On Monday the Tory leader, David Cameron, lectured Bush, Blair and his putative successor, Gordon Brown, on moderation. He deplored the naive language of counter-terror and pleaded for more humility and patience in dealing with Muslim states. For an advocate of the Iraq war this is something of a U-turn. Cameron declared himself a born-again "libcon", a sanitised, semi-demilitarised neocon. Does Cameron really mean to revert to Blair's Chicago 1999 speech and pragmatic humanitarianism as the lodestar of Tory policy? If so, it means withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan and fighting instead in Darfur and Congo. It means cancelling Eurofighters and Trident submarines and investing in infantry and field armour. It means engaging with Iran rather than threatening to bomb it.
Even so, a Tory leader is searching for a new language of foreign affairs and using such words as humility. This is encouraging. Western diplomacy must soon move on from the present rant to treat with those whose lives and lands it has grievously harmed these past five years. Cameron's language suggests a refreshing optimism. Western civilisation is not vulnerable to jihadism, only to its own fears, insecurities and cowardice. It is that vulnerability against which "libcons" should be on their guard. The greatest threat to any democracy has always been from its own chosen rulers.
The present lunacy will pass. The west will get another bloody nose, withdraw and concentrate its proselytising zeal on aid and example rather than on bombs and bullets. The much-vaunted neocon agenda, as Cameron said, had noble ambitions but was fatally short on realism. Its wars show why democracies must keep their leaders and their armies on a short rein. The wrong assessment of Saddam's weaponry was followed by a far greater intelligence failure, that Iraqis and Afghans would welcome western occupation. They never did and never will.Nato's impending failure in Afghanistan will run alongside the November elections in America, Blair's departure from office and Cameron's new-found enlightenment. All suggest a worm starting to turn. The stupid party in foreign policy is in retreat. Perhaps, at last, the intelligent party is returning to power.
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