New Threats for Old
Margaret Thatcher
John Findley Green Foundation Lecture
Westminster College
March 9, 1996



Westminster College President James F. Traer

We are privileged to welcome to Westminster, Missouri, Governor Mel Carnahan. A native of Rolla, Governor Carnahan has been by turns US Air Force veteran, attorney, legislator, and majority floor leader, and state treasurer. In 1992, the citizens of Missouri chose him governor by a landslide vote. Governor Carnahan’s accomplishments include creation of the state's first comprehensive economic development plan, strengthening criminal justice laws, and reform legislation to improve Missouri schools, thereby reducing class size, establishing programs for the non-college bound, and obtaining full funding for the acclaimed Parents as Teachers program. Please join me in welcoming the honorable Mel Carnahan.


Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan

President Traer, Lady Thatcher, distinguished officials, students, faculty, alumni, and friends of Westminster College, and ladies and gentlemen. Since the beginning of the John Findley Green foundation lectures in 1936, Westminster College has been privileged to host some of the greatest men and women of twentieth century thought. Nowhere else in this nation could serve as a more fitting forum for world leaders than America's Heartland, where the lifeblood of liberty flows purely and passionately. These great leaders traveled here secure in the knowledge that no matter how different our cultures and our backgrounds, we have the capability to reach a common understanding of the problems of our day.

Today we gather to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's immortal lecture, traditionally known as his Iron Curtain speech. We are deeply honored that Sir Winston's grandchildren Edwina, Celia, Julian Sandys could be with us for this commemoration. But I prefer Sir Winston’s title for his lecture, The Sinews of Peace. And at first glance, the phrase might appear to be a contradiction in terms – after all, peace denotes tranquility, calm, and rest while sinews represent power, action, and strength. Yet world leaders, such as our distinguished speaker, will tell you that only through power can peace be found. Peace is preserved with strength, not weakness, and the struggle to maintain peace is constant, demanding our finest minds and our greatest leaders. Today, I'm privileged to introduce to you a woman who is both. One of the century's finest minds and, at the same time, one of our greatest leaders.

Born the daughter of a grocer, Margaret Hilda Thatcher lived through the finest hour of Britain's Commonwealth, World War II. During this time, she witnessed the inspired words and deeds of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Educated at Oxford, she worked as a research chemist for an industrial firm but devoted most of her free time to studying for the bar. And in 1951, she married Sir Denis Thatcher. Twins Mark and Carol were born to the couple in 1953, and the next year she became a barrister specializing in taxation law. As a member of the party of Churchill, the Conservative Party, she came to the House of Commons in 1959, a member from Finchley. Following a series of ministerial positions, she assumed leadership of the Conservative Party in 1975.

When conservatives came to power in 1979, Lady Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister in the history of Great Britain. Her administration was marked with many successes, but there was a strong emphasis always, throughout, on strong economic policies and government efficiency. After the Conservative victory in 1987, she became the first British Prime Minister in this century to win three consecutive terms. On November 29th, 1990, she resigned as prime minister to return to private life. As a result of her highly distinguished career of public service, she was awarded the Order of Merit by Her Majesty the Queen and made a member of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. In 1992, she was elevated to the House of Lords to become the Right Honorable Baroness Thatcher.

Lady Thatcher, you honor us by coming to the site of Sir Winston's pivotal speech, an event Westminster College has immortalized with the beautiful Winston Churchill Memorial. When I think of this memorial, I think of the words of Rupert Brooke, “that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.” It's a great honor for me to present to you one of the outstanding leaders of our time, Lady Margaret Thatcher.


Lady Margaret Thatcher

Mr. Chairman, Mr. President, Governor, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sensible of the honor you do me in inviting me to give this Memorial Lecture. May I thank you, Governor, for your kind and generous welcome.

When my distinguished predecessor delivered his Fulton speech exactly 50 years ago, he journeyed hither by train in the company of the President of the United States. On the way, they played poker to pass the time. And the President won $75 – quite a sum in those non-inflationary times for an unemployed former prime minister. But in view of the historic impact of his speech on American opinion and subsequently on United States foreign policy, Sir Winston Churchill later recorded that his loss was one of the best investments he had ever made.

