British Foreign Secretary talks international security in Gaston Hall
In his first major foreign policy address in the United States since the formation of Britain’s new coalition government, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague delivered a powerfully unapologetic speech in Gaston Hall on Wednesday.
Hague spoke about a wide array of security issues, from NATO efforts in Afghanistan to the United Kingdom’s developing partnership with the United States against threats in cyberspace. The Foreign Secretary also expounded upon his long-held beliefs that core liberal values underpin national security.
“[W]e cannot protect our security or influence unless we also champion our own values,” he said. “Unless we stand up for democracy, the rule of law, political freedom and human rights and unless others perceive that we do this, we weaken our security and prosperity over the long term.”
Hague also responded to American military concerns that British budget reductions would affect the nation’s global commitments.
“The decisions we have taken are necessary beyond question and will ensure that Britain will be able to defend all its territories and meet all its commitments,” Hague said. “This should be good news for our allies, and a timely reminder to potential adversaries that Britain still packs a punch on the world stage.”
The Foreign Secretary, who met with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Wednesday morning, spent time discussing the so-called “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom. He and Clinton, for example, discussed Britain’s request that the United States release Shaker Aamar, the last British prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay.
“I have been discussing that with Secretary Clinton today and reiterated our position that we would like to see this gentleman returned to the United Kingdom,” he explained. “And that is under consideration by the United States.”
Eitan Paul (SFS ’12), chair of the Georgetown International Relations Club, which co-sponsored the speech, was impressed by Hague’s address.
“The Secretary’s remarks on Britain’s role promoting international security and the importance of the U.K.-U.S. alliance were timely and salient,” Paul said.
This address was the fourth part in a series of speeches titled “British Foreign Policy in a networked world.” Hague, a former leader of the Conservative Party, is the first Conservative Foreign Secretary since 1997.
Photo: Jackson Perry