« George Eustice likely to manage party's relations with conservative coalition | Main | Three reasons to be cheerful... »


Fantastic headline, but as you say, confusing quotes.

Good. Liberal interventionism, however well meant, usually fails to achieve much - and it's impossible to know if intervening will solve the problems of fundamentally weak or divided states.

If Cameron is signalling a return to a more traditional, Realist foreign policy I'm delighted.

His distancing himself from Iraq is also interesting - subtle, yet unmistakeable. It basically sums up, sotto voce, what we all know: Iraq is pretty much unwinnable, how do we perform a graceful exit?

There seems to be some confusion in the editor's own mind as to why we went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and it was certainly not for the humanitarian reasons that the term "liberal interventionism" implies. We surely went to war in defence of our national interest not because we wanted to improve the lot of the Afghans or Iraqis (though we hoped that would be a by-product of our intervention). There is therefore nothing remotely "liberal" about our reasons for going to war and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

Liberal interventionism is a profoundly unconservative doctrine and despite not being the primary cause of our intervention in Iraq is much to blame for our failure there. Cameron was right to say that you can't hope to rebuild a society from scratch after invading it - only someone who was totally clueless about the world could think otherwise.

Totally agree with you Robert. This speech does leave much unsaid though. I would have liked there to have been something about the enforced deportation of people who preach hatred for British values and also a more robust criticism of the pathetic response of some Nato members to the Nato mission in Afghanistan.

Struck me reading it that Cameron wasn't distancing himself from intervention in the national interest or for security (so not the clash that Tim or James Forsyth sees) but turning against a purely ethical foreign policy in favour of a national interest one.

That could be as dangerous as Willy Brandt's Realpolitick or as successful as Thatcher & Reagan's was. Means we will see a Cameron government supporting a friendly dictatorship or corrupt state where it is in his view in Britains interest. OK he uses term liberal conservative but it basically means driven by UK self interest as he judges that.

Pour me a whisky - I actually agree with most of what Dave said. Our national interest must come first.

Liberal interventionism, the doctrine of the neo (i.e. non) conservatives, has been an unmitigated disaster. It is time for traditional conservatives to reclaim foreign policy from the imperialist fanatics.

It is very worrying that Rudy Guiliani is being advised by the likes of Norman Podhoretz, one of the worst neo-cons. Guiliani refused to be photographed with Cameron when the Tories were 10 points behind Labour. Cameron should tell Guiliani to get stuffed if comes calling again.

This is worrying. This is going back to the pre 911 worldview. So many Europeans want to believe that the world will leave us alone if we leave it alone. I suspect that this is the product of advice from Rifkind, Hurd, Patten and so on who now surround Cameron. Whatever happened to Hague the hawk?

Very disappointing, and also, alas!, faintly ludicrous. Are we seriously to believe that a Conservative Cabinet with Gove in it - he that urged us to "stop fearing ghosts, and start making some" - is going to meekly return to the selfish isolationism of the 1990s? Conservative MPs at the time *loved* that speech of Blair's!

For goodness' sake! Of course if we adopt an interventionist posture then things won't go right every time! They could have gone wrong in Sierra Leone or Kosovo or Serbia. If you are going to intervene at all then you don't get to choose only the successes! Iraq does not prove there is some unexpected flaw in liberal interventionism.

Don't do this Mr Cameron! Don't make the Conservative Party a party of the selfish comfortable rich man, who says:"If your suffering is far away, and out of my sight, and if it might cost me a little criticism from others if I try to help, then you're on your own - it's not my problem and I'm not coming to rescue you." Don't do it!

I cannot understand the confusion some commentators seem to be experiencing, surely its obvious, get your national security sorted out first then one can concentrate on the international scene.
Without national security there never will be any international security.

is cameorun aware that the CDU is a diffent party from the FDP and so defines itslef as being in some sense "not liberal" does he not realize this is like giving a speech to the FDP and banging on about chrisian democracy?

the rhetoic mention of climate change was as depressing as predicabe coudl he at least have mentioned given his moved the tories to the CDU position on that

I find the un expansion ( against the national interest self evidently) awefull can't we say we're defeinin uk interests and get our patriotic appeal back. Obviously the Germans will love it since it could be a direct grant of power from us to them!