I did not travel here by train, nor in the company of the President of the United States, nor did I play poker – I don't have the right kind of face for it. But there is some similarity in the circumstances of 50 years ago and today.

Mr. Churchill spoke not long after the Second World War. Towards the end of that great conflict, the wartime Allies had forged new international institutions for post-war cooperation. There was in those days, great optimism, not least in the United States, about a world without conflict presided over benevolently by bodies like the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank, and the GATT. But the high hopes reposed in them were increasingly disappointed as Stalin lowered the iron curtain over Eastern Europe, made no secret of his global ambitions, and became antagonist, rather than ally.

Churchill's speech here was the first serious warning of what was afoot, and it helped to wake up the entire West. In due course, that speech bore rich fruit in the new institutions forged to strengthen the West against Stalin's assault. The Marshall Plan laid the foundations for Europe's post-war economic recovery. The Truman Doctrine made plain that America would resist communist subversion of democracy. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization mobilized America's allies for mutual defense against the Soviet steamroller. And the European Coal and Steel Community, devised to help reconcile the former European enemies, evolved over time into the European Community.

Stalin had overplayed his hand. By attempting to destroy international cooperation, he succeeded in stimulating it among more realistic lines, and not just through Western Cold War institutions like NATO. As the West recovered and united, growing in prosperity and confidence, so it also breathed new life into some of the first set of post-war institutions like the GATT and the IMF. Without the Russians to obstruct them, these bodies helped to usher in what the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm has roughly christened “the golden age of capitalism.” The standard of living of ordinary people rose to levels that would have astonished our grandparents. There were regional wars but no direct clash between the superpowers, and the economic, technological, and military superiority of the West eventually reached such a peak that the communist system was forced into first reform, then surrender, and finally liquidation.

None of this, however, was pre-ordained. It happened in large part because of what Churchill said here, 50 years ago. He spoke at a watershed. One set of international institutions had shown themselves to be wanting. Another had yet to be born. And it was his speech, not the force celebrated by Marx, which turned out to be the midwife of history.

Today we are at what could be a similar watershed. The long twilight struggle of the Cold War ended five years ago with complete victory for the West and for the subject peoples of the Communist empire – and I very much include the Russian people in that description. It ended amid high hopes of a new world order. But those hopes have been grievously disappointed. Bosnia, Somalia, and the rise of Islamic militancy all point to instability and conflict rather than cooperation and harmony. The international bodies in which our hopes were reposed anew after 1989 and 1991 have given us neither prosperity nor security and there is a pervasive anxiety about the drift of events. It remains to be seen whether this generation will respond to these threats with the imagination and courage of Sir Winston, President Truman, and the wise men of those years.

But first, how did we get to our present straits? Like the breakup of all empires, the breakup of the Soviet empire wrought enormous changes way beyond its borders. Many of these were indisputably for the good. A more cooperative superpower relationship between the United States and Russia. The spread of democracy and civil society in Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Better prospects for resolving regional conflicts, like those in South Africa and the Middle East, once Soviet mischief making had been removed. The discrediting of socialist economic planning by the exposure of its disastrous consequences in Russia and Eastern Europe. And the removal of Soviet obstruction on the United Nations and its agencies. These were, and still are, real benefits for which we should be grateful.

