THE Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a national debate to
"find afresh the vision of who we are", as part of the Strategic
Defence Review, which is expected after next year's General
In a debate in the House of Lords last Friday, Archbishop Welby
said that the review "cannot be simply an Armed Forces-versus-the
Treasury rumble in the jungle of Whitehall, out of which emerges
something unconnected to the vision of our role in the world".
He said that the review should consider how Britain could use
its many areas of influence, including the BBC, the Commonwealth,
the Department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the armed services, the monarchy,
the universities, and the Churches - for "conflict mitigation".
"A clear policy for conflict mitigation is called for in any
strategic defence and security review, and it will require
investment. But when one considers the Institute for Economics and
Peace's research figure of violence containment costing up to $9.4
trillion a year, the contrast is a stark one.
"Conflict prevention seems quite a good investment. . . Soft
power is far cheaper to exercise than hard power. One day of
deploying a battalion will cost more than years of
conflict-prevention work by NGOs."
He praised the GDP target of 0.7 per cent for overseas aid,
saying that it was "not only right; it is also extremely
cost-effective, in the best sense, for deploying our values and
showing our generosity".
The Archbishop had called the debate to argue for the benefits
of "soft power" over "hard power". He said that Britain had, over
the years, used its soft power well, and that this had made it
"possible for this country to exert a benevolent and beneficial
influence in the world around".
The Anglican Communion, he argued, was a form of soft power
which the Government and politicians ignored. While praising a
March 2014 report by the Select Committee on Soft Power and the
UK's Influence, Persuasion and Power in the Modern World,
he criticised the authors for failing to mention the Church
The Church, he said, exercised soft power as a form of "generous
hospitality" rather than doing things "merely to our own
He cited the "temporary but still existing" chapel in Canterbury
Cathedral which was made available to the French Reformed Church
after the exile of the Huguenots from France in the 16th century.
Quoting an inscription placed on the chapel's door in 1867, he said
that the chapel was testimony to "the large and liberal spirit of
the English Church, and the glorious asylum which England has, in
all times, given to foreigners flying for refuge against oppression
The Anglican Communion is "in 165 or more countries - far more
than the Commonwealth", Archbishop Welby said. It "enables better
communication of information than anything that can be arranged
through government agencies; but it does it with an end of blessing
rather than advantage".
He said that the "exceptional skills and courage of the
Diplomatic Service, which we have seen in our travels around the
world, and the credibility of the BBC and the British Council, the
Commonwealth, and the extraordinary collaborative, autonomous, but
interdependent networks of the Anglican Communion provide
unrivalled networks for conflict mitigation. Other countries look
at them with envy, and are unable to emulate them."
He told peers that Coventry University and the C of E were
working on a "faith-based conflict-prevention scoping project" to
reflect "the reality that the Church - the Anglican Communion
globally - is consistently at the forefront of conflict prevention;
above all, currently in the Great Lakes of Africa, South Sudan, and
the Central African Republic".
The Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, told peers about a
gathering the previous week in Rome which had involved the
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, and the leaders of Orthodox
Christians, Jews, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, to
talk about tackling modern slavery.
"In one sense, represented in making that statement against
slavery were people whose values, visions, and hopes connected with
90 per cent of the world's population. That is an amazing
possibility for what we are talking about: soft power, gathered to
challenge the evils of slavery."
Lord Boateng said that a "debt of gratitude" was owed to the
work of the Anglican Communion and the ecumenical movement "for the
outstanding work they are doing on conflict resolution in southern
Sudan, as we speak, and in Nigeria".
He continued: "The reality is that the term 'soft power' does
not do justice to the cause that it represents. The values that
underpin the communication and promotion of that vision - conflict
resolution, peace, justice, and reconciliation, which form the
basis of sustainable development - are not, in fact, soft options.
They are anything but that. They are tough, and require tough
thinking, [and] they require courage on the part of the
"Soft power is not a soft option, and deploying it is arduous,
painstaking, and sometimes heavy with risk," Lady Kinnock of
Holyhead said. "To be effective, it must have the qualities of
sincerity, patience, and, importantly, mutuality."
Lord Wallace of Saltaire, the Government's spokesman for the FCO
in the Lords, said that the Government "strongly" supported
Archbishop Welby's "underlying premise that soft power and
non-military actions have a critical role in preventing conflicts,
and in building stronger societies, state structures, and economic
He said that the deployment of smart power "must be the
cornerstone of our approach. . . This year, sadly, we have seen an
unpleasant increase in the number and intensity of high-profile
armed conflicts around the world; some new, as in Ukraine; some
revived and continuing, as in Libya; and some with a new and
dangerous slant, as with the rise of Islamic State in Syria and
Iraq, while prospects for lasting peace in the Israel-Palestine
conflict appear dimmer now than at the start of the year.
"The UK has been at the forefront of efforts to resolve these
and other conflicts by peaceful means. Such is the complexity of
modern conflicts . . . that we and like-minded members of the
international community need to use the full range of tools
available to us to try to restrict, contain, and end these
Responding to the five-and-a-half-hour debate, Archbishop Welby
said that he was not against the use of hard power.
"The quasi-policing by hard power may create space for the
exercise of soft power," he said, "and to avoid draining areas of
their historic populations - the great danger to Christians in the
Middle East at the moment.
"Simply giving them asylum may end their presence in an area
where they have lived for 2000 years."