The lack of stuff on islamist preachers ,higher defence spending the Saudis, missile defence is bad but can be said latter , note his audince migth be unitinerested or hostile to those changes.

To point out Blair was indiffent to Uk natinoal security is both sound, politically wise and true.

AS for the empahis on national security and the caution about intervention (without statying we won't do it note) that is electorally necessary and subsntaivye necessary , if there's one thing i disagree most with the CH line on it's neoco internventionsim ( as opposed to pro Americnaism and Pro Isrealism which i heartily approve)

Dick Wishart: "Without national security there never will be any international security."

Dick, it would be just as easy to say without international security, there can be no national security. It's a false choice.

As James Forsyth wrote: "We can’t have national security—even in the very narrowest sense of the word—in this country, while foreign-funded religious institutions try to convert young British Muslims to a perverted form of faith that sees opposition to the British state as a religious duty and British citizens are being given terrorist training in Pakistan."

One thing to note is that "Maggie" Merkel has U Turned on the "I won't speak to Cameron because of the EPP withdrawal" - a bit of real politik in recognising that we might work better together if not bound together in a false marriage.

As a nation we have paid a heavy price for Tony Blair's Congressional medal of honour. So it is good to see that David Cameron has a more sensible approach to British foreign policy. I very much agree that a front line in Asia is vital in todays uncertain world.

I think its too bad Brit forces were committed in Iraq. I don't know if the efforts would have had much of a chance to succeed initially had they not been deployed, strategically, and politically for Bush, but clearly the country's 4th estate in the BBC not to mention most other national media being opposed, did not help moral.

Iraq is a different country than a year ago. Every indicator where it counts, proves this. There is a long way to go but the tide has turned and this is certainly not the time to cut and run for American and non-Brit Coalition forces. On the contrary, time to put the foot on the gas.

Britain, should withdraw its remainder of troops in 2008 and hopefully heal from a very confused and bitter reality pounded daily for years.

But don't make the mistake... that somehow, Muslim extremism is a figment of Tony Blair and George Bush's imagination.

Multiculturalism is your worst enemy just as here in the US. Intolerance toward intolerance is justified, don't let the left or foolish guilt tell you otherwise. Those in your society who are not there to honor your principles of free expression free from violence are not British. They are dangerous extremists and, Muslims.

This is indeed a war because it is with them inside and outside the borders. This has nothing to do with policy with Israel. It has everything to do with Western values on the one hand and sick hatred on the other, and they will take it to us if we don't to them, externally and internally.

This American has just lost a lot of respect for David Cameron.

It is very worrying that Rudy Guiliani is being advised by the likes of Norman Podhoretz, one of the worst neo-cons. Guiliani refused to be photographed with Cameron when the Tories were 10 points behind Labour. Cameron should tell Guiliani to get stuffed if comes calling again.

Completely agree, Moral Minority. Guiliani is a slimeball, however successful his zero tolerance policing of NYC was. I'd vote for him to stave off Hillary, but any other Democrat would get my vote - and I think that's what they're thinking in the US.

As Tony Makara has said, Cameron comes across as sensible in these matters. Indeed, to be a tad confused is almost an asset - it's a complicated world and each matter should treated differently. Going in with an ideology and the "hand of God" on one's shoulder - aka Mr Blair and Mr Bush - is a surefire way to get stuck up s##t-creek without a paddle, as shown by Iraq.