But in the euphoria which accompanied the Cold War's end, just as in what Churchill’s private secretary called the fatal hiatus of 1944 to 1946, we failed to notice other less appealing consequences of the peace. Like a giant refrigerator that had finally broken down after years of poor maintenance, the Soviet empire in its collapse released all the ills of ethnic, social, and political backwardness which it had frozen in suspended animation for so long. Suddenly, border disputes between the successor states erupted into small wars in, for instance, Armenia and Georgia. Within these new countries, the ethnic divisions aggravated by Soviet policies of Russification and forced population transfer produced violence, instability, and quarrels over citizenship. The absence of the legal and custom re-foundations of a free economy led to a distorted robber-capitalism, one dominated by the combined forces of the mafia and the old communist nomenklatura with little appeal to ordinary people. The moral vacuum created by communism and everyday life was filled for some by a revived Orthodox Church but for others by the rise in crime, corruption, gambling, and drug addiction, all contributing to a spreading ethic of luck, a belief that economic life is a zero-sum game, and an irrational nostalgia for a totalitarian order without totalitarian methods. And in these hopes and conditions, primitive political ideologies which have been extinct in Western Europe and America for two generations surfaced and flushed, all peddling fantasies of imperial glory to compensate for domestic squalor. No one can forecast with confidence where this will lead. I believe that it will take long years of civic experience and patient institution building for Russia to become a normal society. Neo-communists may well return to power in the immediate future, postponing normality. But whoever wins the forthcoming Russian elections will almost certainly institute a more assertive foreign policy, one less friendly to the United States. A revival of Russian power will create new problems just when the world is struggling to cope with problems which the Soviet collapse has itself created outside the old borders of the USSR.

When Soviet power broke down, so did the control it exercised, however fitfully and irresponsibly, over rogue states like Syria, Iraq, and Gaddafi’s Libya. They have, in effect, been released to commit whatever mischief they wish, without bothering to check with the arms supplier and bank manager. Note that Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait took place after the USSR was gravely weakened and had ceased to be Iraq's protector.

The Soviet collapse has also aggravated the single most awesome threat of modern times: the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These weapons and the ability to develop and deliver them are today acquired by middle income countries with modest populations such as Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria – acquired sometimes from other powers like China and North Korea but most ominously from former Soviet arsenals or unemployed scientists or organized criminal rings, all by way of a growing international black market. According to Stephen Hadley, formerly President Bush's Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy, and I quote, “by the end of the decade, we could see over twenty countries with ballistic missiles, nine with nuclear weapons, ten with biological weapons, and up to thirty with chemical weapons.” According to other official United States sources, all of Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, much of the Pacific, and most of Russia could soon be threatened by the latest North Korean missiles. Once they are available in the Middle East and North Africa, all the capitals of Europe will be within target range. And on present trends, a direct threat to American shores is likely to mature, if that is the right word, early in the next century. Add weapons of mass destruction to rogue states and you have a highly toxic compound.

As the CIA has pointed out, of the nations that have or are acquiring weapons of mass destruction, many are led by megalomaniacs and strong men are proven inhumanity or by weak, unstable, or illegitimate governments. In some instances, the potential capabilities at the command of these unpredictable figures is either equal to, or even more destructive, than the Soviet threat to the west in the 1960s; it is that serious. Indeed, it is even more serious that. We in the West may have to deal with a number of possible adversaries, each with different characteristics. In some cases, their mentalities differ from ours even more than did those of our old Cold War enemy so the potential for misunderstanding is great. And we must therefore be very clear in our own minds about our strategic intentions and just as clear in signaling these to potential aggressors. And that is only the gravest threat, there are others.

Within the Islamic world, the Soviet collapse undermined the legitimacy of radical secular regimes and gave an impetus to the rise of radical Islam. Radical Islamist movements now constitute a major revolutionary threat, not only to the Saddams and Assads, but also to conservative Arab regimes who are allies of the West. Indeed, they challenge the very idea of Western economic presence. Hence, the random acts of violence designed to drive American companies and tourists out of the Islamic world. In short, my friends, the world remains a very dangerous place. Indeed, one menaced by more unstable and complex threats than a decade ago. But because the risk of total nuclear annihilation has been removed, we in the West have lapsed into an alarming complacency about the risks that remain. We have run down our defenses and relaxed our guard. And to comfort ourselves that we were doing the right thing, we have increasingly placed our trust in international institutions to safeguard our future. But international bodies have not generally performed well. Indeed, we have learned that they can't perform well unless we refrain from utopian aims, give them practical tasks, and provide them with the means and backing to carry them out.

