§ 3.2 p.m.
§ Earl Cathcart rose to call attention to the increasing Soviet penetration and influence in the third world; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Earl said: I believe that this Motion should be complementary to the excellent short debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Oram, last Wednesday on the Brandt Commission report Common Crisis, to which I listened throughout with great interest. It is not my intention to argue that the Soviet Union should not become involved in third world problems. The Soviet Union clearly has as much right as we in the West, or the free world, to assume that its way of life and experience can be of value to the developing nations if required. Nor do I intend to become involved in a comparison of the Marxist system with democracy, because we are all confident that our standards of justice and tolerance, our defence of the right of free speech and our respect for the rights of the individual, combined with our industrial and technical skills, give us so much that we can and should try to pass on to the third world.
§ However, if there are some who feel inclined to draw attention to the shortcomings and weaknesses in our system, we do at least have the ability to identify those shortcomings. We have the privilege and freedom to discuss them. This quality alone is something worth trying to pass on.80
§ I wish, in this debate, to indicate that the Soviet Union is extending its influence into the third world for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way. It would appear that Soviet policy in the third world is aimed at extending Marxist doctrine and establishing a series of Communist trading communities in the developing countries to the exclusion of Western trade in those countries. Soviet direct military action since 1945 has occurred only in countries adjacent to the USSR such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary and now Afghanistan. Elsewhere, she conducts her strategic policy by proxy, using countries with pro-Soviet Governments to destabilise neighbouring countries. This destabilising policy is directed against areas of strategic importance for Western trade and supply routes and ultimately for military strategic purposes.
Before we discuss individual areas of the third world, I think that we should identify more clearly what we mean by the third world. In Lord Oram's debate last Wednesday my noble friend Lord Thomas of Swynnerton quoted Sir Winston Churchill who described the third world as a sludgy amalgam. Certainly it is ill-defined, and perhaps wisely so, since its membership varies according to how its meaning is interpreted. For some it is a group of newly emerging nations which have recently gained their independence and, having not yet fully established their national identity, need help to develop their economic, judicial and technical skills, in order to administer their people and to develop their natural potential. For others, third world nations are those which have not aligned themselves to the system of one or other of the two super-powers—sort of global "don't knows". Yet again, for others, a third world country is one that cannot survive without foreign aid. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Bauer and Professor Yamey of the London School of Economics wrote in The Times on Monday 11th April:
Without foreign aid there is no third world".
§ Whether or not you agree with these two professors, this definition extends potential membership of the third world way beyond the newly emerging nation category. The Soviet Union has made enormous efforts in the past 20 years to extend its influences through trade and financial aid throughout the third world. These efforts have been greatly supported by its vastly expanded merchant navy. The number of Soviet merchant ships has increased from 2,024 in 1966 to nearly 8,000 in 1981 with a total tonnage of 23½ million tonnes, considerably larger than the United States merchant fleet and in size second only to the Japanese.
§ This drive to gain influence through trade by the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc has been especially marked in the continent of Africa that possesses 30 per cent. of the world's mineral reserves. No doubt, to defend this trade and to protect her sea routes, the Soviet Union has been able to establish nine naval base facilities—I repeat "facilities"—around the coast of Africa and on the adjacent islands in the Indian Ocean. These bases are at Luanda in Angola, Conakry in Guinea, Tripoli in Libya, on the Eritrean coast of the Red Sea. Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, on the Socotra Island of South Yemen, Maputo in Mozambique, Antseranana in Madagascar and Port Louis in Mauritius.81
§ In spite of the fact that the entire coastline of Africa is adjacent to one of the major sea-routes for the West including the oil tanker route round the Cape, Russia has established more naval based facilities there than any other nation. In the continent of Africa there are 40 main independent nations, counting in this number the three offshore islands in the Indian Ocean of Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles. The Institute for the Study of Conflict has calculated that in 25 of these 40 nations, there are about 55,000 Soviet and Soviet bloc commercial and economic technicians. Twelve of these 40 nations have pro-Soviet Governments. I believe that these figures alone, when combined with the successful establishment of nine naval base facilities, are an indication of the degree to which the Soviet Union has penetrated that continent.
§ However, this intense Soviet economic thrust in Africa has not been entirely successful, partly due to the inflexibility of the Soviet approach and partly because of the inadequacy of the Soviets' own economic system and their inability to expand trade, but above all because the centrally planned economies of Russia and Eastern Europe cannot satisfy the developing needs of private enterprise. However, if Soviet overseas economic policies have not been over-successful, the Soviet Union has succeeded in greatly expanding the export sales of Soviet arms, which since 1974 have accounted for 50 per cent. of their total export sales. Soviet arms sales to Africa alone trebled between 1975 and 1977, and in my view this is an indication that their interests in the developing nations are for the wrong reasons.
§ Soviet influence has been especially strong in Angola, Mozambique, Algeria and Libya, and more recently in Ethiopia, to which countries the Soviets have exported very large quantities of arms indeed. The technique of pursuing by proxy Soviet strategic aims is well known, and the Libyans, equipped and assisted by Russia, have been most active in this respect. Although we came to no conclusions today, I believe that the Question by the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, highlighted this fact.
§ But most sinister of all has been the very considerable presence of Cuban troops on the Continent of Africa. Deployed in Angola, which is adjacent to mineral-rich Zambia and Zaire and to trouble-torn Namibia, Cuban troops with Soviet military advisers and arms are assisting the dissident factions in that country. Similarly, they are very active in Mozambique. They have at least one brigade of troops deployed in Ethiopia in support of that country's invasion of Somalia. Thus, Cuba has deployed strong forces of communist mercenaries in a continent nearly 4,000 miles from their Caribbean home. They are, in effect, the strongest proxy activists in the Soviet cause and are deployed on each occasion that I have quoted in the most anxious trouble spots on the African continent. Other noble Lords will, I know, be speaking in more detail about the Cuban deployment, so I will only add that it must be regarded as a mark of Soviet success and satisfaction that the third world elected President Fidel Castro to preside over their council.
§ Before leaving Africa, there are two remaining areas which are strategically highly sensitive and where the 82 interests of Soviet policy are being satisfied by proxy. In August 1981 Libya, Ethiopia and South Yemen signed, with Soviet encouragement, the tripartite Pact of Aden. The Horn of Africa is adjacent to vital sea routes, especially for oil from the Gulf area. This pact effectively gives the Soviets a powerful strategic foothold in this important area, and, incidentally, also a naval base on Socotra. That these three dissimilar countries came together in a common pact is highly unusual: Ethiopia, a Christian country until the communist régime took over; allied with South Yemen, an Arab country which is not in Africa; joined by Libya, a North African Moslem country not adjacent to the pact area and, indeed, 1,500 miles away, with Sudan lying in between. The only thing in common among these three countries is that they all have pro-Soviet Governments.
§ The pact provides a threat to the security of the Sudan, which has its own ethnic problems in its southern region ripe for destabilisation. It also provides a threat to the integrity of North Yemen; while Ethiopia has already begun a hostile invasion of Somalia, nominally to support the dissident Kulmis faction but in fact to consolidate the whole of the Horn area for the pact.
§ A most valuable fact-finding mission was undertaken last year by Mr. Louis Fitzgibbon, a winner of the Airey Neave Memorial Scholarship, who went to Somalia to review the problems on the spot. I am also particularly glad that my noble friend Lord Ailsa is taking part in this debate because he has recently made several visits to the Horn of Africa, and we shall listen to what he has to tell us at first-hand with very great interest.
§ Even while Mr. Fitzgibbon was visiting Somalia last year the Ethiopians invaded and, although badly outnumbered, the Somalis appear to have held their ground. Mr. Fitzgibbon was able to inspect captured Ethiopian tanks, vehicles and equipment, and saw Russian markings and instructions on these vehicles and on the equipment. He reports that intelligence indicated the presence of Soviet officers on the scale of two per battalion, with more senior Soviet officers at Ethiopian divisional headquarters, and that a considerable amount of the radio traffic was in Russian. These facts were later confirmed to him by an Ethiopian officer prisoner to whom he spoke.
§ As I have already described, a Cuban brigade is deployed at Jigjiga, in the forward battle area, and Cuban air strikes against Somali troops have been identified by radio traffic in Spanish. Incidentally, as a mark of Soviet influence in this area, the Ethiopian badge of valour is the red star with the inscription "Ethiopian Crusader" underneath.
§ The second pact which satisfies by proxy Soviet strategic aims in this part of the world is the tripartite Pact of Port Louis, signed in July last year between Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles, all with pro-Soviet Governments. This pact, which has provided two important naval base installations for the Soviet navy—one at the northern tip of Madagascar and one at Port Louis in Mauritius—has the avowed aim of denying to the United States the use of their Indian Ocean base at Diego Garcia. Thus, if this pact succeeds in its aim it will leave the Soviets with a uniquely powerful naval capability astride the 83 West's most vital sea routes in the Indian Ocean. Mr. Leonid Brezhnev sent this pact a message of approval and described its area of influence as a "zone of peace". Alas!, the word "peace" is a much abused word these days.
§ Before I turn to Central America, I must make a brief reference to other parts of the world. Apart from Vietnam I do not think that the Soviets have made much impact in the Far East, mostly because of China's interest and influence there. No doubt the Soviets justify their invasion of Afghanistan as protecting their own security and stability because it is adjacent to their own frontiers. However, if the Soviets consolidate their strength there and even extend into Baluchistan, the strategic consequences for the whole of the Middle East and for the free world will be enormous.
§ Finally, I turn to Central America, another highly sensitive area where Russia's friends in Cuba and Nicaragua are stirring rebellion and chaos which could result in the total destabilisation of this most sensitive area. Once again, this area includes the Panama Canal, a vital seaway between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean and, once again, the acts of unrest are conducted by proxy but with Soviet arms and encouragement. This time the area is the more sensitive because of its nearness to the United States of America, which naturally sees the risk of a second Cuba being established on the mainland of America. President Reagan has described the area as the front garden of the United states. Apart from the anxious prospects of a second Cuba and the prospect of Soviet missile sites being set up so near to their frontiers, the United States must be anxious that the resulting chaos with countless refugees will erupt into Mexico, a country which is currently facing serious economic disturbance.
§ Counting Venezuela and Colombia, there are 10 mainland nations which go to make up Central America. You may think that Cuba in the Caribbean is not included, but nevertheless, as usual, it has thrown itself fully into that area by giving military support and arms to Nicaragua and to the dissident elements of neighbouring countries; and by all reports many tons of Soviet arms are pouring into Cuba, which are then passed on to Nicaragua.
§ Leaving aside Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Belize and Mexico (as so far they have not been affected), one is left with five nations in the centre of Central America. I should like to mention Belize. That nation (which has not been in any way touched by this disturbance) is, at the request of its people, guarded, by 1,400 British troops, and they must be thankful for that security.
§ The five nations in the centre of Central America all received their independence in 1821, so that in no way can they be called newly emerging nations. All need foreign aid to survive, which is my final possible distinction as regards the third world. Whether or not they are non-aligned "don't knows", sadly I must say that that decision is likely to be taken with much bloodshed and chaos. On one side Cuba is sending arms and equipment of Soviet origin into Sandista's forces in Nicaragua, who in turn arm and train the dissidents in their neighbours' territory. If newspaper reports are accurate, one reads of Nicaraguan officers 84 being trained by Warsaw Pact countries. It must be said that, with one exception, none of these five threatened countries in Central America is currently ruled by régimes which have much to commend them to us.
§ The exception is Costa Rica which, under President Luis Monge, is emerging as a stable, well-administered state. But it has misguidedly unilaterally disbanded its army, leaving only a small civil guard almost certainly inadequate to withstand the tests of state security with which it is likely to be confronted in the near future. It is difficult to come to any other conclusion but that President Reagan is right to attempt, by all means short of direct intervention, to try and stabilise the threatening situation in his front garden, even though it means bolstering existing, but often unsatisfactory, regimes, especially in El Salvador.
§ It is most noteworthy to record that this United States aid is conditioned in El Salvador upon properly US supervised democratic elections being organised as soon as possible. It is no coincidence that the three specific areas which I have emphasised—the Horn of Africa, the Indian Ocean trade routes and Central America—where pro-Soviet Governments are stirring unrest and instability, are all areas of supreme strategic importance for the maintenance of peaceful trade and co-existence.
§ In his recent speech to the Institute of Strategic Studies, my noble friend Lord Carrington stressed that we must face Russia with resolution and calmness. I hope that the opportunity with which this debate provides us of assessing and analysing Soviet actions, will help us to do exactly that. My Lords, I beg to call attention to the increasing Soviet penetration and influence in the third world, and to move for Papers.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, for giving us this opportunity to debate a subject of the utmost importance. He has also made a wide-ranging and interesting speech and, although I sympathise with many of the things he said, he will not be surprised to know that I do not share his entire analysis of the situation. The problems which the noble Earl has touched upon are so complex and their implications are so great that one approaches them with restraint and, indeed, with humility.
This is not 1883, and Britain does not hold the position she held then. The Pax Britannica is gone. Britain's influence in world affairs is diminished, although there is still much that we can do; and the world is a more dangerous place because of the speed of communications and especially because of the nuclear arms build-up. I shall return to our own position and possible contribution later.
In his Motion the noble Earl comprehends the two major post-war developments: first, the emergence of the two super powers; and, secondly, the indentification of a so-called third world following the dismantling of the European empires. There has developed a great historic power struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States, and this continues unabated at the present time. This struggle in all its aspects has been the main preoccupation of most countries over the last three decades. It has ebbed and flowed. We had the cold war and a period of détente, 85 and we are now in a third and as yet uncertain phase. The clear objectives of Soviet policy are to hold the borders of the Communist bloc—Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland are proof of that; secondly, to make advances where they think they can succeed without risk of total war—Afghanistan is testimony to that; and, lastly, to achieve new spheres of influence, as the noble Earl has sought to describe in his speech.
Because of its very nature, the Soviet Union is able to pursue a single-minded policy, and that policy is both ideological and expansionist. It may be—and it is to be hoped it is—the case that the Russian people are becoming more concerned with their living standards and less with ideology than they have been in the past. The Soviet policy has also, on the whole, been realistic. If it ceased to be so the danger of war would be much more acute.
The West, led far more loosely by the United States, is not a cemented structure. We argue and we wrangle, and from time to time we disagree. But it would be a grave mistake for the Soviet Union to suspect that we are not in agreement on our fundamental need for defence against aggression from any quarter. We are committed to the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty, as I stressed in the debate on 16th February.
I cannot agree with the noble Earl that Soviet policies—in terms of real penetration, in terms of establishing firm power bases—have been the great success that some appear to believe. They have made some advances, as in Cuba and Ethiopia, but they have also failed, as in Egypt and Somalia. It has certainly cost them much more than they can afford in money and resources. This is something that the Russian people will also be considering.
What is the general attitude of the third world, as defined so carefully by the noble Earl, to this great struggle, to the Soviets and to us in the West? Most third world countries were colonies, mandates or dependencies of one kind or another of European countries and the one thing they do not want is to become colonies again. Indeed, one of the most consistent features of the post-colonial third world is its profound reluctance to be involved in the conflict between East and West. Those countries which have accepted military aid from the West have done so to strengthen themselves against their neighbours and not against the Soviet Union. Pakistan against India is one example.
One of the tragedies is the amount of money—money which they certainly can illafford—which third world countries spend on armaments. We should note that in the 1970s the share of world armaments taken by the third world doubled from 6 per cent. to 12 per cent. But the fact is that the Soviets and the West run exactly the same risks when they seek to intervene in the third world.
If the Soviet Union has one advantage it is one which the noble Earl stressed; namely, that they have been able to use Cuban troops as surrogates. And to the extent that the Cubans are black and themselves third world they may seem closer to the people whom the Soviets seek to control. But foreign troops are not popular and the people of Angola would be glad to see 86 the backs of Cuban troops. That is certainly the impression I received when I was there some three years ago.
But that is a small consideration compared with the known fact that the people of Africa and their leaders, including those who have assumed the mantle of Marxism, do not desire to be interfered with or dominated by the Soviet Union. The main danger to the stability of Southern Africa is not the Cuban troops in Angola but the policies of South Africa in the region. As the House knows, regular armed attacks from South Africa upon Angola and Mozambique and other neighbouring countries including Lesotho, a defenceless Commonwealth country, are a serious, destabilising factor, as is the failure to reach a settlement in Namibia due to South African intransigence. No doubt the Soviet Union watches these events with great interest; but it is not their influence which is predominant there, it is the influence of South Africa. If we are to see a stable and prosperous Southern Africa it is that influence which must be diminished.
These new states in Africa have great economic, social and political problems, and most of them have leaders who deserve respect. Leaders whose concern is peaceful development; men, like President Kaunda, President Nyerere, and Arap Moi, and others. But if South African policies eventually lead to their replacement there is then no guarantee that Soviet influence will not grow and spread. A settlement in Namibia and the end of South African adventures along the frontiers will help to pacify the area, but apartheid, while it exists, will always remain a basic menace in Southern Africa.
The noble Earl has referred to other parts of the world including the Indian Ocean. I would not disagree with him save to say that I probably think that the huge expenditure by the Soviet Union on its navy there has hardly been justified. In the Middle East, the United States, since Camp David, has worked hard to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. They deserve all support for their efforts in what often seems a thankless task.
The divisions and strains in the area go beyond the immediate conflict between the Arab countries and Israel. The Moslem world is in ferment, and here the Soviet Union has a natural, legitimate interest because it affects her own borders. In any final settlement it would appear reasonable that the Soviet Union's acquiescence should be a necessary ingredient.
But as the noble Earl made plain, the Caribbean and Central America are regions where affairs are moving rapidly. The United States' interest is obvious, as she is entitled to be acutely concerned about what happens there.
Last week President Reagan in his speech to Congress said that events were,a threat to the security and freedoms of the United States".It is possible to sympathise with the President without seeing things in exactly the same light as he does. The world is not black and white, good or bad, left or right, as he explains it. It is a mix of them all. Is not the position that for several decades the people of Central America and indeed most of the Latin American countries have suffered from ill treatment, oppression, 87 and tyranny at the hands of a succession of corrupt right wing oligarchies; that these people have had enough of it, and that they are turning to whoever appears to offer them salvation?
It so happens that the revolutionary movements are left-wing and supported by Cuba and the longer arm of the Soviet Union. But we have been sickened, all of us in this House, by what we have seen on our television screens. We have seen the appalling atrocities committed in El Salvador and in Guatemala. Over 35,000 people have been killed in El Salvador, and many of them were tortured and mutilated before being shot or hacked to death by the death squads of the Governments of those countries. Two thousand people have disappeared after being taken into custody by security forces. No one has been brought before the courts to answer for these atrocities.
The Archbishop himself was shot in his cathedral, and those who went to a service in his honour were mown down by death squads. What should we do if we in this country were subjected to these horrors? Should we not stand up? Should we not rise against them? Of course we should. The distinguished journalist, Mr. Anthony Lewis, in The Times yesterday summed the position up well. He said:Those of us who live safely under authority restrained by law must find it hard to imagine life in such conditions. At the barest minimum people want some expectation of security—of life—from their government. How can a regime whose armed forces kill 100 of its citizens week after week expect attachment to its cause? How can it win a war, whatever aid it gets?No one could deny the Soviet interest in the area, or indeed deny that Cuba has played a sinister role in Latin American affairs from time to time, but the social uprising that we have seen, and the unrest which is sweeping Central America, are simply not the product of a Communist conspiracy. If, however, the situation there continues to polarise, then the influence of Cuba and the Soviet Union is bound to increase. That is the real danger.
Three weeks ago, the so-called Condadora Group was formed. This comprises Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica. They are concerned about the escalation of military action and the trends of United States policy, and they argue (and they are not left-wing regimes) that the better course is to encourage the formation of coalitions of Government and rebel forces to the exclusion of extremes of right and left. I see this as a most encouraging development, and I am sure that the House would be glad to have the reaction of Her Majesty's Government from the noble Lord when he replies.
I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, and I think he would agree, that military intervention either direct or indirect is the worst possible way of combating Soviet intervention. This is the lesson of recent history. It is dangerous because it threatens the escalation of the conflict into a new Vietnam; it arouses against the United States and the West the hostility of the whole population, the people who have suffered and who have sustained grevious losses; and finally it drives the United States, it drives the West, it drives us as allies of the United States, into deeper and deeper commitments in support of useless, reactionary and often cruel regimes with which the West has 88 nothing whatsoever in common. That is what has happened far too often in recent history.
