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As part of our Government worth having series we asked a few friends of ConservativeHome to offer 100 word thoughts
on how the Conservatives might make some ground on foreign policy.

Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society: With Labour
heading down the route of international irrelevance, Conservatives
should have the courage to explore where to stand on:

  1. ‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ power – As Joseph Nye, author of Soft Power,
    acknowledges, both variants should be used in tandem. We must therefore
    be prepared to move beyond diplomacy if it fails to deliver results,
    and to equip our armed services for such endeavours.
  2. Idealism versus realism – William Hague has stressed ideas such
    as human rights and democracy, but it unclear whether these or other
    goals outlined, such as improving relations with autocratic allies in
    the Middle East, will dominate.
  3. Traditional multilateralism or coalitions of the willing – The UN
    has repeatedly failed to resolve major international crises. A
    Conservative government should therefore be in the vanguard of
    coalitions circumventing the vetoes of non-democracies shielding
    dictators and rogue regimes.

Gary Streeter MP, former Chairman of the Party’s International Office: Whilst
remaining a steadying whisper in the ear of Uncle Sam, we should carve
out our unique British brand of soft power with a hard edge.  We should
make the promotion of good governance and democracy building the centre
ground of our policy. Diplomacy, aid and know-how, backed up by the
excellence of our armed forces, should be our instruments.

We should shift at least £100 million from the aid budget to pour
into robust democracy building programmes, especially in the
Commonwealth. British aid should be more closely linked to foreign
policy and should be withdrawn where a recipient country government
falls short. We should be champions for the reform of multi-lateral
organisations including the EU and UN.

Nile Gardiner, Director of the Thatcher Center for Freedom: A Conservative
government should embark upon a major renegotiation of treaties with
the European Union. If Cameron does so he will be remembered as a
leader who changed the course of British history and reasserted
Britain’s place as an independent nation state. A Cameron
administration must also be prepared to reverse years of defence cuts
that threaten to cripple Britain’s hugely overstretched armed services,
currently suffering from the lowest levels of defence spending since
the 1930s. It must work to strengthen the Anglo-American Special
Relationship, a unique partnership between two great nations that has
been considerably weakened under Gordon Brown. The world needs a
Britain that is more powerful, self-confident, and in control of her
own destiny, and for the next prime minister these must be top
priorities.

Edward Macmillan-Scott MEP, longest-serving member of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee:
Russia and China are leading a democracy backlash among the world’s
autocracies, some – like Iran – linked through their Shanghai
Cooperation Organisation.  It is their response to the ‘colour’
revolutions (rose in Georgia, orange in Ukraine etc).

Our prime care is Russia because it is near and nuclear and uses its
energy weapon ruthlessly; China because it is a terror state of immense
economic and strategic potential. Let’s not sneer at Sarkozy’s use of
the EU to shake up the Med and Middle East, let’s use it too.

We need to turn David Miliband’s pro-democracy rhetoric into action
with a cross-party Platform for Democracy. The Bush era gave democracy
promotion a bad name: soon we can work together again, and let’s add
human rights to the mix.

Ben Rogers, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Human Rights Commission: William Hague has
said more than once that human rights would be “at the very heart of
foreign policy”. David Cameron has spoken out on Darfur and Burma, and
met with North Korean dissidents. Now it is time to put some meat on
the bones. There are three major policies a Conservative Government should commit to:

  1. Reform of the UN – and the establishment of a League of Democracies, as proposed by US Presidential candidate John McCain
  2. Support for mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court,
    to bring dictators like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and the Burmese
    Generals to justice, following the prosecution of Sudan’s Omar
    al-Bashir.
  3. Reform of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to strengthen and improve efforts to promote international human rights and democracy.

The Conservatives in opposition are making the running on human
rights, to the surprise of many. We must translate that into government.

Previous article in this series: A Government worth having needs to increase economic growth

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