New Diplomacy: Challenges for Foreign Policy
David Milliband, Britain’s secretary of state for foreign affairs, presented some main currents in his government’s foreign policy. The lecture was given at Chatham House, on 19 July 2007. An excerpt of the transcript is below:
Every Foreign Secretary quotes Lord Palmerston, who famously said we have no permanent allies and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. But is it true? Today, we have permanent alliances. The US is the single most important bilateral relationship. We are committed members of the EU. We are proud of our role in the UN, on the Security Council, and the Commonwealth. These alliances are founded on shared values and embedded in shared institutions. The evolution in foreign policy is driven by changing circumstances and the changing distribution of power, not by changes in values and alliances. This evolution depends on new thinking and new solutions.
My argument today is this:
• Britain should respond to the real insecurities and opportunities that exist in the world not by retreating from international engagement, but by using our strengths so that we are a force for good for Britain by being a force for good in the world. The old distinction, between foreign policy that affected foreigners and domestic policy that affected our citizens, has collapsed. So foreign policy is about values and interests together.
• Britain brings to this task real strengths. A new Prime Minister with a clear view of how the national interest is best served by international engagement. An economy that is increasingly the banker to the world. Culture that is globally admired. Ditto military forces. And alliances that stretch North, East, South and West.
• But foreign policy goals and methods must adapt to a series of shifts in the distribution of power: a world where the security threat is not just from excessive state power, but increasingly from terrorism and conflict within failed states; a world where economic prosperity depends on new bargains between industrialised and developing countries; a world where social change is fostered not just through government-to-government relationships but between businesses, NGOs, and faith groups.
• In this new context, we need to think how we can deploy Britain’s assets – both the soft power of ideas and influence, and the harder power of our economic and military incentives and interventions – to promote the international security and prosperity on which we all depend.
• This thinking on a new diplomacy can begin in the Foreign Office, but it needs to draw on the widest base of ideas. I want to end tonight by setting out the questions I am asking of the FCO and want us to work on together – in the seminar rooms of Chatham House and among the million members of Avaaz.