INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Media Reaction: Afghanistan, Mideast, Greece-Eu,

Published: Tue 16 Feb 2010 12:43 PM
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STATE FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/PAPD, EUR/PPA, EUR/CE, INR/EUC, INR/P,
SECDEF FOR USDP/ISA/DSAA, DIA FOR DC-4A
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR AF XF EMS CH PTER US
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: AFGHANISTAN, MIDEAST, GREECE-EU,
U.S.-CHINA, EU-U.S., US-OBAMA;BERLIN
1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (Afghanistan) ISAF Offensive
3. (Mideast) Secretary Clinton in the Mideast
4. (Greece-EU) Stability of the Euro, Goldman Sachs Involvement
5. (U.S.-China) Obama Receives Dalai Lama
6. (EU-U.S.) SWIFT
7. (U.S.) Obama Government
1. Lead Stories Summary
Print media centered on the debate over Foreign Minister
Westerwelle's controversial remarks on the recipients of the Hartz
IV social security benefits. Die Welt headlined: "Bundeswehr
Expects Long Fight in Afghanistan" and featured an article by
Bundeswehr chief of Staff General Wieker on the NATO mission in
Afghanistan. Editorials focused on the debate over social benefits
in Germany and the assistance Goldman Sachs and other U.S.
investment banks gave to Greece in hiding its financial problems
from the EU. ZDF-TV's early evening newscast heute led with a
report on the train crash in Belgium, while, ARD-TV's early evening
newscast Tagesschau reported on the reactions to FDP leader
Westerwelle's remarks concerning the social welfare state in
Germany.
2. (Afghanistan) ISAF Offensive
Under the headline "In the front-line," Sddeutsche (2/16) remarked:
"This time around, everything was supposed to be different. That's
what NATO promised. For days, the military alliance has warned
civilians of the largest offensive against the Taliban in southern
Afghanistan. However, shortly after the beginning of Operation
Together, a misguided missile killed numerous civilians. NATO
Commander McChrystal publically apologized for the tragic incident.
This is a new tone, but does not change anything about the fact that
the death of civilians is playing into the hands of the Taliban. As
a result, they can portray themselves as liberators.... The people
have little confidence in the foreign troops. Many Afghans don't
differentiate between the Taliban and the army - they have a human
need: a life without violence and fear. The people in the unstable
province of Helmand don't have this yet."
Die Welt (2/16) opined on its front-page: "The offensive is the acid
test for the Pentagon's strategy to capture the territory, hold and
develop it, hand it over to the Kabul government and then begin its
withdrawal as of summer 2011. The troop increase has made the
things that are happening now part of Obama's war. This is about
the future of the government in Washington. However, above all, this
will decide the nature of Islam - friend or enemy - the West will
meet in the future."
Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/15) editorialized on its front-page: "The
largest military operation since the ousting of the Taliban in
December 2001 started last weekend in southern Afghanistan. This is
the moment of truth for ISAF Commander McChrystal... Will he
succeed to drive out the insurgents from their stronghold and avoid
civilian victims? .... Being in a superior position, ISAF and
Afghan troops apparently took the city of Marjah quite easily.
However, it will take weeks until every house is searched. The
Afghan government will then face the real test. It must show that
it can bear responsibility."
Berliner Zeitung (2/15) commented: "Do you still remember Operation
Khanjar? It only started seven months ago in Helmand province.
U.S. troops, British allies and several units of the Afghan army
tried to take two districts in the Taliban stronghold. The military
effort was only surpassed by the media hype. However, we never read
anything about a successful end. Since last weekend, the region is
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seeing Operation Together. This operation is now being sold as the
first large operation since the announcement of Obama's new
strategy. It is now said that after the ousting of the Taliban,
sufficient troops will remain there to prevent the insurgents from
returning to region. Do you believe it? Those who don't believe it
are among the regional tribal leaders. They know the Taliban
better, since they have been their neighbors for some time. They
reached an agreement with them already before the foreign troops
came. And they will reach an agreement with them when the foreign
troops are gone again."
3. (Mideast) Secretary Clinton in the Mideast
Berliner Zeitung (2/16) editorialized: "Iran is coming under
increasing pressure. The Western countries are of course trying to
prevent the country from enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb.
The UN Security Council is supposed to impose tougher sanctions
soon. Secretary Clinton is travelling the region to get the support
of Sheiks. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently trying to
get the Russians on board. During the debate at the UN Human Rights
council in Geneva, representatives of the western countries used the
opportunity to condemn the massive violations of human rights in
Iran: arrests, death penalties, and the persecution of the
opposition. Although this problem has always been on the agenda of
the West, it was only a minor issue compared with the nuclear
dispute. However, those who express their solidarity with the green
movement must take care of its supporters. They must do this all
the time and not just when Iran is supposed to be put under more
pressure over its nuclear program, because otherwise human rights
would only be part of a poker game."
