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Monday, 23 May 2011

UK fury at US missile sales to Israel - sensational diplomatic cable

I was astonished to just read the following cable from the UK Prime Minister to the US President:
On returning from a very pleasant day's shooting at Bolton Abbey, I have just received the information that you have decided to supply Hawk missiles to the Israelis and that the decision will be conveyed to them tomorrow. This follows two years of close co-operation during which we decided that it would be unwise to supply these weapons to the Israelis...[The US Secretary of State] gave a most categorical assurance to [the British Ambassador] that your Government would consult us...To be informed on Saturday afternoon that your Government are going to make an offer to supply on Sunday is really not consultation. I cannot believe that you were privy to this disgraceful piece of trickery. For myself I must say frankly that I can hardly find words to express my sense of disgust and despair. Nor do I see how you and I are to conduct the great affairs of the world on this basis...I have instructed our officials to let me have a list of all the understandings in different parts of the world which we have entered into together. It certainly makes it necessary to reconsider our whole position on this and allied matters.
Readers will now be wondering how on Earth I obtained the Prime Minister's cable; I got it from Charles Williams' thoroughly entertaining biography of Harold Macmillan, Macmillan having sent this cable to President Kennedy in August 1962. The following day, Macmillan further cabled the President to say:
Since I sent my indignant message to you yesterday Lord Hood [Minister in the British Embassy in Washington] has telegraphed to say that he has had a talk with [the US Secretary of State] which puts a different complexion on this affair, and that what you are going to say to the Israelis today is not mainly to do with missiles, but with refugees...Meanwhile, this message is just to tell you how glad I am that my serious concern was all based upon a muddle between the various diplomatic messages. However, if you are dealing with Highlanders you must expect them to flare into a temper if they think they have a grievance. 
I'm guessing that David Cameron's cables to President Obama might be a little different in tone from those sent to Kennedy by Macmillan.


  1. Why should any decent country sell weapons to arogue apartheid state like Israel?

  2. You'll have to travel back to 1962 and ask President Kennedy that question. While you are there, you can speak to Harold Macmillan about the "winds of change" speech that he delivered in South Africa's Parliament. That was at a time when apartheid still existed in South Africa.

    Do you remember what apartheid actually was? I do. Israel is a country in which every citizen has the vote, in which any citizen can be elected to Parliament and in which all citizens (including people from minority communities, including Arab citizens) serve as judges, diplomats, academics...The judge who recently sentenced a former Israeli president to a prison term is himself an Israeli Arab. I'd like to have seen that happen under apartheid in South Africa.

    Meanwhile all the South African apartheid-era restrictions on where people can live, who they can marry, etc - none of that even remotely applies in Israel.

    The word 'apartheid' is bandied about by people who want to de-legitimise Israel, their plan being: 'apartheid was illegitimate, so if we label Israel as being an apartheid state, then we'll be defining Israel as being, by definition, illegitimate' - the worst kind of doublespeak.

  3. Thomas is another one of those driven by bilious hatred (and ignorance of the fact that Israel is the only country in the ME, and much of Asia besides, that is NOT a rogue apartheid state).