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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraq; Afghanistan; Turkey

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 OTTAWA 000659

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAN, WHA/PDA
WHITE HOUSE PASS NSC/WEUROPE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KMDR OIIP OPRC CA
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAQ; AFGHANISTAN; TURKEY


IRAQ
1. "Pope has zeal, but no answer on Iraq question"
Columnist Marcus Gee noted in the leading Globe and
Mail (3/6) that, "John Paul is dead against war and he
is not afraid to say so.... To drive his antiwar
message home, John Paul has met many of the leading
players in the Iraq debate: British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, United
Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Italian Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish Prime Minister
Jose Maria Aznar.... The Pope's surprisingly muscular
intervention puts him at odds with the two
devoted Christians who are leading the campaign against
Iraq - Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair - and sets up a
remarkable debate over the morality of the planned
war.... Both Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush believe just as
strongly as the Pope that their course is the morally
correct one. In fact, as opposition to the war has
grown, both have begun framing their arguments in moral
terms.... If war is the wrong answer, what, in the case
of Iraq, is the right one? To this, Christ's Vicar has
no good answer."

2. "Ever new lines in the sand"
Editorial page editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui
commented in the liberal Toronto Star (3/6): "Another
week, another American rationale for hurtling toward an
invasion of Iraq.... What we are witnessing in
Washington is a dangerously ideological administration
so bent on waging war that it would say just about
anything to justify its holy mission."

3. "The `evil axis' hits back"
The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (3/5): "As U.S.
President George Bush gets ready to crush Saddam
Hussein, the rest of the 'axis of evil' are feeling
Saddam's pain. But far from being cowed, North Korea
and Iran seem determined to deny Bush the chance to do
to them what he's about to do to Saddam. It's getting
prickly out there. In Korea, the mercurial Kim Jong-il
has countered a threat with a crisis. He has an illegal
nuclear bomb or two, and is eyeing an assembly line....
Iran, too, is a worry. Tehran has a murky
'peaceful' nuclear program that's getting murkier. It
has rebuffed IAEA requests for better access to nuclear
sites.... All the talk in Washington of 'taking out'
Saddam's regime before it can arm itself with horror
weapons has emboldened Korea, and tempted Iran, to
shield themselves from attack by acquiring the very
nukes Saddam lacks. Washington's aggressive doctrine of
`pre-emptively' smashing regimes that pose no threat
but in theory might risks inviting an arms race that
can only damage U.S. interests. Having
loosed this stampede, Bush must now try to rein it in.
The campaign against terror remains America's chief
priority. But getting North Korea to abandon its nukes
and persuading Iran not to go down the nuclear road
ought to be high on the presidential agenda. Higher
than regime change in Iraq. Iraq is a problem. But
Korea is a crisis. And Iran is fast becoming one.
However Bush may loathe Pyongyang and Tehran, he needs
to cool his moralizing, rein in his hawkish advisers
and deploy skilled diplomats to engage these regimes
in a dialogue to head off catastrophe. Toppling Saddam
is a potentially fatal distraction."

4. "Murky message hurts U.S. case for war in Iraq"
Columnist Marcus Gee observed in the leading Globe and
Mail (3/5): "Is the United States trying to disarm
Iraq's Saddam Hussein, or trying to remove him from
power? The simple answer: both. Washington believes
that the only way to make sure he disarms is to oust
him. That is why it is preparing to fight. But
somewhere on the road to Baghdad, that message has
become clouded, confusing U.S. allies and undermining
the case for war.... Despite all the confusion in the
wider world about regime change, the U.S.
administration is quite clear in its own mind about its
war aims, which have not changed a jot since the
beginning. Disarmament is the goal and ousting Saddam
Hussein the method. But by muddying the message, it has
hurt its case."

5. "Intolerable aggression"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (3/6):
"U.S. President George Bush has been expressing high
hopes lately about the secondary benefits that may
result from a military operation to disarm Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein. These could include freedom,
peace and prosperity for the people of Iraq and
neighbouring countries, establishment of a democratic
Palestinian state and peace for Israel. It is, however,
far from certain that these results can be achieved
through invasion of Iraq.... Results of that distant
kind lie far beyond Mr. Bush's control. America and its
allies should be conscious of both the dangers and the
opportunities, but they should not decide between war
and peace on the basis of hoped or feared results that,
for the moment, can only be guessed at. Invasion of
Iraq will cause death, injury and destruction of
property, mainly for Iraqis but also for the invaders.
That is a terrible course to adopt and many governments
on the United Nations Security Council have been
reluctant to agree to such a course. The other course,
however, is far worse. The other course is to tolerate
aggression.... Peace and security for all countries
depend on effective means for stopping aggression....
The valid purpose for invading Iraq is to disarm Saddam
Hussein. That is worth doing for itself and for the
larger purpose of showing all would-be aggressors that
aggression is not tolerated. If the action leads to
general peace and contentment in the Arab world and the
Middle East, so much the better, but George Bush should
not count on it and he should not be surprised if his
action produces unwelcome results that he can neither
foresee nor prevent. The best possible result is
compliance by Iraq with the requirements of the
Security Council. Failing that, invasion to enforce
compliance is a cruel necessity. If compliance is not
enforced, then the invitation to aggression is issued
and the nations of the world must brace themselves for
the wars that will follow. "