Now, let's have a look at some of these institutional bodies and their failure. Perhaps the best example of utopian aims is what is called multilateralism. This is the doctrine that international actions are most justified when they are untainted by the national interests of the countries which are called upon to carry them out. Multilateralism briefly became the doctrine of several Western powers in the early 90s when the United Nations Security Council was no longer hamstrung by the Soviet veto. It seemed to promise a new age in which the United Nations would act as world policemen to settle regional conflicts. Of course, there was always a fair amount of hypocrisy embedded in the multilateralist doctrine. The Haiti intervention by United States forces acting under a United Nations mandate, for instance, was defended as an exercise in restoring a Haitian democracy that had really never existed. But it might be better described in the language of transfix as the continuation of American immigration control by other means.

But honest multilateralism without the spur of national interest has led to intervention without clear aims. No one could criticize a humane impulse to step in and relieve the suffering created by the Civil War in Somalia. But it soon became clear that the humanitarian effort could not enjoy long-term success without a return to civil order, and no internal force was available to supply this. Hence the intervention created a painful choice: either the United Nations would make Somalia into a colony and spend decades engaged in nation-building or the United Nations’ forces would eventually withdraw and Somalia revert to its prior anarchy. Since America and the United Nations were unwilling to govern Somalia for thirty years, it followed that the job of feeding the hungry and helping the sick must be left to civilian aid agencies and private charities. Conclusion: military intervention without an attainable purpose creates as many problems as it solves.

This was further demonstrated in the former Yugoslavia, where early action to arm the victims of aggression so that they could defend themselves would have been far more effective than the United Nations’ half-hearted multilateral intervention. A neutral peacekeeping operation lightly armed in an area where there was no peace to keep serve mainly to consolidate the gains from aggression. Eventually, the United Nations peacekeepers became hostages used by the aggressor to deter more effective action against him. All in all, a sorry and tragic episode ended by the Croatian army, NATO airpower, and American diplomacy. The combined effect of interventions in Bosnia, Somalia and, indeed, Rwanda has been to shake the self-confidence of key Western powers and to tarnish the reputation of the United Nations.

And now a dangerous trend is evident. As the Haiti case shows, the Security Council seems increasingly prepared to widen the legal basis for intervention. We are seeing, in fact, that classically dangerous combination of growing disproportion between theoretical claims and practical means. Compare this hubris with the failure to act effectively against the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the means to deliver them. As I have already argued, these are falling into dangerous hands. Given the intellectual climate in the West today, it's probably unrealistic to expect military intervention to remove the source of the threat, as for example, against North Korea. Except perhaps, when the offender invites us to do so by invading a small neighboring country. Even then, as we now know, our success in destroying Saddam's nuclear and chemical weapons capability was limited. And we can't be sure that the efforts by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Authority to prevent Saddam quoting civil nuclear power to military uses have been any more successful. We may reasonably suspect that they have not.

What then can we do? There is no mysterious diplomatic means to disarm a state which is not willing to be disarmed. As Frederick the Great mordantly observed, “Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” Arms control and non-proliferation measures have a role in restraining rogue states, but only when combined with other measures. If America and its allies can't deal with the problem directly by preemptive military means, they must at least diminish the incentive for the Saddams, the Gaddafis, and others to acquire new weapons in the first place. That means, my friends, the West must install effective ballistic missile defense, which would protect us and our armed forces, reduce or even nullify the rogue states arsenal, and enable us to retaliate.

So the potential contribution of ballistic missile defense to peace and stability seems to me to be very great. First, and most obviously, it promises the possibility of protection if deterrence fails or if there is a limited and unauthorized use of nuclear missiles. Second, it would also preserve the capability of the West to project its power overseas. Third, it would diminish the dangers of one country overturning the regional balance of power by acquiring these weapons. Fourth, it would strengthen our existing deterrent against a hostile nuclear superpower by preserving the West's powers of retaliation. And fifth, it would enhance diplomacy’s power to restrain proliferation by diminishing the utility of offensive systems. Acquiring an effective global defense against ballistic missiles is therefore a matter of the greatest importance and urgency. But the risk is that thousands of people may be killed by an attack which forethought and wise preparation might have prevented.

