Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Katrina
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 PARIS 006116
DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU; AF/PA;
EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA
FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR
AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Katrina
PARIS - Friday, September 09, 2005
(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:
B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:
Ambassador Stapleton is quoted in Agence France Press in a
dispatch titled: "Katrina: the U.S. Thanks the French for
their Help." "On Thursday the U.S., through its Ambassador,
thanked the `government and the people of France' for `their
generous assistance' to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Speaking in French before a group of journalists, Ambassador
Craig Stapleton also recalled the historic ties that link
France and New Orleans." Le Figaro, under the title:
"Washington Thanks Paris for Its Support" also quotes
Ambassador Stapleton. Reporting from Dallas, William Raymond
of Le Parisien who lists the various French efforts present in
the region, writes: "This surge of solidarity was saluted by
the U.S. Ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton."
Although front pages are devoted to a wide variety of domestic
stories, coverage of Katrina continues to hold a prominent
place in all dailies, with many commentaries devoted to the
political impact of the hurricane on the Bush administration
and beyond, on U.S. policy in general. A front-page commentary
by political analyst Daniel Vernet of Le Monde is titled
"Katrina Shakes Up U.S. Diplomacy" while editorialist Patrick
Sabatier of Liberation entitles his column: "The Anti 9/11."
In the regional press, one editorial also on Katrina points to
"America's lack of readiness." (See Part C) But in his weekly
round up in Le Figaro, Ivan Rioufol criticizes French coverage
of the Katrina tragedy: "Granted that President Bush did not
measure up to the situation. But it is indecent to jubilate
while describing the details of a humiliated super power. Not
only would France not have done better in a similar situation,
we also have our poor."
UN Reforms are also a major topic of debate. An op-ed in
Liberation by three members of the Committee in favor of
canceling the debt of poor nations is titled "Against
Sabotaging the UN." (See Part C)
(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:
"Katrina Shakes Up U.S. Diplomacy"
Daniel Vernet in left-of-center Le Monde (09/09): "All the
deficiencies revealed by Hurricane Katrina - the many victims,
the obvious ineffectiveness of the authorities, negligence due
to lack of funds - all of this could lead U.S. public opinion
as well as the administration to rethink America's priorities
and return to a policy more centered on domestic issues and
the immediate needs of its citizens, including the needs
regarding security. What is the use of looking to safeguard
America's security by going to battle in Iraq and seeking to
establish democracy, if Americans cannot be protected from
natural tragedies.? The majority Americans no longer believe
their President when he flaunts the successes of the war in
Iraq. After having spent several years fighting against
external threats, the Americans may, under the impulse of
other leaders, turn to dealing with their domestic weaknesses,
so as to avoid giving the image of a super power harboring in
its midst pockets of the third world. The U.S. would be
reverting to a form of `jeffersonism,' serving the universal
cause of democracy through example rather than by exporting a
Nicolas Barre in right-of-center Le Figaro (09/09): "Four
years after 9/11, the tragedy of New Orleans has underscored
the troubling inability of the U.S. authorities to quickly
react to a blow of massive destruction which had previously
been announced. The chain of command, in the event of a
serious crisis, remains a source of confusion which everyone
thought had been sorted out after 9/11. If Katrina was able to
cause so much damage, one dares not imagine what a surprise
chemical attack might do. While a hurricane gives advance
notice of its trajectory, terrorists do not announce
themselves on a radar screen."
"The Anti 9/11"
Patrick Sabatier in left-of-center Liberation (09/09): "It was
inevitable to make the comparison between the ravages of
Katrina and those of 9/11. America's vulnerability to the
forces of nature has been compared to its vulnerability to
terrorism. But on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, August
29 looks more like the opposite of 9/11. The Al-Qaeda attack
gave President Bush an opportunity to show his `leadership.'
The country was united in a reflex of patriotism. The effect
of Katrina has been the exact opposite. The hurricane has
shown a President without `leadership' and an impotent federal
government, unable to fill its position as protector of its
citizens. The political debate in the U.S. appears suddenly to
have shifted towards domestic issues, and possibly for a long
time to come."
"A More Humble America"
Jacques Hubert-Rodier in right-of-center Les Echos (09/09):
"The country hosting next week's major UN summit looks more
humble and less arrogant than it did four years ago. leading
some to speak of an `American decline.' This is far from being
the case. But as the world continues to navigate in un-
chartered waters, there are new questions arising from China
and India's emergence. As America suddenly faces an internal
disaster, it must remain vigilant on the international scene.
All the while dealing with the tragedy in New Orleans, it must
resist the temptation to turn inward. This attitude could lead
to losing ground everywhere."
"America's Lack of Readiness"
Jean-Claude Arbona in regional La Nouvelle Republique du
Centre Ouest (09/09): "Money, glory and honor to he who makes
it. But what about the others? They are abandoned like the
Blacks of New Orleans, too poor to leave or find housing
elsewhere. The pictures are hurting America and the Americans.
Had the federal government planned their evacuation? No. Has
President Bush announced a federal plan for after the tragedy?
No. He called for donations. While private donations are
colossal, they also illustrate to what extent the federal
government is strong when it comes to dealing with matters
abroad, yet remains weak in the social protection of its
citizens. Can this be tolerated?"
"Against the Sabotaging of the UN"
Julie Castro, Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint in left-of-
center Liberation (09/09): "For the past several years the
U.S. has been launching a veritable offensive against the UN,
where the Americans cannot operate as freely as they can
elsewhere. The latest is Ambassador Bolton's attempts to
drastically limit the impact of the next UN summit. His many
amendments to the UN reform plan aim to go back on certain
issues, and setting them in stone. This game plan by the Bush
administration is part of a wider design to protect, at all
costs, America's dominance as well as the dominance of its
companies and that of major powers supporting the U.S. . A
number of world events help to shed light on the logic behind
the actions of President Bush who seems to be taking a certain
pleasure in trampling the UN: The invasion of Iraq where the
U.S. and its allies are now mired was led in complete
violation of the UN charter. Similarly, President Bush's
opposition to international treaties, including on the
environment, juxtaposed to the destruction caused by Katrina,
illustrates the destructive aspects of a neo-liberal doctrine
which assigns billions to an imperialist war and pays no
attention to social and environmental needs." STAPLETON