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I think, like the European Union, the UN is almost unreformable. It could be done, as you say Tim by a person with an iron resolve - however, even with such determination it would take an extremely long period of time; time that we do not really have.

The UN as a body has failed many people in so many respects, and getting anything done with it takes enormous amounts of time and bureaucracy that could be done away with in a 'coalition of the willing'. Look at the taskforce in Lebanon now for example, or rather the lack of one.

I have my concerns about the effectiveness of the United Nations but that's no reason to want a foreign policy written by Rush Limbaugh on speed...

Well said Tim, couldn't agree with you more. If DC seriously thinks that the UN is the answer to anything then I dread to imagine what the question must be.

I welcomed Cameron's recognition that India was a key partner - it will soon overtake China as the largest country by population, it has the capability and entrepreneurship to overtake it economically and its a democracy. But more importantly there is an Anglosphere of countries with shared interests - it's not a reborn British Empire as the US, India, Canada, Australia etc. aren't looking to UK leadership but to partnership. India is also faced with Islamic terrorism.

The UN has a purpose as a place jaw-jaw can happen, it can fulfil a role in enabling conflict resolution, it is a tool but it cannot in itself deliver peace and prosperity. That needs the various coalitions, differing by issue & purpose. Sometimes they can utilise the UN, sometimes it is useless.

Our diplomacy should be about participation in several groupings - we are in Europe, the Commonwealth, the Anglosphere, NATO, Group of 7, have major role in the IMF - and we are a permanent Security Council member. These may not always speak with one voice, sometimes the actions of one group may upset the others but we gain strength from our participation across these and should use this to enhance our security.

We need to be careful that we do not put all our eggs in the UN basket.

councillor I don't get your point

The idea that the UN's permission is needed for military action to be justified is very worrying. Does our leader think we were wrong to push on in the Falklands even when we lost UN support (at the end) or that world war 2 was unjustiifed because we lacked league of nations support?

I couldn't agree with the Ed more! When I read Rachel Sylvester's piece in the Daily Telegraph, I even wondered whether to hand my 'card' in. It seems we have been ditching one Conservative principal after another, being turned into a blue-coloured version of the Lib Dems/NewLab. By all means modernise and venture into new areas for us like concern for the environment, and prove we know there is more to life than making money. But surely we can do this without turning away from our long-held beliefs - one being the primacy of the nation state, and the right for the nation state to defend itself. What would Churchill have advised? Subject ourselves to the decisions of the UN, or form a coalition of the willing?

A decidedly mixed bag on foreign policy from DC. I favour improving our links with India. They are a natural ally, we have a historical link with them, they are a democracy, their economy is booming, and the area is an important frontier in the war against Islamic fanaticism. Certainly I would prefer strengthening ties with India, rather than China, if I had to pick one.

On the other hand, the UN is a waste of time and money and I don't think DC should waste his breath trying to promote it as a vehicle for improving people's lives anywhere. It has no authority to do anything and is not accountable to anyone. Only nation states have that authority. I don't know how much money the government spends on being in the UN, but frankly, I think that money no matter how insignificant could be better spent on, oh I don't know, making our schools and hospitals better.

All this just goes to confirm some of my worst fears regarding DC: that he is parroting the left/liberal line on pretty much every issue just for the sake of appearing 'modern', and to distance himself from his party and it's natural supporters. Quite how its 'modern' or 'new thinking' to regard the UN as the sole repository of geopolitical morality I don't know; but then I also fail to see how an open ended commitment to an unreformed and underperforming NHS is in anyway fresh or innovitive. Or for that matter, how complete and abject surrender to socialist arguments regarding public spending is a sign of any particular imperative to vote Tory over the other two spendthrift parties.

So we should reject ad hoc coalitions of the willling? Care to ask the people affected by the 04' Tsunami whether they resented 'ad hoc' Australian and US military aid Dave? Or whether the people of Darfur and Rwanda felt - and feel - more comfortable because they know their respective crises were being handled by those ruthlessly efficient multilateralists at the UN? Come to that, what about all those Bosnian Muslims and Albanians in the 90s - I don't remember them being particularly peeved that their cause was being championed by NATO rather than the UN.

When I first started frequenting this site I counted myself as supporter of David Cameron. But apart from an average 6% lead over a nearly decade old incompetent government, and a hell of a lot of ideological surrender, what signs of genuine leadership and new thinking has David shown us?

