. But even so, the Biden administration has been very clear that it still takes very seriously the threat posed by Russia. And in fact, there was an announcement yesterday to the effect that there will be covert counter strikes on Russian cyber infrastructure in the weeks ahead. Now, how covert? I don’t know, because they literally just announced it yesterday. But the point is that, I think the Biden administration, will more or less continue on the same path of the try the Trump administration with regard to these threat assessments, but unlike the Trump administration, I think it’s going to make a much more credible case for preserving the rule based international order predicate as it may be on liberal democracy. So certainly, we haven’t seen that sort of language from the Biden administration. So along those lines, I think the D10 is indeed a very good idea. Because I think there’s this temptation nowadays to more or less see everything through like a quote, unquote, realist lens, where it’s all about strategic interest that, you know, sets us apart. I think, as the other speakers have pointed out, there is this ideological struggle may not be so apparent and obvious, as during the Cold War, but it’s not by accident that on the one hand, you do have liberal democracies. And on the other hand, you do have these authoritarian states that have only become more authoritarian over the course of the last 10 years. So the D10 is, it’s a good idea. It will help strengthen democracy, insofar as it demonstrates that solidarity and can provide a unified front.
Robert Clark 34:19
Yeah, certainly, I think this summer with the G7 summit in in the UK, I think there will be some interesting developments will come out regarding sort of the the D10 going forward and crucially, hopefully, we’ll be able to, we’ll be able to see where the challenges in that in that lie. And I’m going to ask you, there’s a question here from members of the audience. Christopher? Forgive pronunciation is it Segar, Christopher Segar. Christopher, if you’re watching this, would you like to unmute yourself and ask your question, please.
Christopher Segar 34:51
Yes, thank you. I was just following up on D10. The question – The Commonwealth Has democracy and open society as its core values, when countries in the Commonwealth fall short of that, as Pakistan did they get pushed out of the Commonwealth. Is it not possible to see a role for the Commonwealth as a collection of the much smaller states worldwide, who are signed up in a certain sense to the values that we’re trying to promote?
Robert Clark 35:25
\Thank you, Chris. I think that’s a really interesting observation regarding the Commonwealth. Just one on that, obviously, the Barbados, obviously, the Chinese influence in Barbados, potentially influencing their decision to look at removing the Queen as, as their head of state. I think that that’s quite a good example of, you know, how, how the Commonwealth is absolutely integral to British national interests and foreign policy going forwards, but also the threat faced from, you know, from these authoritarian powers and their interests. Bob, perhaps I could, I could ask you to start that one off please.
Bob Seely MP 36:05
I mean, I agree up to a point I have a slight problem with the Commonwealth is, we’ve been trying to turn it into Well, given arguments to turn it into an organisation, which is much more structural and integrated for some time. And I’m not sure in practice, if that is ever gonna work. But because it is a collection of states with a loose, a loose a looser collection of states, but with a with a pretty shared set of values. And very often with the queen. So as nominal head of state, but certainly as as, as an influential figure, there probably are more things that you could do with the Commonwealth. And the more that we can pull Commonwealth states into being part of that global alliance of free states, for sure, the better. So I think it is a useful device and a potentially valuable and important vehicle. But I think it is slightly also tied up in renewing the Commonwealth, which is a separate development. So it’s something that we can certainly be doing in parallel. And indeed, in the next 50-100 years, Commonwealth may have some of the biggest has got some of the biggest growth markets anyway in it, and maybe more so. So I think it may become more valuable and more important over the years. So potentially, yes, but there’s always a caveat, there was a bit of a bug with the Commonwealth.
Robert Clark 37:25
Interesting with the caveat. So, Alexander, do you have any comments for for regarding the role of the Commonwealth going forward?
Alexander Lanoszka 37:31
I would just echo the previous speaker. I mean, the Commonwealth is an organisation of 54 states from multiple regions around the world. So just by virtue of that alone, you won’t expect as much structured or integrated cooperation as you would with an organisation with far fewer members have much more like minded countries. So certainly the idea of using the Commonwealth is laudable along the along the lines suggested, but I think it’s going to run into these sorts of structural difficulties.
