Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraq; North Korea
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 OTTAWA 000679
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; NORTH KOREA
1. "Liberating Iraqis is main justification for war"
Columnist Rosie DiManno writing from Jordan made the
following observations in the liberal Toronto Star
(3/10): "The most urgent and compelling reason
for invading Iraq is the one never mentioned by
bickering diplomats at the United Nations: 24 million
Iraqis, 24 years of barbarous misrule, government by
thuggery.... But world leaders are pragmatic and
utterly selfish, with a keen eye to geopolitical
interests, even as they invest themselves with noble
motives - all this duplicitous keening about avoiding a
catastrophic war. That might be what drove millions of
people around the world to protest against war in Iraq,
but it has precious little to do with the bellicose
objections in Washington, Paris, Beijing, and let's
throw in Berlin, which at least can honestly attest to
the disastrous consequences of military belligerence.
The Germans have been chastened into an appreciation
for peace and diplomacy.... There are a multitude of
reasons for attacking Iraq. It's
to the United States' discredit that U.S. President
George W. Bush has done such a poor job of itemizing
them. He botched the rightness of war by only latterly
addressing the liberation of Iraqis, which should have
been first on the list, and which British Prime
Minister Tony Blair has managed to put at the centre of
his war threat. Washington has cast about for
validations of war: first it was about protecting
American security from Saddam's nasty weapons cache;
then it was about the security of Israel, then the
security of the region, then Saddam's alleged links to
Al Qaeda, and finally a stunning democratization of the
Mideast, starting in Baghdad. No wonder the public's
confused, credulous.... I don't understand why
liberating Iraqis - Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Christians,
Turkomans - from despotic tyranny has such little moral
traction. I don't understand why the basic human values
so precious to Canadians are deemed a luxury too taxing
for the international community to deliver to Iraq. I
don't understand the U.N.'s continuing tolerance of
rogue regimes, so long as they don't export tyranny
beyond their borders. I don't understand why the Iraqi
people matter so little."
2. "War against Iraq senseless"
Columnist Tom Brodbeck stated in the conservative
tabloid Winnipeg Sun (3/10): "It's one thing for the
United States and their so-called coalition of the
willing to argue that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is
a menace to the world who ought to be extinguished.
It's quite another for them to bomb Baghdad without the
approval of the United Nations and argue they're doing
so to enforce a series of broken UN resolutions. That's
hypocrisy in its purest form. If the U.S. and others
feel they have enough justification to declare war
against Iraq, whatever that justification may be,
nobody can really stop them. But I wish they wouldn't
insult my intelligence by telling me they're doing so
to enforce a series of UN resolutions.... The UN passes
resolutions all the time. But they have rules on how
those resolutions should be enforced. They have a
Security Council with voting members who have the sole
authority to enforce those resolutions. Anyone else,
including a `coalition of the willing,' who tries to
enforce them is not enforcing UN resolutions, they are
acting outside the UN. You can't have it both ways. You
can't say you're enforcing UN resolutions and then spit
in the eye of the institution that created them. It's
one of the many deficiencies in the pro-war argument.
Another major flaw is the argument that Iraq is
`linked' to terrorist cells, whatever that means....
But when asked for evidence that Iraq was behind 9/11,
the White House always fails to deliver.... It's
perhaps that assertion that erodes Bush's credibility
more than any other. When you don't have a strong case
for action, you reach. And George W. is reaching....
The bottom line today, though, is that nothing is going
to happen overnight in Iraq, except for a possible U.S.-
led war.... The United Nations is combing though Iraq
looking for and actively destroying arms. UN chief
inspector Hans Blix is reporting continued progress and
co-operation. The eye of the world is on Iraq and they
can't attack anyone or really do anything. They're
Under these circumstances, I don't know how any logical
thinking person could in good conscience approve of
military action against Iraq, killing tens of thousands
of innocent people, creating an explosively dangerous
environment in the Persian Gulf and substantially
increasing the threat of terrorism in the United
States. It simply makes no sense."
