But Britain's reputation is not just about might. It's about doing what is right. When this country has got it wrong, we'll admit it, as I did when I apologised for Bloody Sunday.
When there's a cloud hanging over our reputation, we'll address it, as we have done by setting up an inquiry into whether this country was complicit in the mistreatment of detainees.
We will always pursue British interests, but there are some red lines we must never cross.
Like the sight of the man responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, the biggest mass murderer in British history, set free to get a hero's welcome in Tripoli. No. It was wrong, it undermined our standing in the world, and nothing like that must ever happen again.
[The foregoing is an excerpt from the Prime Minister's keynote speech today to the Conservative Party conference at Birmingham.
It would be interesting to discover just how, under the system of devolution that operates in the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister envisages the UK Government being able lawfully to prevent something like the compassionate release of Abdelbaset Megrahi -- a prisoner convicted by a Scottish court, serving his sentence in a Scottish prison -- ever happening again.
The following is an excerpt from The Herald's report of this section of the Cameron speech:]
Tory HQ officials made clear last night that the PM was simply expressing an opinion about Mr MacAskill’s decision and not suggesting an attempt to change the devolution settlement so judicial powers should be transferred back to London.
However, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “David Cameron appears not to understand the reality of Scottish self-government, which shows more Tory disrespect for Scotland.
“Regardless of people’s opinion, the decision was Scotland’s to take on the basis of the due process of Scots law, which was done to the letter.”
[Newsnet Scotland's coverage of this aspect of the speech contains a long comment from Justice for Megrahi's Robert Forrester.]