You're right James. Cameron is following a dangerous and potentially anti-democratic line, but frankly its one that doesn't surprise me.

In the "liberal elite" ivory tower he inhabits with others of like mind, he doubtlessly imagines that this anti-US policy is a vote-grabber. It isn't, but that's not the point. Vote-grabbing is the sole principle -if principle it be - that has informed his curious ideology since he arrived on the scene.

Now there are those here who will say. "That's all that matters. We're ahead in the polls. Ditch every principle we have in order to succeed".

Fine. But if success is to be the only worthwhile guide in politics these people might as well have switched to Blair when he was riding high. After all, few of them are Tories in any sense of the word other than the possession of a party membership card.

Indeed, if we look at the CVs of more than one of the "A-List" candidates we find that these super-opportunists did indeed switch to New Labour during the fat years, moving back only when Blair appeared to be in extremis.

It's good to see that James and others are beginning to realise that the party may have made a colossal error of judgment.

The world as we know it today was created by the British through the dominance of our Empire.

The USA has taken over from where we left off. We live in an Anglo-American world of liberal democratic values, the English language, and free market capitalism. It is not perfect but it is benign, and thank God the world isn't run by any other country. We have a duty to support America in order to preserve our Anglo-American hegemony, and prevent malign powers
becoming too strong and threatening.

The League of Nations failed to tackle Japanese Militarism, Italian Fascism and German Nazism and as a result we had World War Two. Its successor the United Nations is once again has failed throughout its time to tackle similar threats and at present is doing little to stem the growing threat that is Iran.

Completely agree with the last two posts.

Another thing that depresses me about the current Tory leadership is its failure to get behind Israel.

It's come to a pretty pass where Blair is standing up for World Democracy and Cameron seems to be cosying up to its enemies.

"Britain doesn't need a Prime Minister who wastes years trying to reform the UN but finds his efforts 'unreasonably vetoed' by Beijing, Paris or Moscow."

Or Washington, which has actually used its veto more than any of the other governments listed, predominantly to prevent action to curb the worst excesses of hawkish Israeli administrations down the years.

councillor I don't get your point

To be honest, it is mostly the tone of the post that is worrying. If Blair is considered a Bush poodle, I shudder to think what they'd call this site!

The Conservative Party is not a US Republican supporters' club.

The weakness of the current UN should not be so suprising. All inter-nation groupings since the European Congresses of the 19th century have proved to be ineffectual when the interests of its mightier members collide.Remember the US has been able to use the UN to provide a security blanket for Israel in the same way as the Russians and Chinese will undoubtedly do with Iran and probably Sudan. The UN is only effective when the interests of the more powerful nations either coincide or are not affected which as we can see is a rare occurence.
As regards Darfur it does seem obvious to me that nothing tangible will be achieved by the UN and it is pointless to wait for action from that body. Those countries that are interested in helping the Sudanese rebels have 3 options none of them good. 1. Send troops.It would need a large force given they would have to fight their way in and patrol a vast area.Given the behaviour of the Sudan government a declaration of war against it would be necerssary.2 Decide we are not going to intervene and make this clear to all.Encourage the rebels to surrender so that the horrific sacrifice of life does not continue. Or 3.Give sophisticated arms and training to the rebels so that at least let them fight on a more level playing field with some hope of a victorious outcome. To preserve the status quo is not an option in my opinion but it will take political courage to change course.

Well, I'm a little stuck.

On the one hand as i am opposed to a world govt the last thing I want is an active, effective UN that can credibly claim to be the moral guardian and best hope for the world, crusading about wronging rights and depressing the oppressed.

One the other hand, sovereign nation-states shouldn't need UN aproval to act.

Luckily, my dilemma is solved by realpolitik pragamtism (as usual): As Malcolm says, the great powers will do what they want as they have always done.

If Cameron honestly thinks that he can form a 'coalition of the willing' to forge a new, reformed, democratic United Nations, then he's got my support. Until then, the UN is a useless quango that never resolves anything, despite its numerous resolutions, and we're forced to make ad-hoc coalitions to fight each new menace that comes along.

Nation states do not need UN approval to act in their own interests, even pre-emptively, as I understand it.

I voted for Cameron because I thought I saw flashes of brilliance rather than for DD who knows where my clitoris is (figuratively speaking).

It seems that DC et al have read my mind while sleeping and have resolved to promise (or threaten rather) the exact opposite of what I believe is important and the right conservative approach to take.

The UN works for us, not the other way round. Time we and it remembered that.

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