It is, of course, often the case in foreign affairs that statesmen are dealing with problems for which there is no ready solution. They must manage them as best they can. That might be true of nuclear proliferation, but no such excuses can be made for the European Union's activities at the end of the Cold War. It faced a task so obviously unachievable as to count as an almost explicit duty laid down by history. Namely, the expedient incorporation of the new Central European democracies – Poland, Hungary, Montenegro, and Czechoslovakia – within the European Union's economic and political structures. Early entry into Europe was the wish of the new democracies. It would help to stabilize them politically and smooth their transition to market economies. It would ratify the post-Cold War settlement in Europe. Given the stormy past of that region – the inhabitants are said to produce more history than they can consume locally – everyone should have wished to see it settled economically and politically inside a stable European structure.

Why was this not done? Why was every obstacle put in the way of the new market democracies? Why were their exports subject to the kind of absurd quotas that have until now been reserved for Japan? And why is there still no room at the inn? The answer is that the European Union was too busy contemplating its own navel. Both the commission and the majority of member governments were committed to an early “deepening” of European Union, that is, centralizing more power in the European Union supranational institutions, and they felt that a widening of it, that is, admitting new members, would complicate, obstruct, or even prevent this process. So while the deepening went ahead, they arranged to keep the Central Europeans out by the diplomat’s favorite tactic, negotiations to admit them.

In making this decision, the European Union put extravagant and abstract schemes ahead of practical necessities in the manner of doctrinaire projectors from Jonathan Swift down to the present and with the usual disastrous results. The visionary schemes of deepening either have failed or are failing. The fixed exchange rates as a European Exchange Rate Mechanism have made the yo-yo seem like a symbol of rigidity. They crashed in and out of it in September 1992 and have shown no signs of obeying the dictates of Brussels since then. The next stage of monetary union agreed at Maastricht, the single currency, is due 1999 but member states will have to achieve strict budgetary criteria. With three weeks [and] three years to go, only Luxembourg fully meets these tests. The attempts by other countries to meet them on time have pushed up unemployment, hiked interest rates, depressed economic activity, and create a civil unrest. And for what? Across the continent, businessmen and bankers increasingly question the economic need for a single currency at all. It is essentially a political symbol, the currency of a European state and people which don't actually exist, except, perhaps, in the mind of a Brussels bureaucrat. Yet these symbols were pursued at a real political cost in Central Europe. The early enthusiasm for the West and Western institutions began to wane. Facing tariff barriers and quotas in Western Europe, the Central Europeans began to erect their own. And those politicians there, who had bravely pursued tough-minded policies of economic reform, believing that they were following the advice of European leaders, found themselves left in the lurch when the going got rough. Only the Czech Republic under the very able leadership of Václav Klaus has remained on course to a normal society.

In the last few years, the democratic reformers have fallen one by one in the form of communist satellites to be replaced by neo-communist governments promising the impossible: transition to a market economy without tears. This is a tragedy in itself and an avoidable one. But with Russia lurching politically into a more authoritarian nationalist course and the question of Central Europe's membership of NATO still unsettled, it has more than merely economic implications.

Which brings me to my last example of institutional failure, mercifully only a partial one counterbalanced by some successes, namely NATO. NATO is a very fine military instrument; it won the Cold War when it had a clear military doctrine. But an instrument can't define its own purposes. And since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, Western statesmen have found it difficult to give NATO a clear one. Indeed, they have shilly-shallied on the four major questions facing their lands. Should Russia be regarded as a potential threat or a partner? Russia may be about to answer that in clearer fashion than we would like. Should NATO turn its attention to out-of-area, where most of the post-Cold War threats, such as nuclear proliferation, now lie? Should NATO admit the new democracies of Central Europe as full members with full responsibilities as quickly as prudently possible? Should Europe develop his own defense identity in NATO, even though this is a concept driven entirely by politics and has damaging military implications? Such questions tend to be decided not in the abstract, not at intergovernmental conferences convened to look into the crystal ball, but on the anvil of necessity and in the heat of crisis.