3. "Arrogant Bush sets stage for final U.N. showdown"
Editorial page editor Haroon Siddiqui suggested in the
liberal Toronto Star (3/9) that, "George W. Bush has
brought the world to the brink of one war and plunged
it into another: the war that he is hell-bent on
unleashing on Iraq, and the other on the diplomatic
front, where he has torpedoed the Atlantic alliance,
undermined moderate Muslim allies and is about to sink
the system of international law that has helped govern
the world since World War II. For this, we can blame
Saddam Hussein, of course, but also America - more
precisely, the Bush administration. Its unmatched
arrogance, staggering dishonesty and extraordinary
incompetence at international relations have
set the stage for the coming week's showdown, not
between enemies but friends.... Since last week, the
Bush mission has also been about establishing democracy
in Iraq and liberating Iraqis from Saddam's tyranny -
the strongest moral point in the American arsenal but
totally ineffective in light of its own past patronage
of the tyrant, its callous discounting of Iraqi
suffering under economic sanctions and the fact that
its bombs will kill many Iraqis before freeing them.
American disdain for international law
is also on display in the stepped-up bombing of Iraqi
defences in and around the north and south no-fly
zones.... So, the war has begun before it has begun....
Meanwhile, the simplest and the most profound questions
remain unanswered: Why war now, especially when it
lacks international legitimacy,
both in law and in the court of world public opinion?
Why abandon the inspections precisely when they are
beginning to work? Why risk the entire U.N. system? Why
risk geopolitical upheaval? More importantly, why risk
inflicting a humanitarian catastrophe on an already
4. "There must be a better 'bastard'"
Former publisher Hartley Steward commented in the
conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (3/9): "Of all the
bastards in the world available to hate these days,
surely Americans are the least intelligent choice....
In fact, President Bush and his administration, in
light of the Twin Towers attack, have shown surprising
restraint. They have tried patiently to explain their
intent to a world often reluctant to listen. They have
painstakingly made their case. It is downright absurd
to direct hatred toward the U.S. as if the world's only
superpower could not be a victim. Absurd and
transparently opportunistic. The new rules of war, the
suicide bomber's and the terrorist's rationale that no
one is innocent in war, make it entirely possible. It
is so obvious, one is almost embarrassed to point it
out: the real object of hatred here is Osama bin Laden
and his Islamic extremists. We should save our curses
for the madmen who flew airliners into the Trade Center
towers, killing innocents who were doing nothing more
than putting in a day's work. We should direct our
animosity toward rogue states like Iraq who refuse to
comply with UN disarmament orders; who thumb their
noses at the free world. We should husband our hatred
for the psychotic and brutal dictators who rule by fear
and murder and employ poison gas against their own
people. We should save our name-calling for those who
seek and build weapons of mass destruction to let loose
on the world. It is Saddam Hussein who is the bastard
5. "France is a true friend"
Foreign affairs columnist Eric Margolis observed in the
conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (3/9): "...It seems at
times that President Bush is even more
eager to bomb Paris than Baghdad. In fact, the
administration has been treating France like an enemy,
rather than America's oldest ally and intimate friend.
Neo-conservatives even accuse France of anti-Semitism,
a disgusting slander. Far from being an enemy, France
has been doing what a true good friend should do:
telling Washington its policy is wrong and dangerous,
unlike the handkissing leaders of Britain, Spain and
Italy, who crave Bush's political support, or the East
European coalition of the shilling, ex-communist
politicians pandering to Washington for cash....
Bush's crusade against Iraq will go on with or without
Turkey. The war will be akin to throwing a grenade into
a huge hornet's nest. France, which lives next to the
Arab world and has 5 million Muslim citizens, warns an
invasion and occupation of Iraq will roil the entire
region, spark more terrorism, and hit Europe with a
dangerous backblast. But Bush couldn't care less, as he
would say. While Bush prepares war against demolished
Iraq, he is ducking the surging nuclear confrontation
with North Korea, which, unlike Iraq, truly threatens
North America.... America's friends and neighbours, led
by France, the mother of diplomacy, rightly warn the
administration to halt its rush to war. President
Chirac and Foreign Minister de Villepin deserve the
Nobel Peace Prize. Americans owe France an apology, and
a hearty 'merci mon ami'"
6. "The damage done without a shot being fired"
Columnist Jeffrey Simpson remarked in the leading Globe
and Mail (3/8): "...Those who believe that inspections
are working and can produce additional positive results
must concede the point: Inspections would fail without
a credible threat of force. Or they would make such
little progress as to mock the latest UN resolution's
demand for 'immediate, active and
unconditional' disarmament. You can't have one without
the other, and it is naive to believe otherwise. Saddam
Hussein's regime will never disarm, in whole or in
part, without the threat of being toppled in a war....
