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Speech by His Excellency Mr. Robert Tuttle

His Excellency Mr. Robert Tuttle

On: America’s New Perspective

01 February 2007

“The last quarter of the 20th Century produced the greatest expansion of democracy in history. If democracy is defined as a system of government in which the principal positions of political power are filled through free, fair and regular elections.

Since 1974, the number of democracies worldwide has quadrupled. In the past 10 years alone, the number of democracies has almost doubled to over 120 nations.

Electoral democracy is now the world’s dominant form of government.

If we are to explore the “way forward” for the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, we must also study an important caveat to this story of democratic expansion.

As time goes on, some democracies are becoming more “shallow,” by which I mean the rule of law, minority rights and civil society have deteriorated in some existing democracies – and not been fully developed in some of the more recently established democracies.

There is an expanding gap between electoral democracies, which may have elections but nothing else, and liberal democracies, which are supported by the institutions of accountability and provide protections for personal and political freedom.

In my opinion, the way forward for what is often called “the special relationship” – or what is really a “transatlantic partnership” – requires that we look seriously at this increase in the world’s “illiberal” democracies. Because the heart of our transatlantic partnership is best expressed in our common sense of liberal democracy and our desire to support those who share our values in their quest for the same.

Our combined effort constitutes a global force we can use to encourage and protect the expansion of the universal values of human dignity and self-determination through economic opportunity, self-governance and individual freedom.

I believe the partnership between the United Kingdom and the United States to be the engine of liberal democracy.

And the way forward for this partnership is also the way towards:

  • international cooperation -particularly with our partners in Europe;
  • global economic development; and,
  • global economic development; and,

Three issues illustrate the power of that transatlantic engine:

  1. our investment in human dignity and development, as demonstrated by our shared agenda in Africa;
  2. our shared commitment to economic growth and environmental stewardship through our evolving policies on climate change; and,
  3. our historic and continuing commitment to economic prosperity through free trade.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the United Kingdom have now been in their respective positions for nearly ten years. Throughout that time, they have both made Africa a public and a personal priority.

In the past, the United States has also tried to support African healthcare programs and to encourage the rule of law and the basic framework for civil society. But it is clear that American effort has been redoubled in recent years.

For example, two years ago, the United States was providing anti-retroviral treatment for 50,000 people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Today, that has risen to over 800,000 and more than doubled the amount of money spent by the previous American administration. The President has also recently asked for an additional 1.2 billion dollars for the fight against malaria.

Economically, the United States has tripled its aid to Africa since the Clinton Administration and will double it again by 2012.

President Bush has made meeting African leaders a priority. He has met with more of that continent’s leaders than any previous U.S. President.

He has made a personal effort to engage African leaders in discussions on developing trade and financial markets, as well as to support them in their struggle to establish the rule of law and eliminate corruption in their countries.

I am not suggesting that the United States has altered its course because of the UK, but I am suggesting that the development of a mutual vision and complementary initiatives have been made possible because of the relationship between our two countries – and between our two leaders.

The consistent and persistent interest and activities of the Prime Minister on the issues of that continent have ensured that they have remained high on the agenda of the United States.

As a result, real progress has been made on some of the world’s chronic and most tragic problems, because our two countries hold the same values and have worked together towards those goals.

Climate change is another example of the way in which our relationship has changed over the years.

If the African agenda is about identifying threats to regional security, and then making a commitment to action – the climate change issue demonstrates the ability of our countries to find ways forward, even in the face of differences of opinion.

The argument of the U.S. Administration has always been that the world’s environmental problems cannot be solved by hobbling the American economy or by limiting energy to those countries that are striving to develop the economic capacity they need to achieve their own independence.

Even if we disagree about some of the proposals regarding global warming, the UK and the United States both understand that economic growth should not be seen as the enemy of the environment.

We must deal with the environmental challenges that the economic development of the rest of the world will inevitably bring.

Technology will be a big part of that solution, but so will initiatives taken in the international context, and that is where our transatlantic partnership can be most powerful.

The United States and the United Kingdom are working together, and through other organizations, to try to find an appropriate mix of policies designed by each country in the G8, so as not to damage their own economic strength or simply push their issues onto other countries.

The United States and the United Kingdom are working together, and through other organizations, to try to find an appropriate mix of policies designed by each country in the G8, so as not to damage their own economic strength or simply push their issues onto other countries.

Our relationship is not special because we are in lock-step, but because we have a common destination.

The way forward in climate change reflects our collective commitment to preventing environmental degradation while allowing for the economic development that will lift millions out of poverty.

Whatever the different pace in our policies in Africa, or even our disagreements on the specifics of climate change – our approach is based on a deeper and more abiding transatlantic belief.

Since Adam Smith wrote his treatise in Scotland over 200 years ago – the United Kingdom, closely followed by the United States, have put their faith in an economic system that is based on innovation, growth and development, supported by policies of free trade and low tariffs.

It is no surprise to me that in the recently published “global innovation index,” produced by the business experts at INSEAD, the United States and the United Kingdom are in the top three for innovation in the world.

Today, in the face of growing economic interdependence, it is Henry Paulson of the U.S. Treasury and the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, who are taking the fight for free trade to the people.