President Reagan has appointed Mr. Richard Stone as his special ambassador for Central America, and we must wish him well and hope that he is instructed to work for peaceful solutions and not military solutions; to take a long, hard, objective look at the realities of the situation; and to look at the appalling condition which the ordinary people of Central America are enduring—people who want nothing more than the opportunity to live their lives and raise their children in peace. They are being forced, because of these diabolical ideological arguments that they do not understand, into indescribable suffering. I believe that Her Majesty's Government have a great deal of influence over the United States Administration. I think that this House will expect the Prime Minister and her colleagues to bring pressure to bear on the President and Mr. Shultz and their colleagues to seek new solutions before things worsen further.
In considering this huge and complex scene, we may be in danger of too much emphasis upon the Soviet Union and too little emphasis on the third world itself. The essential problem is not about Soviet intervention, it is about preventing third world conflicts from escalating into super-power confrontations; and these conflicts are rooted in the third world itself and not in the relations between East and West. We have had our debates in this House on disarmament and on aid to the underdeveloped countries. As the noble Earl pointed out, we had an excellent debate on the second Brandt Report last week. I believe these are fundamental to the problems inherent in the noble Earl's Motion.
The aims of Western statemanship should be, first, to help to resolve the sources of conflict in the third world, the chief of which is economic deprivation, and secondly, to begin again to establish clear working relations with the Soviet Union based on a mutual perception of interests. The weakness of Western policies at present is that they lack co-ordination. There are times, too, when we seem to be the most uncritical of all the allies of the United States. The true value of an ally and friend is that he is there to criticise when that is essential. We do not appear to be doing so as often as we should.
There are many other matters relevant to the Motion and I feel that my remarks are inadequate to the challenge that the noble Earl has posed to the House. But there are several other matters, even if there is no time to enlarge upon them. I believe that the following are of great value and I merely list them in passing: the BBC's overseas broadcasting service; the activities of the British Council overseas; the admission of overseas students to British universities; the efficiency of our embassies abroad, notably our trade and agriculture attaches. A country which sends doctors and nurses, agriculturalists and engineers to poor countries does not need spies there! At the end of the day, the struggle is one for the hearts and minds of people everywhere.
For all the defects of our system, we can still claim that the principles which underly it are the freedom of the individual, liberty under the law and the establishment of free institutions. Moscow does not offer those. These are the weapons which will prevail in this 89 struggle. They are the rights which the third world deserves and must have. I believe we should strive hard to that end.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Lord Gladwyn
My Lords, we must all think that the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, has done well to draw the attention of the House to what no one denies is an important and potentially sinister development over the last few years. I agreed with a great deal of what he said in that respect, though I think he rather underestimated the fact that the Soviet Union has also lost very much of its ideological appeal to the nations of the world. But I also agreed with a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, has said. I am, in a way, perhaps between the two noble Lords.
There is no doubt at all that the Soviet penetration and influence in various countries, mostly, though not entirely, in the poorer or what are called "underdeveloped" countries, has increased during the last decade to a substantial extent. Personally, I rather object to the phrase "third world" because I do not know what it means. Nobody knows what it means. It is a tendentious term and I believe it should be abandoned. There are such things as poorer and underdeveloped countries but it is not only in those countries that the Soviet Union has been extending its influence in recent years.
Besides, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, pointed out, the Soviet Union has had substantial reverses, chief of which was the great break with China some 20 years ago, which from the Soviet point of view was a catastrophe. As Lord Cledwyn also said, there have been other substantial reverses, chief among them being Egypt and, undoubtedly, Somalia. Against this, however, the Soviet hold on Vietnam, Northern Korea, Ethiopia and the southern Yemen has undoubtedly been strengthened. Angola and Mozambique have been added to the Soviet sphere of influence, and the vast extension of the Soviet fishing fleet, which I believe consists of some 4,000 vessels—I think the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, said 8,000, but I shall not quarrel about that because it is very large anyhow—shepherded by a powerful high seas navy, has spread Soviet influence generally all round Africa, in the Indian Ocean and even, I believe, in the South Pacific. Above all, Cuba has remained what might be called the chief outpost and base, as it were, of Soviet power beyond the frontiers of its land empire, though, admittedly, at very great cost. I have seen it in the papers and I believe it is true that the latest estimate is that its effective subsidy to Cuba is no less than four billion dollars a year. And, has been pointed out already, Cuba has a substantial military role in Africa as well.
Apart from Cuba, and the influence it exerts in Central America and the Caribbean, to which I shall come in a moment, the Soviet Union seems to have been mainly successful, from the power point of view, in consolidating its power in the Middle East, chiefly by means of a plentiful supply of arms to Libya, Syria and Iraq; by reason of its military stranglehold on Ethiopia, Southern Yemen and Aden; its virtual control of the vital Bab El Mandeb straits; its occupation of Afghanistan and the development of an 90 important air base within 600 miles of the Persian Gulf.
All this, together with good relations with India, which is a substantial trading partner, has seemingly created a pretty firm basis in the whole area for successful operations in the event of hostilities with the West. That is a fact which, whatever our general views on the subject, we must acknowledge. The situation could worsen if Iran should ever incline northwards after the departure of the Ayatollah Khomeini: no one knows what may happen in Iran. If, however, by any evil chance there were ever another régime in Saudi Arabia involving a change of allegiance, or for that matter in Iran, it is indeed difficult to see how the West could successfully restore the situation, even by physical means. The vital supply of oil from the Gulf would obviously be in immediate and gravest danger. We are happily not near that point at present, and let us hope we never shall be, but it would be foolish not to recognise that the whole situation might change quite quickly to our general disadvantage. We must recognise that.
The other rather critical area for the West is clearly Central America and the Caribbean. However much we may sympathise with the revolutionary Government of Nicaragua because of our detestation of the dreadful dictatorship of Somosa and with the rebels of El Salvador, who seem to be simply impoverished peasants protesting very courageously against a rather similar regime, we must recognise that, if these countries become communist countries on the Cuban model, the United States could be faced, whether we like it or not, with a dreadful dilemma. For, if the process of communisation were successfully accomplished in that whole area, that infection might well spread right up into Mexico and there would be visions of millions of refugees streaming northwards across the little-guarded Rio Grande. A breakdown of the international banking system resulting from a repudiation of enormous loans might quite conceivably result in some such desperate situation arising. This is not just a nightmare. The question is: what is the best way of avoiding such unpleasant developments, whether in the Caribbean or in that other rather vital area, the Middle East? The answer is not easy, but I will try to suggest a few guiding principles.
In the first place—and here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn—I am sure it would not be wise for the West (by which I mean substantially the United States, in co-operation and, if possible, in accord with the EEC) to contemplate a solution in either theatre primarily vi et armis—that is, by physical force. The great object in the Middle East must surely be to maintain the pro-Western Governments of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait so as to prevent the Soviet Union from extending its power and influence over the entire area, if possible. Certainly it would mean responding to any requests for arms that these governments may make, but, I believe that it would not necessarily imply building up a large potential intervention force with bases in, presumably, the Sudan or Somalia—still less in Israel. Any suggestion like that, I think, might even be counterproductive; it might have the opposite effect to that intended. It might be advisable even to go rather 91 slower with the development of Diego Garcia provided always that there was some assurance on the other side not to proceed with constructing some enormous base in Port Louis, Mauritius.
As I have suggested, I imagine that our chances of redressing the balance in war if our allies succumbed—whatever forces we might mobilise in the rather distant outskirts of this area—might be rather dim. So it follows that the only real hope of maintaining a stable Western front in the Middle East is to arrive at some acceptable settlement of the future of the Arabs on the West Bank of Jordan. This thought should constantly—and consistently, I think—be represented to our American friends and allies, however unpopular it may be in New York or Washington or wherever. That is the essential point. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is going to speak after me. He has just suggested in the press (unless I read him wrongly) that the situation has now become so desperate that perhaps the best thing in the long run would be for both the super-powers to get together in their own joint interest in order to arrive at some sort of solution. It is for the noble Lord to express his point of view but here I feel that he is right.
In Middle East affairs, we Europeans, although we have little means of imposing our views, by reason of our experience, expertise and knowledge of the area, to say nothing of our acute interest, still have a certain role to play. It is rather different in central America which must present, on the face of it, problems which can only, in practice, be solved by the United States. It is true that both Britain and France have a direct interest in the neighbouring Caribbean. Several of the islands are members of the Commonwealth and two are actually DéPartements of France; but America is still the state with the most at stake in what happens there. Again, Europe can only give advice. What advice should we give?
It is easy for us in the circumstances to say that the path of wisdom lies in letting Nicaragua develop as she pleases, no attempt being made to subvert any left-wing Government in that country however much it may be suspected of importing Soviet arms from Cuba or, indeed, via Libya. It is easy to say that. It is even easier to urge the Americans—along, I may say, with many members of Congress—not to get bogged down in any equivalent of another Vietnam war by actually engaging in the suppression of the rebellious peasants of El Salvador. All this is true. But we should also recognise the essential American dilemma. How would we like it if Ulster became a Soviet satellite?
Maybe some new approach is required. I think it is. From this distance it is difficult to say exactly what it should be, but I believe (as, again, I think Lord Cledwyn pointed out) that the so-called Condadora front of four important Latin-American states are now working busily on a solution; and we can only hope that Her Majesty's Government, somehow or another, will back it up. I shall be very interested to hear (as I think Lord Cledwyn suggested) what the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, would say in that respect when he comes to wind up.
Generally speaking, however, one thing is certain: the best way to counter any further extension of Soviet influence in what used to be called the third world, or 92 anywhere in the world, is to put an end to the present world recession with its accompanying catastrophic fall in the price of most of the exports of the countries concerned. That must be obvious. It is perhaps astonishing in the circumstances—the price of sugar having fallen, for instance, to what it is—that more countries have not joined the Soviet bloc. True, the invasion of Afghanistan severely lowered the stock of the Soviet Union among the so-called "non-aligned" countries in which, as I think somebody said, Cuba grotesquely figures. It is also a fact that the Kremlin simply does not have the economic means to subsidise more than a certain number of clients to whom, in any case, it exports about twice as much in arms and military supplies as it does in non-military goods. But the suffering imposed by the great recession in the "free" or non-totalitarian world is immense—if, indeed, it is not rather absurd to talk about a "free" world in such distressing circumstances.
What is really depressing, surely, is the apparently inevitable and increasing clash between the two superpowers all over the world. The advance of the one in any sphere—economic, military, cultural—can only, so it would seem, be at the expense of the other. I do not say this in an attempt to equate the two systems. We must believe that ours is basically superior to theirs—of course, we do—at least morally, even if some non-totalitarian countries are a disgrace to it in every sense of the word. But if we have reached the point at which some kind of settlement in the arms race is the only alternative to World War III—and perhaps we have—then such a settlement must be arrived at in the realm of politics and economics as well. In other words, the super-powers, without abandoning their respective principles, should somehow get together and, as it were, give each other the necessary signals behind the scenes. It has happened before. It happened towards the end of the Korean war when I think Iakob Alessandrovitch Malik met Mr. Jessup in a lavatory in the United Nations!
But, before that sort of thing happens, Mr. Andropov would have to acknowledge implicitly, if not explicitly, that the so-called Brezhnev doctrine of potential support for non-elected Communist insurgents anywhere in the world no longer applies. In return America might do well to make it clear that, although she continues to believe in the ultimate triumph of human rights, she has no intention of physically intervening in order to disrupt the Soviet empire. In any case, what we must all hope is that, together with our European associates, we shall be able somehow to advance solutions designed to moderate the Cold War, if not to end it.
This does not mean that we should do anything to weaken the alliance on the maintenance of which our whole future depends. But it does mean that the EEC, on the political side, should be a powerful and reasonable middle element in international politics. After all, by reason of its very geographical position it should be that. I noted (and I think Lord Cledwyn also mentioned this) the wise remarks made the other day by Lord Carrington in another place. I only hope, as we all wish, that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, would come here even more than he does at present and give us the benefit of his wise advice. Generally 93 speaking it seems to me that what he then said was common sense, and I should like now to support him.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, for giving your Lordships' House the opportunity of this debate. I should like to concentrate on a single area which he has mentioned: that is, the area of Central America. It seems to me that a good deal of the information and many of the perceptions about this area are somewhat suspect for a number of reasons. For example, we have had on the television recently, and especially on the BBC, a series of programmes which have been deplorably one-sided on the subject of events in Central America. They culminated in a film quite recently—I think it was last week—which seemed to me to be even more disgraceful than those which preceded it. A more recent manifestation has been a remarkably strident and unbalaced article in The Times by an American journalist who has been known for some time to be one of President Reagan's most persistent and hostile critics.
I think that what this does is to produce in this country a somewhat distorted perception of what is going on in that area. If I may say so with great respect, that seemed to me to be reflected in some of the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, in his very interesting speech this afternoon. It seemed to me to reflect the view that for the ills of the world there are many things to be blamed—apartheid, Islam, Right-wing oligarchies and brutal militaristic dictators—but never the Soviet Union. This seems to me to be a world of fantasy, and one which I personally do not recognise. I think—
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, if I may intervene, I hope the noble Lord would not say he could draw that inference form my speech.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, I do draw that inference from the noble Lord's speech. He seemed to point out, for example, that in the Middle East it was resurgent Islam that was causing the instability, and that in other areas, such as Southern Africa, the great enemy was South Africa and apartheid, and not the Soviet Union. In Central America he pointed to the Right-wing oligarchies and their records of brutality over many years. I am simply pointing out that there is also the Soviet Union, which seems to me to be a much greater threat to our future than any of those.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, I think that perhaps some facts are sometimes a valuable corrective to the more extreme kinds of fantasy and opinion. I should like to look at this area of Central America for a moment, and to produce, if I may, in the short time at my disposal, a few facts without very many opinions. If noble Lords can look in their mind's eye at that very important area which starts with the northern frontiers of Mexico, which has a common frontage with four of the southern States of the United States of America, which then goes down an ever-narrowing piece of land towards Guatemala and Honduras through El 94 Salvador and Nicaragua, through the very narrow isthmus of Costa Rica and Panama, and then down to the great and important sub-continent of South America, just very slightly to the east of all that—in fact, 125 miles away at nearest point from Mexico—is Cuba, about the same distance from the coast of Mexico as London is from Bristol. If we could keep that geographical area in our minds for the moment, I think we must look at it as something which is becoming one of the most crucial strategic areas in the world and which, in my view, provides links in a chain of Russian projection of power and influence which could, and might very soon, radically upset the world balance of power; and to pretend that this projection of influnce does not exist and is not increasing seems to me to be foolish and irresponsible.
The chain begins with Cuba. It is one of five countries selected by the Soviet strategic plan to provide bases for global influence, the application of foreign and military policies and, as the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, pointed out, the setting up of Soviet-dominated economic cells around the world. The other four areas are Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan, which of course is now occupied by Soviet armed forces. I do not want to concern myself with those today, but to come back to Cuba.
Cuba receives from the Soviet Union, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has said, the equivalent of over £7 million worth of aid per day. That is nearly £1 a day per head of the population. It has been receiving free military aid for many years from the Soviet Union—in the past, at the rate of about £200 million a year. But what is important is that there has been a recent and very significant increase in this level of military aid. In 1981 the Soviet Union delivered 63,000 tonnes of arms to Cuba, the highest total it has delivered there since 1962, which was the year of the Cuban missile crisis. In 1982 it became even better (or worse, depending on how you look at it) because they delivered 68,000 tonnes of arms; and this, together with other forms of equipment and assistance, represents over £500 million worth of military assistance in a year to Cuba. In addition, during 1982, last year, Soviet military advisers in Cuba increased in number by 20 per cent. There are now 2,500 military advisers there, and that is in addition to 6,000 Russian civilian advisers and a combat brigade of Soviet troops.
In 1982, certainly one and possibly two squadrons of MiG 23s were sent to Cuba. The MiG 23 is not a child's toy; it is an advanced supersonic fighter aircraft which is capable of carrying bombs, missiles and nuclear weapons. Cuba is now the largest military power in the area. Furthermore, like its master, the Soviet Union, it is achieving the ability to project its military power outside its own frontiers.
Now let us go to the next link from Cuba. Let us go east and south in that big arc of islands known as the Lesser Antilles down to the island of Grenada, which, although it is at the end of that chain of islands which comes down from Cuba, is, I would remind your Lordships, only 100 miles from the coast of Venezuela. On the island of Grenada the Cubans and the Soviets are at work increasing their influence, seeking to reinforce the power of the Bishop régime in Grenada, and to create a firm base there for future 95 Soviet and Cuban activities. There is a powerful Cuban radio transmitter now installed on the island, and the Soviet Union is assisting the Cubans in the construction of a large and extremely comprehensive military airfield by extending the runway and the other airport and airfield facilities at Point Salines. The Cubans are building a large military camp on the island, and, all in all, without going any further into the details, Grenada is gradually becoming a closed totalitarian society, increasingly under the influence of the Soviet Union and Cuba.
Let us go south and east again, this time down to South America itself, to Surinam. This used to be Dutch Guiana, the territory between British and French Guiana. There is a long common border with Brazil, one of the most important countries of Latin America. It is also on the verge of becoming a totalitarian dictatorship linked to Cuba. The Cuban ambassador recently appointed to Surinam is Oswaldo Cardenas, a very highly-placed Cuban intelligence officer, who was very largely instrumental in helping to establish the Bishop Government in Grenada. He has now been moved to Surinam to carry on his business in South America.
Let us now go back north and west, again into Central America, to Nicaragua, to which a certain amount of reference has been made today. With Soviet advisers and troops in Cuba to take care of matters there, the Cubans, of course, can begin to move outside their own frontiers. And where are they going? They are going first to Nicaragua. There are 2,000 Cuban military advisers now in Nicaragua, in addition to the Soviet and East German advisers who have been there for some time.
Nicaragua is building the largest military establishment in Central America: 36 new military bases are currently under construction in Nicaragua. And it is not only Cuban aid which is going to this country. Someone earlier in this debate mentioned press reports of help from East European countries. These are not just press reports. At this moment there are 17 Nicaraguan military pilots being trained in Bulgaria; and there are 50 Soviet tanks in Nicaragua, together with hundreds of anti-aircraft guns, three brigades of Soviet artillery and a very considerable force of assault helicopters.
Quite apart from the military aid that goes quite openly from the Soviet Union to Nicaragua, let us also bear in mind those three aircraft that were stopped in Brazil a short while ago carrying what were called "medical supplies" to Nicaragua, which turned out to be combat military equipment. Those came from Libya, which is one of the largest Middle Eastern importers of Soviet arms. I do not think it needs a genius to know the origin of the arms that were travelling as "medical supplies" from Libya to Nicaragua. And may I say that, if the airfield in Grenada which is at present under construction had been completed, there would have been no need for those aircraft to stop in Brazil. They would have landed in Grenada and no one would have known what was going on at all.
Let me almost complete the circle and come northwest to the little country of El Salvador. There is 96 already a very substantial clandestine infiltration of arms and equipment from Nicaragua into El Salvador. This is fully and irrefutably documented. I was interested, to say the very least, to hear that both the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, seemed to be content to characterise the uprising in El Salvador as that of impoverished peasants and freedom fighters.
It might be interesting to note that there have been four major guerrilla groups in action in El Salvador since the 1970s. It might also be interesting to note that since 1979 their activities have been systematically coordinated by the Communist Party of El Salvador. It might also be interesting to note that they have now formed themselves into a group, or consortium, of communist organisations, known as the DRU, and the DRU gets its support, openly and avowedly, from President Castro. If we really believe that these are simply idealistic, impoverished peasants, can we ask ourselves why it was that in the summer of 1980 the leader of the Communist Party of El Salvador visited the Soviet Union, the German People's Republic—the GDR—Bulgaria and Hungary, in search of support for the revolutionary movement, and received promises of that support? At the same time, the DRU sent representatives to Nicaragua and received promises of help in their uprising there. This does not seem to me to be the world of the idealistic, impoverished, apolitical freedom fighter. I think there is something much more sinister about it than that.
Finally, let us briefly look north to Mexico and, through Mexico, to that border with the southern states of the United States of America. Can we, when we consider what is taking place in terms of the projection of Soviet power and of their surrogate, Cuba, in that area, have any doubt that this is now, for better or for worse, for one reason or another, an area of vital strategic interest? It is no longer an area in which oppressed people are simply searching for their freedom. It has become much more than that.
