East-West Relations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:31 pm on 28th January 1980.

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Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley , Hammersmith North 7:31 pm, 28th January 1980

I do not accept that; it is not implied in anything that I have said. What I am saying is that when we take certain actions the Soviet Union will assess them on the basis of what it sees as its interests, and act accordingly. That puts on us the onus of trying to see our actions from that position. It is not a question of accepting, as one must if one is in a Finland-type situation, the realities of power and the fact that one cannot take certain actions against the Soviet Union. It does not mean that we must do the same; it does mean that we must question what we do very carefully before we do it.

I do not favour the deployment of cruise missiles, basically because of the Lord Mountbatten argument, not for any other reasons. It is certainly nothing to do with the Finlandisation of Europe, as the hon. Gentleman calls it.

Another matter that concerns me very much is the language of war. It is significant that before wars break out the language becomes heated. In our day and age people talk of Soviet intransigence, the danger of the Russian bear, or whatever. If one is on the other side, one talks about United States imperialism. The war psychosis builds up. We, particularly in this House, have a duty to avoid slanging matches of that type.

We need to pay attention to the question of arms expenditure. If it is right that there has never been an arms race of any significance which has not led to war, it is imperative that we cut that down as soon as possible. The mutual and balanced force reduction talks are one obvious way of doing that. But they are likely to be—as the United States document points out—held up because of the failure to ratify SALT II.

Not only must we ratify SALT II. We must also start thinking seriously about not exporting arms to Third world countries, or at least those countries outside the NATO Alliance. To do so must destabilise the world. I say that bearing in mind the economic instability on which all subversion feeds. That relates to what was said by the right hon. Member for Sidcup. Subversion is a two-way process. The Russians subvert—I am sure of that. So do we, and we have done in the past. We should not be too embarrassed or too blind to admit that. The CIA and British Intelligence have involved themselves in subversion when it has been in their interests so to do. Anyone who denies that denies the fact that we live in a harsh world where political power is often determined by the ability to bring pressure and influence to bear. There are no ground rules for that.

One needs only to read the recent revelations of spies acting on behalf of Britain and the Soviet Union to see how we used subversion not so long ago and how the United States uses it at present. I could also give examples of how the Soviet Union has used subversion.

Finally, I wish that we could give as much study and thought to the causes of war as we give to the preparation for it. If one reads "The Peloponnesian War" written 2,500 years ago, it is frightening because it could almost apply today. The technology is different and the language and the names slightly different, but otherwise there are terrifying similarities. My fear at present is that at best a war would be conventional and at worst it would be nuclear. Unless we take positive action to avoid that, future generations, if there are any, will not have much for which to thank us.