Robert Clark 38:04
Theresa do you have anything to add to that?
Theresa Fallon 38:07
I would just echo the two previous speakers, but it’s what’s needed is more than just values, but there has to be shared interest as well, in order to get everyone on board.
Robert Clark 38:18
Absolutely, thank you. There’s a there’s an interesting question from the audience here. Peter Astbury. Peter, if you’d like to unmute yourself, please and ask your question to the speakers. Thank you.
Peter Astbury 38:32
Yes, hi, thank you very much. My question is this. I don’t know if I’ll be stated very clearly. But hopefully, the panellists can guess its direction. It seems to me there’s been such a lot of investment, emotional, intellectual investment and with the idea that we are moving towards a sort of post nationalist, post national future, the supranational future. I wonder whether it’s almost impossible for us to step back from that. And think that it may be it’s not working out as we planned and make the necessary adjustments, fine tuning in our approach to policy going forward. Thank you.
Robert Clark 39:23
Thank you, Peter, who would like to talk about well, first, Teresa, would you like to?
Theresa Fallon 39:29
That’s a tough one. So investment in the idea that we’re moving into post national future? I’m not sure how to handle that one at all. I’ll leave it to my other colleagues.
Bob Seely MP 39:43
I’m not quite sure the question because I didn’t think it’s true. To talk about supranatural future I get I get the fact that what the I’m not quite sure if that is to be dismissive of the idea of an alliance of democracies, which is an alliance of independent free states, which is not supranational, but it’s International, or whether that’s a criticism of something like the European Union. I mean, the answer is when it comes to people dissing the supranatural future. That’s what Brexit was about. So we are, we are going back to it to a national sovereign model. You could also say, for very different reasons, Russia has done the same the idea of managed democracy, the obsession with Russian sovereignty, clearly, they want to manipulate the states around them. So Russia and the UK for very different reasons, have both rejected this sort of liberal internationalist model. And in terms of, of the successful liberal internationalism, I wouldn’t say it’s dire death. But it’s certainly taken some massive steps back. I remember Tony Blair walked back in, what, 20 years ago, talking about the right to protect and the UN bringing in the rights protecting what 2005 Russians and the Chinese have done their best to actually be kicked right to protect or sorry, the responsibility to protect RTP absolutely kicked out into touch. So supranational future, people have been, you know, knocking six bales out of it. But the best part of two decades now, including us, in this country, we’re about the only people who’ve actually done it for arguably decent reasons, which is democracy and respecting national sovereignty and people’s relationship with their, with their political rulers, many parts of the world. liberal internationalism has been has been given a tough time by new authoritarian states. So I disagree where we are in that in that cycle. But when it comes to the D10, alliances are free states are a really good thing. Free Trade, as long as it’s equal and fair, is a really good thing that is not sort of liberal imperialism, liberal imperialism had its day was arguably pretty flawed. Anyway, certainly the way that Mr. Blair argued it as the way he argued most things. And, and it’s pretty much been kicked into touch. And if anything, we’ve gone probably too far the other way.
Robert Clark 41:56
Interesting, thank you for that. Bob. Alexander, do you have anything you’d like to add on to that?
Alexander Lanoszka 42:00
I suppose I would just say that our future is neither supranational nor national. Yes, there have been integrated pressures within the European Union that have stalled somewhat recently, yes, we have been seeing populist movements that embrace the language of nationalism, and certainly have had tangible policy effects. But even so we’re talking still about free trade and democracy is working in concert with one another, this is very, very, very much removed from the world of the interwar period where nationalism really was at it’s Hey, day, at least with respect to continental matters. So there are strong limits to how far one can go on a nationalist path. Even in Europe, we’re especially in Europe. And that, of course, implies to the other direction for the reasons that was just mentioned, right? domestic, central governments are going to be protective of their sovereign authority to a certain extent, because even Poland, Hungary still respect parts of many parts of EU law are the same. So. So again, there’s there are limits in either direction. And I think that’s indicative of some unique structural features of our own DNA age, not least because of globalisation.
Robert Clark 43:25
I was very considered on so thank you, Alexander. there’s a there’s a question here from Jack Clayton in the audience. Jack, would you like to unmute yourself and ask your question to the panel, please?
Jack Clayton 43:38
Hi, I just want to make more playfully phrase this in a way that’s understandable. But my question is, would a more democratic makeup of the UNSC members or even the idea of actually just creating a new international organisation of democracies strengthen liberal order against authoritarianism? How useful really, is it to actually have members like China and Russia being permanent ones? Trying to uphold international law when they perhaps violated themselves?
Robert Clark 44:17
Yeah, it’s quite it’s quite a sticky wicket. But understandable. Alexander, I can see you chomping at the bit for this one. Would you like to lead this.
Alexander Lanoszka 44:26
Sure. I will. Definitley not just in the United Nations Security Council, because after all, you do want to give a stake to other major powers in the international order, as it were, that was one reason why the League of Nations failed as it did. They just had no stake and the architects of the post war period understood that and learn from that experience flawed as the liberal international order may have been over the course of the Cold War and thereafter. So I will not create parallel organisation such but But I think still, as we have already mentioned today, democracy should deepen their cooperation with one another because of this ideological struggle that we have seen become more salient in the last decade.
Robert Clark 45:16
Thank you, Theresa, would you like to add?
Theresa Fallon 45:19
I would just add to that, that it’s important to revitalise organised organisations that already do exist. And I think it’s, it’s dangerous to just have it democracy because I think like minded partners could also be included if they’re aspiring towards democracy, or there are countries that are backsliding on democracy. So to only make it democracies could be problematic. The whole idea is that we have this giant China, which has clearly with the leaked document number eight, were on universal values. So they’re threatened by these types of enlightenment values. And we cannot just be quiet and sit back because they really are working hard to erode these, and they’ve been quite successful. So I think that like minded partners, not you know, even in these loose alliances, we’ve seen the biggest losers at the United Nations are actually your European countries. China has cultivated a great deal of expertise and influence in in these large multilateral institutions, which the EU tends to gravitate towards, but they’ve actually lost a lot more influence. So I think that revitalising these organisations, understanding the tactics that Beijing is using in them, and counter balancing them with like minded partners is probably the best way forward at this point.
Robert Clark 46:33
I completely agree. Bob, do you have anything you’d like to add on all that, please?
Bob Seely MP 46:37
Yeah, just briefly, I think when it comes to the new international organisation won’t work. Giving up on the UN wont work, just walking away is just not an option. And that’s all there is. Although the UN’s very imperfect, that actually we just need to work much better on it. I mean, it’s very often it’s the US and the UK, the biggest payers for staff, but we get outmanoeuvred because we just don’t play the game. And in the Chinese treat this almost like a theatre of war, to dominate these technical committees and international arena, and to dominate sort of non aligned groups we just didn’t get stuck in and actually play that game better than they are. And if our spread is so strong, let’s get out there. And let’s just really work the UN system so much better than we do and treat it as, as effectively a form of very, very intense state competition for the next 50 years. There is humanity as a choice this century, when you get out in an open society route, however imperfect, and how the dominated with a sort of drivel that we’ve been seeing today from the dreadful successes or whether we go down this sort of closed society model of having authoritarian states. And you know, one good thing about China’s hopefully, they’re censoring that idiotic way. But yeah, that that aside, we’ve got a choice between open and closed societies, and we’ve got to defend and we’ve got to champion the values of open societies, on the UN Security Council, adding membership won’t necessarily work. And there’s a right to veto on the Security Council. So we need to work the UN system much better, we need to work in tandem with the Canadians, the Australians are pretty good, I must say, we need to fight much more with them, we need to make sure that, you know, the US and likewise, we need to get the Europeans as much on board as possible. Despite the fact that they are they’re banging on about European values, but they’re becoming really quite morally complicit in both Russia and China, which is I think, really showing them up in a very poor way. So we’ve just got to continue fighting, and that’s going to be pushing for D10.
