Wikileaks files show UK considered 'paranoid' by US

William Hague and Barack Obama William Hague reportedly described top Tories as "staunch Atlanticists"

Files newly released by the Wikileaks website highlight what is described as the UK's "paranoia" about its so-called special relationship with the US.

In one cable, a senior US diplomat describes "excessive UK speculation" after Barack Obama became president.

"This over-reading would often be humorous, if it were not so corrosive," it says, according to the Guardian.

The cables detail efforts by leading Tories, who are now in government, to stress their pro-US credentials.

A 2008 cable written by US deputy chief of mission Richard LeBaron describes a meeting with William Hague, then a Conservative frontbencher and now foreign secretary.

When asked at the meeting whether the relationship was "still special", Mr Hague is said to have replied: "We want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it."

The messages are among more than 250,000 US cables obtained by Wikileaks and being published in stages by the whistle-blowing website.

Details are also being published in the Guardian and several other papers around the world that gained an advance look at the material.

'Unparalleled commitment'

"The British ask, is our special relationship still special in Washington?" is the heading of a message from Mr LeBaron in February 2009.

Bust of Winston Churchill and George W Bush The return of a Churchill bust on loan to the US caused British anxiety

He writes: "More than one [UK] senior official asked embassy officers whether President Obama meant to send a signal in his inaugural address about US-UK relations by quoting Washington during the revolutionary war, while the removal of the Churchill bust from the Oval office consumed much UK newsprint.

"This period of excessive UK speculation about the relationship is more paranoid than usual.

"This over-reading would often be humorous, if it were not so corrosive."

Mr LeBaron goes on to advise resisting the temptation to keep the UK "off balance about its current standing with us" in order to foster greater assistance.

Analysis

What comes over in these cables is a pervasive British sense of insecurity about the relationship with Washington. This was heightened by the way some of the early actions of President Barack Obama were interpreted.

The British press and commentators, a senior US official reports back to Washington, were alarmed that Mr Obama referred to America's Revolutionary War leader George Washington in his inaugural address. Reports that Mr Obama had removed a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office prompted additional concerns.

If reassurance were needed about the abiding importance of the close ties between London and Washington, then the US official sums it up in this way. He says "the UK's commitment ... remains unparalleled. A UK public confident that the US government values those contributions and our relationship matters to US national security."

Nonetheless a fundamental question remains. As US foreign policy looks more towards Asia and the Pacific, how can Europe let alone just Britain's salience in Washington's outlook be preserved?

"The UK's commitment of resources - financial, military, diplomatic - in support of US global priorities remains unparalleled; a UK public confident that the [US] values those contributions and our relationship, matters to US national security."

Another cable from Mr LeBaron records Mr Hague describing Tory colleagues David Cameron, George Osborne and himself as "'children of Thatcher' and staunch Atlanticists".

"For his part, said Hague, he has a sister who is American, spends his own vacations in America and, like many similar to him, considers America the 'other country to turn to'," the cable says.

At a meeting with US ambassador Louis Susman just months before the UK general election, Liam Fox reportedly "affirmed his desire to work closely with the US if the Conservative Party wins power".

Mr Fox, now defence secretary, said the Tories would "follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement" of military equipment, according to Mr Susman's cable.

The message goes on: "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 US leaders value the UK as an equal partner."

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