4. (Greece-EU) Stability of the Euro, Goldman Sachs Involvement
All major dailies (2/16) carried reports that, among other banks,
Goldman Sachs helped Greece hide its debt in order to join the
European Monetary Union. Frankfurter Allgemeine headlined; "Banks
Helped Greece Hush up its Debt." Sueddeutsche Zeitung carried a
report under the headline: "EU Investigating Accusations Against
Goldman - Brussels Demands Information on Potential Assistance of
the Bank for Greece and Increases Pressure on Athens to Make even
more Savings." Tagesspiegel headline: "A Forgotten Deal is Stirring
up the Mood - Goldman Sachs helped Greece years ago to Whitewash the
Budget - German Politicians are Outraged."
Under the headline: "Dirty Tricks," Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/16)
argued: "Thus far, the falsification of debt payments has been a
Greek problem. But the latest turn in the financial scandal is all
the more terrifying: these dirty tricks are possibly much more
widespread then previously assumed. But because states are not
requires to publish a balance sheet and because politicians are not
liable, the game goes on. The new accusations are now directed
against banks...but the ones that have now really made themselves
vulnerable are the European financial institutions, because they
approved Greece entering the Monetary Union, even though it was
clear that they could not rely on Greek debt figures. If the second
round of tricks with interest rates was really allowed - as the
Greeks claim - then these rules were a scandal."
Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2/16) headlined: "It was the Greeks," and
judged: "The transfiguration of the financial crisis is now under
full swing....but this mystification obscured a look at reality.
The Greek government made unaffordable promises. That is why it
struck deals with the Goldman Sachs investment bank which hid te
real extent of Greece's state debt from the EU. That is why the
proverb continues to remain valid that is spreading in Brussels.
There are lies, brazen lies, and Greek statistical data. Yes,
Goldman Sachs helped deceive and even profited from it. The bankers
were no sirens but they were driven by competition, which almost
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forced them to offer all the financial products to those who were
willing to pay for them, including governments. If we want to learn
a lesson from the Greek financial crisis, then it is this one. The
EU needs the authority to improve control of its member states, and
the financial markets need rules which will rein in competition."
Handelsblatt (2/16) opined: "No one should be surprised at reports
that Goldman Sachs helped Greece cover up its financial problems
with swap deals. It was the large investment banks which built up a
system of shadow banks before the financial crisis which only served
to bypass existing capital requirements. But the banks should now
rethink and approve a code of ethics in their business with the
public sector. They should do so in their own interest, because the
taxpayers will not eternally watch how an industrial sector that was
saved with a lot of public money makes a fool of the public again
and again. If the banks continue to pursue their current policies,
they will get into increasing trouble."
Regional daily KQlnische Rundschau (2/16) wondered "what is the
lesson from the Greek crisis" and judged: "The euro countries must
pay greater attention on whom they want to accept in the euro zone.
But the main thing is to realize that it is not enough to warn
member countries that they would soon exceed the questionable
three-percent level. What Europe needs is an effective, mutual
control of budget discipline and competitiveness - i.e. an economic
government that intervenes at the right time."
MQrkische Oderzeitung of Frankfurt on the Oder (2/16) opined:
"Politicians in Germany and elsewhere should be careful not to
burden the taxpayer again as they did with respect to the financial
markets. Nothing would be won if countries with poor budgetary
discipline got assistance without fixing their structural problems.
Should the German taxpayer again help out when the Greeks increase
their retirement age from 61 to 63, even though he only draws a
pension at 67? Assistance for Greece would be the precedent that
could then not be denied to other crisis countries such as Spain and
Portugal. The dogma of an 'eternal' monetary zone from which no one
should leave could be smashed to pieces by reality."
5. (U.S.-China) Obama Receives Dalai Lama
Under the headline: "Obama Against Beijing," Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(2/15) argued: "The fact that President Obama will meet the Dalai
Lama is a signal. By doing so, Obama is making up for a mistake,
because the President missed a first opportunity to meet the Dalai
Lama a few months ago. What is the reason for this change of mind,
which will certainly burden U.S.-Chinese relations? As a matter of
fact, Obama had no other choice. Thus far, each U.S. president met
the Dalai Lama over the past two decades. This has always been
considered as a commitment to human rights and as a warning to the
Chinese leadership. Over he past year, Obama avoided this signal
and this was based on his intention to demonstrate to the leadership
in Beijing that a new wind was blowing in Washington.... But Obama
made too many concessions to China.... If Obama had not met the
Dalai Lama right now, this would have caused an outrage among human
rights organizations, and the Republicans would have accused him of
giving into China. As far as foreign policy is concerned, the
President had no choice either. Despite his extended hand, the
Chinese obstructed Obama's policies. Whatever the reasons, the
Chinese are unwilling to make a compromise with the U.S. or to
seriously cooperate. In the end, however, there should not be
confrontation for confrontation's sake. This is a policy Obama will
not pursue. At issue is a balance of interests but in a way that
the Chinese leadership understands better than a policy of an
extended hand."
Regional daily Lausitzer Rundschau of Cottbus (2/16) argued: "Now
after many futile attempts to embrace him, the U.S. President dares
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to receive the Dalai Lama in the White House and - as could be
expected the Politburo is foaming. It is reason for hope that the
overdue conflict with the increasingly arrogant Chinese leadership
is now happening in the human rights question. With the assistance
of the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama could regain a bit of his
credibility in foreign policy that made him a carrier of hope."
6. (EU-U.S.) SWIFT
Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/16) editorialized: "In the vote on the
SWIFT agreement, European parliamentarians had to weigh security
against data protection. The governments of the EU countries gave
more priority to security and, with it, the relations to the United
States. It is understandable that this provokes representatives of
those parties that are in opposition at home. However, it is only
getting clearer now why even CDU and CSU politicians did not support
the agreement. To make sure that representatives of the CDU and
CSU proved to be reliable partners of America, the Chancellery (we
are probably talking here about Chief of Staff Pofalla) told
Merkel's men shortly before the vote that the voting results would
be noted. However, such an involvement in their right to make
decisions touches the pride of CDU and CSU representatives and made
them vote with the Social Democrats, Greens and Communists. It was
well meant, but turned out badly."
Josef Joffe commented in Tagesspiegel (2/16) on the vote: "This is
good for Europe and good for America. Hardly anybody wants to stop
Homeland Security from attacking freedom rights in the name of
security. The EU therefore did America a favor. We must not allow
a few hundred terrorists to dominate our way of life. If the U.S.
needs transfer data it must do what the rule of law requires:
persuade a judge instead of fishing around in bank accounts. After
all, America embodied its bill of rights in the Constitution of
1787, which were only earned in Europe over time."
7. (U.S.) Obama Government
Tagesspiegel (2/16) carried an editorial by its Washington
correspondent under the headline: "Land Of Unlimited Anger," and
opined: "America continues to remain a country of unlimited
opportunities. But currently, it is a country of unlimited anger
and unlimited confusion about the political balance of forces.
Never before, have so many Americans (73.4 percent) rejected
Congress. Never before, has the number of Americans who would not
re-elect their Congressman or senator, been so great. And this
dissatisfaction is visible in all camps. This mood should force
both camps to make compromises and to regain the confidence of the
people with practical successes. But this anger has produced a
protest groups such as the 'Tea Party' which rejects any compromise
with Obama. They represent only ten percent but the Republicans do
not dare oppose this group. Overwhelming majorities against
everything, and, at the same time, hardly any prospect to find a
majority in Congress for concrete projects - it seems that America
remains ungovernable for the foreseeable future, at least until the
Congressional elections in November. But even those elections will
not settle the question of power."
According to Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2/13), "the United States is
playing a special role in the debt theater. The situation in the
U.S. is extremely contradictory. President Obama's budget has the
highest ever deficit during a time of peace, but this does not worry
the financial markets. On the contrary, investors flee from the
euro to the dollar.... But as far as politics is concerned, the
Obama presidency has led the budget policy into a deep crisis. It
was primarily the fear of this deficit that resulted in the
foundation of the 'Tea Party' and turned the mood in the country
against the Democrats. But this conservative revolt leads to a
refusal to accept reality with respect to the long-term U.S.
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financial problems. Without comprehensive reform, the cost of the
healthcare system will blow up the U.S. budget in the next decade.
Higher taxes will be unavoidable as will be spending cuts. Everyone
knows this but the political culture in Washington seems to prevent
any form of compromise. This blockade, this incapability to resolve
obvious problems, let us fear about long-term security and the U.S.
leading role in the world. During the worst days of the financial
crisis, the international community took unprecedented steps and
coordinated action to prevent the worst. Now it is important to
prevent long-term and possible irreversible consequential damages."
DELAWIE
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