Robert Clark 48:36
Thank you, Bob. Just a while I’ve got you, Bob. There’s a question here from Joyce. And I think this will, this will be right up both of our streets. But Bob, if I can put this to yourself. Regarding global Britain, where do you see Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain featuring in global Britain’s foreign policy outlook to deal exclusively or specifically, I should say, with the authoritarian challenges to liberal order?
Bob Seely MP 49:01
I mean, that’s a fair? That’s a fair question. I think I wouldn’t pop Bahrain in now, I know that you’re occasionally getting letters from people saying conveying about human rights in Bahrain. And by the turn of the letter that people love writing. I know absolutely nothing about Bahrain and never been there. I don’t think Bahrain is a particularly bad case. And I think some people, I think there are some left groups in this country in the West that have got the hump about it, which I think is rather misplaced. Likewise, the UAE I mean, these aren’t perfect. There is a moral quandary potentially with a country like Saudi, because it clearly isn’t a democracy. It occasionally does very bad things. And its war in Yemen is morally problematic. I mean, I can tell you what Putin would do, and Putin would stand by his allies, and they might come hell or high water, no matter how bad they were. Am I saying that we should do that? No, we shouldn’t do that because we’re better than these authoritarian states. But if we have long term alliances and relationships with people going off in a fit of pique or denouncing them to make ourselves feel better in the short term is not an answer. We need to try to take people with us and win people over. And yes, that does mean you get into morally complex and morally difficult territory. And as undoubtedly we are in Saudi, but if we pulled out of Saudi and stop selling arms, that the Russians and the French would move in tomorrow, and I’m sorry, I just don’t have time to see the argument. I think I’d rather have influence over a country. And do you get to improve their targeting to improve the quality of their military decision making to actually have some kind of pull on people and leverage rather than just walking away saying, Well, I’m already perfect, and then have another 5000 people unemployed in the back of it?
Robert Clark 50:42
I mean, that’s a very realistic outlook to have regarding what’s undoubtedly a tricky situation. But thank you, if I could post to the other two a more broader theme through some of the question is posed by the audience has been where the Middle East and North Africa region, for instance, fit into the idea we’re talking about democracies, as a lot of young democracies in in the sort of broader MENA region. Theresa, can I just ask if you’ve got any views on thoughts where where this fits in? With the wider debate, please?
Theresa Fallon 51:14
Well, I think that China’s investments in these regions I, Africa, it’s incredible. China has grown their influence dramatically. And this is an area where Europe used to have far more influence. For example, we’ve been saw with the recent FAO chair, Europe has poured millions and millions into Africa. So they expected to get votes from them, they have 27 votes plus possible, you know, Andorra countries like that altogether, they could possibly count on 37 votes at the UN. But China won because of all these votes in Africa. So I think that we touched on it earlier about the ability of China to play the system so well, and the influence they’ve been able to garner. Through these, I’ve seen an interesting grouping between India, the US and Europe in regard to pushing back on language that Chinese diplomats manage to get into official UN documents about the Belton road initiative and the common, you know, for all common destiny for all mankind. So the fact that they finally twigged on that these statements were in un documents, I think is key and that pushing back is important. But I think that this region, in addition, China is is very clever, they’ve reimagined geography. So I would say that the Mediterranean region, you know, they have reimagined it, and they’ve, the investments in Port infrastructure and how they see trade in North Africa to Southern Europe will really be key for the future of development. And I think many have not tweaked on to the important strategy that you’re that China has for this region. So I think this is a key region for the future. And as we see tensions in the eastern Med as well, this geopolitics, you know, your might not be interested in geopolitics, but geopolitics is on their doorstep right now.
Robert Clark 53:08
I think that last, that last remark is incredibly pertinent, especially regarding eastern Mediterranean, it’s an area that’s not really talked about much. Alexander, do you have anything to add onto that?
