Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraq; Middle East; Africa;

Published: Fri 25 Jul 2003 02:02 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. "Two down, one to go"
Under the sub-heading, "The good news from Iraq:
There's food in the markets, a new governing council
and Saddam's sons are dead," columnist Margaret Wente
wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (7/24): "As for the
situation in Iraq, I have a hunch it's going better
than the daily dose of woe dished up by the media might
lead us to believe. According to the media, Iraq is
Vietnam, with an all-out guerrilla war, a hostile local
population, anarchy in the streets, and American troops
who are ready to frag the brass.... Don't get me wrong.
Iraq will be a three-Excedrin headache for a long time
to come. Maybe it will all blow up. But please allow me
a tiny scrap of optimism. It could be going a whole lot
worse. And it's probably going a whole lot better than
you'd think if you watched the news."
2. "Bush needs the UN"
Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in the liberal Le
Devoir (7/24): "This past week, the White House has
been juggling again with the UN. More precisely,
Secretary of State Colin Powell is dueling with the two
most UN-allergic people, Vice-President Dick Cheney and
his mentor Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Between
the lines, Powell is letting it be known that a new
resolution could be presented to the members of the
Security Council in order to envision a larger
coalition. This about-face is caused by the
difficulties facing the military on the ground and the
interim administration of Paul Bremer.... According to
Bush's legal position, Resolution 1483...allows any
country that so wishes to support the military effort
without rewording the [UN] resolution. France and
Germany, for example, could send troops under the aegis
of NATO. Nothing is less certain or desirable.... More
fundamentally, if an increase in the number of soldiers
is vital for the security of the Iraqis, then the Blair-
Bush duo should take a lower profile while the case is
handed over to the UN."
3. "Pacifying Iraq"
Editorialist Julie Lemieux wrote in the centrist Le
Soleil (7/24): "The key to the success of the military
operations in Iraq resides in the ability of the
Americans to raise the standard of living of the Iraqi
people. This won't be achieved as long as the country
remains mired in chaos, violence and crime.... In light
of the difficulties facing the British-American troops
on the grounds, one can wonder if the time has not come
for the Americans to admit they need help. By calling
on Old Europe to create a UN-led neutral coalition, the
U.S. would give itself all the chances in the world of
restoring order in Iraq and helping it recovering its
freedom. For now the Americans still seem to be
considered an occupation force rather than an army of
liberation by a good part of the Iraqi people. But one
could think this scenario would change if the
international community were called upon to play a
greater role."
4. "Two troubling questions about Iraq"
Columnist Gilles Paquin wrote in the centrist La Presse
(7/24): "Iraqis are waiting for irrefutable evidence.
After having been fed propaganda for thirty years, we
can understand their skepticism towards the powers that
be.... The evidence unveiled by General Sanchez is
essentially based on the identification of the bodies
by old regime officials detained by the Americans....
It also rests on X-rays that made it possible to
identify old wounds suffered by the two men....
Meanwhile doubts remain.... Iraqis will remember with
bitterness the bragging of American military officials
who claimed to have killed General Ali Hassan al-Majid,
aka Chemical Ali, this past April 7. On June 6,
General Myers admitted the man was still alive."
5. "The Failure"
Editorialist Mario Roy wrote in the centrist La Presse
(7/23): "Yesterday Koffi Annan presented to the
Security Council a first report on the post war
situation in Iraq.... Let's not insist too much on the
apparent contradiction between the concern for security
and the desired withdrawal of the only group which can
at the present time insure that security...precisely
because no on else wants to step in. Let's rather focus
on the fact that the debate will center on the
opportunity of voting on a second resolution at the
Security Council (which roughly speaking is wished for
by `Old Europe,' deemed superfluous by the U.S. and put
on hold by the UN). This is more a matter of power
than legal correctness. The point is to extract from
Washington the control over the reconstruction of Iraq,
the flow of money that will be funneled into it and
eventually the important levers for the economic future
of the country. This time, the Americans find
themselves in the position of having to make some
6. "Better than they deserved"
The conservative National Post opined (7/23): "The U.S.
