Cablegate: Media Reaction: Afghanistan; North Korea

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. "What should NATO do in Afghanistan?"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (8/18): "What's to be
done when your raison d'tre has disappeared? That has
been the question faced by the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization since the end of the Cold War. Who is
NATO's enemy now that the Soviet empire is gone -
indeed, now that Russia is an associate member of the
Western military alliance and nations that once were
part of the Communist Warsaw Pact are full NATO
members? NATO's military action in Kosovo in 1999,
which included Canadian participation, was one
answer. Work jointly to end bloodshed in your own
backyard. But to the United States (and this was during
the Clinton administration), the operation in Kosovo
was a kind of war-by-bureaucracy. Other NATO members
played a larger strategic role than their firepower
warranted.... Now, however, NATO has gone to
Afghanistan. Twenty-one months after U.S. forces drove
the Taliban from power, the 19-member NATO alliance has
taken on responsibility for keeping the peace in
Kabul.... [I]t is less clear to what degree NATO is to
become a force for pro-viding nation-building as well
as security. One goes hand in hand with the other in a
place such as Afghanistan, where the Taliban left
behind an institutional vacuum. NATO, though, has
little experience in matters such as the training of
police and judges.... The Bush administration welcomes
NATO's new responsibilities, and for good reason. The
U.S. military's hands are full, largely in Iraq. The
White House may have sidelined NATO after Sept. 11, but
now it needs the help. Washington has also noticed with
some satisfaction that nations which opposed the
invasion of Iraq - Canada, for one, but also the
dastardly duo (in Republicans' eyes, anyway) of Germany
and France - are contributing troops to ISAF, or did so
in the past 18 months. There is evidence that the
transatlantic rift earlier this year may quietly be
healing, aided by the fact that ISAF's mandate is
authorized by the UN. Indeed, some in Washington
suggest NATO could be the perfect organization to take
over the military occupation of Iraq. This, for now
anyway, represents a reach. NATO must act successfully
in Kabul before it should consider further
deployments.... Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's President,
has urged NATO to consider an
expanded deployment, as has Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN's
special representative to Afghanistan. This would
require, by most estimates, at least another 10,000
troops - a contribution NATO is not yet willing to
make. Canada's military, for one, is already stretched
to the limit. Other NATO countries, though, are capable
of providing additional soldiers. A NATO force that
would patrol all of Afghanistan is worth serious
consideration. Start with Kabul, certainly, but if that
deployment is successful, NATO should be prepared to
take the next step."

2. "What a mess we're in"
Contributing foreign editor Eric Margolis observed in
the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (8/17): "...NATO
troops are in Kabul not because the alliance wanted to
get involved in Afghanistan's 24-year-old conflict, but
because Washington browbeat Canada and its European
allies into helping share the burden of garrisoning a
conquered nation. Better, figured NATO
governments, to placate Washington by sending troops to
lower threat Afghanistan than to dangerous Iraq.... Not
only are the U.S. and its allies mired in an
intensifying guerrilla war in a chaotic nation, they
now find themselves in league with world-class drug
dealers. Afghanistan was the world's leading grower and
exporter of opium, the base for morphine and heroin.
When the Taliban regime drove the Afghan Communists
from power in 1996, they vowed to eradicate opium,
though it was the dirt-poor nation's only cash crop. By
2001, according to UN drug agencies, the Taliban had
totally eradicated opium production in areas it
controlled. The only production of opium during the
Taliban era was done by its bitter foe, the
Northern Alliance. The Bush administration was giving
millions in anti-drug aid to the Taliban until four
months before the 9/11 attacks. After 9/11, the Taliban
was demonized by the Bush administration and U.S. media
for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden without first
seeing evidence of his guilt. The U.S. invasion
followed, the Taliban was overthrown and retreated into
the mountains. When the Northern Alliance seized power
in Kabul with help from Russia and the U.S., it revived
opium growing and soon began
producing morphine and refined heroin, processes
formerly performed in Pakistan. Today, Afghanistan, a
U.S. protectorate, is again the leading producer of
heroin, accounting for 4,000 tons annually, 75% of
total world production.... By helping protect Karzai
and the Northern Alliance, Canada, like the U.S., has
become an unwitting, but very real, accessory to the
international heroin trade, and the partner of a
criminal regime."

3. "Negotiation still best way to de-fang North
Under the sub-heading, "Rogue nation is the greatest
source of instability in the region," the left-of-
center Vancouver Sun commented (8/18): "Six-way talks
aimed at defusing a standoff between the United States
and North Korea over the latter's claims it is
developing nuclear weapons could begin as soon as Aug.
26. Originally, North Korea insisted on bilateral
meetings with the U.S., but last week it agreed to
talks that would also include South Korea, Russia,
China and Japan. Behind-the-scenes diplomacy from China
apparently brokered the change in position.... The
participation of the other great regional powers in
helping to move this delicate negotiation
forward is good news both for the U.S. and for the
concept of multilateralism.... [B]ut the rhetoric
between North Korea and the U.S. reached a new level of
rancour when John Bolton, the seasoned American
diplomat who is undersecretary of state for arms
control, made a recent speech that personally attacked
Mr. Kim for turning his country into a 'hellish
nightmare.' North Korea responded by referring to Mr.
Bolton as a 'bloodsucker' and 'human scum.' All this
might easily be dismissed as the over-inflated rhetoric
that sometimes characterizes political negotiations.
Some suggest it is part of a two-track American
strategy for weakening the North Korean dictator's
position by drawing a distinction between him and his
unfortunate subjects. Nevertheless, the escalating
insults do take place against a background of rising
tension. While it makes sense to prepare for
the worst in dealing with a rogue state, the best hope
for resolving the impasse and persuading the North
Koreans to forgo nuclear weapons still looks like a
multilateral forum in which the regional stakeholders
most at risk can also have a say. And, as frustrating
as the search for a solution might seem, the present
White House would do well to hearken to the tested
policies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Margaret
Thatcher. They argued persuasively that the best way to
improve odious regimes like the then-apartheid
government of South Africa was not by isolating them,
but by patiently drawing them into engagement with
western-style capitalism and its benefits."


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