Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Un Summit Afghanistan Katrina

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
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - UN Summit Afghanistan Katrina
PARIS - Friday, September 16, 2005


1. UN Summit
2. Afghanistan
3. Katrina


A variety of stories dominate today's front pages, with Le
Figaro devoting its lead to the threat of an Avian flu
epidemic. President Bush's call at the UN for the sharing of
information between nations and Villepin's similar preventive
appeal made from the UN are noted. Today's major international
stories include the elections in Afghanistan: for Liberation,
although "democracy in Afghanistan will not look like our
western democracies, we cannot deny the benefits of a
democratic ballot." In Le Figaro, defense correspondent Arnaud
de La Grange writes about the different American and French
perceptions of the operations in Afghanistan. (See Part C)
Another major story, which continues to elicit commentary, is
the UN Summit, with a majority of the reports concentrating on
PM De Villepin's performance and his "return to the scene of
the crime." For France Soir, Villepin is "increasingly looking
like a Presidential candidate." Le Monde headlines: "Bush
Surprises the UN By Pleading for the Poor." Its editorial is
devoted to the usefulness of the organization. (See Part C)

The German elections are also a major story. The report in
France Soir is titled: "Merkel Hostile to Turkey's EU
Membership" and concentrates on the Turkish immigrant
population's intention to vote for the SPD. Le Figaro
interviews U.S. political expert Gary Schmitt, Director of the
Project for the New American Project. Schmitt asserts that
Merkel "will break with the SPD's anti-American stance" and a
policy based on "mistrust of the U.S." He contends that in
France, Sarkozy "echoes her vision." "If Merkel and Sarkozy
are elected, it will impact quickly and significantly on trans-
Atlantic and intra-European relations."

Right-of-center weekly Le Point devotes its editorial to
Katrina and the "Lessons of a Pre-Programmed Disaster." (See
Part C) In Les Echos, commentator Paul Fabra writes: "Between
the modern military doctrine of eliminating reserves and the
negligence of the authorities in bringing timely assistance to
the New Orleans refugees there is more than a simple analogy."


UN Summit

"Dear UN"
Left-of-center Le Monde in its unsigned editorial (09/16):
"The summit ended without firm decisions about the expected
reforms due to the divergences between North and South. But
the UN has the merit of existing. and offering a venue for
debate and at times confrontation. There is an undeniable `UN
effect,' which has operated a change on President Bush: he
gave a speech very different from past ones and acknowledged
that `anger and despair' could fuel terrorism.' Villepin's
`reality as it is' approach may have impacted on the U.S.
President. The calamitous situation in Iraq as well as the
incompetence of the authorities after Katrina have probably
led President Bush to be less arrogant."

"350 Treaties Awaiting the Signature of the U.S."
Anne Bauer in right-of-center Les Echos (09/16): "In many
Embassies around the world, and at NGO headquarters, annoyance
with America's unilateralism and its scorched earth tecnique
is obvious. By questioning the final declaration. John Bolton
opened the floodgates to a river of amendments from countries
which oppose the UN. Yet America's unilateralism is nothing
new. This attitude is a major stumbling block within the
organization. Whatever Europe's efforts to restore
international law, which is what the UN represents, nothing
will be possible without the U.S. In this respect, the summit
cannot be viewed as a total failure: President Bush took part
in it and emphasized his priorities in international
cooperation: the fight against terrorism, health, trade and
development. Which is better than nothing, even if social
rights, the environment, culture and disarmament were
noticeably absent."

Patrick Sabatier in left-of-center Liberation (09/16):
"Democracy cannot be decreed, it must be built. And in
Afghanistan, this can be done only slowly. In spite of the
semblance of peace, Afghanistan is still at war, with the
Taliban still terrorizing a large portion of the population.
The Americans, who are fighting them, have this year suffered
the most losses since 2001. Karzai is dependent upon the
Americans and international aid. He has bought his stability
through tolerance for the poppy industry, which represents 60
percent of the nation's GNP. Afghan `democracy' will have very
little to do with what we mean by democracy. But we must not
deny the benefits of a democratic ballot. that will change the
status of women and give voters the first opportunity in
Afghanistan's history to voice their views. The danger lies in
the West's impatience: too eager or too discouraged, the West
wants to disengage from Afghanistan. This has become clear in
the debate that opposes the U.S. to its NATO allies. Even if
imperfect, Afghanistan's democracy needs to be helped and
defended. There is no other alternative to terror and chaos."

"Franco-American Differences on NATO Mission"
Arnaud de La Grange in right-of-center Le Figaro (09/16): "The
Americans would love to enroll more allies in Afghanistan. to
stabilize the country. This question has triggered new
friction between the U.S. and France, although the
confrontation is softer and not as frontal as the one over
Iraq. Yet the conflict is real. The French Defense Minister
has reiterated her opposition to a merging of the missions in
Afghanistan. even if she insists that France is not opposed to
a rapprochement of the operations. which have different
objectives: one is a peace- keeping mission, while the other
remains a war operation. The French insist there is no
ideological confrontation. While some believe that Washington
wants the missions to merge in order to begin a disengagement
from Afghanistan."


"Lessons of a Pre-Programmed Disaster"
Claude Imbert in right-of-center weekly Le Point (09/16):
"America never does anything in half measures. Both 9/11 and
Katrina were huge tragedies. But those tempted to gloat over
America's misery should look at the exceptional nature of
Hurricane Katrina., even if the tragedy was in the cards. The
negligence regarding preventive work on levees and the failure
to properly evacuate its population are the causes for
America's humiliation. But will this tragedy, which has
destroyed New Orleans, destroy the Bush Presidency? Hardly.
After the initial lack of efficiency, both the federal
government and the private sector have bounced back.
Nevertheless, the overconfidence and euphoria of the Bush
administration, which has often times come close to
impertinence, have suffered. The American model has not been
shattered, but it does come out somewhat tarnished." STAPLETON

© Scoop Media

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