From a shared platform at the CBI Conference last year, to shared articles in The Wall Street Journal, they are making it plain that the United States and the United Kingdom are working together – not just to benefit their own countries, but to benefit the world’s economy through the stability and prosperity that are not won by aid, but gained through trade.

It is the President’s belief in free trade that led to his bold proposal in October 2005 to reform global agricultural trade. He offered substantial reductions in trade-distorting support measures and tariffs, along with the complete elimination of export subsidies.

There are protectionist forces, inside our countries and elsewhere, that assert that increasing trade and openness will somehow damage the economies of the United States and the UK. They try to portray regulations and rules that inhibit competition as necessary for self-preservation, when in fact they are fundamentally self-defeating.

The President is clear that freedom and economic prosperity go hand in hand, because trade creates incentives to cooperate, to negotiate, and to share.

So, we will continue to stand with our friends, like Gordon Brown, and all our free-trade partners here in the UK, while looking and hoping for leadership from the EU and others to ensure progress.

Although we are a long way from a successful conclusion to the Doha Round, there are some signs progress is being made – reaffirming our commitment to open markets, decreasing tariffs, and establishing a rules-based system for economic development. That is a starting place for our partnership and a cornerstone of our policy.

There is one last issue that I would like to talk about, not just because it is topical, but because I believe it is relevant to this discussion on the way forward for our transatlantic partnership, and the need to support democracy.

The struggle in Iraq brings us full-circle to those values and the global threat to the growth of liberal democracies.

It illustrates the need to sustain those who want to build their own democracy and the danger to all of us, of a society where the rule of law is losing ground, and sectarian violence is doing untold damage to civil society.

Prime Minister Maliki and other leaders in Iraq are trying to establish their government in the midst of a complicated and violent struggle.

Some groups do not want all Iraqis to share the benefits of their society or to participate fully. These extremists are the furthest cry from our shared values of liberal democracy.

They have no desire to create a state that would represent the people of Iraq. Immediate withdrawal would leave the population at the mercy of those who represent only intolerance, repression and hate.

Two weeks ago, President Bush announced that the strategic goal of the United States for Iraq would remain a unified, democratic and federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself.

But Prime Minister Maliki needs the United States, the United Kingdom, and all the allies of democracy, to help him create the government his people seek.

For his part, President Bush committed the United States to sending 20,000 additional troops.

Last week, in his State of the Union address, he reiterated that plan, and asked the Congress to consider the consequences if the United States did not continue its support of the Iraqi government. The danger, he said, has not ended, and the United States must remain vigilant.

He said: . . . “we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred. . . .  What every terrorist fears most is human freedom. . . .  In the last two years, we’ve seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East – and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction.  The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity.”

This speech, I might add, was presided over for the first time in the history of the United States, by “Madam Speaker.”

The United Kingdom and the United States have worked together in this effort from the beginning, and we continue to do so.

Tony Blair put it another way, but the message is the same, in his recent article in Foreign Affairs.

He said, “This is not a clash between civilizations; it is a clash about civilization. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace the modern world and those who reject its existence – between optimism and hope on the one hand and pessimism and fear on the other. . . .  We have to show that our values are not western, still less American or Anglo-Saxon, but values in the common ownership of humanity, universal values that should be the right of the global citizen.”

As the President reminded us, what better demonstration of the desire of the Iraqi people for the kind of liberal democracy that is the basis of our special relationship, than to look at their attempts to create a democracy of their own?

In 2005, the Iraqi people went to the polls on three separate occasions.

You might have thought – if you believed that our efforts in that country were unwelcome, or that the people of Iraq did not want outside help – that not many people would turn up.

You might have thought – even if they did want to turn out – that they would be intimidated by those who would see them dead before they would see them free.

On the contrary, millions of Iraqis went to the polls – on all three occasions. Far from numbers going down with election fatigue, those numbers went up each and every time, rising to 75 percent of eligible voters in the 2005 December election.

Just compare that with the 61 percent turnout in the UK general election that same year, and the 57 percent turnout in the last U.S. Presidential election.

Iraqis are rightly proud of that achievement. But they are equally proud of their permanent constitution. It is not an electoral democracy they desire, but a liberal one, in which they can enjoy the freedoms, and protections, such a democracy affords.

These dedicated Iraqis are not alone. Parts of the Middle East, and other places that everyone once thought of as “off-limits for democracy,” are all part of the expansion of democracy.

Afghanistan, Lebanon and others, all sought their rights as citizens to create their own governments.

The pressure these fledgling democracies face is intense. The temptation to slide into authoritarian regimes may seem overwhelming. But I believe our transatlantic partnership can help them grow beyond these electoral beginnings, and achieve their own goal of becoming independent liberal democracies.

The United States and the United Kingdom have a relationship because of cultural, historical and commercial connections. They are linked because they are each other’s largest foreign investor and spend more time in each other’s country than anywhere else.

The transatlantic exchange in literature, fine arts, film and theatre eclipses that of any other pair of countries. And these are only part of the countless personal, business and political connections that bind us together.

I would argue that we have a special relationship because, together, we are the engine of liberal democracy.

We have a common global mission to provide support, energy and protection to countries that struggle with poverty, disease, corruption and disaster that could alienate their people and push their countries towards authoritarian regimes and extreme ideologies.

The way forward then, for our transatlantic partnership, is to continue that work.”