That is exactly what happened in the long running crisis over Bosnia. At first, the supporters of the European foreign policy and the European defense identity declared the former Yugoslavia “Europe's crisis” and asked the United States to keep out. The United States was glad to do so. But the European Union's farcical involvement only made matters worse and, after a while, was effectively abandoned. Then the United Nations became involved and asked NATO to be its military agent in its peacekeeping operations. Finally, when the United Nations’ NATO personnel were taken hostage, the United States intervened, employed NATO airpower with real effect, forced the combatants to the conference table, for better or worse imposed an agreement on them, and now has a large NATO contingent that is enforcing it. In the course of stamping its authority on events, the United States also stamped its authority on the European members of NATO. And, since logistical supply chain goes through Hungary, it drew the central Europeans into NATO operations in a small way. Whether NATO will apply the logic of this crisis in future strategic planning remains to be seen. But for the armchair theorists of a closed, passive, and divided NATO, Bosnia has been no end of a lesson.

These various institutional failures are worrying enough in their own terms and in our own times. If we look ahead still further to the end of the 21st century, however, an alarming an unstable future is on the cards. Consider a number of medium to large states in the world that have now embarked on a free market revolution, India, China, Brazil, possibly Russia. Add to these the present economic great powers, the United States and Japan, and, if the federalists get their way, a European super state with its own independent foreign and defense policy separate from, and perhaps inimical to, the United States. What we see here in the year 1996 is an unstable world in which there are a more than half a dozen great powers, all with their own clients, all vulnerable if they stand alone, all capable of increasing their power and influence if they formed the right kind of alliance, and all engaged willy-nilly in perpetual diplomatic maneuvers to ensure that their relative positions improve rather than deteriorate. In other words, 1996 might look like 1914 played on a somewhat larger stage.

This need not come to pass. If the Atlantic Alliance remains as it is today, in essence, America as the dominant power surrounded by allies which generally follow her lead. Such are the realities of population, resources, technology, and capital that if America remains the dominant partner in the united West and militarily engaged in Europe, then the West can continue to be the dominant power in the world as a whole. What is to be done? I believe that what is now required is a new and imaginative Atlantic initiative. Its purpose must be to redefine Atlanticism in the light of the challenges I have been describing. There are rare moments when history is open and has caused change by means such as these; we may be at just such a moment now.

First, security. As my discussion of the Bosnian crisis demonstrated, the key lies in two reforms: opening NATO membership to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic and extending NATO's role so that it is able to operate out-of-area. Both reforms will require a change in NATO's existing procedures. An attack on the territory of one member must, of course, continue to be regarded unambiguously as an attack on that of all. But that principle of universality need not apply to out-of-area activities. Indeed, it needs to be recognized that a wider role for NATO can’t be achieved if every member state has to participate in an out-of-area operation before it can go ahead. What is required of flexible arrangements which, to use a fashionable phrase, permit the creation of “coalitions of the willing”? Would NATO expansion mark a new division of Europe and give Russia the right to intervene in states outside the fold? Not in the least. Among other reasons, we could hold out the possibility of admitting those countries which subsequently demonstrate a commitment to democratic values and which have trained military forces up to an acceptable standard. That would be a powerful incentive for such states to pursue the path of democratic reform and defense preparedness. NATO also provides the best available mechanism for coordinating the contribution of America's allies to a global system of ballistic missile defense, that is, one providing protection against missile attack from whatever source it comes. If, however, the United States is to build this global ballistic defense system with its allies, it needs the assurance that the Alliance is a permanent one resting on solid foundations of American leadership.

That raises, in my view, very serious doubt about the currently fashionable idea of a separate European defense identity within the Alliance. Essentially, this is another piece of political symbolism associated among European federalists with long-term aspirations for European state with its own foreign and defense policy. It would create the armed forces of a country which does not exist but, like the single currency, it would have damaging practical consequences in the here and now. In the first place, it contains the germs of a major future transatlantic rift. And in the second, it has no military rationale or benefit. Indeed, it has potentially severe military drawbacks. Even a French general admitted that during the Gulf War, the United States Forces were the eyes and ears of the French troops. Without America, NATO is a political talking shop, not a military force. Nor is that likely to be changed in any reasonably foreseeable circumstances. Defense expenditure has been falling sharply in almost all European states in recent years. Even if this process were now halted and reversed, it would take many years before Europe could hope to replace what America presently makes available to the Alliance by way of command and control facilities, air lift capacity, surveillance, and sheer firepower. Defense policy can't be built on political symbolism and utopian projects of nation building which ignore, or even defy military logic and fiscal prudence. But even a vigorous and successful NATO would not survive indefinitely in a West divided along the lines of trade and economics. One of the greatest threats to Atlantic unity in recent years has been a succession of trade wars, ranging from steel to pasta, which have strained relations across the Atlantic.