Well put Andrew Lillico. Your comment reminds me of, "Czechoslovakia is a country far away of which we know little" (nothing do with us, guv). Feed the crocodile (Islamist terrorists) and hope to be eaten last, (as Churchill pointed out).
Cameron contradicts himself; at one he is saying that our security depends on us first and foremost by our own efforts - (ridiculous) - the next moment he is talking about Nato and how we must all pull together. Even the unreliable EU has said that unless we sign up to their new constitution, alias treaty, the security of Britain will be at risk (implying that we could n't do it without them). We may need their help, but that does n't mean that we have to governed by Brussels. In the meantime the not to be trusted EU is not pulling its weight in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Of course national security is of extreme importance, but to believe or imply that we can do it alone in splendid isolation and ignore what is going on in the rest of the world if it suits us (to win votes) is misleading (but the Lib/Dims would like that bit).
Cameron is proving yet again that he is a man for all seasons (he should beware of climate change).

I agree with the thoughts of the editor - even though I did n't win a bottle of Broon ale. Which reminds me; there was an interesting questionnaire in today's Telegraph - "Do the Tories Have The Bottle" - or a headline to that effect.

A lot being read into Cameron's speech that simply isn't there. How Umbrella Man can suggest that we are going back to pre 11th September world view and Andrew Lillico can suggest Cameron is advocating a kind of 1990's 'selfish isolationism' is not faintly ludicrous it is ludicrous. Does Cameron advocate Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan? Well does he?
But we must pick the wars we fight with care and we must fight them with some semblance of a strategy.We've taken a pasting in Iraq where we've made a bad situation far worse and if we carry on as we are in Afghanistan all the tactical victories over the Taliban by our brave troops will amount to 2/5 ths of sod all. We'll lose. Listen to Jock Stirrup if you don't believe me. If Cameron can keep us from making these monumental mistakes then more power to his elbow.

This is surprising but very welcome news to me. I hope Cameron is serious about this new realism, and that on this one (unlike the And Theory) he doesn't listen to ConHome!

The Bush-Blair doctrine of liberal interventionism abroad, combined with uncontrolled immigration at home, has been aptly described as "Invade the World, Invite the World." I hope Cameron rejects both parts of this disastrous duo.

I was a bit concerned, wondering if Mr Cameron appreciates the threat of militant Islam. But I think there may be positives in this.

If “putting national security first” means DC recognises this includes taking military action abroad when necessary in the interests of national security, then that’s good. (I think the action in Afghanistan could fall into this category). Protecting its public is the duty of any nation state. And Mr Cameron did refer to the need to fight terrorism. But I would agree with him for questioning the idea we have a right to use military action to force ‘democracy’ on other nations.

Mr Cameron said: “I recognize the complexities of human nature, am sceptical of grand utopian schemes to remake the world, and understand that you have to be hard-headed and practical in the pursuit of your values." While we should seek to be ‘peacemakers’, perhaps Mr Cameron is recognising that the fallenness of human nature means we shouldn’t put too much trust in man to bring peace and sort out the world’s problems. But this of course must also mean that trust in the “grand utopian” UN as the way to bring peace is misplaced.

I find some comments here interesting, though strange. Are certain people suggesting that we should have always gone into Iraq? The idea of toppling oppressive regimes and replacing them with free ones is tempting but very difficult. We won the war in Iraq but failed to (at least so far) win the peace.

Let's be honest why Tony Blair signed up to the war. It wasn't because of WMD that could be deployed within 45 minutes. It wasn't even because he wanted to free the Iraqi people. It's because he had the opportunity to "go down in History". He saw himself as a Churchill-figure.

I think Cameron's position is that politicians need to think about what's best for Britain, not for their own egoes. Sometimes principle is great, but only if it achieves the desired result. We got rid of Saddam but what have we left in his wake?

It's easy to talk about intervening when the offending party is weak and isolated as was the case with Serbia and Iraq - when they're powerful and wouldn't blink if we changed our tune it's more difficult.

We need a foreign policy with character and common-sense. It doesn't mean giving up in what we believe in but trying to get the result in the most realistic way possible. I think the current government has acted cowardly in some respects - being happy to join in when a country was already "doomed" but shying away from taking on the big international bullies. As an example, we spend more time criticising Taiwan for planning to hold a democratic referendum on UN entry than we do on China continuing a massive arms build-up and refusing to hold direct talks with Taipei. Is that the sort of foreign policy we want?

