Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraq
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000680
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
1. "Victory? Not yet"
The conservative National Post opined (3/11): "...The
truth is that nothing has yet been 'won' in Iraq -
notwithstanding the wishful thinking we hear from Mr.
Chretien, French President Jacques Chirac and the other
world leaders whose desperation to avoid war is
blurring into appeasement. The battle will not be won
until Iraq is fully disarmed - a goal that, more and
more, would seem to require the removal of Saddam
Hussein to be achieved."
2. "Saddam has to go, but we can't trust Bush to do
Retired political reporter and columnist Anthony
Westell observed in the leading Globe and Mail (3/11):
"... I'm in favour of using force if necessary to
remove Mr. Hussein. But, and here's the rub, the man
who has the force is Mr. Bush, and he, too, I fear, is
showing signs of megalomania. He loves being a
president at war. See him strut, hear his bellicose
speeches to his troops. And remember that Iraq is only
the first part of his grand strategy. He plans to
reorganize the Middle East - and, it appears,
any other part of the world that offends him.... [But]
how can I reconcile these two views - that we should
remove Saddam Hussein, by force if necessary, but that
Mr. Bush is not the man we can trust with the task? My
answer is probably idealistic. Unless Mr. Hussein
proves he has disarmed and steps down, I think the
Security Council should vote to remove him and
replace his regime with a temporary UN administration,
using force if necessary, but a measured force, applied
by troops in blue helmets and under UN command. If Mr.
Bush agreed to commit U.S. forces under those
conditions, good. But I know that's highly unlikely,
and there would be no way now to stop him from acting
alone. In that case, the lesson for the Security
Council should be that it is time, past time, to create
a multinational military force able to enforce its
3. "Saddam doesn't have a prayer"
Under the sub-heading, "The Iraqi dictator's greatest
miscalculation was to toy with the Bush administration
after Sept. 11. Now there's no turning back," columnist
Drew Fagan suggested in the leading Globe and Mail
(3/11) that, "...It may be that the Bush administration
gambled from the start - using disarmament as a
smokescreen for regime change, using the UN to give
credibility to a fundamentally unilateral policy. If
so, the pretext is
falling away. But Mr. Hussein's calculations have been
infinitely more reckless. He has brought on himself
what appears to be the imminent destruction of his
government and the occupation of his country. Mr.
Hussein won't have to live with the aftermath. The rest
of the world does. They should hope that the war that
now appears all but certain goes as well as
the Americans have planned. This is one Hail Mary pass
that, if thrown, must be completed successfuly."
4. "Tide turns against Bush"
Columnist Thomas Walkom wrote in the liberal Toronto
Star (3/11): "The Iraq crisis is no longer about
stopping Iraq. It is about stopping the United
States.... Most countries outside the U.S. are no
longer worried about rogue Iraqi dictator Saddam
Hussein. They are worried about rogue American
President George W. Bush.... For now it is not Iraq, a
minor Middle Eastern power, that is in potential
defiance of the U.N. system, but the mighty U.S.
In effect, Bush has served notice that the painstaking
logic of collective security, which the U.S. itself did
so much to create 58 years ago, is to be junked. War is
to be no longer a last resort but an active part of
superpower foreign policy. Decisions on the
international order are to be made not at the U.N. but
in Washington alone. The sovereignty of other
nations is now to be wholly contingent upon U.S.
geopolitical interests. No wonder the rest of the world
is nervous. No wonder that France, Germany,
Russia and (maybe) China have forged their unlikely
5. "Test Iraq's will to fully disarm"
The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (3/11):
"...Obsessed with toppling Saddam, Bush has trotted out
one dubious rationale after the other for war:
To destroy weapons the U.N. isn't sure Saddam
possesses. To guard against the possibility he might
give weapons to Al Qaeda, when no Baghdad-9/11 axis
exists. To punish Saddam for befriending other
terrorists. To defend the U.N.'s honour. To liberate
Iraqis from a despot. To defend Israel. To safeguard
oil. To democratize the Mideast. Because 250,000 U.S.
troops can't be kept waiting forever. And now to spare
Bush an embarrassing climbdown. This dizzy reasoning
has sown discord at the U.N., in the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization and in the European Union. Bush's
threat to ignore the U.N. has led to criticism that he
is acting like a scofflaw himself.... The U.N. can
legitimately demand that Baghdad `disarm' or face
attack, as the U.S. wants. But not without defining
what that implies. And not without giving the Iraqis a
chance to comply."
6. "An untutored, unprepared president will be
running this war"
Former Washington correspondent and professor of
journalism and international affairs at Carleton
University, Andrew Cohen pointed out in the nationalist
Ottawa Citizen (3/11) that, "...[President Bush] hasn't
seen war, as JFK or Truman did, or pondered the future,
as Lincoln did, which would make him more credible. Why
won't he disavow the interests of oil? Does he
challenge the hawks? Does he demand more information?
His lack of perception and curiosity make even those
who support intervention wish this
were Al Gore's War. He sees Iraq as a question of
security, pure and simple, and security is a
president's greatest responsibility. The dangers - the
damage to the United Nations, the alienation of old
allies, the challenge of Iraq after Saddam - are of
less consequence. In these matters, he is innocent of
nuance. Without great experience or knowledge, Mr. Bush
does have faith. He reads short inspirational homilies.
Religion allows him to see things in black and white -
evil or America, peace or chaos - which may be the only
way to see Saddam Hussein. As he makes the most
important decision a president can, he is said to be
keeping his own counsel. In the end he may well do the
right thing for the wrong reasons in Iraq, and it may
make him courageous, resolute and wise. One hopes so.
In the meantime, Mr. Bush on the brink is simply