Alexander Lanoszka 53:17
I mean, if the question is about how America and Europe can deepen their engagement with non Western partners, I think one very specific way of doing so is to, in fact, bring Taiwan more firmly back into the international community, you know, is a successful liberal democracy of over 23 million people push far too long to the margins of international community. There is in fact, a precedent for Taiwan to be a member and the United Nations General Assembly, I mean, think of West and East Germany in the Cold War and North and South Korea right now. So although there may be a major dispute across the straits, as to international claims, there is that precedent. But of course, you know, Taiwan’s application to the United Nations is going to be a bit of a long shot, considering, of course, China’s opposition, but even within Taiwan, you know, you have to bring the Taiwanese on board because they’ve had their own referenda over a decade ago as to whether to widen their participation, international organisations, and those referenda had failed. But things do change. Taiwan’s outward it used to be even 10 years ago, Chinese American relations are much different now. And indeed, the United States has been moving progressively closer to Taiwan in such a way that if the United Nations is a bridge too far, then one can think of Taiwan’s participation to more functional organisations like the World Health Organisation, which I think would be a good start precisely because of China’s handling of the covid 19 pandemic as well as the remarkable success that Taiwan has had throughout this entire crisis.
Bob Seely MP 54:57
Can I just add to that, Rob?
Robert Clark 54:58
Bob Seely MP 54:59
I agree completely with Alexander saying I actually go further I mean, of all the democracies that we need to be including in a D10, ad if we ever, if we ever do do it that moccasins in the Pacific is, especially in the South China Sea are absolutely critical. South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, etc. And not only that, but we’re mentally modernising our slightly dysfunctional bureaucratic state at the moment, I wouldn’t bother looking at places in Europe. I mean, the Germans do a great job and half German, we’d love the Germans and all that, you know, but actually, the places I’ve been looking at how to build an ultra modern 21st century state is not Germany might be Estonia, but actually, it’s Taiwan, South Korea, it’s these countries because they’re in the cutting edge. A they’ve coped with the pandemic incredibly well. And being that they seem to have a really good balance between an a very advanced use of technology with a profound respect for human rights. And we’ve got a way of muddling our way through these issues in a way that they’ve, they’ve got it safe. So I will be getting on a plane to Pacific to about really what really modern well functioning states look like.
Robert Clark 55:59
That’s a really interesting observation, especially in regards to Taiwan from you both. It’s something that we try and incorporate here a lot of Henry Jackson society, particularly with Gray Sergeant’s work. So no, I, I completely agree that if I can nap time is time is of the essence. So there’s one last question I’d like to ask. And if I can just ask for the the answers to be quite succinct, which I think there may be for this. John Dobson from the audience. John, if you’re still on, would you like to unmute yourself and ask your question, please?
John Dobson 56:27
Yes, thank you very much. The subject of Nord Stream two has been raised by the panel already. And Curiously, it was the subject of my column in the yesterday’s Sunday Guardian, the Indian Sunday Guardian, where I posed the question, should it be cancelled? If the members of the panel had the power to do so? Would they cancelled the Nord Stream two?
Robert Clark 56:51
Alaska? Alexander, would you like to go first?
Alexander Lanoszka 56:55
I mean, if I were If it were up to me, I would but I guess I’m biassed, but I just don’t see it happening. Given the German domestic domestic climate as well as just how much investment Germany’s put into it. I mean, it’s sunken cost fallacy at this point, you do see a number of interesting but problematic solutions put forward by Wolfgang Ischinger and others. To make Nord Stream two more palatable. The problem is that none of those solutions seem to be very credible. The notion that Germany would simply close the tap with Russian would have misbehaved just does not seem to resonate, especially in light of ongoing concerns that Germany is really not pulling its weight as it should with regards to handling the issues that other European countries have or just the European Union more generally have with Russia. So I don’t see it being cancelled. But if we’re up to me, sure, but I’m not. I don’t have to face a German business or voting constituency.