Sometimes showing true principle is criticising those who you would least like to and supporting those who are the least powerful. Let's see some character from the Tories in regards to foreign policy.

"Listen to Jock Stirrup if you don't believe me. If Cameron can keep us from making these monumental mistakes then more power to his elbow".

I think we will need to know what the complete written contribution made by Jock Stirrup actually had to say. And in any case generals are often fired by politicians as not being up to the job. If we do not win in Afghanistan and Iraq then we will have fight to win nearer to home.

The comment by Steevo @ 2007 nails it. "Know thine enemy" is a very sound, priceless piece of advice. There are many who contribute on this subject on this site, politicians included, that do not have a clue what motivates the Islamists and where this inspiration comes from. Some say it is a perverted form of Islam from that laid down by Muhammad; the fundamentalists say that they are the true followers in following the teachings and exhortations of their Prophet. A knowledge of Islam is essential. There are books to assist. Read and decide: is Islam the Religion of Peace or the Sword as interpreted by Islamists.

Anyone who has bothered to acquaint himself
with the subject will come to the same conclusions as Steevo and of Liam Fox (so articulately exposed by his speech reported by Con/Home - I believe last week). Get reading the history of Islam and be prepared to defend our way of life even, despite Dave, it has to be done at 40,000 feet.

"Tony Blair signed up to the war. It wasn't because of WMD that could be deployed within 45 minutes. It wasn't even because he wanted to free the Iraqi people. It's because he had the opportunity to "go down in History".

Raj, very true. Tony Blair's stranglehold over the Labour party meant he was able to run a one-man-show and his ego ran unchecked. Blair's preoccupation with having his place in history as left many people dead and maimed.

The only good thing to come out of all this is that providence has indeed allotted Blair a place in history, perhaps it would have been better for Blair to have been a respectable footnote in history rather than forever being tarnished as a man who ended the lives of many innocent people by waging a war based on lies. No wonder he went to see the pope to wring the guilt out of his conscience.

"If we do not win in Afghanistan and Iraq then we will have fight to win nearer to home."

Whatever happens in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will be fighting here at home. I'm increasingly doubtful whether we can win.

There is nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about intervening first in weakish states that one can do something about and saving other unpleasant-but-tougher regimes to another day. That only shows that one cares more about the effect - helping those one can - than the gesture - pontificating about those one cannot save...yet!

Cameron is going in the right direction. We are not big enough, rich enough, powerful enough, or united enough to be the world's policeman. We just end up looking vainglorious and/or a cat's paw of the US, and there's nothing clever about that.

"Whatever happens in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will be fighting here at home. I'm increasingly doubtful whether we can win".

We will only lose if we want to. "There are two pleasures for your choosing, one is winning and one is losing".

Pleasure is the wrong word to describe winning a war, it is a mixture of overwhelming grief and great relief, but there is a foolish fifth column in the West that would greet our losing with pleasure - but their pleasure would not last for long. Defeat cannot be seriously contemplated.

There is nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about intervening first in weakish states that one can do something about and saving other unpleasant-but-tougher regimes to another day.

It is highly hypocritical to intervene in weak states and then smile broadly with powerful countries like China, whilst helping them bully victims like Taiwan.

This speech proves once again that Cameron also is the wrong man to govern the UK. I agree fully with Lilico.

Mr Editor, afraid I cannot agree with you, all the terrorists threats we have had has been home grown thats why we have to get the national side of things sorted out first. I dont mean just our borders I mean the whole spectrum of security including dealing with the radical fundamentalists of whatever faith.In fact if all countries did this there more than likely would not be an international problem.
Raj, you are spot on with that observation.

Well thats a surprise, jorgen doesn't like cameron! who would have thought it.

Good to see Cameron's speech backed wholly and unequivocally by todays leader in the Telegraph. As they say it's probably time for a more grown up foreign policy.

It really is quite amusing to have a thread criticising Cameron for retreating from a liberal policy and a thread complaining about liberals at the BBC.

