Today’s Scotman reports both William Hague and John Redwood as among those Tories disconcerted by David Cameron’s strong support for Georgia against Russia.
"It has been pointed out by sources that William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, had given a more muted response in the immediate aftermath of the incursion. In fact, the normally outspoken MP has been deafeningly silent on the issue of late. Could this be because his leader has seized the agenda and, according to critics, got carried away with it?
"Meanwhile, former Cabinet minister John Redwood appears to be openly critical of the tone taken. On his blog, he has called for the Tory party to take a more "considered" view on Russia, while condemning its incursion into Georgia. "We need to think before we speak, and plan and act before we commit ourselves too deeply, beyond the range and strength of our power," he writes. His words will be interpreted as a challenge to Mr Cameron to consider whether Britain has the military might to take a tougher stand on the latest Caucasus crisis."
But as the Scotsman piece notes, military might can be matched to military commitments by increasing military spending, as Cameron has hinted, as well as by reducing commitments.
David Cameron has enjoyed a personal boost and favourable coverage following his success in leading the government on Georgia. But the strength of his stance contrasts surprisingly with the relative caution of the Conservatives on foreign affairs in recent years – including on Europe, the United States, the Middle East. Last week James Forsyth argued in The Spectator that Cameron’s approach will be neither neoconservative nor understated, but rather "a very British hawkishness, strong in defence of the national interest but with a distrust of ideology."
In the Telegraph today, Iain Martin notes that this means choices must be made:
"Cameron’s biggest task … should be the disengagement of Britain from the emerging European collective foreign policy. We have never really had such a thing in our history, being interested mainly in the balance of power between the continental states, stepping in when aggression unbalanced Europe and posed a threat to Britain or its allies.
"This necessitates a little national self-confidence. Britain has the second most significant armed forces in the West, matters a good deal to the Americans and is not made stronger by subsuming its foreign policy in a greater EU, only weaker.
"There is a place for an independent Britain, closely allied to the Americans, although not slavishly so, and a leading power in Nato and on the UN Security Council. At our instigation, Nato should have been the main body at work after Georgia, rather than standing back as the EU flunked its latest attempt at a power play."