So the second element of a new Atlantic initiative must take the form of a concerted program to liberalize trade, thereby stimulating growth and creating badly needed new jobs. More specifically, we need to move towards a transatlantic free trade area uniting the North American Free Trade Area with the European Union enlarged to incorporate the Central European countries. I realize this may not seem the most propitious moment in American politics to advocate a new trade agreement. But the arguments against free trade between advanced industrial countries and poor Third World ones – even if I accepted them, which I do not – certainly do not apply to a transatlantic free trade deal. Such a trade bloc would unite countries with similar incomes and levels of regulation. It would therefore involve much less disruption and temporary job loss while still bringing significant gains in efficiency and prosperity. This has been recognized by American labor unions, notably by Mr. Lane Kirkland in a series of important speeches, and it would create a trade bloc of unparalleled wealth, and therefore influence, in world trade negotiations. Of course, economic gains are only half of the argument for a transatlantic free trade area, it would also provide, my friends, solid economic underpinning to America's continued military commitment to Europe while strengthening the still fragile economies and political countries of Central Europe. It would be, in effect, the economic equivalent of NATO and, as such, the second pillar of Atlantic unity. The first security, the second trade, under American leadership.

Yet, let us never forget that there is a third pillar: the political one. The West is not just some Cold War construct divided significance in today's freer, more fluid world. It rests upon distinctive values and virtues, ideas, and ideals, and above all, on a common experience of liberty. True, the Asia-Pacific may be fast becoming the new center of global economic power. Quite rightly, both United States and Britain take an ever-closer interest in developments there. But it is the West, above all, perhaps the English speaking peoples of the West, that has formed that system of liberal democracy which is politically dominant and which we all know offers the best hope of global peace and prosperity. In order to uphold these things, the Atlantic political relationship must be constantly nurtured and renewed. So we must breathe new life into the consultative political institutions of the West, such as the Atlantic Council and the North Atlantic Assembly. All too often, my friends, they lack influence and presence in public debate. Above all, however – loathe as I am to suggest another gathering of international leaders – I would propose an annual summit of the heads of government of all the North Atlantic countries under the chairmanship of the President of the United States. What all this adds up to is not another supranational entity. That would be unwieldy and unworkable. It is something more subtle, but I hope more durable, a form of Atlantic partnership which attempts to solve common problems by respecting the sovereignty of the member states. In the course of identifying those problems and cooperating to solve them, governments would gradually discover that they were shaping an Atlantic public opinion and political consciousness.

The reaction 50 years ago to that earlier Fulton speech was swift, dramatic, and at first, highly critical. Indeed, to judge from the critics, you would have imagined that it was not Stalin but Churchill who drawn down the iron curtain. But for all the immediate disharmony, it soon became evident that Fulton had struck a deeper chord. It resulted in a decisive shift in opinion. By May, the opinion polls recorded that 83% of Americans now favored the idea of a permanent alliance between the United States and Britain, which was subsequently broadened into NATO. By speaking as and when he did, Churchill guarded against a repetition of the withdrawal of America from Europe, which, after 1919, allowed the instability to emerge that plunged the whole world, including America, into a second war.

Like my uniquely distinguished predecessor, I too may be accused of alarmism in pointing to new dangers to which present institutions and attitudes are proving unequal. And, also like him, I have every confidence in the resources and the values of the Western civilization we are defending. In particular, I believe, to use Churchill's words, for there are no better, “if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high-roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.” That, my friends, at least, has not changed in 50 years.

“Leave the past to history especially as I propose to write that history myself.”

Winston S. Churchill