... and (post Malcolm's point) perhaps less of a starry-eyed neocon line pushed by Conservative Home?

I'm tired with this non sequitur that if one does not go along with the Blair lies about Iraq, then one is weak in opposing terrorists. Pray, which sort of force has become stronger in Iraq since the neocon thesis was tested? Is it liberal democracy? Or is it a bunch of state-sponsored terrorists? How many people have to be killed before the neocons admit that while their thesis may have been valid before the fact, it now looks tested to destruction.

An interesting counterfactual is to consider how we would have acted had the liar Blair told the truth: there was no evidence that Saddam had WMD; there was no link with Al Qaeda (whose forces are stronger post-Saddam, of course); there was no evidence that the UK was under threat of any attack from Iraq. Would any of us have supported the war? I would have been on the march. I think it's the worst mistake in my adult life, not that it matters what I think. I'm curious how those who remain supporters of the war square that with the revelation of the fact that we were taken into it by a sequence of cold-blooded lies. Remember David Kelly.

Well thats a surprise, jorgen doesn't like cameron! who would have thought it.

I have nothing against Cameron as a person. I disagree with his viewpoints.

Oh dear! It looked good in the morning 'papers, but on closer inspection it turns out that Cameron still believes in liberal interventionism, but just wants it to be done in a more "conservative" way.

Well that's fine, if "conservative" means sensible and realistic. (No more US State Department-Jerry Bremer-Donald Rumsfeld nonsense? More John McCain-Gen Petraeus-type intelligent solutions to difficult problems? I hope so.)

But it equally sounds as is "conservative" just means half-hearted, limp-wristed and namby-pamby?

Come on, Mr C! Man or mouth?

Yes, I would definitely have "supported the war", in Graeme Archer misleading phrase. (Actually I'd have supported my country, because I'm a patriot.)

The excuses that have been made by "rightwingers" for leaving Saddam in power after 1991 are utterly shameful, and the sorts of people who make them frankly deserve to be consigned to the dustbin of history along with Greenpeace and the CND weirdoes.

David Wishart seems to misunderstand why we have so many domestic terrorists in this country. Most of them have been radcalised by the virulently anti-war mainstream media and by a depressingly anti-military culture in this country. And of course these were the media and this was the culture that gave us 10 years of Blairite Socialism, and which Blair himself has always done everything to encourage.

realist, either we are a "cat's paw" to the US or we are nothing -- just a little island of bitter, washed-up, badly battered former imperialist Little Englanders.

Is that really what you want us to be? Because the next step is simply to sign up to the European Union project and have done with Britain altogether.

Right, that's it! The Tory Party has been taken over by a mixture of Michael Moore groupies on the one hand and vacuous pseudo-Blairites on the other.

IF the Conservatives ever get back into power (which is not admitted) then you're all going to have to change your tunes when the bombs start falling on Tehran.

And it's as simple as that!

None of what I'm reading here corresponds even vaguely to anything that might be called conservatism. It's just shocking in the extreme.

Since when was the Tory Party an "anti-imperialist" organisation?

And this is coming from people who think that David Cameron is a lefty!

The future does not look bright for this once distinguished party, or for that matter for this benighted, slovenly, anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-authority excuse for a country.

Oliver: please try and avoid multiple postings like that in future. Thanks.

In many ways I agree (for once) with Cameron, although this seems to run counter to his precious Blairite enthusiasm for Boys Own Paper heroics.

It's about time this country kept its nose well out of matters that are other people's business and left Colomel Fatburger and his mob of American jingoes to suffer the consequences of their own imperialist arrogance.

Graeme Archer:
"Would any of us have supported the war? I would have been on the march."

In the run up to the war the left-wing academic who shared my office went on the Stop the War march. At the time I was very annoyed with him, especially as he wore a Stop the War badge in the presence of a fellow academic, a New Yorker who had lost friends on 9/11. I was very embarrassed to realise, months later, that he had been right about the war and I had been wrong.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker