Cablegate: Shadow Defense Minister Fox Pledges Close U.S.-Uk
DE RUEHLO #2768/01 3441648
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 101648Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4287
INFO RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 1304
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002768
EO 12958 DECL: 12/09/2019
TAGS PGOV, PREL, MOPS, MARR, AF, UK, PK, IR, IN, CH, RS,
SUBJECT: SHADOW DEFENSE MINISTER FOX PLEDGES CLOSE U.S.-UK
COOPERATION IF TORIES GAIN POWER
Classified By: Ambassador Louis Susman for reasons 1.4 b and d
1. (C/NF) Summary. During a December 9 meeting with the Ambassador, Shadow Secretary of State for Defense Liam Fox affirmed his desire to work closely with the U.S. if the Conservative Party wins power in next year’s general election. He highlighted the importance of the U.S.-UK Defense Trade and Cooperation Treaty insofar as it advances the goal of U.S.-UK interoperability. The Treaty “means a lot to us,” Fox emphasized, adding that “we (Conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement.” Fox, who accompanied Conservative Party leader David Cameron on a December 4-6 visit to Afghanistan, (septel) expressed confidence regarding U.S. leadership in Afghanistan and optimism about the way forward. (Note: In a December 8 Chatham House speech, Fox affirmed the importance of the Afghanistan mission and analyzed challenges facing NATO.) Fox predicted that negotiations with Iran would fail; he stated that the U.S. and UK should work together to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. He faulted the Labour government for policies which reinforce the Indian government’s long-held view that HMG’s foreign relations on the subcontinent are “skewed to Pakistan.” End Summary.
2. (C/NF) Ambassador Susman met December 9 with Liam Fox, Shadow Secretary of State for Defense. (Mike Threadgold, Head of Fox’s Private Office, and U.S. Embassy Political Officer Chris Palmer attended the meeting as notetakers.) Fox, a committed Atlanticist, underscored his desire to work closely with the U.S. if the Conservative Party wins power in next year’s general election. He affirmed that when Winston Churchill first raised the notion of the “special relationship” it was as a wartime leader. The special relationship will remain strategically central to UK foreign policy regardless of which party is in power in the UK, Fox underlined. However, the relationship will be especially close in the defense sphere under Tory leadership, Fox stated. He affirmed his desire to increase joint defense procurement with the United States. Increasing U.S.-UK “interoperability is the key” since the U.S. and UK will continue to fight together in the future.
3. (C/NF) Fox stressed that the U.S.-UK Defense Trade and Cooperation Treaty (Note: SFRL hearings on the Treaty were to be held December 10) is extremely important insofar as it advances the goal of interoperability. Fox expressed appreciation for the Ambassador’s update regarding the likelihood of Senate approval of the Treaty soon. The Treaty “means a lot to us,” Fox emphasized, adding that “we (Conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement. The key is interoperability.” Fox asserted that some within the Conservative Party are less enthusiastic, asserting that “we’re supposed to be partners with, not supplicants to, the United States.” Fox said he rebuffed these assertions, and he welcomed the Ambassador’s reassurance that senior U.S. leaders value the UK as an equal partner.
4. (C/NF) Fox, who accompanied Conservative Party leader David Cameron on a December 4-6 visit to Afghanistan (septel), expressed confidence regarding U.S. leadership in Afghanistan and optimism about the way forward. He noted that he hoped to meet with NSA Jones, Ambassador Eikenberry, and General Petraeus during the December 11-13 Regional Security Summit in Bahrain. Fox also stated that he planned to meet DASD Flournoy in Washington December 18; Fox will visit Washington and New York December 17-20. (Note: In a December 8 Chatham House speech (see paragraph 9), Fox affirmed the importance of the Afghanistan mission to the NATO Alliance and the importance of explaining to the British people with “clarity, conviction, and consistency” “what the national security threats are that compel us to be in Afghanistan.” End Note.)
5. (C/NF) Turning to Iran, Fox observed that there are three possible outcomes in Iran: regime change, behavioral change for the regime’s leaders, and “a change of leadership within
the regime.” The first two options “won’t happen” soon, although we could be “in the beginning of the end game.” When regime change comes it will likely be a “bloody end,” Fox stated. The regime’s strong hold on power, its implacable hatred of the U.S. and Israel, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps stranglehold on the economy make it extremely unlikely that the regime will change from within, he said. He predicted that international negotiations with Iran would fail. He said that Iran’s Independence Day in February would provide the next opportunity for the international community to evaluate the strength of Iran’s internal opposition, based on the size of demonstrations. Fox stated that he had recently met with a group of wealthy, Iranian expatriates, most of whom expressed support for Iran’s obtaining a nuclear bomb. “Persian nationalism” more than Islamic fundamentalism is the basis of Iranian popular support for a nuclear weapons program.
6. (C/NF) The U.S. and UK need to work together to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Fox said. He expressed support for the establishment of a U.S. nuclear umbrella in the Middle East. Russia would play a more constructive role in regard to Iran if it began to fear “encirclement” by China and Iran. China could be more helpful under the right circumstances, Fox said. (Note: Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague told the Ambassador in a subsequent meeting (septel) that in his view China would probably not be more helpful in regard to Iran in the foreseeable future, although Russia would likely play a more constructive role. End Note.)
7. (C/NF) Turning to India, Fox criticized the Labour government for policies which reinforce the Indian government’s long-held view that HMG’s foreign relations on the subcontinent are “skewed to Pakistan.” Fox predicted this would not be a factor under a Conservative government, since the Conservatives are “less dependent” than the Labour Party on votes from the British-Pakistani community.
8. (SBU/NF) During his meeting with the Ambassador, Fox touched on the future of the NATO Alliance, affirming the importance of the ongoing strategic transformation debate and the future of NATO. Fox focused on NATO in a December 8 Chatham House speech on “The Way Forward for NATO.” In those remarks, Fox asserted that “NATO’s mission in Afghanistan has created further debate on NATO’s role and even of NATO’s survival as a defense alliance.” The speech highlights that “neither the financial burden nor the fighting burden is properly shared between NATO allies” and that the pending Strategic Concept should address collective responsibilities. Fox’s speech affirms the importance of strategic nuclear forces to the Alliance, as stated in the 1999 Strategic Concept; the speech commits a future Conservative government to “maintaining Britain’s round-the-clock, independent, submarine-based, and strategic nuclear deterrent.” The speech concludes that, despite its shortcomings, NATO is a “necessity” and “in order to successfully face the threats of the 21st century, NATO is the only way forward.” (Note: The full text of the speech is available at www.chathamhouse.org.uk End Note.)
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