100 top global thinkers
In its annual roll-call of the ‘100 Top Global Thinkers’, the world’s leading foreign affairs publication “Foreign Policy” has named Rory as one of its top 100 ‘thinkers…who make up the global marketplace of ideas’ in a list published today. The annual list reflects on those who have contributed to foreign policy thought in the past year, and places Rory on a list alongside Barack Obama, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, Bill Gates, facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Chinese dissident Ai Wei Wei. The feature highlights Rory Stewart’s long-running campaign for a drastic draw-down of troops in Afghanistan, and for his “humility about the ability of foreign powers to transform war-torn societies. Only then, he says, will we learn, ‘If we can often do much less than we pretend, we can do much more than we fear’.” These themes are the substance of his latest book, “Can Intervention Work?”.
Rory said: “It’s very flattering but my priority is now to work for and represent Cumbria. I find local constituency work much more satisfying than the years I spent fighting unsuccessfully against sending more troops to Afghanistan. Here in Cumbria I feel we can make real, concrete progress by working with local communities. That sadly isn’t true in many parts of Afghanistan and many areas around the world.”
Rory spoke yesterday evening in the House of Commons debate on political developments and security in the Middle East, North Africa, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. He argued for a greater depth of expertise in our diplomatic missions abroad and an acknowledgment of our limited capacities and power to realise many of the country’s foreign policy ambitions abroad.
In the debate, Rory said: “As our relative economic powers decline, our ambitions become ever greater and our rhetoric ever inflated. We become involved in obscure countries, and at the same time we have hollowed out the institutions on which we depend for the carrying out of our policies. We are now looking at countries like Syria – a country of astonishing complexity; Egypt – set to become a modern Pakistan on the edge of Europe; and Iran, split between its urban and rural populations, and producing nuclear weapons; what powers do we have to pit our team from the Second Division against the Premier League? We are in a bad situation. Our diplomats have declined due to duty of care regulations, their ignorance of languages and the limits of their bureaucracy.”
Rory will be speaking on his experiences in Afghanistan this coming weekend at Bampton Village Hall, on Saturday 3rd December at 7pm.
You can read the Foreign Policy article here