Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has used his speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester to urge Britain not to retreat from the global stage.
Britain has been widely criticised in the past few decades for its military invasions, occupations and bombings of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
But Johnson said the UK was helping to defeat terrorism across the Middle East and North Africa and helping to bring peace.
“Just in the last few weeks I have seen British troops training the Nigerian forces to defeat the numbskulls of Boko Haram around Maiduguri – where British doctors are tending the maimed victims of terror,” he said.
The Foreign Secretary also claimed that the solution to defeating “Islamist extremism” was by empowering women.
He told conference delegates: “Eventually we will stabilise our world populations and raise per capita GDP above all by promoting female education – which is at the heart of all British overseas policy – and we should be proud of the young women and girls that we are helping to teach, in Africa, in South Asia – 6m of them in the Pakistani Punjab alone.
“And if we can drive on that great cause of female empowerment and education, the Swiss army knife that solves so many problems, then I believe we will eventually find a cure for the psychological contamination of radical Islamist extremism. Just as we have eradicated smallpox and polio.”
He added: “But success will be achieved not by allowing the UK to retreat from our global role but by reinforcing that role and breakthroughs will come not through the edict of some bureaucrat in some Corbynist Ministry of Plenty but through the effort of inventors, scientists, business people, students and dreamers of whom we have so many.”
Meanwhile, Sir Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, said that Britain would be increasing its defence budget and would use its armed forces to project power abroad.
He also seemed to take credit for defeating Daesh although Britain has done very little fighting against the terrorist group.
He told delegates in Manchester: “When I became Defence Secretary, Daesh terrorists were at the gates of Baghdad, enslaving women, beheading British hostages, and throwing gay people off buildings. And when the democratic Government of Iraq appealed for help, Britain answered the call.
“At our conference three years ago, I announced the first successful RAF airstrike. As of last night there have been 1,600 airstrikes. The Army has trained 60,000 Iraqi forces. The Royal Navy has been guarding the United States carriers in the Gulf. Daesh is being defeated. The black flags have been torn down. Three million people have been freed from its murderous rule. So we should be very proud of the contribution of our Armed Forces to this success.
He added: “Today our armed forces are on operations in more than 25 countries, they’re helping to stop Afghanistan become a haven for terrorists. They’re training Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend themselves against Russian aggression. They’re in Nigeria helping to tackle terrorists and they’re supporting United Nations peacekeeping in Somalia and South Sudan and we are leading in NATO – our Army deploying in Estonia and Poland; RAF Typhoons protecting the Black Sea skies; and the Royal Navy leading NATO’s maritime task groups. And our Armed Forces are also ready for anything.”