Search

 

Cablegate: Defence Secretary Ainsworth Outlines Top

VZCZCXRO0483
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHLO #2186/01 2641320
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211320Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3536

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002186

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR MOPS MCAP PINR UK AF
SUBJECT: DEFENCE SECRETARY AINSWORTH OUTLINES TOP
PRIORITIES: SUCCESS IN AFGHANISTAN AND LAUNCHING STRATEGIC DEFENSE REVIEW

Classified By: Ambassador Louis Susman for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C/NF). Summary. In a September 24 initial call by the Ambassador, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth expressed his firm commitment to the international mission in Afghanistan, describing success there as his top priority as Defence Secretary. Ainsworth stressed the importance of demonstrating to the British people that there has been demonstrable progress in Afghanistan, especially in light of recent, heavy UK casualties. Top challenges to the mission in Afghanistan are a loss of credibility by the Afghan government and eroding public support in the U.S. and UK for the mission there, Ainsworth asserted. The Defence Secretary said his second priority is launching a successful Strategic Defense Review process. The Ambassador provided Ainsworth an update of the President's plans regarding missile defense. Ainsworth expressed appreciation for the Ambassador's affirmation that the President and Secretary Clinton strongly support rapid ratification and implementation of the U.S.-UK Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty. End Summary.

2. (C/NF) During his September 24 introductory meeting with Ambassador Susman, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth agreed with the Ambassador about the importance of international efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan. Ainsworth identified two "huge dangers" that could help derail that mission: loss of credibility by the Afghan government and eroding public support in the U.S. and the UK for the mission. "The troops can do it," Ainsworth stressed, but public opinion could falter. He concurred with the Ambassador's assessment that it is essential to convince the U.S. and UK publics that the war is winnable. Ainsworth stated that the British public is not as opposed to Britain's commitment in Afghanistan as is the British press. By way of example, he asserted that the populist tabloid "The Sun" was focused on defeating the Labour government in the next general election and had initially used HMG's prosecution of the war effort as a wedge to attack the Labour-led government. However, "The Sun" has lately backed off somewhat.

3. (C/NF) Ainsworth stressed the importance of showing the British people that international forces have made demonstrable progress in Afghanistan. This was especially important given the casualties suffered by British forces in the past several months. Ainsworth noted that a British brigade, which has suffered heavy casualties, is returning home soon. He expressed appreciation for the Ambassador's offer to participate in events demonstrating support for the commitment and sacrifice of British troops, such as a ceremony marking the return of soldiers from Afghanistan or a memorial service. UK planners are awaiting the results of General McChrystal's review, Ainsworth said.

Strategic Defense Review ------------------------

4. (C/NF) Ainsworth told the Ambassador that his top goal as Defence Secretary is "to get to as good a place as we can in Afghanistan." He described his next priority as successfully launching a Strategic Defense Review, which would include "a decent intellectual debate" about the future of UK defense. He boasted that he had used his political skills, honed during service in the House of Commons as a Labour Party Whip, to convince the Conservative Party to agree to appoint a representative to serve on the advisory committee. (Note: In a September 15th speech, Ainsworth stated that "there will be tough choices ahead" and that "major shifts" in defense spending could not be ruled out. He outlined the process for an updated Strategic Defense Review, starting with a Defense Green Paper to be published in early 2010. End Note.)

Missile Defense ---------------

5. (C/NF) Ainsworth expressed appreciation for Ambassador Susman's confirmation of President Obama's plans regarding missile defense. He observed that "Putin is still effectively running the show" in Russia.

Defense Trade Treaty --------------------

6. (C/NF) Ainsworth asked the Ambassador for an update on the status of U.S. ratification and implementation of the U.S.-UK Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty. Ambassador Susman affirmed that the President and Secretary Clinton strongly support ratification and implementation as soon as possible and he outlined steps that have been taken to encourage the LONDON 00002186 002 OF 002 Senate to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible. Ainsworth offered his help in any way necessary to get the Treaty ratified.

Biographical Note -----------------

7. (C/NF) During his meeting with the Ambassador, Ainsworth demonstrated why he has a reputation as a plain-spoken, sometimes blunt Labour Party standard bearer and consummate political insider. He visibly glowed when he described his successful efforts to get Tory participation on the Strategic Defense Review Advisory Committee. Ainsworth acknowledged that he had taken some hard knocks in the press recently, but shrugged off the attacks against him as part of the rough and tumble of partisan politics. "You expect at this point in the political cycle you'll get knocked around a bit. You won't get clipped and polished language from me, you'll get tenacity," Ainsworth told the Ambassador.

8. (SBU/NF) Ainsworth was elected in 1992 as a Member of Parliament from Coventry, the industrial city where he got his start in politics as a trade unionist at the Jaguar factory. He was appointed Secretary of State for Defence in June, having served for the two previous years as Minister of State for the Armed Forces. Reflecting the general tumult within the Labour Party, Ainsworth is the third Defence Secretary in the past year. Ainsworth was embroiled in the parliamentary expenses scandal earlier this year but was not burned (he allegedly claimed the maximum second home allowance). Not surprisingly, the media has given him a tough time in interviews; Ainsworth's characteristic bluntness has sometimes appeared maladroit. It is not clear whether he will play a prominent role in the general election campaign. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
SUSMAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: Decades Of Health Gains At Risk In Brazil Due To COVID-19

Although COVID-19 cases are declining in Brazil, the pandemic is putting decades of public health gains there at risk, the head of the World Health Organization ( WHO ) said on Friday. With global attention and support focused this week ... More>>

UN Report: Myanmar Approaching Point Of Economic Collapse

The turmoil following the military coup in Myanmar, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 could result in up to 25 million people – nearly half of the country’s population, living in poverty by early next year, a United Nations report said on Friday. That ... More>>

World Vision: India’s Second Wave Shows The Global Fight Against COVID-19 Is Far From Won

As India’s COVID-19 daily infection rates reach devastating levels, international aid agency World Vision has warned that the world is nowhere near defeating this virus and some nations are yet to face their worst days. Andrew Morley, World Vision ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>

What COVID-19 Has Taught Us: “Healthcare Can No Longer Exist Without Technology”

A grandmother in a village in the Gambia should have the same quality of life and access to healthcare they deserve as in New York or London. Photo: InnovaRx Global Health Start-up Works To Bridge Healthcare Gap In The Gambia By: Pavithra Rao As ... More>>