The sentiments are fine, the judgement is lacking. ~Alex Massie on David Cameron’s Iran comments
This gets at what has been wrong with so much of the criticism directed against the administration’s response: it is all sentiment, and no judgment at all, or rather it is the bad judgment to allow sentiment to dictate everything. The out party has the luxury and all the incentives to engage in as much mawkish sentimentality on foreign policy as they please, because they are not speaking in an official capacity for the country’s government, but that doesn’t really make it any better. After all, Cameron aspires to be and, thanks to the ongoing implosion of Labour, probably will be the next Prime Minister. He needs to demonstrate that he is credible and responsible, much as Republican leaders need to regain credibility shredded by yeas of indulging Wilsonian foolishness, and Cameron isn’t going to do this by attacking Brown from the interventionist side.
One of the many things that have kept British voters from trusting the Tories in government again is that as much as they may loathe Labour they simply cannot bring themselves to put the Tories in a position of responsibility. This was mostly a matter of distrusting their handling of domestic affairs and simply finding them repugnant, but I think it is fair to say that this distrust extended to foreign policy as well. Whether it was because of their obsession with Europe earlier in the decade, their leaders’ embarrassingly strong attachment to the Bush administration that made Blair seem independent and thoughtful by comparison, or their continued closeness to American advocates of aggressive, ‘forward’ policies in the former USSR and Near East, Tory leaders did not give the electorate much of an attractive alternative to Blair’s militant do-goodism. Now that Brown is showing some restraint and prudence, perhaps in part because he never adopted foreign policy as his personal project, Cameron seems eager to rush forward and catch the falling standard of insufferable Blairite moralizing.
Back in 2006, Cameroons liked to boast that their boss was very interested in having more “Love, Actually moments” with the Americans. (On re-reading that article from three years ago, it is significant that the Love, Actually-infatuated Cameroons were hosting the mad John McCain at party conference in part because of his “maverick” tendencies to criticize Bush.) That is, his supporters were telegraphing their desire to tell Washington where it could get off on a more regular basis. One wonders if this would still hold true in an Obama-Cameron era, and if so would it mean that the cautious, prudent Obama we are seeing right now would be coming under fire from Cameron for being insufficiently outspoken and aggressive on human rights, democracy and the like?