Someone suggested earlier, and it has been suggested often in public, that the actions of the United States of America are, in some way, dragging the Soviet Union and Cuba into this area and creating a super-power confrontation. The American presence in the area consists of 54 military advisers in El Salvador. The Soviet military advisers in Cuba alone outnumber the whole of the United States military adviser corps in all Latin America. The supplies of Soviet arms to Cuba alone outweigh all the American supplies of arms to the whole of Latin America by 10 to 1. We do not need to drag the communists—the Russians and the Cubans—into Central America; they are there. It seems to me strange that, simply because the President of the United States now chooses to try to prevent something happening there which might have an appalling effect on the security of his own country, and of the rest of the Western Alliance, he should be pilloried and vilified in this way.
What is happening in Central America—and in South America, for that matter—is much more important to us here in the United Kingdom and the West than I think we realise. The River Elbe is 4,000 miles from Washington. El Salvador is 2,000 miles from Washington. The southern states of the United 97 States of America—Arizona, Texas and New Mexico—are 1,500 miles from El Salvador. I mention these somewhat childish statistics simply to point out that Central America is significantly closer to the United States of America than Western Europe, and there is a possibility—a very real possibility—that, if the situation in Central America deteriorates, the United States might turn away from Western Europe in order to concentrate its security arrangements to meet the very real threat from Central America. It is a real problem and it affects us all.
We must not, it seems to me, be distracted or brainwashed by simplistic rhetoric about bolstering up brutal dictatorships. Of course, the pursuit and protection of human rights remains a primary aim of any Western democracy. One of the cardinal objectives of United States policy—and ours—in the area must be to maintain those rights. But the alternatives to the dictators of today, however evil they may be, are the dictators of communist totalitarianism. That is the alternative. And if they come to power it is not only the Salvadoreans who will lose their freedom as the Grenadans, the Surinamese and the Nicaraguans are now losing theirs—and as the Cubans have already done—it is all of us who will suffer. In the last analysis, the security of the United States could be put at risk and that means the security of the whole of the Western Alliance.
So the next time the BBC shows one of its propaganda films from Central America, or the next time one of our quality newspapers prints an article by a disaffected American journalist, it might be as well to remember that, just as the River Elbe has been the frontier of American security for nearly 40 years, today the Cape sea routes, the Persian Gulf and the Panama Canal are ours.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ Lord Orr-Ewing
My Lords, we owe a debt of gratitude to my noble friend Lord Cathcart for the masterly way in which he started this debate, and for the very statesmanlike words with which he introduced it. We always enjoy his speeches, but I thought that today's effort was one of the very best that I have heard. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who always puts his finger on the spot and brings back a sense of proportion. I agree wholeheartedly with him.
I watched the "Panorama" programme of Monday, 25th April, and I thought that, even by the "Panorama" team's standard, it was more extreme and more unbalanced than any of its predecessors. Somehow it managed to condemn the USA for everything that was happening in Central America and virtually nothing was said about Cuba or Russia. That was a current affairs programme and yet there was no mention of the three or four aircraft which had been grounded in Brazil, carrying Russian arms via Libya to Nicaragua. They were not mentioned at all. The programme was so anxious to condemn America and their President that they forgot all the other relevant facts in what was meant to be a balanced programme.
I would only say this of the BBC's "Panorama" team. If they are totally unable to produce the balance which the charter of the BBC dictates that they should, there is only one inevitable consequence, and that is 98 that, as with the IBA, an authority will be set up to try to ensure that a balance is kept. At the moment, the BBC are judge and jury in their own case, and it does not seem to be working out in that field, any more than it does in any other field where people seek to judge themselves and do not leave it to an independent arbiter.
I want to concentrate on the dangers to the free world of Soviet activities in Africa, south of the Sahara. I hope to listen to my noble friend Lord Ailsa, who has recently returned from that other vitally important part of Africa—the Horn of Africa. He goes there often and has come back with a lot of up-to-date evidence, which we shall look forward to hearing.
As Moscow's military and naval strength has increased, so has its boldness, brazenness and blatant intervention—sometimes direct, as in Afghanistan. It would not have dared invade Afghanistan 20 years ago. More generally, though, Moscow's intervention is indirect—as in Central America, as in South-East Asia, as in Africa. Disruption of the fragile stability in Africa is all to easy. Disruption is caused not only because it is easy but because Africa is the source of many of the raw materials upon which the free world is utterly dependent for its economic viability. Furthermore, South Africa is the vulnerable route for the oil supplies of the free world.
The United States of America is 75 per cent. dependent on foreign imports of bauxite, manganese, nickel, cobalt and chrome. Since I have mentioned chrome many noble Lords may think of chromium-plated cars, but chrome is an essential part of every jet engine. There are 1½ tonnes of chrome in every jet engine, and chrome is essential in the manufacture of ball-bearings, precision instruments and missiles. The fact is that 92 per cent. of United States chrome is imported and that 96 per cent. of the world's reserves of chrome are to be found in South Africa and in Zimbabwe. This illustrates how vulnerable the free world is if those areas continue to swing towards the communist philosophy. Cobalt, another vital material, is also mined largely in South Africa.
We have to remind ourselves—other speakers have done so—that if Europe and North America neglect their dependence upon oil coming round the Cape they will do so at their peril. Indeed, the oil supplies of 90 per cent. of the NATO nations of Europe are brought to them round the Cape. Therefore, the whole of that military machine could very quickly be brought to a standstill. Furthermore, 70 per cent. of West European strategic materials pass within a few miles of Cape Town. I mention these figures because there seems to be only one thing which the world can agree about, and that is being bloody-minded to South Africa.
I wholly disapprove of apartheid. I believe that we should use all the pressures we can command to persuade South Africa. I believe that South Africa is being persuaded, certainly in the sporting field. The fact is that 97 British cricketers went to South Africa; many of them coached coloured, black and mixed cricket teams during their recent summer, our winter. I met some of them. Already they are making a great deal of progress. Noble Lords may think that sport is of indirect benefit, but it creates an attitude of mind. Because of the broadcasts people are now keen to join 99 cricket clubs, whether Indian, coloured, African or mixed clubs. This is very heartening. It is the result of the pressures which have been brought to bear on South Africa, and I hope that pressure will continue to be applied.
The sinister part of this, if it be sinister, is that although we all condemn racism in South Africa we never seem to condemn racism when it occurs in other countries. The Jewish people in the USSR are very sorely oppressed in their attempts to escape from that country. Nobody takes up their case in the same way as the South African case is highlighted. The same is true in parts of India, where the Untouchables still do not lead a very happy existence. I only wish that India would set her own house in order before attacking South Africa.
I wish also to look—other speakers have mentioned it, so I shall not do so in detail— at the creation of the naval facilities from the North-East corner of the continent of Africa right the way down: Massawa, Assab, Socotra, The Seychelles, Diego-Suarez, on the north coast of Madagascar, and Maputo. These and other ports have facilities that are increasingly being used by Soviet vessels. We have had 30 years of the new form of Soviet imperialism. This started in the 1950s, 30 years ago. From 1955 to 1978, 15,000 African military personnel were flown to Moscow and trained in military duties; 13,700 African students were flown to Moscow—and 12,000 of those came, by the way, from Central and Southern Africa. During the past 20 years Moscow has spent £½ billion upon the training of third world students. What an example to the free world. Why are we not spending a similar amount of money in order to provide facilities for students?
From 1973 to 1977 Soviet arms supplied to Africa totalled 3,645 million dollars, or 3.84 billion dollars. United States arms supplies amounted to one-seventh of that total. It is no good blaming the United States of America for these arms supplies. They came preponderantly from the Soviets. Libya received 3 billion dollars-worth of weapons which they have used in other countries and have passed on. We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, of the case (not mentioned in the "Panorama" programme) of the three aircraft flying from Libya to Nicaragua. Annual arms deliveries by Moscow to African countries have gone up steadily. In 1974—only 9 years ago—they amounted to 240 million dollars. By 1978 they amounted to 2,400 million dollars—10 times as much. And in 1981 over 9,000 million dollars-worth of arms were supplied by Moscow to African countries.
I turn now to Cuba. Cuba plays a predominant part in many fragile areas where it is stirring up trouble. It is astonishing that, since the Soviets took over complete control of Cuba, Cuba should have posed as a non-aligned country. It was in 1968 that the Soviets undertook a blockade of Cuba. Eventually they were in desperate straits and had to give way. Castro has been a complete satellite of the Soviets ever since. It astonishes me that Castro should be the chairman of a non-aligned group. It does not sound as though they have examined his credentials very carefully. The fact that Castro was almost alone in supporting the 100 invasion of Afghanistan suggests that he is very much a tool of Moscow.
Moscow has encouraged, equipped and trained the Cuban troops who are now deployed in Africa. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a paper (I do not have one dated later than March 1982) which showed that 32,000 Cuban troops were now deployed in Africa—a very substantial force. Of these, 22,000 were deployed in propping up the MPLA Government in Angola. Another 3,000 troops were sent there only a few months ago. I do not know why they were sent to Angola; no explanation was given. In addition, 6,000 Cuban civilians are working in Angola and 1,000 Soviet troops are stationed there, most of them close to the Namibian border. I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, who suggested that there would have been a settlement in Namibia if it had not been for South Africa.
I would point out that the MPLA Government, under Cuban tutelage, controls only about one-third of Angola. Large numbers of Soviet troops are deployed in Angola, mainly in the south on the Namibian border. Noble Lords will recall that only about six months ago in a South African raid over the border two Soviet uniformed troops were captured. In addition, 1,000 East German troops are in Angola, mainly in the south, training the SWAPO guerrillas. There are many people who are stirring up trouble in Angola. It is an oversimplification to suggest that South Africa alone is the trouble.
The second biggest contingent is in the Horn, where 13,000 Cuban troops are deployed in Ethiopia. They of course have massive Soviet supplies and Soviet military advisers. There are 1,000 Cubans in Mozambique, and there are little groups all over the African continent. As my noble friend pointed out, 12 of the 40 African states are now controlled by communist Governments.
It is also interesting to see the broadcasting effort. I have not had time to study what it is that we are doing, but I have looked at the American effort and compared it with the Russian effort. Radio Moscow now beams 170 hours every week to Africa, and more than 50 per cent. of that output is in the local African languages. Compared with that figure, the United States broadcasts only 100 hours, and I am afraid that the majority of that broadcasting is in English—or the American version of it.
I have concentrated on Africa, but I could equally tell the same story in the Middle East, which we are deeply dependent upon, or talk about Central America, as my noble friend has done. I wonder whether, in concentrating on NATO's front door—which is the central front of Europe—we are possibly neglecting NATO's Achilles' heel, which is the areas where the Soviets are concentrating and which supply us with oil and other raw materials. I suggest that the free world must get together. I do not know whether NATO is the right instrument, because perhaps a military command is a little too set in its ways, habits and structure. Perhaps, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, suggested, the EEC might be a little more flexible. But surely it is possible for the free world to get together to consider how we can counter this wave of Soviet effort, via Cuba, on the African continent.
101 Can we not jointly look at the questions of students, broadcasts, teachers, agriculturalists to solve some of the desperately difficult food problems on that continent, medical help and a whole host of other ways of trying to relieve those countries, and attempt to restore some respect for the Western European countries who were for so long their colonial powers? After an interval now, when these African countries have perhaps tasted a nasty alternative, we may have more effect than we did when we first withdrew. It is a desperate problem and I hope that the free world will look at it seriously as a result of this debate and consider what constructive efforts can be made to get together and achieve some results.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ Lord Walston
My Lords, not only within this House but also outside it, many people will be grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, for having given us an opportunity to discuss this vitally important subject and for having opened this debate in such an admirable way. We have a chance to talk about what is an enormously important matter and we also have the chance—as has been shown by the speeches to which we have listened already—to hear many different points of view.
I believe that none of us can disagree with the thesis that the Soviet Union poses a real threat in the third world, and it is one that many people have ignored for far too long. I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, give his factual survey of Latin America and the Caribbean—an area that I know reasonably well. With nothing that he said, and with none of his facts, did I disagree. But when the noble Lord said that the chain begins with Cuba, if the noble Lord was speaking chronologically, then I would disagree fundamentally. My understanding of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos—not that he needs me to defend him at all—is that it in no way suggested that the danger was due to neglect on the part of the United States or other people; the danger stems originally from the Soviet Union. I believe that none of us would disagree with that.
But why is it that in certain parts of the Caribbean, and particularly in Latin America, the Soviet Union has been able to make such advances? I believe it is because of the gross inequalities of life and the standard of living which have existed there and which continue to exist there, and the unwillingness or inabilility of the great neighbouring power of the United States to do anything to improve conditions there and its apparent willingness and desire to support those who are the protagonists of that inequality.
I hope that I shall not weary your Lordships if I describe three personal reminiscences from Latin America from about 20 years ago—because this memory goes back a very long time indeed. On one occasion I was in a large city in Latin America and I was entertained to a cocktail party there by a prominent citizen. I was driven through slums which are impossible to imagine unless one has actually seen them—slums where people live not in tin shacks made out of old petrol cans but in shelters made out of cardboard packing cases, so that when it rains the shelters simply disappear into the mud.
102 Having driven through several kilometres of such slums, I came to a pair of great iron gates. These were flung open, and then the car in which I was travelling swept up to a marble staircase. I walked up the marble staircase and the front doors were thrown open by flunkeys. Inside, my host was waiting with his guests to greet me wearing, I am somewhat ashamed to say, an Old Etonian tie. As we sipped champagne, he mentionesd to me, just en passant, that he was fortunate in having two Rolls-Royces because it was impossible to have them serviced in that particular country. But as he also owned a shipping line, he was able to send one Rolls-Royce back to England to be serviced while he used the other. Thus he was always able to use one of these cars at his convenience.
My second recollection is of a public works contractor whose plantation I visited—bananas, oil palms, coconuts and so on—extended to many thousands of hectares. Again, his workers lived in abject squalor and poverty. He told me, as we sat together after lunch, that he had been able to amass in liquid resources some 6 million dollars. He had wisely placed 2 million dollars on Wall Street and in Switzerland. He then kept 2 million dollars for his own use within that country, and he had 2 million dollars set aside for the support of that political party which was going to maintain the system whereby he had made his money.
My third recollection was a visit to General Anastasio Samoza in his bunker. He was the head of state, and despite the fact that the country was supposedly at peace, he had to live in conditions of security which must have rivalled those of Hitler. There were normal sentries at normal gates, but then there were steel doors, and a long passage leading to a circular room. This was completely windowless but air-coniditioned and furnished with a large desk where the dictator sat at the far end.
Those are conditions which have existed for generations in Latin America. What has the United States done to encourage those who want to improve upon them? Its record—and I am saddened to say this—is lamentable. Take Chile. There was a good, reforming, liberal Government of Eduardo Frei. When that was replaced by the less practical, more reforming Government of Dr. Allende it did not last long, because it was not in the interests of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation of America, and it was not in the interests of the big copper concerns there. Before very long Allende was out, and in came the man we now have, General Pinochet, with his suppressive régime, his secret police, his dictatorial and terrorist powers throughout the whole country. To the world at large, and certainly to Latin America, it looks as if it is the United States which has engineered, supported and encouraged that, just as it had hob-nobbed and made good relations, until the short episode of the Falklands, with similarly oppressive and dictatorial military juntas in Argentina.
Before that, what happened when Batista was overthrown in Cuba? We have heard a lot about Cuba. I am not defending the régime there, although I have much sympathy with many of the things it has been trying to do. But I certainly have no sympathy with what preceded it—the régime of Batista, with its 103 corruption, its vices, its gangsterism, its poverty and its vast and ostentatious riches. But when Castro and his friends overthrew Batista, the United States lost a wonderful chance. It did not hold out the hand of friendship. It did not say, "You, at least, are trying to improve things and bring your country a little bit more towards the sort of democracy that we have in the United States". Because Castro nationalised the sugar plantations and interfered with great American interests, your Lordships know how he was treated. Bit by bit and faster and faster he was forced from the ambit of the United States into the arms of the Soviet Union, with all that has resulted from it.
That is the situation as I see it that has led to this problem in Latin America today; and, alas!, the United States does not seem to have learned any lesson at all, but is still pursuing a policy which is encouraging those who have supported, profited and grown fat from the old regimes, and is ignoring or helping the fight against those who are trying to bring about social reforms. If the United States continues to do that, it will either find itself involved in a new Vietnam—it is determined not to do that, but whether or not it will succeed I do not know—or it will lose its struggle; but by losing it will make the countries of Central America even more vulnerable than they are now to Cuba and the Russian menace.
I will just say in passing that I cannot go along with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in his remarks about the article in The Times by Anthony Lewis, so rightly quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos. I cannot remember his precise words, but I should like to put on record that, as far as I am concerned, Anthony Lewis is an extremely able and objective journalist, and a very well informed journalist. I do not believe that anything he writes is written out of political pique or personal vindictiveness.
Let us now turn to Africa, which is the other main area about which we have been speaking. Again, the menace here is the Soviet Union; that is the danger. If I may again be forgiven for a reminiscence, my mind goes back to 1968 or 1969, when I was having a personal talks with the then Prime Minister of South Africa, Mr. Vorster. We were discussing the problem of apartheid and its effect on other parts of Africa south of the Sahara. I said to him that the time would come within the next 10 or 15 years when Haile Selassie would disappear and it would be a disaster for the West—perhaps that was putting it too strongly—if Ethiopia fell into hands that were friendly to the Soviet Union. That has happened. I said that in Kenya there would be a change. I said that Kenyatta would go and that, again, there was the danger that this might happen. Fortunately, it has not happened. I told Mr. Vorster that Salazar would disappear, that Mozambique and Angola would no longer be under the thumb of Portugal, and that they would be vulnerable to Soviet influence.
I still believe, as I did then, that those things could all have been avoided had South Africa pursued a different policy—a policy which turns its back on apartheid, which accepts blacks as equals with whites and has an expansionist policy towards Africa as a whole and towards its own black inhabitants. Of course, we also have Namibia. So I repeat that while I 104 believe it is the Soviet Union which is the menace and the threat, its unconscious and unwilling allies in its activities are the United States and South Africa, with their existing policies.
I believe that the African situation is not as bad as the noble Earl depicted. There are the Russian bases that he talked about, and it is not good for us that they should be there; but I cannot believe that if a hot war developed those bases would be very stable, given the situation of Africa and the attitude of Africans, and given our own history in Africa. After all, for many years in the 1950s and 1960s Russia strove to extend its influence in Africa but met with almost complete failure. There is now a form of communist state in Tanzania, but that is no threat to us because there is there the tradition—which, I am proud to say, we left behind from this country—of tolerance, justice and peace. Although it is sad to see a country potentially as rich as that and with a man as essentially good as Julius Nyerere going through the hardships brought about by its own inefficiencies and its own adherence to dogma, it is not a threat to the West and it is not a threat to us.
In this state of affairs we should pay tribute to those who were instrumental in building up the new Commonwealth as we know it now. Credit must be given—and I willingly and happily give it—to Harold Macmillan, Reginald Maudling, Iain Macleod and Alan Lennox-Boyd (for whose life we gave thanks yesterday) and, before them, to Clement Attlee, for his role in India; to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, the last Secretary of State for India in this country; and to people like Malcolm MacDonald. It is such people, I believe, who have created in Africa as a whole this atmosphere which is so very different from that which obtains in Latin America today and which I believe is our greatest bulwark against the spread of communism. But it is not an invincible bulwark by any means. We must continuously fight to see that the battle is maintained.
The noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, was right to say that we should increase our scholarships and have more students from those countries. We should increase our aid and technical assistance, as most of us pressed last week in the debate of the noble Lord, Lord Oram, which, alas, was singularly unsupported by noble Lords opposite. We must continue with that, because it is a fight from which we can never relax. But we must also be candid with our friends and our allies in the United States. They are friends, of course; they are relatives; they are the closest country to us and we are the closest country to them. Neither of us can survive without the other. I know full well that it is part of the strategy of the Soviet Union to try to drive a wedge between us. I do not know whether any of your Lordships read an article in the Observer the Sunday before last by a very influential Russian journalist, Alexander Bovin, who was over here on a visit. He wrote in regard to the Americans—and, regrettably, it has a germ of truth in it:A minimum of foreign policy experience multiplied by a minimum of general culture results in a maximum of self-assurance".We would not say that to them, but I think we must agree that there is some truth in it. It is for us to assert ourselves as candid friends, as close allies and as 105 people tied by blood as well as by interests, and point out to them where their errors lie and where their present policy, particularly in Latin America, is leading them and is leading us. If we do not do that, we shall fail in our responsibilities as a member of that great alliance.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, it is a great temptation to follow and pick up the points that have been raised in a succession of obsessive speeches, apparently sparked off by a psychosis of fear over the Soviet Union. I shall resist that temptation, but there are one or two issues which have been raised to which I feel I must reply. First, to the last speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Walston, I would just say in regard to Tanzania that if Tanzania is a communist country, it is the only communist country that I know of that has regular five-year elections in which, on every occasion, Ministers and members of the Assembly are defeated. When he puts the blame for the economic ills of Tanzania on inefficiency and their inability to develop their economy, may I just point out to him that, at this year's prices, it will take 10 times as much sisal (which is the main crop in Tanzania) to buy one tractor as it did 10 years ago.
