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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraq; Africa; Icc

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 002104

SIPDIS

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

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


IRAQ
1. "Fallout from Iraq"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press observed (7/8):
"...Mr. Bush's reasons for going to war may be
questioned more and more sharply, as next year's
presidential election approaches, if popular support
for the Iraq invasion ebbs and poor performance of the
U.S. economy saps confidence in the president's
leadership. In such a context, a conclusion that Mr.
Bush unwittingly misled the country could be a further
blow to his political support."

2. "A casualty of war"
Under the sub-heading, "Exaggerating Saddam's sins was
foolish and unnecessary," the nationalist Ottawa
Citizen editorialized (7/11): "...If Mr. Bush knowingly
cited false intelligence, his credibility is profoundly
damaged. If he believed in the intelligence because his
subordinates misled him, the credibility of the entire
administration is damaged. The ones who
benefit from the controversy are those who seek to
delegitimize the deployment of U.S. power. The next
time Mr. Bush sounds the alarm about a mad dictator or
terrorist organization, critics will ask why they
should believe him.... As we and others argued from the
beginning, Saddam's fetish for ugly weapons was only
one of the reasons why he had to go. Liberating
millions of Iraqis, and trying to light the spark of
democratization and reform in the Arab world, were -
and still are - worthy goals."

3. "Small Lies"
Editorialist Mario Roy wrote in the centrist La Presse
(7/12): "It has now been proven that 10 Downing Street
and the White House lied about Iraq. Lied on relatively
minor points. But that is not what it important.... The
unilateralism of the American offensive, its real
justification which was to launch a new and dangerous
preventive strike strategy, the lack of post-war
planning and consequently the present situation in
Iraq...which was predictable and had been predicted by
the international community tends to give credence to
an almost brutal thesis: the Bush administration is not
fit to govern such a big, influential, powerful
nation.... This administration is showing itself to be
unable to correctly absorb the long term shock of
September 11, the toughest ever taken by the Americans
since the Civil War. Add to this the economic
quagmire...and you reach a wish, a prayer, a necessity:
George W. Bush must not be reelected in 2004."

AFRICA
4. "Blame America for conflict in Liberia"
Writer Gerald Caplan observed in the leading Globe and
Mail (7/11): "...The Bush administration now believes
it needs Africa to combat terrorism, as a giant market
for American products, and for its abundance of high-
quality oil. It needs Liberia to be stable. But after a
century of American-backed regimes and corporations,
the Liberian people also need to become a nation
again - an enormously difficult and expensive project.
Mr. Bush should intervene not out of great humanitarian
motives, but out of basic accountability. For damages
knowingly incurred, his country owes Liberians
compensation in full."

5. "Trip to Africa"
The conservative Saskatoon StarPhoenix commented (7/8):
"...While campaigning, Bush complained about how the
U.S. was overextended overseas. Yet, since being
elected, he has used the U.S. army more than any other
president since the Vietnam war but so far has been
unsuccessful at destroying al-Qaida, catching its
leaders or even corralling Saddam Hussein. Despite
this, his stock continues to be high with Americans.
One wonders, however, how long that can continue. As he
hops through five African nations this week (adding the
likes of Senegal, Uganda and Botswana to the list of
countries - unlike Canada - to which he's had a state
visit), Bush must hope he can deflect attention from
the final leg of his current mandate.... The
continent is awash in small and medium arms. Basic
family and community infrastructures have been
destroyed by war and disease. Both conditions have
been made worse by Bush's decision to stop aid to
groups advocating birth control (and hence battling
AIDS and promoting of women's rights in Africa)
and his withdrawal from global efforts to curb small-
arms trade. He has further alienated would-be democrats
by trying to coerce countries (all of
the Caribbean, for example) which refuse to exempt the
U.S. from terms of the International Criminal Court. It
would be dangerous to underestimate the determination
of Americans to carry the war on terror to a decisive
conclusion. It would be equally dangerous to believe
that an American president can indefinitely get away
with riding the economy into the ground, alienating
allies and allowing U.S. interests and GIs to get
picked off one at a time without delivering tangible
results. Bush's African trip promises to be the
harbinger of an interesting year."

6. "Going into Liberia"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (7/4): "The United
States appears poised to send troops into Liberia at
the head of a multinational peacekeeping force.
President George W. Bush says he will not be hurried
into a decision, but the longer he waits the more dire
the humanitarian crisis grows.... As the Liberian
violence escalates, the flood of refugees poses yet
another threat to regional stability. And here's a
point made by several U.S. experts: Chaos, violence and
the lack of economic opportunities create a
prime breeding and recruiting ground for killers and
terrorists, as the Americans found in Somalia. All of
this adds up to a compelling case for a U.S.-led rescue
mission. And the sooner the better."

7. "'George Bush, save Liberia'"
Columnist Marcus Gee commented in the leading Globe and
Mail (7/4): "In a world ablaze with anti-Americanism,
the Liberians' plea for U.S. intervention is more than
just a curiosity. It is a golden opportunity.... A
forceful intervention in Liberia by the world's
superpower would demonstrate that the United States is
genuine when it says that it stands for human rights
and democracy.... If Mr. Bush listens to his allies and
does the right thing in Liberia, it will help show that
his country is indeed a benevolent - not just a self-
interested - superpower. If he doesn't, skepticism
about American motives will only rise. The UN's Mr.
Annan put it best: All eyes, he said, are on the United
States."

ICC
8. "U.S. speaks loudly and carries a big stick to
dodge international court"
Columnist Jonathan Manthorpe wrote in the left-of-
center Vancouver Sun (7/10): "...Having failed to
convince much of the world that the International
Criminal Court, established a year ago in the Hague, is
a dangerous piece of political tomfoolery, Washington
has moved to arm-twisting and bribery to limit the
court's effectiveness. The administration of President
George W. Bush, with the backing of Congress, intends
to withdraw military aid to about 37 of its allies
because they refuse to exempt American servicemen and
women from possible prosecution by
the ICC.... If the reaction to America's attempt to
protect its people is over the top, so too is
Washington's analysis of the dangers of the
international court. The Rome treaty is full of
safeguards - many injected by the U.S. - against
frivolous, politically inspired prosecutions.
Moreover, the court is designed to function only in
those areas where national governments are unwilling or
unable to act. The court is staffed by highly qualified
judges and prosecutors, none of whom wants to waste
time or effort on anti-American witch hunts. The
court's concern is systematic abuses of human rights in
places where local people have no other recourse to
justice. So its focus is on places like the Balkans,
Congo, Burma and West Africa. It would be a travesty if
this valuable effort at justice-without-borders was
undermined because of hysterical political
campaigns on both sides."

CELLUCCI

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