Janet's Conner

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

War on Terror: CRITICISM GIVES U.S. JITTERS OVER A FUTURE TORY GOVERNMENT



The White House declined yesterday to issue a direct response to David Cameron's attacks on Britain's "slavish" bond with the United States, even as ripples of concern about what it meant for relations with the possible next government of Britain spread across the American capital.

TIMES Online
By: Tom Baldwin in Washington
September 13, 2006

Tony Snow, President Bush's press secretary, used instead words that the Administration adopts regularly when addressing political opponents and peace protesters: "Freedom of speech is a glorious thing," he said.

A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed yesterday that Mr. Cameron had no plans to visit the U.S. in the near future, suggesting only that such an event "might take place before the next general election."

This statement seems to contradict remarks made by William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, when he led a delegation to Washington in February. He claimed that they were "paving the way" for a meeting between Mr. Cameron and Mr. Bush, saying: "That, I'm sure, will take place later in the year."

Mr. Cameron's office said yesterday that his speech in London on Monday was intended as a "careful and thoughtful analysis" and should not be seen as "indicating anything other than we're 100% behind the special relationship."

The Tory leader is understood to have emphasized this during a "courtesy call" to Robert Tuttle, the U.S. Ambassador to London, on Monday. A U.S. diplomat was quoted as saying that he disagrred with sections of Mr. Cameron's speech, but "I take him at his word that he did not intend to be anything other than pro-American."

Indeed most of Mr. Cameron's most pointed remarks appear to have been aimed at President Bush and not at America in general. These included his attack on those who "see only light and darkness in the world" or regard the terror threat as coming from a "single global jihad," as well as his remark that "I am a liberal conservative rather than a neoconservative."

In Washington yesterday there was an undercurrent of anger at Mr. Cameron's timing. John O'Sullivan, from the Hudson Institute, said: "Even if these things neded to be said, perhaps the fifth anniversary of 9/11 was not the best day to say them."

Nile Gardiner, who runs thae Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the right-wing Heritage foundation, said: "I think this speech will have raised sone eyebrows in Washington because, although pro-American in parts, it's clearly designed to put some distance between Cameron and Bush."

He suggested that Mr. Cameron's speech would matter to the White House, not least because the President was beginning to think about his legacy where British political as much as military support will be crucial if his successors were to not abandon Iraq.

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