On one or two other issues that have been raised, may I first of all address myself to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, who initiated this debate, and again, as other speakers have done, thank him for introducing it. All I want to say to him is that I was sorry that he did not pursue the beginning of his speech. This could have been a fascinating debate if he had pursued the approach that the Soviet Union was failing in trade in Africa and examined why and to what extent the Western world can succeed where the Soviet Union has failed. I was sorry that he did not pursue that. But to the extent that the Soviet Union is failing—and I agree with him on this and shall have more to say on it in a few minutes—in trade in Africa, it is not failing in the way that he suggested—I took his words down and I think I report him correctly—when he said that the Soviet Union cannot satisfy the needs of private enterprise. No, it is not private enterprise that the Soviet Union cannot satisfy; it is the needs of the people of Africa. I want to return to that later.
I would also take issue with the noble Earl on what he said and on what has been said since about the presence of Cuban troops in Angola. I am not going to deal with the Horn, not because I want to dodge it but because I know the other area so much better. There were no Cuban troops in Angola until South African troops invaded Angola. This has been testified to by the CIA itself. The Cuban troops were asked for by the Angolan Government to protect the Government and the people of Angola against an invasion by South African troops. There is no doubt—and I do not think that anyone would doubt this—that the Angolan Government do not want to retain Cuban troops. There is a general detestation throughout the African continent for the presence of foreign troops on African soil. But, if those Cuban troops are withdrawn from Angola, is not Angola then left, as it was in 1975, at the mercy of further South African invasions?
The noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing—and perhaps someone will draw this to his attention as he is not in 106 his place—talks about what is going on on the boundary between Namibia and Angola, but the whole Cunene province of Angola (which is the southern province on the boundary with Namibia) is occupied by South African troops. It is nonsense to try to close our eyes to that fact. Remember, we have a responsibility. Since 1977 the British Government have been part of the contact group. But that area of Angola is occupied by the South Africans. Until those South African troops are withdrawn and are also withdrawn from Namibia, you cannot expect any Angolan Government to ask the Cuban troops to go home, which they would like to do.
I may just point out here that when talking about Cuban troops in Angola, one should not forget that there are French troops in many ex-French colonial states in Africa. To take the words of the noble Earl himself when he mentioned Belize, yes, we are all glad that there are British troops in Belize—with the consent of the Belize Government. It is a sovereign state. So is Angola. The Cuban troops who are in Angola are performing the same function as the British troops in Belize.
I said that I should not be drawn by the later speeches, which have—I am sorry—in my view deteriorated a little from the standard of the opening speeches. In each of those opening speeches, I was encouraged by the concept—instead of this debate simply being a medium for attacking the Soviet Union—that the West and the communist bloc should be working together for the good of the third world countries that we are discussing. It is in that spirit that I want to make my contribution, rather than with all this fear of what the Soviet Union is doing in the third world.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, said that everyone would agree that the real threat was the Soviet Union. Frankly, I do not agree. I do not agree at all. I have fairly good qualifications for not agreeing. I cut my political teeth in debating for years and years with Willie Gallagher, the last Communist Member of the other place. I have seen the Soviet Union at work during the many times that I have been living in third world countries. I am not frightened of it. I want to see the Soviet Union developing its cultural contributions, its economic contributions, and its ideological contributions, because I believe that the clash of ideas between what I would put forward as democratic socialism and the form of communist propaganda which is put out by the Soviet Union is productive.
Let me refer to three personal experiences. I believe that my best contribution to the debate is what I can mention from personal experience, and it will point out the main issue which I want to raise. It is just about 12 months ago since I was in the middle of a crisis at the University of Zambia. The university administration did not handle the crisis very well; it was frightened. The crisis stemmed from a very small group of students who, with a little wisdom, could very easily have been isolated, or have been allowed to have their say. They called themselves Marxists-Leninists. But they had no idea what either Marxism or Leninism meant. I went to lecture to them. I deliberately took the opportunity to lecture to them on the significance of Marx to the third world. The standard of their understanding of Marx was illustrated by the 107 fact that they indignantly denied that their great hero Marx could ever have written for an American capitalist newspaper, whereas of course anybody who knows anything about Marx knows that one has to read the New York Tribune if one is to understand what Marx had to say.
That situation was not a threat. It is true that the Soviet Embassy in Lusaka provided books to the university, and that that very small group of students—no more than half a dozen—would repeat ad nauseam phrases that they had taken from these books that really became meaningless. That was no threat. What was a threat was that there was nothing on the other side, that the country did not have the foreign exchange to import books from the other side, and that therefore the university bookstall shelves were empty. In Lusaka itself the shelves emptied before my eyes during the two years that I spent there. That was the danger, and that was the threat. It was not the Soviet publications. It was the absence of the ability of the Zambians to import publications from the West.
When we are talking about armaments I would say that I detest just as much as does anybody else in the House the rise in armament buying by the third world. But there, up in the sky above the university were the Russian MiGs. Why? I was actually in the office of the Minister of Defence on one occasion when news came that 33 South African planes loaded with bombs were approaching the country. Why?—because of misinformation that a camp of Namibian refugees was actually a camp of Namibian guerrillas. Fortunately the South African Government were convinced in time, and the bombs were jettisoned on the border between Zambia and Namibia. That is why the MiGs were in the skies. But if our Government here had been providing the protection for Zambia, there would have been no MiGs.
Secondly, I move to a matter on which I believe that I shall be supported by my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham, since he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the time of the Nigerian civil war. I think that my noble friend Lord Stewart will bear me out when I say that one of the most important issues that brought the Soviet Union's influence into West Africa was the stand which the Soviet Union made over the Nigerian civil war. As the Soviet ambassador in Lagos explained to me at the time, this was the classical consequence of what he—and he was the dean of the Diplomatic Corps at the time—had read into the teachings of Lenin on nationalism: that one recognised national sovereignty, that one did not interfere with national boundaries, and that one gave no form of support to secessionist movements. As a result of that policy the Soviet Union became very popular with the Nigerians.
Our Government took the same line in supporting the federal Government as against the secessionists. But there were many sections of our political society which took a different line, and indeed there were many sections of the American community which also took a different line. So our impact was not as strong as the complete support that was given by the Soviet Union at that time.
The third instance that I would offer to this House is that of Guinea—and here I am talking about Guinea 108 based on Conakry, as distinct from Guinea-Bissau. I happened to be in the State Department in Washington at the time that Sékou Touré held his joint independence day and party congress, in November 1978. The State Department was quite excited about the event. It had sent a high level delegation to the conference. This was in the days when Mr. Moose was in charge of the State Department under the presidency of Mr. Carter. When I returned to this country I immediately went to see Dr. Owen, who was then the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to find out what we had done. I discovered that we had sent our ambassador from Dakar in Senegal. He had not stayed for the whole conference, and he had not met Sékou Touré.
For some time after that I tried very hard to persuade, first, the Labour Government, and then the succeeding Conservative Government, that Guinea was important. It was important because of what happened way back in 1968. Your Lordships may recall that Sékou Touré was completely cut off by de Gaulle because he had refused to join the French community. Even the electric light bulbs were pulled out of the offices, all the files were emptied, and the country was stripped. Sékou Touré went to Washington. He came here, too, and he spoke at Chatham House. He went to West Germany, and he could gain no support at all of any substantial nature from the West. So what did he do? He did the only thing that he could do. He turned to the Soviet Union. It took him 20 years to find out that he was getting a raw deal from the Soviet Union, a raw deal in trade and in technical assistance; and his country was simply not developing.
I continued the campaign to try to get this country to take Guinea seriously. It is potentially a very wealthy country. The Americans took it very seriously, and so did the French, very quickly. Giscard went on a State visit, and the French very quickly had a delegation at the party conference. The Japanese were there. The Germans were there. Where were we? As I pointed out to the Government, we had in Conakry an honorary consul, who had very great difficulty in speaking English.
Fortunately, things have improved a little. I believe that if there had not been an election in this country in 1979, we would have had an ambassador in Conakry. We have not. We still depend on the ambassador in Dakar. Here are great opportunities for the Western world. I know from my own conversations with Sékou Touré, who has invited me twice to his country, that he wants to get help from this country. He wants to have joint ventures with this country. A tremendous opportunity exists for joint development. It is not being taken. Fortunately, we now have in London an honourary Guinea consul, Mr. Lunzer.
Mr. Lunzer, who is doing an excellent job for Guinea, would be the first to agree that this arrangement is only a poor substitute for full diplomatic relations between the two countries with an ambassador here and an ambassador in Conakry. This is the way in which the West has given, and continues to give, invitations to the Soviet Union to provide technical help, economic help and, above all, military help. It is our fault.
If the Government, having shown themselves so insensitive to the importance of recognising overseas 109 aid as investment, continue to follow the line that they have done in, say, Grenada, where they have refused to help to finance any new projects, where their aid has declined from £252,000 in 1979 to £83,000 in 1981 and where they refused to help with the building of the airfield that is essential for the tourist trade and not for the military—a fact recognised by 13 other Western European states and four Arab states, but not by us—and if the Government continue to prefer to provide an airstrip on the Cayman Islands in order to enable the casino for Club Méditerranée to be built, then they cannot complain if countries of this kind turn to Moscow, to Peking or to East Germany for the help that we refuse. That is where the danger is.
Let us have an open competition. Let us have an open dialogue and an open argument. I was talking about this very subject to the Soviet ambassador a few weeks ago. I asked him about Soviet aid to the developing world. He has sent me the paper that was submitted to the United Nations Economic and Social Council for Europe. I shall place a copy in the Library. I do not say that the paper is correct. But, then, I do not say that the figures given by noble Lords representing the Government or those given by Washington are necessarily correct.
I should, however, like to assure the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, who opened the debate, that he can rest assured that there are no pro-Soviet régimes in Africa. There are régimes that will get assistance from the Soviet Union. There are regimes that will get assistance from Washington, London or Paris. But African culture is so old and deeply-rooted and the Africans sufficiently empirical that they will take what is appropriate for them. This does not mean that they are pro-Soviet or pro-Washington, pro-London or pro-Paris.
If we fail to recognise the responsibility that we have to associate ourselves in the development of half the world's population, we cannot complain if the leaders of those countries turn to other countries to get the assistance that they need to sustain their people.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Baroness Airey of Abingdon
My Lords, we have had an extremely interesting debate. All your Lordships will, I think, agree that we owe a deep debt of gratitude to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, for instigating the debate, in my opinion not a moment too soon. There have been many different opinions expressed about different parts of the world. I should like to speak mainly about the Horn of Africa. I should especially like to associate myself with my noble friend when he paid tribute to Mr. Louis Fitzgibbon for the immense amount of work that he did in assembling his three reports and book that won the first Airey Neave memorial prize. Perhaps I am allowed to tell your Lordships that the theme of the prize was freedom under the law. I have noticed, listening with great interest to so many speeches today, that there is the underlying feeling that, whatever one's opinions, freedom under the law is very important.
In my youth, Africa appeared a very mysterious place, especially when I first married. My father-in-law, as a scientist and an entomologist, seemed a rather alarming person. But I learned quickly to listen with great interest to descriptions of the work that he 110 and his father, also an entomologist and a doctor, had done researching tsetse fly and sleeping sickness in Africa. This was how my interest in the continent first arose. My friendship with Africans was established when I met Alan Lennox-Boyd in the early 1950s. At that time he was Colonial Secretary and my husband became his PPS. It was moving yesterday in Westminster Abbey to hear Lord Home's splendid tribute to Lord Boyd. When he spoke about Lord Boyd's breadth of vision, I thought to myself how much we miss him. We miss him today, especially in this debate. Lord Home also spoke about his hospitality. I feel deeply about this.
As I was the young and inexperienced wife of a new Member of Parliament, he almost always asked me to dinner. On many of those occasions I met Africans who were his friends. Always the conversation turned to the problems in their countries. Sometimes, late at night, when the other guests had gone home, Airey and I stayed to talk with Lord Boyd and his wife. I remember well the anxiety with which Lord Boyd, in those days as Colonial Secretary, spoke about the future of that continent, and especially the Horn of Africa. So I know that all of us miss him very much.
Of course, the situation was very different in those days, but I still believe that the Soviet Union was thinking and planning, and how deeply they have planned and how quickly they have moved. I am sure that in those days they were thinking about oil and access to the Indian Ocean, which is their aim today, as well as access to the warm water ports.
I should like to speak particularly about the Horn of Africa and in that connection there is the question of the pincer movement. Anyone who looks at a modern atlas or who reads the newspapers will realise how dangerous the situation has become. There is the question of Afghanistan. Although reports vary very much about the situation in Afghanistan, those of us who saw the programme on television last night came to realise that many, many towns and villages are now in Soviet hands. There are a number of people who say that the Soviet Union are doing awfully badly in Afghanistan, but I think that that is a type of front. There are many important places which are strongly in their hands. There is that difficult pass which we remember from the old days when we were in power in India. It is a stronghold and at the moment an impossibility for them to conquer. But behind all this I think that they are building up a very strong force. As has been mentioned this afternoon, they have already built an airstrip which is only 100 miles from the sea and only 600 miles from their great goal. Therefore, they are not being idle. The pincer movement is in action and we should not fail to pay attention to it. That is why in my view we should consider very carefully the situation in the Horn of Africa.
I have a son at present in Singapore and I have been to see him there. That place is particularly interesting to me in the same way as places of which noble Lords have spoken with great knowledge this afternoon are of great interest to them. However it is interesting to me that in 1979, when the Soviet Union entered Afghanistan, Singapore barred all Soviet naval ships from her shipyards, thus depriving them of victualling and ship repair facilities which were previously available. Lee Kuan Yew is a man of great foresight. I 111 do not believe that he would have taken that action if he had not foreseen a danger in the Indian Ocean. So here again there is a worldwide danger which has been so brilliantly and explicitly spoken about this afternoon.
As regards the Indian Ocean many people have mentioned the number of ships there belonging to the Soviet Union. I believe that there are at least 500 Russian ships in the Pacific fleet alone. In fact, that was reported in the Daily Telegraph yesterday. Moreover, they have mounting military strength throughout the Continent of Africa. Let us not be beguiled into thinking that they do not have a long-term plan. They do not need to act quickly, but I believe that they are acting for the future, that they have laid their plans with great cleverness and that they prefer to act behind other people such as their Cuban allies. That has been much demonstrated by many of your Lordships who have spoken this afternoon.
I am particularly interested in Mr. Andropov's offer which has been widely reported in today's press. It is a matter of interest that he has made what appears to be a significant offer as regards the number of warheads to be sited in Europe. Again I find that of particular interest in connection with the part of the world about which we are speaking. It may seem strange to some of your Lordships that I mention this, but I equally think that the recollection—in many ways the terrible recollection—of war which actually came to the gates of Russia itself is still much remembered in that country. Maybe this is a type of diversion and it is much easier for that country to operate behind its friends especially as regards the Horn of Africa, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, so very eloquently said in his excellent speech, as regards South America. So I draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that sometimes what seems to be a very interesting offer has another meaning. Maybe he does not want to operate in Europe; maybe he would rather operate behind others in other quarters of the world.
I do not want to keep your Lordships too long this evening. I should like to take the opportunity to say that, in view of the tremendous interest that this debate has generated with so many speakers and with so many interesting matters that they have raised, I very much regret and apologise to the House that it is just possible that I may not be able to stay to hear the winding-up speeches, owing to a very long-standing engagement. It will be of the greatest disappointment to me if I am not able to stay, but if I should have to slip away I crave your Lordships' indulgence and I shall read with the utmost interest the winding-up speeches. However, I beg your Lordships to consider very carefully what aid we can possibly give to those who really have our interests at heart in these dangerous parts of the world.
§ 5.27 p.m.
My Lords, despite the very wide-ranging scope of the opening speech by the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, he has perhaps consciously chosen by the terms of his Motion a comparatively limited aspect of a much wider phenomenon in the post-war world—namely, the spread of communism. The noble Earl's Motion deals only with Soviet penetration and 112 influence in the third world, which is but one aspect, I suggest, of a much greater development of communism in the world in general. It is to that broader development that I would like to address my remarks this evening, and perhaps draw a number of conclusions as to how the non-communist world should counter the Soviet influence in the third world.
If I may say so, the speeches which have come from the Benches opposite and from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, have been strong in description of what is seen as the Soviet threat, but very weak in putting forward suggestions as to how that threat should be countered. I think that it was only the noble Lord, Lord On-Ewing, who seemed to be advocating a great increase in our overseas aid programme in providing technical assistance, which warmed my heart. I hope that he will convey those sentiments to those in the Government who can do something about that.
On my theme of the development of communism in the post-war world, perhaps a few broad statistics may help to set the two aspects—the direct Soviet influence and the spread of communism—in some kind of proportion. Before the war there was only one communist state—the USSR, with a population at that time of some 200 million, which has now grown to 250 million. Today there are some 20 communist states with a population of over 1½ billion people—a six-fold increase in a period of 40 years. Today perhaps a third of the population of the world is living under communist Governments, and of those 1½ billion, well over 1 billion are in the third world, which we are particularly debating this evening. But I suggest that it is by no means an accurate view of history to ascribe that remarkable increase in communism to Soviet influence, direct or indirect. The Chinese communists would not thank you if you said that their regime was a Soviet creation. The communists of Yugoslavia have established their communist state in spite of, rather than because of, Soviet policies.
I should like to take a recent example of a country which is not communist—the Philippines. The other day I was reading in The Times a series of articles by that paper's South-East Asia correspondent about the communist movement in the Philippines. He quotes a guerrilla as saying:Filipino-style Communism has a little bit from Mao and a little bit from Marx".There was no reference to Moscow, nor even to Lenin, and I think that that gels with what my noble friend Lord Hatch was saying to your Lordships about lack of direct understanding in Africa even of what Marx and orthodox communism is really about.
I think it is true to say that, to a very large extent, communist régimes—particularly those in the third world—have come about, not through external influences, but from internal causes. I should like to suggest what some of those causes are. Primarily and without doubt I would say that the first cause is poverty, and particularly poverty among large peasant populations. The origin of that poverty is essentially the landlessness of the peasants and their consequent exploitation by those who do own the land. I believe that to be a basic cause of communism.
The second cause—which has been referred to particularly by my noble friend Lord Walston—is the 113 existence of oppressive and corrupt Governments. Often a third cause of communist revolution has been the burden placed on the people by war. If we look hack in history, we see that those were the causes of the Russian revolution; those were the conditions in Russia which enabled Lenin and his Bolshevik colleagues to seize power. Basically, the same conditions were to be found in China when Mao led his communist armies to victory. We should learn from history in these matters.
Unfortunately, today it is all too common to find countries which are poverty-stricken, with peasant populations deprived of land and with Governments maintaining those conditions through oppressive dictatorships. It is not difficult to identify in Latin America, in South-East Asia or in Africa the equivalent of the Russian serf or of the Chinese peasant. Nor is it difficult to find Governments today as repressive as those of the Czar or of Chiang Kai-shek. It is when whole populations suffer from such grievances that communist parties emerge and take power, because they can identify themselves in their propaganda and in their own communist interests with the general grievances of the peasant populations. They promise to overcome those conditions of poverty and of landlessness, and in doing so they often find themselves in common cause with other more liberal sectors of society.
Nicaragua has been referred to several times. To take an example, in Nicaragua, in a Government which President Reagan characterises as Marxist, there are Catholics supported by large sections of the Catholic priesthood. They see it as their Christian duty to minister to the needs of the poverty-stricken peasants, and it is for that reason that the communists often find allies on their path to power.