6. "The triple veto".
Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in the liberal Le
Devoir (3/6): "The last word still belongs to the chief
inspectors who will present their report tomorrow. It
is worth pointing out that France has insisted that the
Blix expose be made in public and not in closed chamber
as it was originally planned. Yesterday's gesture by
the Berlin-Moscow-Paris axis had an immediate impact.
Prime Minister Blair is more isolated than ever... By
playing his pieces so unilaterally, the leader of the
British government has gone beyond the point of no
return. If Washington decides to go ahead without the
support of the U.N., as Secretary of State Colin Powell
has predicted, Blair will be forced to follow. This man
who preferred action over the rule of law has put
himself in the position to be hit by the boomerang
effect."

7. "Losing the PR Game"
Columnist Ian MacDonald wrote in the conservative The
Gazette (3/5): "...Once it made a choice of going to
the United Nations rather than going it alone on the
road to Baghdad, the Bush administration was committed
to a diplomatic end game in the Security Council, a
game it clearly does not control.... Meantime, world
opinion counts. The worldwide anti-war demonstrations
on Feb. 15 were also a reminder of the awesome power of
the Internet.... Never before has such a well-connected
movement demonstrated in such impressive numbers around
the world on a single day.... But the worst moment for
the Bush administration might have come when Iraqi
deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz received an audience
from the pope.... Perhaps the best policy for the
United States would be to stand by in the Persian Gulf
and keep squeezing Saddam until, piece by piece, he
destroys all his weapons of mass destruction. Then, in
the immortal words of the late Vermont senator, George
D. Aiken, in the context of Vietnam, Bush could simply
declare victory and pull out."

AFGHANISTAN
8. "What happened to Afghanistan's cash?'
The conservative National Post opined (3/6): "When
Afghanistan's Taliban regime fell in late 2001, there
was a widely shared feeling that this was a victory for
the Afghan people as much as it was for the United
States and its allies.... In recent months, however,
the world's attention has become increasingly focused
on Iraq, and it appears the West is beginning to forget
about Afghanistan.... Washington dropped the ball on
Afghanistan a second time, just two weeks ago. In late
February, Japan played host to a second
conference on Afghanistan, this time to promote the
disarmament, demobilization and reintegration...of the
estimated 800,000 Afghan men who serve in the country's
network of private armies. The United States pledged
just $14-million for this crucial effort, compared to a
promise of $42-million from Japan. This is
unacceptable: The United States is both the
world's richest country and the Western nation with the
most to lose should Afghanistan collapse or fall back
under the sway of Taliban-like extremists.
Washington should be rounding up more generous funding
for the DDR and other projects. It also must commit
larger amounts itself. It would be fantastically short-
sighted for the United States to spend tens of billions
of dollars fighting a high-tech war in 2001 - only to
see the benefits squandered because of a lack of follow-
up humanitarian funding in 2003 and
beyond.... It should be no small embarrassment to
Western governments that Iran - a member of George W.
Bush's 'axis of evil' - has actually turned into one of
Afghanistan's most generous donors.... If the Western
effort falters, and a political vacuum develops in
Afghanistan, we can guess what the consequences will
be.... In 1989, when the Soviet Union was kicked out of
Afghanistan by U.S.-backed mujahadeen, the United
States had the chance
to help Afghanistan rebuild. Instead, Washington
declared victory and abandoned the country - a move
that left Afghanistan ripe pickings for the
Pakistan-backed Taliban a few years later. We cannot
allow history to repeat itself."

TURKEY
9. "Ankara's dilemma"
Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in the liberal French-
language daily Le Devoir (3/4): "The Ankara government
intends to try again by presenting a second motion to
Parliament.... To rally all the members of his party,
Erdogan will obviously have to propose a motion with
more potential gains than those promised so far by
Bush. The dilemma is simple: either the government
gives satisfaction to Washington and immediately
alienates civil society, or it refuses and its chances
of joining the European Union sooner will increase to
Bush's great displeasure."

CELLUCCI

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