When David Cameron flew to Georgia last year, it was perhaps the clearest and most welcome statement of foreign policy made by the party since he became leader. Liam Fox’s piece on conservativehome today pays tribute to this, and gives us a welcome reminder of the stakes. The Russian threat is growing: there are 10,000 troops there and settlements will soon start. The best the West can do is show solidarity, and there is no clearer sign than going there. As Cameron did.
Like Israel in the Middle East, Georgia is a light of democratic freedom in an area with plenty of unlit candles. There is something totemic about its independence, something the Conservatives can express clear and unequivocal support for. And at a time when plenty of people are asking what the Conservative Party’s values are, Georgia provides an answer in an international context.
What really brought home the importance of Georgia to me was hearing Mikheil Saakashvili tell his story at the American Enterprise Institute in 2006. I wasn’t there, but these brilliant Washington think tanks now put it all online so you can download it on your iPod and then listen to it at home, instead of an hour of drivel from the radio. Download it here.
UPDATE: CoffeeHousers point out that Saakashvili is – to put it mildly – not a political pin-up. I was impressed by his speech, and in that part of the world the reformers use tactics that we in the West find alarming. The case against him is put very well by Carl Thomson on ToryDiary here.