The French and most of the world opposed military
action because they feared its consequences; the
Americans and their few allies supported such action
because they feared the consequences of no action.
Without a shot being fired, enormous damage has already
been done to the transatlantic arrangements that stood
these countries in such good stead for so many decades.
To the Americans, it will seem axiomatic now that their
great German friends and their perfidious French ones
will play the anti-American card, so that neither they
nor the disorganized European Union should be factored
into future U.S. foreign policy decisions. Nor should
increasingly irrelevant NATO.... The more the United
States feels itself abandoned, misunderstood and
opposed by countries it had counted on as friends, the
less it will reflect on what it has done to bring about
this state of affairs than on the weakness,
unreliability and fecklessness of those erstwhile
friends whose support is not worth all the bother."
7. "A deadline fit for the Security Council"
The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (3/8):
"...[I]sn't an ultimatum precisely what's necessary?
Isn't the credible prospect of war precisely what is
needed now to avoid it, by forcing an Iraqi change of
heart?... Ultimately...the issue isn't a precise date.
It is the need to bring this to a head. Mr. Hussein's
game of cat-and-mouse cannot be allowed to continue.
And the U.S. and British troops cannot remain
indefinitely in a state of battle readiness. The
members of the UN Security Council came together last
November and unanimously passed Resolution 1441. They
should come together again early next week and pass the
resolution giving Mr. Hussein a final deadline of March
17. War may still be the outcome. But, if so, Mr.
Hussein will have been given every chance to avoid it."
8. "The hawks of Iraq"
The conservative National Post opined (3/8): "...We
concede there are real arguments for opposing war -
though we do not find them convincing. Peaceniks,
however, should resist the urge to use Saddam's victims
as props. It is ordinary Iraqis who have the most to
gain from a U.S.-led invasion, and the most to lose
should war opponents get their way."
9. "Enough of the weasel words."
The conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun declared (3/8):
"...[L]et's give Saddam one last, last chance - an 18th
resolution giving him until March 17 to disarm - only
11 days sooner than the March 28 deadline in the
'Canadian compromise.' But then the UN must show
whether it is relevant. If Saddam chooses not to
comply, then we believe that even if the war resolution
fails to gather the necessary nine of 15 Security
Council votes, or if France, China or Russia vetoes it,
then the U.S. and Great Britain should lead a coalition
of willing nations to disarm Saddam.
He is a tyrant.
He terrorizes his own people.
He has attacked three neighbours.
He has pursued weapons of mass destruction.
He supports terrorists and terrorism.
Should he supply chemical or biological weapons to
terrorists, the world will see a horror that would
dwarf 9/11. Back down now and the UN will send
a message to tyrants and terrorists everywhere that it
is open season on the rest of us. Time to decide."
10. "They could be on their own"
Editor emeritus Peter Worthington wrote in the
conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (3/10): "...This may
sound ingenuous, but what America should do seems
obvious. Dealing with North Korea is even simpler than
dealing with the South. There's growing unrest in South
Korea against the U.S. military presence which, since
the ceasefire in the war 50 years ago, has protected
the South from the North.... Some think America should
forget about Saddam Hussein and concentrate on bringing
North Korea to heel. That said, the nasty anti-American
demonstrations in South Korea demanding the U.S.
military leave are upsetting.... What's hard to
understand is why the
Americans stay if South Koreans want them gone. True,
the majority want American troops handy and know the
North is up to no good, but the massive protests that
lambaste the U.S. must irritate the hell out of
Americans. If I were President George Bush, I'd be
tempted to say to South Korea - publicly and bluntly -
that if you want us gone, we'll go; you work out what
you can with your fruitcake neighbour. That'd panic
South Koreans, and restore common sense.... Although
North Korea's nuclear weapons program is no direct
threat to America, selling nuclear technology to rogue
regimes and terrorists is. This is all Kim Jong-il has
to sell.... North Korea wants - demands - direct
negotiations with the U.S., which, in turn, prefers
multinational talks that include Russia, China,
Australia and Japan. Since Kim Jong Il reneges on
agreements and his word means nothing, why talk? What
North Korea wants is bribes and payoffs. Blackmail. All
it has to barter are weapons and soldiers. North Korea
has no allies, with the possible exception of Cuba's
Fidel Castro.... The soft approach rarely works with
tyrants. Once Saddam Hussein has been eliminated, North
Korea should be duck soup, providing President Bush
doesn't waver or waffle."