Cablegate: David Cameron Tells John Mccain Tories Won’T Break
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHLO #0929/01 0920958
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 010958Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8089
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0605
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0787
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0653
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0515
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1127
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 000929
EO 12958 DECL: 03/28/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, MARR, IZ, AF, IS, IR, PK, UK
SUBJECT: DAVID CAMERON TELLS JOHN MCCAIN TORIES WON’T BREAK
WITH HMG WHERE TROOPS ARE CONCERNED
Classified By: Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle for reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (C/NF) Summary: Conservative party leader David Cameron told Senator John McCain the Tories won’t break ranks with HMG on policies affecting British troops in battle. Cameron and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague told McCain and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no political support to increase British troops in Iraq. McCain said Basrah was “quiet for all the wrong reasons.” (This conversation took place March 20 before the recent surge of violence in Southern Iraq.) McCain thanked Britain for its support. The Senators also discussed Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel with Conservative leaders. End Summary.
2. (U) Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, accompanied by the Ambassador, Senate staff Richard Fontaine and Dan Serchuk, and Poloff Kirsten Schulz met March 20 in David Cameron’s House of Commons office. Cameron had assembled an eager group from his front bench including Hague, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, Shadow Defence Minister Liam Fox, as well as Chief of Staff Edward Llewellyn, former party leader Michael Howard, and Dame Pauline Neville-Jones. The room was packed and the atmosphere collegial.
McCain’s Assessment of Iraq
3. (C/NF) Senator McCain said the situation in Iraq had improved. He warned that Al Qaeda would put up a fight in Mosul and the Iranians were “not going to go quietly into the night.” Maliki, McCain told the group, was weak but getting better. In Anbar province, he added, there was a demand for elections. McCain praised General Petraeus and the quality of the military leadership and mentioned Petraeus’ upcoming congressional testimony. Cameron asked what the American troop numbers were likely to be. McCain said the U.S. would “stick at 180,000” and noted, “it’s not the number of troops, but the number of casualties” which is of import. Al-Qaeda, said McCain, had taken to using suicide bombers and now to deploying women bombers. He said one woman was asked why she had tried to become a suicide bomber. She replied, “because my husband told me to.”
Cameron Asks McCain for Appraisal of Basrah
4. (C/NF) Cameron asked McCain what he thought was happening in the south of Iraq. McCain said he was very worried. He said it was like “Chicago in the 20’s” and “could go at any time.” The Iranians were there and the Iraqis were likely to find “the going to be extremely difficult.” “Just because its quiet,” said McCain, “doesn’t mean it’s good. It is quiet for all the wrong reasons.”
Pledge on Troops
5. (C/NF) Cameron and Hague told the Senators that the Conservatives would never take a policy position that would undermine British policies where troops are involved. Hague noted the Conservatives largely share the Labour foreign policy agenda. Cameron said Prime Minister Brown did not have the political support to increase the British troop presence in Iraq, saying “that moment has passed.” Hague seconded Cameron’s assessment. Cameron asked McCain whether the British plans for a further draw-down should not go forward, given that HMG could not both maintain a presence in Iraq and build up its role in Afghanistan. In response, McCain thanked Cameron and for Britain’s contribution in Iraq and Afghanistan.
6. (C/NF) McCain said he understood the Prime Minister intended to withdraw British troops prior to the next election. Hague confirmed Brown politically could not do otherwise. “I understand that,” said McCain, “the British people have my gratitude for all that you have done.”
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7. (C/NF) McCain told Cameron that Israel’s Prime Minster Ehud Omert was “still paying the price for Lebanon.” Cameron asked whether Quartet Leader Tony Blair was optimistic. McCain said he admired Blair for his steadfastness, but what McCain had noticed in international relations was the tendency of statesmen to be optimistic once they become negotiators.
8. (C/NF) McCain told Cameron he saw an increasing, and increasingly damaging role, for Iran in regional affairs. This included an increase in activity in Iraq and in arming Hezbollah. McCain said he advocated gathering Europe to “cut off all credit” to Iran. Not just Europe, but other like-minded nations such as Japan, should be encouraged to take collective action on such matters, he said. Hague responded that he and the Conservatives had been pushing for this for the last two years. Hague and Cameron alleged that the release of the National Intelligence Assessment had set back this effort.
Afghanistan and Pakistan
9. (C/NF) Cameron told McCain that he and his party focused on Afghanistan as the key foreign police issue. This was due, not least, to the timeline for when the Conservatives might come into office (2010 or 2009 at the earliest) and the fact that British troops were meant to be out of Iraq by then. Cameron also raised Pakistan, noting that 60,000 individuals travel to Pakistan from the UK each year and that this has implications for the UK’s own significant domestic “terror threat.” Cameron said he was interested in exploring the idea of whether ISAF and Enduring Freedom operations could be combined, as well as whether an increase in military presence was required or an enhanced civilian presence was more important. McCain replied that Afghanistan is complicated by the uncertainty in Pakistan. “We all like Karzai,” he said, “but his is a very weak government.” Cameron said NATO troop capacity was “patchy” and there appeared to be perpetual problems with shortages of air transport support. McCain said he was worried about Pakistan. “If they don’t cooperate and help us, I don’t know what we are going to do,” he said. He added, “Waziristan hasn’t been ruled for 2,000 years.” On a positive note, McCain praised the fighting capacity of Afghans, whom he called “great fighters.” Cameron said each year he met with Karzai, and each year he had the sense Karzai’s sphere of influence was shrinking.
10. (U) CODEL McCain did not clear this cable.
Visit London’s Classified Website: http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/london/index. cfm Tuttle