military turned up two aces in Mosul, Iraq yesterday -
Uday and Qusay Hussein, respectively
the aces of hearts and clubs in the 'most-wanted' card
decks issued to U.S. troops.... Indeed, our single
regret is that the brothers were not taken alive. Uday
and Qusay were spoiled, pampered men who - like most
cruel bullies - would no doubt have spilled out
everything they knew once they found themselves on the
wrong side of the interrogation table. An Iraqi
court might then have passed sentence on them for their
crimes against humanity, and they would have spent the
rest of their lives in jail (assuming an Iraqi mob did
not tear them limb from limb first). Death in battle
was too dignified a fate for these foul human
7. "Israel's prisoners dilemma"
The conservative National Post opined (7/24): "Will the
road map to Middle East peace go the way of the Oslo
accords? We hope not. But there are many troubling
signs. Principal among them is Israel's recent
announcement that it may accede to demands to release
several thousand of the roughly 6,000 Palestinian
prisoners held in the nation's jails and detention
centres - even without first obtaining a promise from
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to disarm the
very terrorist groups in whose ranks many of Israel's
prisoners once served.... The Bush administration,
which is pushing Israel to release as many prisoners as
possible, should learn from history.
Israel released 415 members of the terrorist group
Hamas in 1992; many of them returned to the practice of
terror.... There is some room for compromise here. Many
of Israel's Palestinian prisoners are not terror
suspects, and Israel might be able to release these men
without too much risk. Such a gesture would go some way
to validating Mr. Abbas in the eyes of ordinary
Palestinians -a worthy objective given that he is a
sensible man whose loss would set the peace process
back years. Any compromise along these lines will
likely fail to satisfy the Palestinians: They demand
the release of the imprisoned terrorists, too - whom
they refer to euphemistically as 'political prisoners.'
But unless and until Mr. Abbas agrees to liquidate and
disarm the terrorist groups who operate in the West
Bank and Gaza, any talk of releasing Palestinians
implicated in terrorism from Israeli jails is
8. "Bush must not fail to pick up the challenge of
The left-of-center Vancouver Sun (7/23) commented:
"...Intervention in Liberia is a tough call for
President George Bush. His country has no direct
national interest in the country where President
Charles Taylor is under UN indictment for war crimes in
neighbouring Sierra Leone, one of a patchwork
of regional civil wars that include Guinea and Ivory
Coast.... There are good arguments against Americans
being the first on the ground to try to halt the war,
and equally good ones for it to intervene. But the tone
coming from the White House on Liberia is one of dither
and indecision. The U.S. and Liberia have strong
historic links. The country was established in the
1840s as a homeland for freed American slaves.... While
the U.S. may have no direct and contemporary interest
in Liberia, that presents President Bush
with an opportunity. Critics say the U.S. is only using
its pre-eminent military power in its own self-
interest; Liberia could prove that's not so. The U.S.
could show it's willing to shoulder responsibilities
shirked by the UN. It may be the most practical
strategy is for a West African force supported by the
U.S. But president Bush does no favour for either
himself or his country by failing to pick up this
9. "Argentina's popular President"
Foreign affairs columnist Marcus Gee observed in the
leading Globe and Mail (7/24): "When Nestor Kirchner
was elected president of Argentina in May, his chances
of success seemed slim.... Many said that the
colourless 53-year-old with a pronounced lisp was
doomed to become a lame duck. Some duck. Barely
two months later, Mr. Kirchner, who travelled to
Washington this week for his first official meeting
with President George W. Bush, is the most popular man
in his country, with a 75 per cent approval rating.
Promising to bring 'a cold wind of change' from his
chilly southern province, Mr. Kirchner has thrilled the
public by taking on just about every power bastion
in the country. First, he forced most of the military
top brass into early retirement.... Then he forced the
unpopular chief justice to resign. Most inspiring has
been his decision to take on Argentina's unpunished
human-rights abusers.... To make sure that justice is
done, Mr. Kirchner is preparing to repeal a decree that
made it impossible for human-rights violators to be
extradited for trial abroad.... Mr. Kirchner and his
ministers have also indicated they will seek to
overturn two much-disputed 1987 laws that bar the
prosecution of military officers for dirty-war
crimes.... Cynics say that Mr. Kirchner is only making
a fuss about human rights to draw attention away from
the country's present-day troubles, such as the
crippled banking system and the country's $197-billion
debt. But he has a point about impunity. People who
don't face up to the misdeeds of their past are not
likely to be happy or successful in life. Countries are
no different.... A country with a recent past as
terrible as Argentina's cannot just pretend it never
happened. Like a festering wound, the unpunished crimes
of the dirty war have infected the nation, undermining
faith in government and contributing to the deep and
bitter disillusionment that afflicts almost every
Argentine. In his inaugural address, Mr. Kirchner
promised to govern 'without rancour but with memory.'
More power to him."
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