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Cablegate: Getting the Good News Out On Iraq

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

UNCLAS BRATISLAVA 000462

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR R; PA; IIP/G/EUR; NEA/PD; EUR/PPD -
MHARALAMBAKIS AND MHURLEY
EMBASSIES FOR PAO
PRAGUE, BUDAPEST AND WARSAW FOR AMBASSADOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PREL LO IZ
SUBJECT: GETTING THE GOOD NEWS OUT ON IRAQ


1. SUMMARY: THE COUNTRY TEAM AND I HAVE FOUND, THROUGH
OUR OUTREACH EFFORTS AROUND SLOVAKIA, THAT PEOPLE ARE
NOT GETTING ENOUGH FACTUAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE
POSITIVE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE COALITION'S EFFORTS IN
IRAQ. SLOVAK EDITORIAL OPINION HAS SO FAR REMAINED
PREDOMINANTLY ON OUR SIDE. ON THE OTHER HAND, PUBLIC
OPINION, WHICH SUPPORTS WITHDRAWAL OF SLOVAK TROOPS
FROM IRAQ, IS CAUSING POLITICAL LEADERS TO BEGIN TO ASK
FOR DISCUSSIONS ON THIS ISSUE. MUCH OF THIS PRESSURE
IS BECAUSE THE NEWS MEDIA CONTAINS MOSTLY INFORMATION
ON FIGHTING AND CASUALTIES AND NOT ON THE PROGRESS MADE
IN REBUILDING IRAQ AND PREPARING IT FOR DEMOCRATIC SELF-
RULE. THEREFORE, PUBLIC IMPRESSIONS ARE THAT TROOPS
ARE IN IRAQ TO FIGHT A WAR AND NOT TO STABILIZE THE
COUNTRY FOR THE REBUILDING EFFORTS AND THE CREATION OF
A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT. THE RECENT ROUNDTABLES FOR
CENTRAL EUROPEAN JOURNALISTS WITH SECRETARY POWELL AND
SECRETARY RUMSFELD WERE ENORMOUSLY SUCCESSFUL IN

SIPDIS
GETTING FRONT-PAGE STORIES, BUT THE NUMBER OF THOSE
OPPORTUNITIES IS LIMITED. WE ARE LOOKING FOR MORE WAYS
TO REACH A LARGER AUDIENCE, GIVEN THE RESOURCE
LIMITATIONS OF OUR POST. END SUMMARY.

2. MEMBERS OF COUNTRY TEAM AND I BELIEVE THERE ARE
CERTAIN ADDITIONAL TOOLS THE DEPARTMENT COULD PROVIDE
THAT WOULD BE OF ASSISTANCE TO US AND SIMILAR POSTS IN
CENTRAL EUROPE AND ELSEWHERE:

A) MORE GENERIC OP-EDS FOR PLACEMENT UNDER THE
AMBASSADOR'S NAME. THE GENERAL CONSENSUS AMONG PEOPLE
IN THE PUBLIC OPINION BUSINESS IS THAT ARTICLES BY THE
U.S. AMBASSADOR ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE READ THAN
ARTICLES BY A HIGHER-RANKING AMERICAN LEADER WITH NO
LOCAL TIES.

WE DO NOT HAVE THE STAFF OR RESOURCES TO WRITE OP-EDS
FROM SCRATCH, AND IT SEEMS INEFFICIENT FOR EVERY POST
TO BE WRITING ITS OWN. WE WOULD MAKE GOOD USE OF MORE
GENERIC OP-EDS THAT EXPLAIN THE COALITION MISSION AND
THAT HIGHLIGHT SOME OF THE "GOOD NEWS" ASPECTS THAT ARE
NOT GETTING THROUGH IN DAILY NEWS STORIES.

B) OFFICIAL SPEAKERS: WE COULD MAKE GOOD USE OF
OFFICIAL USG SPEAKERS WHO ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE
FACTS ON THE GROUND IN IRAQ AND CAN REFUTE
MISINFORMATION AND INCORRECT PERCEPTIONS. WHAT WE NEED
IS SPEAKERS WHO CAN PROVIDE VIVID EXAMPLES AND WHO
WOULD MAKE GOOD GUESTS ON TELEVISION TALK SHOWS, GOOD
INTERVIEW SUBJECTS FOR THE PRESS, AND GOOD SPEAKERS IN
PUBLIC FORUMS. A FEW WELL-CHOSEN SPEAKERS TRAVELING TO
VARIOUS POSTS COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION.

WHILE IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO SECURE PEOPLE THROUGH THE
P.A. SPEAKERS PROGRAM, THAT PROGRAM RELIES ON SPEAKERS
WHO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES AND NOT AS OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT
SPOKESPERSONS. WE HAVE LIMITED RESOURCES TO FUND
SPEAKERS (OUR FY-04 FUNDS ARE ALREADY EXHAUSTED), AND
SPEAKERS COULD BE BETTER UTILIZED IN THIS CASE BY
VISITING MULTIPLE COUNTRIES.

C) DIGITAL VIDEO CONFERENCES ARE USUALLY DEMAND-
DRIVEN, BUT IT COULD BE USEFUL TO TRY A SUPPLY-DRIVEN
APPROACH. FOR EXAMPLE, SOMEONE WITH A COMPELLING STORY
TO TELL ABOUT THE REVIVAL OF THE HOSPITAL SECTOR IN
IRAQ COULD BE OFFERED TO POSTS AS A DVC GUEST.

3. WE LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH THE DEPARTMENT IN
ADDRESSING THIS PUBLIC INFORMATION ISSUE.

THAYER

NNNN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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