Cablegate: British Mps' Feedback On President Obama's
DE RUEHLO #2707/01 3371722
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031722Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002707
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR MOPS NATO AF PK UK
SUBJECT: BRITISH MPS' FEEDBACK ON PRESIDENT OBAMA'S
AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN STRATEGY
LONDON 00002707 001.2 OF 002 Classified By: DCM Richard LeBaron for reasons 1.4 b and d
1. (C/NF) Summary. MPs who attended a December 2 reception for the Ambassador hosted by the British-American Parliamentary Group (BAPG) expressed opinions in conversations with Embassy officers that were broadly supportive of the President's Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. Several MPs stressed the importance of getting other allies to do more to support NATO's shared mission in Afghanistan. Labour MP and Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Mike Gapes expressed concern about setting a date for beginning the withdrawal of troops, although he said he was satisfied with the thrust of the strategy. Lord David Hannay, formerly a senior diplomat, asserted the need for a better Alliance-wide communications strategy, which he said could be among the topics incorporated into the January 28 London international Conference on Afghanistan. End Summary.
2. (SBU/NF) At a December 2 reception for the Ambassador hosted by the British-American Parliamentary Group (BAPG), several MPs shared with Embassy officers their perspectives regarding President Obama's Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. (The BAPG is the UK's largest all-party parliamentary group, with some 650 members from both Houses of Parliament.)
Getting Other Allies to Do More -------------------------------
3. (C/NF) The MPs expressed points of view that were broadly supportive of the President's strategy. A typical response was from Labour MP Keith Vaz, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, who chose not to comment on the specifics of the President's strategy but simply stated "I support President Obama." Several MPs, however, stressed the importance of getting other allies to do more to support NATO's shared mission in Afghanistan.
4. (C/NF) Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, Chair of the Commons Select Committee on Defence, told the DCM that he was fine with the President's speech overall. He opined that the emphasis now should be on creating the "mood music" that would elicit contributions from other allies.
5. (C/NF) Daniel Kawczynski, a very junior backbencher on the Tories' Foreign Affairs team, stressed to Poloff that the key was getting other NATO allies to do more. He stated that many NATO members were not pulling their weight.
6. (C/NF) Tim Bosewell, an especially pro-American MP from the left-end of the Conservatives, commented that the surge had to be the final push as there would not be much support among allies for doing something similar in 18 months. He quipped that "some of our European friends were happy to fight to the last American soldier."
What's Next? ------------
7. (C/NF) Labour MP and Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Mike Gapes expressed satisfaction with the thrust of the President's strategy but worried about the date for beginning the withdrawal of troops. The DCM noted to him that this was an important indicator of the need to make rapid progress and the need to prepare the Afghan security forces to take over responsibility.
8. (C/NF) Lord David Hannay, formerly a senior diplomat whose positions have included UKUN Permanent Representative and the UK's Special Representative for Cyprus, welcomed President Obama's announcement. His chief concern was that the Alliance lacked a unified communications strategy. Hannay observed that in the UK media, the fight was portrayed as Helmand-centric (the province where most British troops are deployed); German media predictably focused almost uniquely on the area where FRG troops are active. Hannay asserted that a better Alliance-wide communications strategy is needed in order to reflect the overall scope of the effort and progress on common goals. This should not be a charting of "metrics," but rather a more determined effort to bring the complexity of Alliance operations to public attention, he asserted. Hannay said he had made this point to a colleague in the Prime Minister's office, suggesting the topic be incorporated into the January 28 London international Conference on Afghanistan.
Comment ------- LONDON 00002707 002.2 OF 002
9. (C/NF) The comments from several MPs about the need for other allies to step up to the plate is a widely held and deeply felt sentiment in HMG circles and in the media and polls. Prime Minister Brown and other senior leaders have publicly and privately emphasized the importance of the need for other allies to do more. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX