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Anförande vid IISS Global Strategic Review

Anförande i Genève, Schweiz

We all remember where we were when we got the news.

I happened to be on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, trying to get a friend to understand that slightly more than a decade ago there had been a brutal wall right across it.

In a moment we went from the world focused on the challenges after the demise of the Soviet Union to the world of a possible and horrible clash between civilisations.

The ninth of November 9 twelve years earlier - 9/11 - meant the end of the Cold War. And the new 9/11 meant the end of the post-war world.

We went - perhaps - from the world of Henry Kissinger to the challenges of Samuel Huntington.

The United States reacted with understandable fury. It immediately divided the world into those who were with it - and those who were against.

There could be nothing in between.

And of course we were with the United States in deep sympathy. We were all Americans during those days.

Immediately, and with the clear authority of the UN Security Council, it became a necessity to force a change of a regime in an Afghanistan that harboured the nucleus of the global terrorist threat.

But as we were to learn in Iraq somewhat later, regime destruction might be a fairly straightforward kinetic enterprise, but regime construction is a vastly more elaborate, complex and time-consuming undertaking.

And we are still there - 140 000 international troops - in a situation that has become more and more difficult with the years.

Thereafter, the United States and some of its allies felt the necessity of achieving kinetic regime destruction in Iraq, too.

Few regret the demise of Saddam Hussein - but this was a war of choice rather than a war of necessity. And it consumed resources and attention far beyond what I believe anyone had anticipated.

From the wider point of view, it was undoubtedly a gift to Iran.

9/11 also meant a huge global surge in security operations and security cooperation. Most of this was for the better. We averted numerous attacks across the world.

But we paid a heavy price in political credibility when human rights and the rule of law were set aside - I don't need to mention any names - or when there was a perception of that being the case.

It took some time to find the balance - I can only hope we have found it now.

In a tactical sense, there is no doubt that the 9/11 attack was a huge success for Al Qaeda. This was a prime example of surprise attack and asymmetrical warfare.

And the symbolism was considerable - it was the symbols of American financial and military power that were attacked.

But from a strategic perspective, it must be seen as a rather miserable failure. It did not endanger the systems and structures that it tried to attack.

Globalisation - the megatrend of our age - simply forged ahead.

And as an immediate reaction, the power of the United States surged. And from there it was downhill for Al Qaeda.

Slowly but surely.

But although the network crumbled, the method became established.

Terror established itself - primarily in South Asia and the Middle East, but also elsewhere - as part of our modern world.

It become part of the new 'normal'.

Hardly a day goes by without news of a gruelling attack in one of the fracture zones or fragile areas of our world.

This morning four people were arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist acts in Gothenburg, Sweden.

But horrible as this is, it has not changed the world as such in the way many feared and some obviously hoped.

We live with the new normal.

Seen from my European perspective, 9/11 accelerated our shift of focus from dealing with the ex-Soviet world to our relationship with the southern Muslim world.

The billion-strong wider Muslim world is our immediate neighbour - not only on the big maps, but increasingly across the street back home in our respective cities.

We must find a way of living together. Of forging a deeper understanding. Of truly working together. We have no oceans to retreat behind.

Living with Islam too is part of our future.

But I would argue that the past decade has turned out much better than most feared.

The Arab Spring brings hope of a truly new relationship with that important part of the Muslim world in the decades ahead.

We saw the rising generations of the Arab world demanding dignity and democracy - not new terror and old caliphates.

But the challenges ahead in these areas are momentous. We saw a revolution of rising expectations.

But if there is no representative government and increasing prosperity in the decade ahead, there will be the risk of a revolution of failed expectations.

The IMF says that there must be an increase in the growth rates of these countries by approximately 50 per cent if they are to prevent the already staggeringly high rates of unemployment from rising further.

At the moment, things are heading in the opposite direction.

We have a profound strategic interest in helping all the countries of the Arab world to meet the political, economic and social challenges ahead.

If that fails, no barriers will be high enough to isolate us from the consequences. Today, Russia is the most populous of the neighbours of the European Union.

But in a few decades this position will be taken by Egypt - not a country of eleven time zones, but a river through a desert.

And by then the population of Pakistan - a country that is increasingly the focus of our attention and concern - will be twice as large as that of Egypt, more than twice as large as it is today.

What can we do?

To put it very simply: we must continue to make the world safe for globalisation. There is simply no other way in which these challenges can be met.

Fostering economic and social progress in all these areas. Gradually building bridges of cooperation, reconciliation and understanding.

If this process were to stop, or start going backwards, we will in all probability be heading for strife and war as economies stagnate, despair builds up and peoples are turned against each other.

But globalisation and modernisation put our societies under strain. Karl Popper wrote about "the strain of civilisation".

This is the key challenge we are confronted with. Everywhere. The world has certainly changed during the last decade.

But, particularly these days, you might ask whether September 2008 did not have a more profound effect than September 2001.

Announcing the first troop reductions in Afghanistan, President Obama said it was now time for nation- building in America rather than in Afghanistan.

Or rather debt reduction.

It is a very changed world we are living in.

In 2001, Sweden exported more than four times as much to the United States as we did to what is today referred to as the BRIC countries.

Today it is different. We export more to them than we do to the United States.

Someone wrote that the three most important words during the last decade were not 'war on terror' but rather 'made in China'.

History will tell.

But as we move on we must not forget some of the key lessons of 9/11.

I think we have learnt them in terms of international cooperation to fight terror.

But as the pendulum starts swinging towards nation-building or deficit-reduction back home, we should remember that we live in a world in which developments in the remotest corners can - and will - affect us directly.

We live in a world where there can be no faraway places of which we know very little - and about which we don't care.

The question is not why we had to invade Afghanistan then, and all the challenges there since. The real question is why we didn't care before.

Prevention is often a slogan. We must try harder to make it into real policy.

And we can't descend into just building barriers and sending drones to deal with what's beyond them. Globalisation has continued to transform the world for the better.

Poverty has been radically reduced in key parts of the world. A new global middle class is emerging, from Shanghai to São Paulo. Technology is bringing new tools to building better futures. Four billion people around the world have a mobile phone.

Bin Laden was against all of this. He wanted to stop and reverse the process of globalisation.

But at the end of the day, he was defeated less by the hard powers of kinetic action than by the soft power of continued globalisation.

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