Bob Seely MP 58:02
It may be a good idea to cancel it, but it’s not going to happen. The minute was started to be built, it wasn’t going to be cancelled. Germany is too dependent on Russian fuel. Unlike Poland, and Lithuania. They haven’t diversified for political reasons. I think there’s still a little wobble which really that doesn’t need to be, you know, that was 70 years ago. And I mean, I heard recently, some Germans justifying some of their decisions on a discomfort with a sense of guilt dealing with Russia. Really, that doesn’t help decision making now. And I really wish the Germany would diversify away from dependency on Russian energy, because the idea that they’re going to turn off Russian fuel in order to punish Russia for another round of warfare in Ukraine, Ukraine is simply not going to happen. And actually, all it does is mean that Germany is effectively paying for Russia’s rearm, which is not necessarily a very good thing.
Robert Clark 58:57
That’s a very good observation. Thank you, Theresa, Dr. Anything for that?
Theresa Fallon 59:00
Well, it’s 94% built and I would still say no to it, because I think that this sets a dangerous precedent. We see the same thing happening on the ground in Germany with Huawei, UK was the first country to ban Huawei. We saw France follow the Netherlands. Germany has never shut the door on Huawei. And I did interviews a year and a half ago before COVID, with policymakers there and they were saying Huawei is establishing facts on the ground. And even though the Bundestag has not made up their mind on it. So it seems to be a policy that they just continue to build these things and say it’s out of our hands. But it’s a Germany first policy, because clearly, Nord Stream two undermines not just Ukraine. Also, it undermines European interests. And I think that this is a problem. And it’s Germany first. And I also would add that this narrative of German war guilt is ridiculous, because then Poland said, Really, that you feel we’re guilty, but what about us? What about the other central Eastern European countries that suffered under the Nazis? So this kind of war guilt narrative is very odd. I think it’s a red herring and an excuse for this. We know you know that German influenced Schroeder all of this. It’s it’s appalling. And I think that this should have been nipped in the bud far earlier than to let it go on too long and just say facts on the ground are established, it’s going to go ahead anyway, I think that that’s a very dangerous precedent to follow.
Robert Clark 1:00:16
I completely agree. Thank you for that. And if I could just ask for a very final, very brief closing remark from from each of you, too. So Theresa, if you’re still on if I could just ask for a very brief closing remark, please.
Theresa Fallon 1:00:27
Okay. I think that liberal international order is definitely on the backfoot, eroding values is of deep concern, and China has put the effort and the budget into improving their their role in the world. And, you know, this kind of political warfare, long warfare information warfare has been going on for quite some time, but we have not been paying attention. Finally, I think COVID-19 has woken up the world, but I really think that they need to have concerted effort to push back on China’s practices.
Robert Clark 1:00:57
Thank you, Bob, would you like to go next?
Bob Seely MP 1:01:00
You know, we need to understand the threat and we need to rebuild our alliances, and we need to stand up for our values.
Robert Clark 1:01:06
Thank you very much, Alexander.
Alexander Lanoszka 1:01:08
Democracies may backslide, but autocracies fail. So I would of course bet on our free and open societies. I think the long term trends are rather good. All things considered that Russia and China have face enormous challenges from different directions. We have our own challenges, too, of course, we would not want to make light of them, they pose challenges to us in addition to those internal challenges, but still, the history of liberal democracy is actually one of perseverance and endurance.
Robert Clark 1:01:44
I’ll thank each of the three speakers, Alexander, Theresa and Bob, thank you so much for your time. And thank you to everyone who’s tuned in and watched and post your questions. I apologise if we didn’t get around to answering all of the questions today. Just one as a final remark for myself. We’ve got two more events this week at Henry Jackson society, one tomorrow regarding Tibet with Gray Sergeant and another one later on in the week with Jay McGlynn regarding Russian influence in the in the Balkans. So if you’re interested in those specials, check out the website and sign up. I thank you so much for your time. And thank you again for for tuning in. Thank you.