As I have already said, I was reading in The Times the other day a series of articles by Mr. David Watts, the paper's South-East Asia correspondent, about the Philippines. I was struck by the headline of his second article. It asks the question:What makes priests into revolutionaries?His article explains what drives priests into united action with the communist New People's Army. On another theme, his first article has an equally incisive headline. It refers to thepurge of peasants as if Vietnam had never been".His concluding paragraph is I think worth quoting. It says:In one recent sweep through three hamlets, the army so terrorised the population that 200 families fled. Hearts and minds will never he salvaged this way".I suggest that that is the fundamental lesson that America took many long, painful years to learn in Vietnam, and I suggest that that it is why voices are being raised in America today against President Reagan's policies in Central America, which threaten a similar mistake to those of Vietnam.
Therefore, if we reject—as I firmly believe we should—the military answer to communism—which, in my judgment, was so dramatically proved to be wrong in South East Asia and which, if tried, will surely equally be proved wrong in Central America—what is it that we must do to prevent the 114 emergence of oppressive communist régimes in the third world? First, I suggest that we should analyse and understand more thoroughly the causes of communism, as I have tried to describe them. Do not let us be so obsessed, as some speakers seem to have been today, with the Soviet threat. The causes of communism are much deeper and more widespread than Soviet foreign policy or Soviet penetration. What we must do is to tackle the root causes of communism: world poverty, as I have suggested, and especially the landless state of the mass peasant populations. That is why I was saying in your Lordships' House a week ago—and a number of noble Lords have referred to the debate—that the proposals of the Brandt Commission for overcoming the problems of the third world must be implemented if disaster is to be avoided.
Secondly, what I suggest we must do is to show that in practice there is a better way than the communist way. We must take action on a massive scale to demonstrate to the people of the third world that it is we, the democratic West, who can help them develop their economies in the interests of their own people, and that this can be done by the process of genuine democracy. When we uphold, as we must, the values of freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom to choose Governments, freedom to travel—and when we point out that these basic freedoms are denied by communists, we must, I suggest, at the same time ensure that the economic and social freedoms of the people are equally there. If, indeed, you offer a starving man the choice between a vote and a loaf, there is no doubt what his choice will be. But it is my view that we should make sure that he is not faced with that choice. We should enable him to have both the vote and the loaf.
Surely, this means that our objective, and the objective of the third world countries themselves, is their industrial, agricultural, economic and social development by democratic means. We must face up to the consequences of helping them along the paths of democracy. If the practice of true democracy in those countries leads straight away, as I believe it must, to a demand for land reform, the distribution of land among the landless peasants, then so be it; let us have vigorous programmes of land reform. In relation to industrial development funded from our aid programmes, if the practice of democracy means that profits from that investment can be repatriated to the West only to a limited extent and that the profits should be reinvested in the third world economies, then again I say so be it. If the practice of democracy in these third world countries leads to rich countries—ourselves included—being required to pay more for the commodities produced by the developing countries, once again, so be it, because we have had those commodities on the cheap for two centuries or more.
Above all, if we wish to forestall communism in the third world, we must choose very carefully the political partners with whom we are prepared to work. If we are seen to favour dictatorships and oppressive Government régimes, this will be an easy and significant propaganda boost for the communists. The struggle against communism is, in the long run, the battle for men's hearts and minds. On that phrase, I would conclude by quoting just once again from Mr. David 115 Watts in The Times of last Wednesday. The communists, he says,do not have to search for rallying issues. Most are created for them by low wages and government policies which force more and more peasants off their lands in favour of agri-business interests . The landless become potential recruits for the [communist] New People's Army".I remind you, my Lords, in conclusion, of his concluding sentence:Hearts and minds will never be salvaged this way.I would add that communism will not be resisted that way.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Oram, who leaves the order of debate on such a high plane. Before I do so, may I first apologise to your Lordships that, owing to a long-standing engagement, I shall not be able to stay beyond a certain hour. Of course, I shall read all your Lordships' speeches in Hansard. In mitigation, I have never had to ask your Lordships' indulgence before in this regard. I apologise.
At the outset, I would wish to thank my noble friend Lord Cathcart for setting the scene for this debate by his authoritative and impressive tour d'horizon of a subject which affects the freedom of man to live as he would wish. I would wish to concentrate on Africa as distinct from Central America, the problems being disparate. If Brandt I and Brandt II make the point that the frontiers of European ex-colonial states in Africa lie in Europe, so be it. Such is the identifiable antidote to the thesis that we should close our pursestrings to the poor and undeveloped countries—a thesis already robustly rejected by notable speeches in the recent debate on Brandt II in your Lordships' House and in particular, if I may say so with respect, in a memorable contribution by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos.
Indeed, is it not really idle to pretend that, while retaining a "credible deterrent", if the political will and the common policies of the European institutions had extended beyond the limitations of Lomé, beyond ad hoc aid, to encompass the dimensions of Brandt I, the history of Soviet penetration in these countries could not have been otherwise—and this notwithstanding the staggering extent of the arms supplies and the sending of advisers to which my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing has referred?
Indeed, if one puts aside for a moment the dilemma situation in Central Africa—perhaps a different problem—is it not only by diplomatic initiative on a European scale, backed by a credible deterrent and a broad implementation of Brandt II, that such penetrations (unsought, unwelcomed, unprovoked) may now be contained or prevented? Here I associate myself with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, that military intervention is in no way appropriate in this respect. However—and I think perhaps this is where the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and I might have to part company—if the Western alliance were to be slighted, if the European Communities were to be dismembered, then we could find ourselves one day like the companions of Menelaus—fishing with bent hooks for hunger in our 116 belly. The status of these European institutions could indeed resolve itself, in the Soviet design, into the question of whether Europe serves as a staging post or as a stumbling block. Either way, there is no rosy-fingered dawn and the wine-dark sea continues to harbour engines of massive and instantaneous destruction.
Are not the Soviet activities in Africa to be seen as part and parcel of an overall policy of attrition by threat which embraces Central Africa, as has been expounded by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and the threat in the Middle East, as deployed with terrifying lucidity by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who I see in his place? Albeit that this threat is varied as regards time, incidence and intensity, it is always sustained. Surely the acquisition of these port facilities on the East Coast of Africa, referred to in some detail by my noble friend Lord Cathcart, is not directed to territorial claims as such. The lines of communication are far too long and, of all nations, the Soviets know about long lines of communication—a point hinted at by the noble Lord, Lord Walston. The acquisition of these facilities is surely to pose a threat to the oil route from the Gulf to the Cape, and to destabilise our trade.
Part and parcel of the greater threat was the sales build-up of arms to Africa from 1975 to 1977 and the pressure of Cuban troops. All that has happened in the Horn of Africa was part of this overall policy of attrition by threat. What is the purpose of this policy? In the Soviet design it is to impose an intolerable financial and pyschological burden upon the West; a burden which is calculated to cripple our economies, sap our resources, debilitate our morale and break our will to resist the ultimate threat—the threat of annihilation, as was the hope with Afghanistan, as was the reality in Tibet and, as my noble friend Lady Airey of Abingdon has just observed, as may also be the reality in Afghanistan.
Is this not why the Kremlin refuses to entertain any balanced or verifiable reduction in arms? It would defeat its own policy to do so. Those who, either at the behest of communist ideology or at the bidding of their own beliefs, proclaim the dogma of the so-called peace movement, accepting the risk of subjugation as preferable to resisting that ultimate threat, do an incalculable disservice to the cause of peace with freedom. In this they also put to the hazard the civilisations of those fledgling states of the third world.
I quite understand that the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, would not have found my speech very interesting, but, with the greatest respect to him, he is not in his place. Is it not wholly wrong to approach fear of the Soviets as a psychosis? Having listened with great care, as I always do, to what he said, I can well understand why he should regard anyone who fears the Soviets as in need of psychological treatment. 1 shall be corrected if I am wrong, but I think no other noble Lord who has spoken in this debate has expressed any such view. Though I am grateful to the noble Lord for his homily on Marx and Lenin, I submit that there is a very real threat.
The question is: if the threat is real, how is it to be resisted? That point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Oram. In a new European diplomatic initiative the cost of the weapons burden to the Soviets is an important factor to be taken into account. In 1982 the 117 commission on disarmament under the chairmanship of Olaf Palme concluded that this burden,was straining even the wealthiest of economies, and threatening the stability of States irrespective of ideology or system of government".The weapons burden by which this threat is implemented against the free world—nuclear, non-nuclear, terrestrial, spatial, tactical, strategic; with land, sea and air forces—can only be sustained by a repressive system of government designed to prevent their own people from demanding or obtaining a standard of living other than that which is imposed on them.
But in this the Kremlin takes a great gamble. There is another counter on the tables of diplomacy, for in the second report, Brandt II, the commission recognised,poverty often provides the conditions in which rebel movements and territorial claims could flourish".It urges, among other things, the transfer of resources from North to South and an increase in liquidity—points taken in this debate by, in particular, the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and Lord Gladwyn; and, as Lord Walston put it, the gross inequality of life. I liked those words as seeking to put in a phrase the quotation that I have taken from Brandt II.
If in Central America, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, says, Europe has no role to play, nonetheless time is not on our side in which to pursue a diplomatic initiative on a European scale: to strengthen the resolve of the European institutions on defence and on aid to the third world. Co-ordination, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, has said, is perhaps one of the key words. But if this were to be done, if we were to co-ordinate, if we were to strengthen our resolve, time is not on the side of the Kremlin—and the Kremlin knows it. Such, my Lords, is the message of hope.
§ 6 P.M.
My Lords, I should like to offer your Lordships some observations on communist influence in the Middle East and Africa, and in particular the former, two areas with which I have been associated for the last 35 years. Let me make it clear at the outset that I shall not be dealing with three very important areas which have been discussed so ably and extensively by previous speakers: trade, arms and defence. I need not remind your Lordships that Russian designs on the Middle East go back a long way further than the communist era. In fact, they go back to the time of Ivan the Terrible who captured Kazan from the Tartars in 1552. This policy, which was aimed of course principally at Persia, was continued during the time of the later Czars and particularly Peter the Great. In more modern times, the Russians (the Soviets as they were then) established a short-lived military presence in Gilan in Persia in 1921 and then in Azerbaijan in 1941ߝ1946, and it was there that they established the Soviet-inspired republic of Mahabad which I shall deal with later.
During the period of the 1920s and 1930s small communist parties sprang up in the Middle East. In fact, between 1922 and 1934 they were established in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, but they were small, their influence was very limited and, in some cases, 118 their leadership was non-Arab. For example, the Egyptian communist party was led by Jews. It was in the post-war period that the Soviets really began to gain momentum in their efforts to extend their influence in the Middle East, and they then became recognised widely as a super-power able to offer material and moral support to nationalist regimes struggling against what they called the oppressive West.
Thus, we see continuous expansion in the 1950s, culminating with the very important tie-up between the communists and Qasim of Iraq in 1958, following the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy. Now, as your Lordships are well aware, the communists are fairly well entrenched in Syria, in Libya and in the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, where—and this is an area that I want to examine later in more detail—they had in fact established the only genuine communist-based regime in the Middle East. Communist parties are to be found all over the Middle East in varying sizes, with the sole exception of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States where Islam appears to present an almost inpenetrable barrier. Nevertheless, I must mention, as some of your Lordships may have read in the press, that there is speculation about possible Saudi recognition of the Soviet Union and the establishment of diplomatic relations; and I am told that the King himself is in favour of it.
Let me deal now, very briefly, with Africa, an area on which I am not so well informed. However, I was engaged in a fascinating survey of communist activities in Africa in 1948. At that time, perhaps I could remind your Lordships, there were only four independent countries in the entire continent. They were, Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Liberia. During the period of the 1940s and 1950s the communists gradually gained ground in ways which are familiar to those of us who have studied this subject; that is to say, they would penetrate the embryonic trade unions, youth movements, opposition groups and so on. Now, as your Lordships are aware, they have powerful positions in several African states, but this has been dealt with by other speakers and I shall not deal with it now except to remind your Lordships that, so far as I know, no speaker has mentioned Benin, where there is also a communist presence.
Let me now deal with what I regard as the most important matter to be discussed this evening: an assessment of Soviet strengths and weaknesses. First, I think I must examine the impact of Islam on communism. There are something like 600 million or more Moslems in the world, and most of these live in third world countries where the communists have established, in some cases, a toe-hold, in other cases a foothold, and indeed in South Yemen what one might call a bodyhold. How have they done this? I must emphasise at the outset that, although many young Moslems now disregard their faith and maintain that they are not practising Moslems, they are all basically believers; they all believe very strongly that the Koran is the word of God given to the Prophet Mohammed by the angel. Gabriel. They will therefore never criticise Islam in the same way as lapsed Christians will criticise Christianity.
119 The most important point to bear in mind is that, whereas Islam is tolerant towards Christians and Jews, it execrates atheists. For that reason—and I have found this in many areas in which I have served—there can never be any real meeting point between Islam and communism. Communist attempts to proselytise have failed miserably. It is true that in certain areas where the Moslems are fairly well entrenched one finds an admiration for the Soviets. But this is not in any sense an admiration, or even a partial admiration, for Soviet ideology. It is an admiration for the might of the Soviets whom many Moslems regard as a counter weight against the Americans.
The area in which the communists have achieved their greatest success is in support of racial minorities. We have, for example, the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad (which I mentioned earlier) which was established by Qazi Mohammed. It only survived nine or ten months. Why did it fall? It fell because the Kurds soon realised that the Russians were attempting to develop their own interests rather than to advance the interests of the Kurdish nationalists. Similarly, we find that the Armenians, the Kurds in Iraq and other minorities have turned to communism, but have soon become disillusioned.
The same thing happened, of course, with George Habash, one of the Palestinian leaders, who would claim to be a communist; but he has frequently indicated his dislike of Russia. Indeed, I think it is very important to mention that the communists have never succeeded in establishing a really powerful position in the Palestine Liberation Organisation. In the case of so many of these groups it has been a question of these minorities attaching their wagons to a star, provided they saw it bright enough and apparently leading in the right direction.
Similarly, we have heads of state who have been disillusioned with the communists. Qasim, for example, after the important tie-up with the communists in 1958, soon lost interest in them in early 1959. Your Lordships will remember the expulsion of the Russian advisers by Sadat in 1972. In Libya now, I am told by a very important and entirely dependable friend who has recently visited Gaddafi, that he, too, is now getting very disillusioned with the communists.
What about the area where they have established their most powerful hold—the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen? I am sure that there is a lot of dissatisfaction with communists there. They have achieved a certain amount of success by reason of the order which they create, their attempts to diversify the economy, and so on. But Yemeni friends from North Yemen, where I served for four years, have told me several times—and I am sure they were quite sincere in this—that the South was much better off when it was Aden and under British occupation.
So much for the communists' successes, albeit short-lived and of limited extent. Where have they failed? Here I should like to identify briefly four areas where I think they have fallen down very badly. First, they have failed entirely to impress upon the Arabs the need for a change in their way of life. The Arabs have a saying: "The dog's tail returns to shape even if you put it in a mould." They have tried to put the Arabs' 120 tails into a mould; they have gone back to shape. The only area where they have perhaps succeeded is in the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and in Libya, in emancipating women. They have succeeded with the women perhaps rather more than with the men.
The second area in which they have failed is in their attempt to take students, army officers and so on, to the Soviet Union for training. In almost all cases, those young men I have met in the Middle East and in Africa have come back disillusioned. Why, my Lords? It is because the communist régime does not make proper provision for them. They are often treated as inferior citizens; they are forced to learn a language which is difficult for them and they have to undergo the rigours of the Russian climate, quite apart, of course, from the Russian attempts at indoctrination, which have generally failed. Of course, one has to admit that one or two of these visitors have returned to form the nuclei of communist cells; and one should also mention that some of the army officers who have been to the Soviet Union have come back much impressed by Soviet military might.
The third area is Soviet broadcasting. I have never met a single Arab—and I have spoken to many all over the Arab world—who has been impressed by Soviet broadcasts. Here we have a tremendously important role to play, which we are continuing to play effectively through the BBC Arabic Service and the BBC World Service. I am delighted to see, incidentally, that these two services are being maintained despite inevitable cuts in certain of the smaller vernacular services. It is really remarkable to find, even in the most remote villages, people turning on the radio. They are listening not even to Cairo, and certainly not to Moscow: they are listening to London.
The fourth area I would put to your Lordships where the Soviets have failed is in their aid programme. We in the West have given agricultural, medical and other forms of aid which have proved far more effective, both in quantity and in quality, than anything which the Russians have to offer. The Russians, we know, have offered substantial military aid but they have not helped in any of the ways I have indicated; and their failure has been particularly marked in connection with national disasters. I am thinking particularly of the two earthquakes with which I was associated: one in Libya in 1963, which I missed by a few hours, and the second in North Yemen in December 1982. On neither occasion did the Russians produce any aid.
What are the communists doing now in the Middle East? I would say they are basically playing a waiting game. They are keeping well in the wings over the Arab-Israeli dispute. It is very important to note that they are profiting by the discomfiture of the Americans; but we must bear in mind that they will take any opportunity that offers itself to make a great effort to establish themselves if, for example, there is a serious failure of American policy. I fully share the views which have been expressed by several of your Lordships that if we are to counter Soviet influence in the Middle East and in Africa, or wherever it may be, we can do so only by continuing to offer what we have offered so effectively in the past, even on a limited scale—aid, increased broadcasts and so on. In my 121 view, we shall not get anywhere by trying to undermine the Russians' position by a policy of mudslinging. It has been tried once or twice, but has almost always failed. My experience of the Arab world has been that we are still liked and still respected. We have an important role to play and we must play it. In so doing, we can perhaps go some way towards confounding the Soviet politics and frustrating their knavish tricks.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, we are privileged to have had a speech from the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, with his great knowledge of the Islamic world as a whole as well as the Middle East in particular, and indeed for the heartening remarks he made, which are encouraging. I should like to thank very much my noble friend Lord Cathcart for thinking of this debate and for introducing it so skilfully and comprehensively. I think we all owe him a debt. I will trust not to keep your Lordships too long because time is getting on, but there are one or two things I feel that I must say in view of what other people have said.
There is no doubt—I think most noble Lords, wherever they speak from, will agree—that much Soviet effort is being spent on propaganda and on making efforts to subvert the free countries in the third world. I think perhaps there is a suggestion—it certainly was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and to a certain extent perhaps from the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn—that the basic problem of the Soviet threat is certainly there but there is an almost equal basic problem of massive inequality in third world countries which makes it easy from the Soviets to get in.
It is a kind of chicken and egg problem that this throws up, and I suggest to your Lordships—I think the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, indicated this too—that the Soviets have been on this game for a very long time. After all, they did try to subvert Europe in the 1940s and the 1950s. They go where they can; and I think that one can get distracted because if one concentrates on the appalling inequalities and shortages within the third world—which indeed we must do from time to time—one might fool oneself into thinking maybe that is more important than the Soviet threat and then get one's eye taken off the Soviet threat as the main ball which we have got to counter. I believe that until we counter that main ball in the longer term, nobody will be secure and nobody will feel absolutely sure that the third world, or any other parts of the world, will be properly succoured and fed. So one really must get the priorities right and I suggest very much that the Soviet subversion is a problem all of its own which needs to be tackled first.
I was very struck by what I thought to be a very perceptive article about Andropov in the Observer last Sunday and, with your Lordships' permission, I will quote a little from it, because you really cannot accuse the Observer of being a Conservative paper in that sense. It reads:The Resagans and the Thatchers and the Foots etc. are, and have to be, responsible to ordinary men and women of goodwill who want to make the world a better place . Mr. Andropov is not responsible in this manner. He is in the deepest sense irresponsible".122 I go on with another quote:The Soviet leadership does not accept and has never accepted (since Lenin) the principle of 'live and let live'.The article went on to say that Andropov cannot change things, becauseThe Kremlin is the prisoner of its own lies",and its own bureaucracy ensures that it remains so. We also need to remember that belief in God is scorned by the communist creed and religion is as tightly controlled as is practicable within the Soviet empire. False propaganda is thus seen as legitimate in a way that ordinary western peoples cannot understand, and therefore they do not expose them as fully as they should. I really think that this is a great danger.
We have had mention from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and my noble friend Lord Cathcart of various countries where subversion has taken place. I, too, have studied those countries and I noted—I shall not go into detail, because I do not want to keep your Lordships too long—that there are 12 what I call firmly subordinate countries, starting with Cuba and including Ethiopia and South Vietnam. There are four that have been dragged towards full subservience—countries such as Nicaragua and Grenada—which were mentioned, in particular, by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont.
However, in a way I find that the most interesting countries are those which are additional to the ones I have mentioned and which accept Soviet Military advisers. There are 18 of those and there are some surprising ones—at least, they were surprising to me until I heard other noble Lords—such as Peru, Nigeria and Madagascar. It is sad that so many of those countries have allowed themselves to become linked to a power which is not only "the prisoner of its own lies", as I said earlier, but is one of the very few countries which, with its closest satellites, has signed the human rights conventions but practises detention without trial.
I also find it ominous that several of the countries can readily provide overseas base facilities, as has been mentioned by other noble Lords. Perhaps Pay Britannica, which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, mentioned, was not too had a thing while it lasted. It is sad, indeed, that it cannot be re-created; it at least ensured the peace.
So, my Lords, what is to be done? I asked myself this question before I heard the noble Lord, Lord Oram, saying that most noble Lords here are weak in saying what to do. I, too, agree with my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing, and indeed with the noble Lord, Lord Oram, himself, that selective and careful aid, medical aid, food aid and so on, where relevant, should certainly he provided to the third world. Indeed, I think that we do provide it and are continually tackling this problem. Maybe we do not do enough, and perhaps we do not do enough because we do not have enough resources, but the more we can spend on this aspect the better.
The other thing that we can and must do is to increase the exposure of the tyranny of the Soviet system and the lying nature of much of its propaganda. We have the inestimable advantage of a free press, but it is sad when a free press itself seems to be subverted, or at least to have closed eyes that cannot see the 123 desperate, lying failings of the Soviet system. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who mentioned the BBC programmes and articles in The Times, and it is a tragedy that our free press men are not aware of how they can be led astray by false ideas about priorities, and by not understanding the essential falsehoods of the other side. We should also do the most we can to expose the bogus claims of the Soviets when they make them in the third world. I hope that we shall keep on battling and that we shall topple these people one day—not by aggressive fighting and action of that sort, but by the essential truth of our cause and by exposing the lies of theirs.
§ Baroness Gaitskell
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him a question? Does he not think that this constant talk of a Soviet threat is a very subtle form of flattery? That is what it comes to. What do we mean by that? Of course the poorer countries, the countries which are worse off, will turn to anybody who is ready to help them and might turn to take up some of their ideas. It seems to me that we are going about things in a very odd way by this great attack and this great emphasis on the Soviet threat. They are not threatening us. They are not threatening Britain. They are not threatening us with going to war—
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, I thought that the noble Baroness was asking me a question, but she went on to make a speech. If I may turn it into a question, the answer is that so long as the Soviets take the very false line that they do, and have done for 50 years or more, it is extremely important to get them in the right proportion. I quite see what the noble Baroness is saying and my answer to her is: yes, certainly, we should do what we can to help—I said that earlier—but, for heaven's sake, do not let us blind ourselves to the falsehoods of the Soviets. We must not blind ourselves.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ The Earl of Longford
My Lords, I listened, as always, with great attention to the noble Lord who has just spoken; but he formulated one proposition in a way with which I disagreed. He said that we had to tackle the Soviet subversion first before we tackle the terrible social conditions in these third world countries. I shall come to the whole topic as I proceed, but I do not think that it is a question of tackling one before the other. I think that they must both be tackled simultaneously.
I come to the Motion so well moved by the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart. I feel about the noble Earl's Motion as I felt about the Motion moved not so long ago by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, which called upon us to support the Atlantic Pact. I agree with the statement made by the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart; but in itself it is a very incomplete statement of the whole issue. That is no criticism of the noble Earl. It is up to us to round off the picture. My own leader, the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, and the noble Lord, Lord Oram (who have left us for the moment), emphasised the appalling social conditions and in many cases the political tyranny which exist in these underdeveloped countries. They have called on the Government to do 124 what they can to improve matters. Obviously we wish to take such steps, but this evening I am going to confine myself primarily to the Motion, which calls attention to the Soviet menace. I am sorry that my dear old friend, Lady Gaitskell, does not believe in the Soviet threat.
§ The Earl of Longford
If I have said something which is unfair, my Lords, I want it to be put straight.
§ Baroness Gaitskell
There are threats on all sides. My Lords, bad things go on in America, but we do not attack them all the time. We do not talk about the American threat in El Salvador, do we?
§ The Earl of Longford
Some people do, but I do not. My Lords, I am going to explain why I believe in the Soviet threat.
§ The Earl of Longford
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, but if she cannot contain herself I shall give way at any moment. My Lords, to resume what was to have been the thread of my discourse, I agree with all that has been said on these Benches about the social conditions. I agree also with what has been said about Soviet subversion. I am bound to point out to noble Lords opposite that in a debate on overseas aid which we had only last week (I am not sure which noble Lords opposite took part) it was pointed out repeatedly from this side that since they have been in power the Conservative Government have cut overseas aid by 19 per cent. and have done a great deal of damage so far as grants to overseas students are concerned. If therefore we are to discuss how we can deal with these problems we have to give this Government a very bad mark on that side of the ledger.
Turning to the Soviet threat itself, I shall not attempt to add anything to what has been said on that subject. The noble Earl speaks with a great deal of military authority. Other speakers, like the noble Lords, Lord Orr-Ewing and Lord Chalfont, placed before us a number of very unpalatable and, I am bound to say, very depressing facts. Do we mind about this? Here I come into collision, perhaps, with the noble Baroness, though not with her late husband, always to be revered, who was a supreme champion of the Atlantic Pact. This is a matter of record. Everybody is well aware that the Atlantic Pact exists only because of the Soviet threat. We are spending thousands of millions of pounds a year not because we are being threatened by El Salvador or America but because we are being threatened by the Soviets.
The Earl of Cathcart
My Lords, in an attempt to protect the noble Earl from the noble Baroness, my Motion is not to take note of the Soviet threat but to take note of the increasing Soviet influence, which is a very different thing.
§ The Earl of Longford
I am trying to put this matter in perspective and to consider its implications. If this were purely an academic discussion we might discuss the French influence or the Belgian influence. We 125 could discuss many influences. However, we are discussing this influence in a spirit of considerable and well-justified gloom, because of what it implies. All those who have served in any Government, Labour or Conservative, since the war believe that the Soviets constitute a threat, so if their influence spreads the threat is greater. I join my colleagues in everything they have said about social conditions. Also I join in belabouring noble Lords opposite for their failure to do very much about overseas aid.
I come now to the question of what can be done. Let us suppose that the Soviet influence is not benign or even neutral but is to be regarded as a threat to the survival of the free world. I am not going to attempt to embark upon a military discussion. We must leave that for a defence debate. Nor will I cover much of the ground which was covered so well in the debate initiated last week by the noble Lord, Lord Oram. When we were in power, we on this side took a very different view of overseas aid from that which has been taken by noble Lords opposite. Last week I dealt with the moral aspect. Everybody dealt with it, more or less, but I concentrated on the duty of the rich powers to make sacrifices on behalf of the poor. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, gave us a good lead in that direction. That was what I said last week and I shall not repeat those arguments today.
I am trying to ask a practical question: what do we do if there is this increasing Soviet influence and, as I must call it for the last time, a Soviet threat? Various points were mentioned, apart from aid and the attempt to improve social conditions. The problem of overseas students was mentioned. I looked up the report of the debate which we had a little while ago on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd of Merton. I was one of his oldest friends. I knew him well at Oxford and while we were there I wrote an article about him called Isis Idol. Therefore I pay my heartfelt tribute to his life of service. The noble Lord raised the issue of overseas students in the debate. Some improvement was announced by the Government. When I looked at the report of the debate I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, pointed out from these Benches that, even under the improved arrangements announced by the Government, the amount that this Government will be paying towards overseas students will be no more than 15 per cent. of what the last Government were paying. On that count also therefore they fall down very badly.
However, I am not going to deal with that point now. I tried to find something which is unlikely to be said by every other speaker. Therefore I did a little homework about the British Council. Most of us know about the work of the British Council and have admired it for a long time. I found a passage in the introduction by the chairman, Sir Charles Troughton, which sums up so well my own approach to these problems that I venture to quote it. Sir Charles writes:'The council"—he refers there to the British Council, of which he is chairman—builds bridges of understanding and appreciation between the people of Britain and other nations. It does this"—this is the passage I want to emphasise— 126in Britain's own interests. But because our country has so much to offer the rest of the world in such fields as education and training, the sciences and technology, the arts and the English language, and because the council's style is both practical and of manifest goodwill, its activities are welcomed all over the globe.".As the chairman, Sir Charles Troughton, sees the work of the British Council, it is attempting to promote a better understanding of Britain. It is also doing something of the utmost value for the peoples whom it is trying to help, whether overseas or when they are brought here as students. When I have spoken to one or two who have served for many years abroad on behalf of the council I have not found that they consciously divide in their own minds the role of serving Britain and the role of serving the peoples whose countries they visit. However, I believe that they are happy in their own minds that there is no clash between those purposes. In fact, I am sure that the two purposes are well harmonised.
I see that the Annunciator shows 22 minutes. I cannot have been speaking for 22 minutes.
§ The Earl of Longford
It is a terrible thing, my Lords, to be faced with a clock suggesting that one has spoken for 22 minutes! At any rate, I shall not speak much longer. We have to think of ways in addition to military assistance which will be provided for, we hope, by NATO and the allies generally. To use the phrase employed by my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and one or two other noble Lords, we have to find ways with our hearts and minds. The British may do this on a comparatively small scale, although I wish that it could be on a larger scale. But at least they are doing the kind of work that is necessary; the kind of work that in the end produces friendship. In that sense, it is a patriotic British value, but it has a deeper spiritual meaning because it is conceived and carried out in the interests of the people themselves.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ The Earl of Cork and Orrery
My Lords, I listened with fascination, as always, to the speech, or whatever it was, of the noble Earl, Lord Longford. I am so overwhelmed by such a display of fireworks and virtuosity that I believe it would be a mistake to try to follow him in any detail. Instead, I will begin with a quotation from the same gentleman who has been mentioned once or twice by other noble Lords, and particularly by my noble friend Lord Cathcart. The quotation I would offer is:It is always to be recalled that the Russians are masters at the game of chess and they treat the whole world as a hoard whereon Africa is only one segment".Some noble Lords may recognise that from a paper that Mr. Louis Fitzgibbon wrote not very long ago. It continues thus:Nonetheless, their strategy is all embracing and they take advantage of the Western error of seeing continents, not as a whole, but as individual trouble spots. Only by also seeing the problem in its entirety can the West hope to combat Soviet influence.Seeing problems in their entirety is, I agree, precisely what we usually fail to do. But why does the strife between the East and the West, between Russia and ourselves, exist at all? We know that it stems from the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, resulting in the 127 communist ideology of the state which succeeded to the Russia of the Czars.
What is so fundamentally wrong in this creed from the point of view of the democratic West? The fact is that the Russian point of view is based on a misconception that is so utterly unacceptable to us that we cannot possibly come to terms with it at all. We can learn to live beside it—we must in fact—but to live with it, no. The action of the communist state which has split it so completely from the rest of the world is the denial of the significance of the individual human person. This it has to do because in communism the state is the supreme and only authority in the lives of the people. This means that there is no appeal against its decisions; no outside authority or yardstick against which its decisions can be measured and judged.
This is not the normal condition of man. Man in his normal condition must believe in some kind of god or gods and is thus equipped with the kind of yardstick that the communist system cannot tolerate. I will quote now the words of the great psychologist Carl Gustav Jung:It is not ethical principles, however lofty, or creeds, however orthodox, that lay the foundations for the freedom and autonomy of the individual, but simply and solely the empirical awareness, the incontrovertible experience of an intensely personal, reciprocal relationship between man and an extramundane authority which acts as a counterpoise to the 'world' and its 'reason' ".It is precisely this idea of an "extramundane authority" that is intolerable to an authoritarian state. Thus we have Karl Marx's celebrated dictum about religion beingthe opium of the people".What he did not mention, and indeed perhaps did not even know, is that religion is not, like opium, an acquired addiction in man, but is a congenital fact. So much so that if none of the better accredited religions is known to him, Man will invent one of his own and become a sun worshipper or an animist.
This being so, it follows that when Soviet leaders say there shall be no more religion, they are demanding the impossible. What happens is simply that the old religion abolished by ukase is replaced by another. That is what has happened in Russia, and the new religion that has replaced the old is the religion of the state. Not that the old religion is dead, but that is another matter. To quote Jung again,The state has taken the place of God; that is why, as seen from this angle, socialist dictatorships are religions and state slavery is a form of worship".If the noble Lord cares to read what I have said in Hansard tomorrow, he might do well to read it alongside the quotation given by my noble friend Lord Mottistone from the article in The Observer.
The result of this is that on matters of ethical principle one cannot argue with the Soviets. Nor can we hope to influence them by example. Our whole morality is based on whatever extramundane or supramundane authority we think it is that imparts significance to the individual, whereas theirs is dictated inexorably by the state system to which they themselves are slaves. For them, one course of action is not worse or better than another; it is simply more or less expedient for the state. I quote once more from Jung: 128The West has unfortunately not yet awakened to the fact that our appeal to idealism, reason and other desirable virtues, delivered with so much enthusiasm, is mere sound and fury. It is a puff of wind swept away in the storm of religious faith, however twisted that faith may appear to us".Those quotations, incidentally, were from Jung's book The Undiscovered Self, first published in 1957.
I will now drop the word "religion", hoping that I have made the point that from beyond the Iron Curtain we are faced by a faith as strong as our own and a good deal more fanatically pursued. It is as useless for us to argue with a communist as it is for him to argue with us about democracy. Furthermore, we may as well acknowledge that if they look twisted to us, we look equally twisted to them; I suppose that a skewer looks twisted to a corkscrew.
But to the third world countries we can deploy our arguments, and what do they hear? What do they think when they hear, for example, President Reagan describe the USSR as "The sinful empire" or "The focus of evil in the modern world", seeming to imply that the West is the exclusive home of the righteous and the good? If the president is talking to those third worlders I dare say he would like them to think of such names as Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Hungary, Poland and Afghanistan. But suppose, instead, they were reminded of El Salvador, Nicaragua or Vietnam. There are (let us face it) some who think that the world would be a happier place without the Central Intelligence Agency—that weird body which seems, like Satan in the first chapter of Job, to spend its timegoing to and fro in the earth and . walking up and down in it".very often with a lighted cigarette between its fingers looking for bits of blue touch-paper to ignite.
I hope that no one thinks that it is wrong to be rude to the Americans as long as one is trying to be just. They are our friends and allies on whom our very existence may again depend at some time in the future. It is to them, above all people, that we should be able, and must be able, to speak freely. To them we can be outspoken without malice in the belief that they will listen and in the hope that some among them may detect a grain of truth in what we say. That is a far more profitable exercise than being rude with malice to the Russians, who will neither listen nor heed.
In initiating this debate my noble friend Lord Cathcart has done a valuable public service by compelling us to look squarely at what I believe is the most menacing problem of our time. Europe, I believe, is safe despite the attentions of the unilateralists. On the NATO front Russia is held and will continue to be held, but we in turn are held by them while the Red flood seeps slowly round the flanks. Russia is almost ready in the Middle East and in the Horn of Africa to take over the oilfields when her own oilfields run dry. In the rest of Africa, by proxy, and also in Central and South America, the dominoes lean ever more shakily one against another. The third world is a world of dominoes, but at least dominoes form a set. One must play with them all at once. One cannot have much of a game with only the sixes or only the threes and fives. It is the same with chess: one cannot win by keeping a reserve of a few pieces in the box. Total commitment from the beginning is the only way of winning the game. The battle for the third world is a battle, as has already been 129 said, for hearts and minds, and it is for the whole of that world, not for just one or two pieces while the others stay in the box.
The one thing which I should have thought (erroneously as it turns out) would by now be abundantly clear, especially to the Americans, is that it is not a battle that can be won by force of arms. Anyone who doubts that may reflect on the recent history of Indo-China and wonder fearfully whether Vietnam may possibly be reappearing in Central America, which I for one do not believe.
The Motion speaks of "penetration and influence". These are two distinct and separate things. If we are to stop the penetration it is by means of influence that we must do it, and not by force of arms. It must be concerted influence. Not only is it a deadly error to regard continents as isolated collections of more or less unrelated trouble spots; it is equally dangerous for our nations to regard these as more or less unrelated formations on the battlefield.
This is the point where I ought to meet the just criticism of the noble Lord, Lord Oram, and have something constructive to say, as others have. I suppose I have very little except to say that certainly the EEC has a part to play, and that is something we forget at our peril. We fret and whine over such things as cruise missiles and dual keys, but these things, viewed against the denial of all human rights that is creeping into and through the third world like some spillage of crude oil on the surface of the cold and wholesome sea, are, in the words of the Earl of Clincham, "as piffle before the wind".
I do not think we have that much time left. If freedom is to survive in those countries that have and cherish it, we must draw the third world countries into our comity. Let us listen to the warning voice of Solzhenitsyn in recognising that this is the great question of our time. But how do we start? Where is the foundation on which to build? Obviously, it is not in the United Nations. Perhaps it is in the Atlantic Assembly. The noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, had some interesting remarks about the possibilities here in the way of aid and education, and in other ways, although some noble Lords may feel that there were parts of his speech that the others cannot reach.
I pray that when this debate is done we may learn from the Minister, in his reply, that our own Government are showing the first faint glimmering, at least, of awareness of the peril that besets us, and of the magnitude and urgency of the task from which, if we are not to go whining into the dark, we must not shrink.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Lord Thomas of Swynnerton
My Lords, like other noble Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, for introducing this important and interesting debate. Governments derive their legitimacy from various sources: consent, divine right, brutality or despotism. In the case of the Soviet Union such legitimacy as they have derives from the theory of Marxism—Leninism. The view of Marxist—Leninists is that that creed is destined to spread to the ends of the earth and that it is the duty of good Marxist—Leninists to accelerate that 130 process. If the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, thinks that that is a psychotic remark, I dispute it. It is purely the remark which derives from a study of what Soviet leaders say themselves. It is not psychotic it is simply literate.
The Soviet Union, since 1917, has pursued its aims of extending its influence by various ways; sometimes by subversion, sometimes by the astute use of foreign communist parties, sometimes by the use of front organisations, and sometimes—and here I dispute the remarks of my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery—by the use of or threat of force. He instanced the case of Vietnam as an occasion when force did not work. Many of us would think that it was the use of force by North Vietnam which gained that country an overwhelming military victory. Other occasions will occur to us which suggest that the threat or use of force in modern circumstances can still be a very effective instrument of action by a state against states which are not prepared to arrange for their own defences.
All the time since 1917 the Soviet Union has been prepared to use international supports to carry on its activities. Even in the Russian civil war the Soviet Government of the time organised Austro-Hungarian prisoners-of-war into an international Red Army. In the Spanish civil war there was an international brigade which acted as a focus for international volunteers but which was effectively managed by communists or by Soviet citizens.
In the past 10 years or so we have seen the use of another instrument for the extension of Soviet influence; namely, the use of surrogate states. We have had the activities of these states well chronicled by several of those noble Lords who have spoken: South Yemen, Libya, Vietnam, and of course Cuba. Although a lot has been said about Cuba during the course of this debate—not least by my noble friend, Lord Chalfont, in a most eloquent speech—I think that, since I have studied the history of Cuba, it would be appropriate for me to say a few words about that country.
Cuba is especially useful to the Soviet Union for a number of reasons. First, the population is about a half to a third black or mulatto, and therefore can be expected to identify itself with the cause of others of those races. The charm of most Cubans is something which enables Cubans—even revolutionary Cubans—to get away, it might be said, with murder. A certain romance still attaches, surprisingly enough, to the Cuban communist cause because of the apparent achievement of Castro in the late 1950s in overthrowing a régime, apparently well-established and well supported by the United States, with a handful of men. The style of Castro's anti-Americanism has a certain resonance among people who should know better, even in Western Europe, and who would find it very disagreeable themselves to be living under a regime sponsored by Castro. Nevertheless, they find themselves able to give Cuba the benefit of the doubt.
The Cubans, it must also be remembered, come from a country which was relatively well developed and relatively technologically aware before Castro got into power, as is natural, bearing in mind that Cuba has produced not only the world's best cigars for nearly 200 years but has also been a major supplier of sugar 131 for a very long time. And there is the emphasis on war which the Cuban revolution has from the beginning given in its culture, ideology and propaganda: three things which are often in the modern world muddled together—quite effectively, it must be said. There was an occasion, for example, in 1961, just after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, when Castro said that he was certainly not going to give every Cuban a vote; he was instead going to give every one of them a rifle, a threat which he has certainly carried out since that time.
The strategic importance of Cuba in the Caribbean has been mentioned by several noble Lords. It is a fact that has been recognised by British, as well as American, military experts and soldiers for at least 200 years—indeed since Lord Cathcart's ancestor, the eighth Lord Cathcart, carried out an expedition against Cuba in 1740.
What must be puzzling for the world and for your Lordships is why Cuba should have accepted this impulsion towards world revolution under Castro's and Soviet direction. Could it perhaps be because the regime is itself a very popular one within Cuba? Considering that something like 10 per cent. of the population fled in the first two or three years, that would seem to be an unwarrantable assumption. It has also to be remembered that, when for a second or so last year the Peruvian embassy in Havana was opened to those who thought that they might wish to fly or get away (despite the fact that the frontiers had been closed for some years) no less than 10,000 people fled into the extremely overcrowded courtyard of that embassy within the course of a single night. That would rather suggest that popularity is not the main thing which characterises the Cuban régime.
Indeed, there have been instances of heroism in flight from Cuba which compare with those marvellous flights carried out by people getting away from East Germany. I remember, for example the Cuban who escaped to Spain by tying himself up inside the wheel undercarriage of an Iberian aeroplane and hung on all the way across the Atlantic. That is an instance of persistence which would surely question those who say that the Caribbean or Latin American people are full of frivolity and incapable of carrying through policy.
Your Lordships may be thinking that the political life of Cuba has changed, so that at least there is some degree of participation within the régime. A recent political prisoner, Armando Valladares—whose plight I had occasion to draw to your Lordships' attention some months ago after he had been in prison for 22 years—mentioned, when he appeared before a Senate sub-committee not long ago, that indeed there is a lively political life in Cuba but it is a life carried out almost entirely within prisons. There political controversy can indeed be carried on.
To turn to economic success, I am afraid to say that during the 24 years since Castro got into power Cuba has fallen from the top of the Latin American economic league to somewhere near the bottom. Sugar is also, if anything, more of a dominant crop than it was in the days of Batista. Some of your Lordships will be thinking that schools and health have changed for the better in Cuba, but the question must occur to all 132 of us: what is the point of being educated if all you learn is Marxism and Leninism? In a democratic assembly, it must also occur to us that there is little point in being saved by the doctor if the air that you breathe is the air of despotism. So I cannot really believe that these are reasons why the Cubans put up with this régime.
The fact is that Cuba was turned into a communist regime by the will of a determined leader—of great qualities, it must be said—determined to ruin the United States wherever he possibly could and motivated by deep hatred of Anglo-Saxon culture. The small Cuban communist party before the revolution played a part after Castro had got into power in order to maintain the communist management of the regime; but it played, as a matter of fact, a very little part in achieving the régime.
I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, argued that the United States had pushed Castro and Cuba into communism. My researches suggest that that is not the case. Indeed, they would suggest that a conscious act of will was taken by Castro, who was not at that time a communist, to establish a communist regime in the country. He was able to play on an anti-American nationalism (very similar. I suppose, to the anti-British nationalism which characterised Egypt in the 1950s), although afterwards those who expressed themselves so strongly in favour of Cuban nationalism found that they had exchanged the control of their economy by the United States for an even tougher control by the Soviet Union.
There is one other point which should be mentioned in relation to Cuba's role in the world. I mentioned the fact that it did play a part for many years as a great sugar exporter and a great exporter of tobacco. As many of your Lordships will be aware, it also made great contributions in the world of the dance. However, there is another contribution for which it was well known in the years before Castro came into power, namely, its contribution to Caribbean gangsterism. One cannot help feeling that under the Castro régime there has been, as it were, a kind of politicisation of a gangsterism already latent in the national culture.
While I have been speaking, no doubt some of your Lordships will have been asking yourselves one or two questions: for example, whether Cuba is entirely, even now, a Soviet satellite. I suggest that there are indications that some capacity for initiative does still exist in the Cuban system. It is conceivable, for example, that ideas of the Cuban penetration into Africa, to which much attention has been paid, actually derive from a suggestion by Castro himself. It is also possible that the activities in Central America and the Caribbean derive from a long-standing desire on the part of the present Cuban Government to achieve a row of sub-satellites which might be of assistance to them should the Soviet Union ever decide, in the nature of things—which happens in international politics in the Soviet Union—to get rid of their own very useful satellites, such as they have been up to the moment. There are some ways too in which Cuba is a different kind of communist régime from some of the others.
In conclusion, I refer to a final question which has run as a current throughout the debate: to what extent 133 has the United States exaggerated, overdone, the Cuban or the Soviet threat in Central America? I believe that this is a very serious question, and we ought all to pay a good deal of attention to it. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, pointed out the strategic significance of the extension of Cuban influence in Central America. He might perhaps have added the importance of oil in Central America; it, too, is a factor. It might also be more appropriate to note that, if by any chance the whole of Central America were to go wrong, and be captured by a Cuban-style régime, the main consequence would be the enormous number of refugees who would seek entry into the United States. No doubt there would be Western European Governments, who might have taken up strong attitudes before such a collapse, who would be rather unlikely to take a very large number of refugees, should it come to that.
I believe that all the evidence is that the leaders of the guerrilla movements in El Salvador, like the leaders of the régime in Nicaragua, were trained in Cuba, and that the armaments primarily come from outside the region and, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has pointed out, primarly from Cuba and the Soviet Union. Even moe important, is that there is no evidence whatever that the peoples of those countries would prefer to have a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist régime. Indeed, the evidence available is that they would infinitely prefer to have a democratic pluralist régime, such as is enjoyed by the peoples of Costa Rica and Honduras, and indeed is enjoyed by all the larger countries in the region; namely, Venezuela, Colombia, and, after a fashion, even Mexico.
There was, as your Lordships will be aware, something which looked to the outside world very much like a fair general election in El Salvador last year. The report on that seemed a convincing description of how a general election should be carried out. Therefore, I believe that in its activities in support of democratic experiments in Central America, the United States should be given all the encouragement that we can summon up.
The Marquess of Ailsa
My Lords, I must confess that I welome this debate. As a result of my journeys and my contacts with the various countries which form part of the Horn of Africa, and the neighbouring countries and oceans, I am very concerned about the extent of Soviet penetration in that area. On previous occasions I have drawn your Lordships' attention to the Pact of Aden, which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Cathcart. This is a Soviet-inspired alliance between Ethiopia, South Yemen, and Libya—an alliance in which the signatories bind themselves, among many other things, to promote the common revolutionary struggles, and to support both African and Arab liberation movements.
In consequence of that pact, in July 1982 Ethiopia invaded Somalia, supposedly in support of some Somali dissidents who were seeking to overthrow the Government of President Siad Barre. This invasion took place under the aegis of the Pact of Aden. Much of the funding and supplies for the dissidents, such as they were, came from Libya. From South Yemen 134 came artillerymen and other military technicians. The Soviet Union very quickly—the first day—gave its public backing and full support to the invasion. I understand that even to this day Ethiopian troops are on Somali territory. In fact, this morning I was told that if I went back to trenches that I visited in September last year, I would find that nothing had changed; they are still there.
It is true, as has already been said, that Ethiopia, South Yemen, and Libya make no secret of their adherence to Soviet doctrine. Ethiopia is proud of its endeavours to be a truly Marxist-Leninist state. South Yemen is similar. Libya is slightly different, since Colonel Gaddafi is really a law unto himself, provided that he has the support of the Soviet Union.
All three of these countries derive a vast amount of aid, both military and otherwise, from the Soviet Union and her satellites—East Germany, North Korea and Cuba. There are Russian military bases in South Yemen. There are also Russian bases in Ethiopia. In South Yemen the Cubans and the East Germans have camps for the purpose of training guerrillas and other persons in the art of subversion. If, as I have done, you ask members of these countries what is the purpose of all this, they state that they wish to resist imperialism and to pursue the paths of peace. When asked who is the imperialist they state, the Americans and anyone who in any way is allied to, or assists, them. They define peace as being a struggle for a victory for socialism throughout the world; and by socialism they mean Marxist-Leninism. That is the only form of socialism that is acceptable to them.
Before concluding my reference to this area, I should draw your Lordships' attention to the attempt earlier this year by Colonel Gaddafi to overthrow the Government of President Nimeri in Sudan. Sometimes the attempt appeared to be a kind of off-the-cuff event. I fear that it was not. It was very well organised, and it was very fortunate that the Government of the Sudan was able to stop it before it took place. Had the attempt succeeded, it would have helped our Soviet friends no end to spread their influence further into parts of Africa—and parts of Africa which, having sampled the Soviet influence, wish to have no more of it.
The same applies to Somalia. One has to bear in mind that it was the Somalis, under President Siad Barre, who first invited the Soviets into the Horn of Africa. However, they quickly decided that enough was enough, and said, if I may be excused a Scottish expression, "Get'oot". The Soviets were put out but, unfortunately, went to Ethiopia.
§ Lord Avebury
My Lords, would the noble Marquess agree—in case there is any misapprehension in people's minds that the Soviet Union might equally leave Ethiopia, as it left Somalia—that there would be no question of the Soviets agreeing meekly to do so because of the importance of its naval base off the coast of Eritrea? If Colonel Mengistu was inclined to throw out the Soviets, the Soviets would be able rapidly to replace him with someone else.
The Marquess of Ailsa
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that intervention. I agree with every word. I had intended to come to this matter by a different 135 route. It is true that the Russians have bases in Ethiopia. It is not in their interest to get out. If they did, they have better places to which to go. This is the problem that we face.
I wish to move now to the Indian Ocean and what I would term the island states of Madagascar, Mauritius and now the Seychelles. In each of these countries there is now a socialist Government which is, in some form or other, under the influence of the Soviet Union. The noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, mentioned the Port Louis pact. I do not know about that, but I do know about the zone of peace. The three countries have united to create in the area of the Indian Ocean a zone of peace. But it is peace as described by Lenin, not peace as we understand it. The object of this peace, clearly and openly stated, is to remove the American rapid deployment force from Diego Garcia.
At the same time, while demanding peace, the Governments of these islands offer the facilities that they possess to the Soviet navy and the Soviet air force. I understand that even at the present moment there are regular Russian-manned MiG squadrons based in Madagascar. There are certainly refuelling facilities for long-range bombers; and the Soviet fleet makes use of the various naval ports in that island. I do not know about aircraft movements in the Seychelles, but the Soviet fleet certainly makes use of facilities that are available there.
In passing, I should like to comment that only in Mauritius has the socialist Government arrived through the ballot box. In Madagascar and the Seychelles the socialist Governments arrived at the point of a gun and, so far as I can learn, are maintained at the point of a gun. In Madagascar, the more important posts and higher offices within the Government—I am not talking about the president, but of the people who do the work—are held by North Koreans, East Germans and others. I heard the other day that the chief of the intelligence service in Madagascar is a North Korean. If the Soviet Union has not penetrated there, it certainly has a strong influence.
I also heard the other day, in talking about Madagascar, of the persecution of religion. I have referred to this issue before in your Lordships' House in connection with Ethiopia. I gather that the same régime is now operating in Madagascar to discredit and destroy religion. That tends to go with Soviet doctrine.
We have talked of the Soviet penetration that has taken place and the influence that possibly exists in that region. I cannot help raising the question: what are we going to do about it? It is no good sitting here talking about it. We must try and find some way of combating it. I feel that we in this country, other countries of Europe and the United States have not tried hard enough to win the hearts and minds of people, especially in those countries that are currently free and wish to remain free. We have somehow to get across the message that we understand the problems that face them. Some of those problems are possibly of their own making; some are induced by the intense recession felt throughout the world. That should not stop us saying, "We believe in you". We should try to 136 see them, not from our position standing here but as they see themselves. We should try and understand their view of events. We should explain that we understand their problems, that we are behind them, and that we will try to help them to keep their countries free, not according to the Marxist-Leninist definition but according to our definition, in which people are free to live their lives and to get on with their business as they desire.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, in joining the expressions of thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, for initiating the debate, and having had the advantage of hearing it, may I say that I have been able to see the vast range of knowledge, information and opinion that can be brought to bear by your Lordships on this important issue. If I am at all disappointed, it is that there has perhaps been more concentration on the periphery and on the areas in which the influence of the Soviet Union is exercised than on the Soviet Union and its policies. It is no good expecting to discover what we can do to deal with these threats without an understanding of what the Soviet Union is about. This point was made, before he embarked upon a fascinating disquisition on Cuba, by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas.
It is important that we should try to get inside and understand the way in which Soviet policy appears to Soviet policy-makers. It is not desirable—this is one of the weaknesses perhaps of the American response at the moment—to chastise the Soviet Union, to refer to it as the fount of all evil and to point to the many crimes that its leaders have undoubtedly perpetrated. It is more important to come to an understanding. Equally, that understanding must not be blinded by sentimentality. We must not take what we should like to be the case for what is the case.
I can illustrate this latter point by a remark of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, who said that he would like to see the Soviet Union and the West collaborating for the benefit of the peoples of the third world. If two institutions, two countries or two individuals are to collaborate, they must share the same goal. No evidence has been presented to us in this debate and nor is there any evidence in any of the practices of the Soviet Union to show—and the noble Viscount, Lord Buck master, referred to its failure even to assist on occasions of national disaster—that the Soviet Union puts the welfare of peoples of the third world among its policy objectives. Therefore, it is hardly possible to find out how we could co-operate with them in promoting it unless we take their own view, which has been consistent ever since the Russian Revolution, ever since 1917, that the evils, the problems and the social objections to societies in the third world as everywhere else, will only be solved when they accept the Soviet model of development.
In other words, the problem of solving the needs of the third world is not something which can be done by aid. It is not something which can be done by encouraging their national institutions or their national cultures. It can simply and solely be done by giving what assistance is compatible with the other objectives of Soviet policy—namely, self-preservation—and what assistance is compatible with those objectives of 137 establishing Marxist-Leninist régimes which in turn—and the reference to Yugoslavia was pertinent—must be prepared to accept Soviet interpretation of the way in which the history of the Marxist-Leninist part of the world is to run in the future.
§ Lord Gladwyn
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? As I understand it, his thesis is that the leaders of the Soviet Union are guided entirely in their foreign operations by the principles of Marxist-Leninism. How is that compatible with what we hear—namely, that hardly anybody now in the Soviet Union believes in communism any more?
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, I do not think that there is any incompatibility between those two statements. There may be, and no doubt there is, a decline in the emotional adherence to the tenets of the communist faith in a country which has had a communist régime so long established. But that does not mean that the leadership do not interpret the affairs of the rest of the world in the terms of Marxist-Leninism. I see no contradiction whatever in those two views being held simultaneously.
At present we are talking about our present predicament and the third world. What may be the situation in the 21st or 22nd centuries is a matter which your Lordships may wish to debate on another occasion; but if you do so I shall not be a participant. It is important to grasp this fact because it does present both the strength and the weakness of the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly the belief that that is the only suitable solution to the problems of the world gives a continuity, a pertinacity and in some cases a personal devotion, which any régime, any Government, might wish to have at their command. But it also—and this has been pointed out in various local contexts—runs up against the fact that it is very difficult to sell this view permanently to large numbers of people and, therefore, the ways in which it can be done are limited.
First, there is the straight way of military conquest—the Red Army paves the way for socialism. In spite of what my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery has said, the Soviet Union does not, has never and, so far as I can see, never will repudiate in particular circumstances the use of force. It is using it—to go no further—in Afghanistan today. Indeed, it goes right back to the first destruction of the independent republic set up in the Caucasus after the Russian revolution in 1920 and 1921. That is one way, but it is a way which is limited by the fact, particularly today, that there exists an alternative focus of power in the world which the Soviet Union is highly unlikely to challenge.
The other way is that of penetration of national movements—originally anti-colonial movements in the era of colonialism, but today other national movements—in such a way that they bear the brunt of changing the political scene while the nucleus of communists can take over at their leisure at a later stage. That method is occasionally rumbled. The most famous case of this occurred as long ago as 1927 when Chiang Kai-shek who had made use of the communists in the course of his advance against the 138 foreign powers that then held a dominant position in China, found that the communists were planning to supplant him and massacred them with some severity—an event which has left its mark on the history of the Far East right up to this day. I cannot accept that the Chinese revolution would have been successful at the particular time it was successful, without at least the assistance given by the handing over to the communists of some of the resources amassed by Japan in Manchuria. But as regards the second occasion there was repudiation. Once a communist régime, apparently faithful to Moscow, was in power, there was the repudiation of Moscow leadership in 1960. So there are dangers also in penetration.
Nevertheless, we ought not—and here I agree with many noble Lords who have spoken—to be complacent about this and to say that because, for example, Sadat got rid of the Russians and Siad Barre got rid of the Russians, other countries in due time will be able to do so. It will depend upon the local balance of forces. It will depend upon the extent to which these Governments are dependent, if not on Cubans, on East Germans, on Soviet citizens, on North Koreans—the number of surrogates seems to be almost infinite. It will depend upon the ability and willingness of Western Governments to come in and fill what a breach with the Soviet Union would bring about.
These are grave and difficult problems. There can certainly be no general solution. It is certainly an over-simplification to think that land reform or any other measure of social or economic betterment, would necessarily impede the progress of such movements and of communist parties manipulating them. But certainly one must begin—and this is my final point—by saying that here is a great empire and we, as the heirs of an empire, ought to be fascinated by studying its successes and its failures. It is only when we study it sine ira et studio can we hope—
§ Lord Beloff
Yes, my Lords, a very free translation is "without anger or passion". Only if we study it, can we hope to match ourselves against those aspects of its policy which we find a threat.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, we are much indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, for initiating this debate, and I think that he must feel rewarded by the quality of debate that has followed. It has been full of reliable, personal, first-hand information from many parts of the world, and it has been very soberly and earnestly argued. I would add that my own impression is that it has ended in more agreement than I thought likely at the beginning of the debate.
There are two aspects to it. One is the consideration of the present situation; the next is the answer to the question: what do we do about it? On both of these—and particularly on the second question of what should we do—we found ourselves coming to a greater measure of agreement than I would have thought likely at the beginning of the debate. Let me 139 try to begin by defining terms. First, I define "Soviet penetration and influence". We cannot deny that that exists. If one looks over all the continents in the world, time and again one will see that wherever there is difficulty of any kind, the Soviet Union is usually playing some active part in the matter. The attempt to penetrate is certainly there.
Then there is the definition of "third world". So far as I can see, we, the United States and our allies make one world; the Warsaw Pact makes another; and what is left is presumably the third world. But the term has come to be used to designate particular countries of which you can predicate some of these things—that they are poor, that they have newly come to independence, that they are non-white, that they are non-aligned. Not all those four propositions are true of all of them, but I think you find that for the countries that we call "the third world" usually at least three of those propositions are true, though not necessarily the same three in every case. These facts make the third world particularly liable to Soviet penetration.
What are the forces behind Soviet penetration? I would agree to this extent with the noble Lord who has just spoken, that part of it is certainly an ideological drive. It is true that in communist writings—particularly the writings of Lenin—it is argued that communism will spread, and that it will spread particularly in countries that have been the subject of imperial rule or which are the victims of social injustice. But, in addition, today of course we find that another motive for Soviet penetration is a simple strategic one. You can look around the world and find plenty of places where there is injustice. However, the Soviet Government will be particularly interested in those where there is injustice and trouble of some kind and which also might be of strategic advantage to the Soviet Union if it could get control of them. I think that we see both these motives working in Soviet penetration, and it would be extremely unrealistic to deny it.
But, of course, the penetration is most likely to be successful where there is internal weakness, where there is social injustice and particularly where there is one kind of oppression or another—be it personal, class, particularly racial, or imperial. I listened with interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. He was rather sharply critical of the speech of my noble friend Lord Cledwyn. I am bound to say that I am inclined to make one criticism of his speech and it is this. Charles Dickens writes in A Tale of Two Cities that the attitude of the English upper classes to the French Revolution appeared to be that it was the only harvest that had never been sown. It had occurred somehow, but there were no reasons in the previous history of the country to explain it. It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was falling into that error. He referred to Cuba, Nicaragua, and E1 Salvador. At no time did he mention or describe the appalling misgovernment that preceded the rise to power of communists in those countries. The reason why Fidel Castro is where he is and to a certain extent why he stays where he is is due to the nature of the régime that he succeeded.
The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, was considering why the Cuban Government seemed to 140 have a hold over its people. Possibly one reason is a memory of what it was like before Castro came in, even if they have been somewhat disappointed in his réegime. I am afraid that the other reason—and it is rather a grim reflection on mankind—is the degree of military success and prestige that Cuban forces have had. There is no surer way for a revolutionary government to bind its people to it than to have military successes. In his Diary, Samuel Pepys, describing one of the less fortunate events that occurred in this country in the wretched reign of Charles II, when we were humiliated abroad, remarked:Everyone is talking of old Oliver and what great things he did and made all the neighbour princes fear him".As long as we have people talking seriously about the influence of Cuban forces in Africa, the ordinary Cuban will feel that his Government has something to be said for it.
I have digressed a little, because I want to emphasise the point that it is no use at all talking about the Soviet penetration as if it sprang solely from the malice, ill-will or motivation of the Soviet Union. It succeeds where the soil is fertile, or where the defences are weak. As I say, the oppression can be social; it can be racial. That, of course, is what gives the position of South Africa in the African continent such a relevance in this whole field. It is something that we find very difficult to understand—to be told that because of the colour of one's skin one is not temporarily but permanently excluded from equal political rights. For all the improvements they may have made in cricket matches, that is what the South African Government are, in fact, telling the majority of their people. While they do that there will be deep and bitter resentment and the people will tend to judge the other powers of the world by their attitude towards this doctrine of apartheid. I shall want to return to that matter again a little later.
However, in this situation of the Soviet Union moved by strategic ambitions and by ideology and the world presenting many vulnerable spots, we get in consequence the Soviet penetration in Africa, Asia—Afghanistan in particular—and in Central America. Afghanistan is a particularly interesting case where a communist Government came to power basically because Afghanistan was one of the old-fashioned tyrannies that had very little to recommend it to its people. With the spread of modern ideas in the world, it was not surprising that communists took power there. But the Russians decided that the particular kind of communists there were not quite the right kind and that, anyhow, Soviet strategic interests would be greatly served if they were in control of Afghanistan. There you have a striking example of how the two motives have come together, and very unfortunate it has been for the people of Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union tends to concentrate its penetration in those areas that are strategically advantageous to us and those where it can add to the general weakness and confusion of the West. My own feeling is that in the tangled problems of the Middle East, for a long time the main interest of the Soviet Union has been that the problem should remain unsolved and that the West should remain divided and, in consequence, weak. That more than anything else describes their behaviour. It is true, of course, that 141 there have been a number of examples of countries which have admitted the Soviet influence in order to get themselves liberated from shocking social injustices and which, after a time, have found that it has not worked out in the least as they thought it would.
There is a dreadful fable written by Robert Louis Stevenson in which he imagines a country where everybody had to wear an iron shackle on the right leg. There grew up in this country a zealous, heroic youth who thought he would rescue them. By long study he found that he must travel to a far country and slay the enchanter who was responsible for all this. This he did, and returned triumphant. The first person he met was wearing an iron shackle on his left leg. "Why are you doing that?" said the returning hero. "Oh, don't you know? We learnt that wearing it on the right leg was a superstition". They were the first example of people who changed one tyranny for another and who, I am afraid, were not much the better at the end of it. Where tyrannies exist, however, I am afraid that that still does not prevent people from trying to get rid of them and hoping for the best. Very often, having once embraced communist doctrine and Soviet help they find it is very difficult to get out of it even if they repent of their choice.
In this tangled situation, what are we to do? I remember a song everybody sang very cheerfully towards the middle and closing years of the war. If I remember rightly, the refrain was:There'll be love and laughter,And peace ever after,Tomorrow, when the world is free".Let nobody say it is politicians who deceive mankind; song-writers are just as responsible. We all had the feeling that when this fearful Nazi tyranny was overthrown there was a real chance for the world to start again. We are now learning (as we ought to have known if we had studied history) that it is never quite as simple as that. We now have an immense confusion of rights and wrongs in which it is increasingly hard to say exactly where right, truth and justice lie.
We now have to face the question: what do we do in this situation? It was here that none of us on either side of the House was quite sure, and neither am I. I am quite sure of some things that we ought to do, but I am not sure that they will be adequate. There seemed to be a general feeling that in Central America it would be a mistake for the United States, by its own military power, to try to seek forcible solutions to what is now happening there. How far it may be wise for them to give military assistance to one side or another is largely a matter for them to judge, but we can at least say—and this has been urged on both sides of the House—that if there is any kind of coalition or middle way to be found in any of the countries concerned, they ought not to be too ready to find themselves on the same side as people like the Government of E1 Salvador. I am perfectly aware that that is not entirely an unequivocal or certain statement. All I can say is that it is the best I can make of the present extremely complicated situation.
Next, we ought to use our influence in the world wherever we can to promote and encourage social justice. I think it was my noble friend Lord Oram who 142 urged this point, and my noble friend Lord Walston who drew the connection between land ownership and stability and freedom from communism. I think that to a considerable extent it was the land reforms of Venizelos in the early years of this century which resulted in Greece never embracing out-and-out a communist form of government. There are other examples as well.
We were all agreed that we should try to extend many forms of aid to those parts of the third world which are not yet under Soviet control. In particular, I mention food aid in certain specialised circumstances, the help of technicians and of technology, and the work of the British Council—and the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, spoke particularly of the need to encourage their students. If I may say so, he must pursue that topic diligently with his Front Bench, and we shall all applaud while he does so. Seriously, there is no doubt that all that is perfectly sensible. Whether it is in time, whether it will be adequate, we do not yet know. It is certainly the kind of thing we ought to be trying at the present time.
My noble friend Lord Hatch suggested the possibility of joint projects of aid between ourselves and the Soviet Union, if I did not misunderstand him. I remember being present at a conversation between Sir Harold Wilson shortly before he became Prime Minister of this country and Mr. Khrushchev shortly before he ceased to be the ruler of the Soviet Union. Sir Harold Wilson put forward that we should try to find a part of the third world where we could jointly try to carry out an aid project. Mr. Khrushchev's reply was the sort of immediate reply you sometimes get from communists when you know you have pressed the right nerve and the response comes out automatically; namely, that we were different cultures, had different views of society, and therefore we should not be able to work together. Mr. Khrushchev has gone. It may be that Mr. Andropov will take a more liberal view, but I doubt it.
Another thing we ought to do and which some noble Lords have mentioned, although not as many as I should have liked, is (and I have said this before) make our opposition to apartheid and the policies of the South African Government absolutely unequivocal. I cannot accept the view of the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, that South Africa is gradually moving in the right direction. I wish I could. If it proves at any time that they are deciding to move in the right way and we can make it easier for them, by all means let us do so. In the meantime, we must make quite clear our steady opposition to apartheid and our readiness to approve all those measures which show South Africa how she cuts herself off from the rest of mankind by this policy.
I know it can be said that there are other examples of tyranny—even other examples of racial tyranny—in the world. The distinguishing feature of the South African one is its extreme danger, being practised there in the African continent and inflaming feeling throughout black Africa. It is for that reason that we have to make clear our opposition to it and our complete dissociation from it.
In general, we seem to feel that it should be possible, dangerous as the world is, to find a solution on the basis of seeking for greater justice, greater equality and 143 the removal of the harsher features of life so far as they can be removed by aid and by international action. People have often argued which of the various mottos is more suitable for those who want peace. To say, "If you want peace, prepare for war", is a mere truism and does not help you. I think the right answer is found inscribed on the offices of the International Labour Office. I am not sure that I can imitate the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and risk pronouncing the Latin, but roughly it can be translated:If you want to reap peace, sow justice".
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I must add my thanks to my noble friend Lord Cathcart for drawing attention to one of the most important factors in the international situation today, and also—and not for the first time—I should like to express my thanks for the splendid speech which the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, has just delivered. I expected Cubans to figure in your Lordships' debate today, but I had not thought that the perceptions of the average Cuban citizen of Cuban surrogates serving in Africa would be compared with fond memories of Oliver Cromwell during the time of restoration England. However, the noble Lord was able to make the comparison, and to make it in his own inimitable way.
This debate has enabled the speeches of your Lordships to bring out the scale of Soviet activities in the third world and the threat which those activities present. If anyone doubts the nature of that threat not only strategically, but also in human terms to the individual citizen, then I would refer him to the speech made by my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery. My noble friend Lord Beloff advised that we would do well to try to understand the motives of Soviet policy makers. I should like to try to follow my noble friend's advice and to look at the objectives which underlie Soviet activities in the third world. I emphasise from the outset, as indeed did the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, that the Soviet Union by no means always succeeds in its aims.
All great powers have worldwide interests. That is unremarkable. But what is remarkable in the case of the Soviet Union is the narrow range of its interests. It seems that the Russian leadership is only capable of expressing its super-power status in military terms. If the Soviet Union were engaged more naturally—indeed, more generously—in economic affairs around the world, we might begin to see signs of greater interdependence with other countries, leading to greater restraint and greater responsibility in the conduct of its external relations.
In the context of my noble friend's subject for discussion I shall not dwell upon the Soviet record in dealing with its immediate neighbours in Eastern Europe; the annexation in 1940 of the Baltic states and the postwar record of direct intervention in East Berlin, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The grim reality of an iron curtain rung down across the face of Eastern Europe is in many aspects as true today as it was when Winston Churchill coined the phrase nearly 40 years ago. The recent Soviet record in bringing pressure to bear on Poland to ensure the suppression of Solidarity is consistent with its past policy. I make those points 144 briefly because such attitudes and actions cannot but raise major questions about the Soviet Union's claim to be the friend of the oppressed in the third world.
Since 1979, Soviet imperialism on its borders has been dramatically illustrated in Afghanistan; a formerly independent and non-aligned country, let us not forget, which has been occupied by Soviet troops, now numbering well over 100,000, for more than three years. Countless Afghan people, including women and children, have been killed and maimed. In many areas the economy has been permanently damaged. The Russians have destroyed irrigation and much of the agricultural infrastructure. Over three million refugees, one-fifth of the entire population of the country, have now fled to Pakistan and Iran. My noble friend Lady Airey expressed her apprehension about the territorial gains of the Russian troops, but resistance remains strong and the Russians have had no success at all in establishing a broad base of popular support for the client régime of Babrak Karmal.
Internationally the United Nations General Assembly vote last autumn has demonstrated once again world condemnation is still as resolute now as it was in the immediate aftermath of the invasion in December 1979. Because of Afghanistan, the international standing of the Soviet Union has been gravely damaged. It must, I suggest, be our constant aim that this should not be forgotten until the Russian leadership withdraws and restores their lawful rights to the Afghan people.
Soviet ideology has always attempted to portray the Soviet Union as being in the vanguard of progressive forces worldwide, to endorse the concept of just wars of national liberation. Under this banner the Soviet Union sought, in the immediate post-colonial period of the 1950s and 1960s, to present itself as the natural ally of the newly-independent countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. It claimed to be a super-power friend and ally with the political and economic answers for developing nations, but most countries have found to their cost that neither claim was borne out by experience.
They found that the Soviet Union could and did provide arms and advisers, but technology to help their development, a market for their products, a currency with which they could trade or aid in any generous measure, were not the characteristics of the Soviet policy towards the third world. For all its rhetoric, the Soviet Union has proceeded on the basis of narrow political and economic self-interest combined—and it has to be said—with cynicism and opportunism. A comparatively recent example of this has been Soviet policy in the Horn of Africa, where in 1977 we saw a rapid Soviet switch from Somalia to Ethiopia. In Somalia and Djibouti the West has provided substantial assistance.
I mention first the help given to deal with the enormous refugee problems. This help is needed in large measure because of the Soviet tendency to exacerbate, not to assuage, long-standing animosities in the area—a tendency which was so clearly brought out in the most interesting speech of my noble friend Lord Ailsa. Their humanitarian assistance has been a mere token. They leave the relief work to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, which is funded by voluntary contributions (I need hardly add 145 that the Soviet Union is not a contributor), to the bilateral help given by individual Western countries, and perhaps most important to the selfless efforts of the voluntary agencies to which I am glad to pay tribute because this country is so well represented. I cite just a few figures to illustrate the point. In 1982 European community aid for Somalia was £9 million of which our share was just over £2 million. We also gave half a million pounds for refugee relief in 1982–83.
In Somalia's case total Western economic assistance in 1981—which is the last year for which I have figures—amounted to 305 million dollars. Our own bilateral contribution last year amounted to just under £1.5 million of which over half a million pounds was in the form of capital grants and about £1 million was for technical co-operation.
We have helped in ways which met the practical needs of Somalia; for example, in developing the fisheries of a country which has perhaps the longest coastline in Africa, and in a scheme to tackle infestation by the tsetse fly—that perennial scourge mentioned by my noble friend Lady Airey. But if the figures I have given for the United Kingdom's contribution sound small, let us remember the importance, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn said, that we must attach to the European Community dimension, for we contribute a substantial share to the European Development Fund, which I am glad to say has committed the equivalent of roughly £145 million for 1980–85 to Somalia of which our contribution is about £27 million.
It is instructive that notwithstanding the Russians' close relations with Ethiopia, the Soviet Union maintains its position principally by its willingness to sell arms and use its Cuban surrogates. The noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, gave two first hand examples of earthquakes occurring in states where no Soviet aid was then forthcoming. In Ethiopia there is a very serious drought and it is left to the West to provide the practical help. The United Kingdom, by no means the only contributor, has provided 27,000 tonnes of grain through the world food programme and we have given £400,000 for famine victims for distribution by the voluntary agencies. Again I reiterate the Government's appreciation of the agencies in which Britons play so large a part: Oxfam, Christian Aid and the Save the Children Fund. Recent events have reminded us—if we needed reminding—of the risks taken by those who readily work in places where the threat of guerrilla warfare exacerbates the harshness of natural catastrophe.
The Soviet approach is best judged by what we see of its actions. In our own case, which I believe resembles that of other Western countries, our policy approach can simply be described thus: it is to promote British interests by helping reduce the tensions in the area thus enabling the countries concerned to concentrate on dealing with their political, economic and social problems free from outside interference.
The noble Lord, Lord Oram, who has great experience of these matters and who made a most interesting speech today, may not entirely agree with the Government about the means and the speed by which we try 146 to achieve those objectives, but I think he would agree that we are on the same wavelength in knowing that those are our aims.
I should like to say just one word about the Horn of Africa. I should make quite clear that we recognise, in common with the OAU and the international community as a whole, these countries' existing boundaries. We are well aware of long-standing problems in the area which have yet to be resolved and successive British Governments have expressed the hope that they be solved by negotiation rather than fighting. We continue to hope for reconciliation and continue to believe that it must be sought within the existing framework of existing frontiers. I think that the situation in the Horn is an individual example of a wider truth. What is the Soviet Union's main contribution to its partners in the third world? The answer can be summed up in one word—arms.
We assess Russian arms sales to be of the order of 4 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars a year. Although this is a lesser global sum than the figure given by my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing as far as Africa is concerned—and therefore my noble friend and I are not quite seeing eye to eye on the figures we are giving—I am sure that my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing and I can certainly agree that the Soviet Union is the foremost arms dealer with the developing world—a very doubtful position to be in.
Net Soviet aid in 1982 amounted to 2.4 billion dollars, I am advised, the equivalent of .19 per cent. of Soviet GNP. This compares with over 25½billion dollars provided by the West in 1981. And 89 per cent. of Soviet aid is given to its closest client states, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cuba, Afghanistan, Laos and Cambodia. Aid, as we understand the term, remains negligible from the Soviet Union and much of it is provided on hard terms. Your Lordships may be surprised to know this; and I was surprised to learn it. We estimate that in 1982 developing countries other than the Soviet clients which I have mentioned made repayments arising from earlier Soviet aid loans which amounted to 110 million dollars more than they received in new loans—hardly a creditable aid programme.
There are two other areas to which I should like to refer. I take very seriously on behalf of the Government the references of my noble friend Lord Cathcart and other noble Lords to naval facilities which Russia has procured over past years. Like my noble friend Lord Ailsa, the Government attach importance to United States plans to improve facilities on Diego Garcia, which we regard as filling an important role in the protection of Western interests in the area. The facility helps us to respond flexibly to the threat of Soviet expansionism in the Indian Ocean and in its hinterland. It is sometimes argued that this threat is a figment of Western imagination: in effect, that if we pretended that it did not exist, it would not materialise at all. The reality is otherwise. About the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan there is nothing imaginary. Despite the problems that the Russians have got into in Afghanistan, they could well turn their attentions elsewhere in the region. I think that we are fortunate that Diego Garcia is there to be used if required, and it is symbolic of Western commitment and preparedness.
147 The other area, if I may turn to that, is Central America. Although there is little direct involvement by the Soviet Union in Central America at the moment, the Government are concerned at the spread of Marxist-Leninist ideology in that part of the world and the role which Cuba is playing in assisting the spread of that ideology in Central America—a matter which was spoken about by many of your Lordships but not least by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in a very interesting speech, my noble friend Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Walston. Thus, although Central America is not—except for Belize—an area where major British interests are directly involved, we do share the fears that have been expressed in this House and elsewhere about the risks which a deterioration in the situation could pose for vital supply routes through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal where the interests of the whole free world must surely be involved. So we welcome the comprehensive restatement of United States policy in President Reagan's address to Congress on 27th April. We broadly support the basic goals which the President set out: support for democracy, reform and human freedom; continued help for economic development; assistance in protecting the security of the region's threatened nations; and support for dialogue both between and within countries as steps in the direction of a solution to the problems of the region.
The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, asked me about the Condadora front initiative. Her Majesty's Government are following closely the various recent moves by the Condadora group and others to try to resove the problems of Central America through some form of peace conference or dialogue. We must wait to see where this attempt will lead. The point that I would like to make in answer to the noble Lords is that we think it is for the countries of the region to find their own solution to these problems, but within the context of the very helpful points which I believe were made by the President of the United States on 27th April.
I come finally to the ground to which all your Lordships have come: how does it really look to us in the final analysis? What are we to do? How are we to regard the repeated attempts of the Soviet Union to spread their ideology throughout the third world? As inevitable? I think not. Soviet reverses have been significant. They have been mentioned today, but they bear a last mention. In 1972 they were effectively expelled from Egypt; in 1977 from Somalia. Their invasion of Afghanistan has damaged their standing in the Islamic world and among the non-aligned countries. Although there were many things I did not agree with in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, I certainly do agree with the noble Lord that nominally Marxist and pro-Soviet régimes in Africa are increasingly seeking to strengthen their links with Western institutions, including the European Community.
The cruel occupation of Cambodia by the Vietnamese, who are clients of the Soviet Union to the tune of over a billion pounds a year, has attracted the united opposition of the five ASEAN countries. Here, 148 again, there is a very important link between the European Community and the ASEAN countries, as was evidenced by the very fruitful conference between the Foreign Ministers of the states concerned on 24th and 25th March this year. I am glad to say that on more than one occasion island states of the South Pacific have, to my knowledge, rejected Soviet approaches designed usually to gain naval facilities of one kind or another.
While, therefore, I share the serious concerns which have been expressed by your Lordships this evening, I see some causes on behalf of the Government for optimism, provided that, with our partners and allies, we continue to take practical steps to deal with the negative effects of Soviet policies in the third world. Provided we take a long view of our interests and a realistic assessment of the underlying problems with which most of the developing countries are grappling, surely there is no reason to flinch from competition with the Soviet Union in the third world. After all, our political message is infinitely more attractive. Our economic model is incomparably more productive. We must continue, I accept, to offer aid, trade and technology—all the things which the Soviet Union singularly fail to provide in adequate quantities even for their clients. We must continue to lend our support to individual countries wherever they are pepared to uphold standards of freedom, self-determination and resistance to domination.
§ Earl Cathcart
My Lords, I shall speak only very briefly indeed at the conclusion of this debate because this House still has other business to deal with. I am most grateful to all noble Lords from all parts of the House for taking part. We have had some very distinguished speeches indeed and especially from those noble Lords who spoke from personal experience. The wide-ranging and very distinguished contributions from all parts of the House are an indication of the interest which has been taken in this debate. I hope that the broad assessment of views and experience which this debate has provided will prove to be of value. I must thank my noble friend the Minister for his summing up of the debate; and now I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.