Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Iraq - Legislative Elections
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Iraq - Legislative elections
PARIS - Friday, December 16, 2005
(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:
Iraq - Legislative elections
B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:
Although only the second of today's top international stories,
the elections in Iraq are the lead for Le Figaro which
headlines "Iraq: Democracy Settles in." Le Figaro reports that
President Bush called the Iraqi elections "a major step
forward toward American objectives: to have a democratic Iraq
capable, of governing and defending itself, a country that
will be an ally in the war on terrorism, that sets a strong
example for other countries in the region ...such as Iran or
Syria." The article notes that his recent campaign to explain
US objectives in Iraq is "bearing fruit," and slide in his
public support seems to have stopped. For Liberation "The
Iraqis Voted en Masse." Jean-Pierre Perrin reports on
Washington's support for Allawi while Le Monde reports on
President Bush's interview on Fox news, which it titles
"President Bush Acknowledges Having Made `Tactical Errors.'"
Several regional editorials praise the "progress of democracy"
which according to Jean Levallois of La Presse de la Manche is
"a clear message sent to the international community, but even
more so to the terrorists." (See Part C)
Le Figaro interviews Christopher Gelpi of the University of
North Carolina at Duke, who contends: "U.S. public opinion is
on the brink of shift regarding troop withdrawal from Iraq."
Le Figaro carries an op-ed inviting Europe to re-call its
Ambassadors from Iran further to Ahmadinejad's latest
revisionism statements. Another op-ed uses the example of Iran
and the EU-3s diplomatic failings to oppose the roles of
diplomacy to the military. (See Part C)
Liberation reports that for a number of French citizens "it
may not be a Merry Christmas" because of the need for visas to
enter the U.S. "The Embassy in Paris is swamped with requests"
because France is not able to provide the required biometric
passports due to a conflict with its national printing agency.
Liberation carries a letter to the editor entitled: "U.S.
Visas of Mistrust" that bemoans all the documents required in
order to get a visa: "I realize that when we are in the U.S.
Consulate we are on foreign territory, but still I do not
understand how the Foreign Ministry accepts such invasion of
privacy without a multilateral agreement. So yes, in the end,
you don't have to go to the U.S. We can boycott the U.S. or
hope our ministry can put an end to this scandalous procedure
between two developed democratic and supposedly `friendly'
nations for as long as biometric passports remain unavailable
The confrontation between Paris and London over the EU budget
is a major story. But in Catholic La Croix the Vice President
of the EU Commission on Budgetary issues explains: "even if
there is no agreement in Brussels, this will not necessarily
lead to budgetary chaos. We still have another year to find an
Economic Les Echos reports on European defense industry
alliances as Defense Minister Alliot-Marie gave the go-ahead
to the consolidation of the French naval military industry
sector. In his editorial, Patrick Lamm writes: "this
consolidation makes perfect sense because the theatres of
operation are increasingly moving to the seas and coastal
areas. The merger between Thales and DCN will give them more
opportunities, even if they still have to deal with the world
leaders, Northrop Grunman and General Dynamics." Separately La
Tribune reports that France's Areva could get four contracts
to build nuclear plants in China taking them away from
(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:
"Iraqis Send a Message to the Terrorists"
Jean Levallois in regional Presse de la Manche (12/16): "In
Iraq, democracy continues to make progress. Hope is marching
on. Under bombs, with tears and blood, and despite the blind
terror of the terrorists, Iraq is electing its government. The
conditions under which the Iraqis are going to the ballots are
terrible, as each time before. But the gesture of all Iraqis
who are choosing to vote speaks for itself. It is a message
sent to the international community, but even more to the
"Defying the Terrorists"
Andre Schlecht in regional l'Alsace (12/16): "Now that they
are free of their dictator, the Iraqis know what they must do.
In a country where the physical risks of participating in a
democratic election are high, the number of candidates and the
obvious mobilization of voters are proof that all understand
the value of their newly found liberties. Ignoring the cries
of the extremists who denounce democracy as an instrument of
the devil, no single group, ethnic or religious, has called
for a boycott of the elections. This increasing belief in
political reform is a courageous cry of defiance to the
proponents of obscurantism and the henchmen of the former
"Washington Votes for Allawi"
Jean-Pierre Perrin in left-of-center Liberation (12/16):
"There is a big step from elections to the country's unity.
Each community is indeed voting more for its own future than
for Iraq's. And this is what worries Washington, just when it
is beginning to plan for its troop withdrawal. There is the
fear that a new government dominated by the Shiites, far from
resolving the situation, might play into the hands of the
Sunnis. Hence Washington's calculations of a return of Allawi
and a possible coalition with liberal Sunnis."
"President Bush's Third Election"
Olivier Picard in regional Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace
(12/16): "For the history books, the legislative elections
taking place in Iraq will probably have more impact for
President Bush's legacy than the other two elections, his own.
President Bush is `taking responsibility' in order to better
control things. He has even consulted the Democrats, a gesture
he has not made since the beginning of the intervention in
Iraq. The fact is that the war no longer amuses our Texas
cowboy, who would like to bring back the GIs home and dares to
say it out loud. But he knows it will be a long process, and
even France is no longer that eager to see the U.S. Army
abandon Iraq to absolute chaos. In truth, President Bush is
suffering from the Nixon syndrome. thirty-three years later,
and even if the two situations are not exactly alike."
"European Ambassadors Should Leave Tehran"
Researcher Therese Delpech in right-of-center Le Figaro
(12/16): "It is time we recognized who is Ahmadinejad, to draw
the necessary conclusions. There is a time when diplomatic
statements must take a back seat to non-ambiguous action.
Ahmadinejad is convinced he can do as he pleases, especially
with the Europeans. namely because everyone is acting as if
they did not know how dangerous he is. Through this attitude
Europe helps to re-enforce Ahmadinejad's position in Iran as
well as abroad. We must therefore move to a higher level of
reaction: we must recall our ambassadors. This is all the more
important because revisionism is banned by law in several
countries, including France. The EU-3 must also act in
connection with Iran's violation of the NPT. This is also the
opportunity for Austria to explain to the world the
involvement of Ahmadinejad in the assassination of the Kurdish
leader, Ghassemlou in Vienna in 1989. We must remember two
things: Ahmadinejad has no way to fulfill his promises to the
Iranian people. Therefore the danger is real of him continuing
on this road. The second is that the Europeans have zero
credibility in Tehran because they have demonstrated their
inability to implement their threats. This is the time to
"The Diplomat and the Soldier: a New Hierarchy"
Jean-Jacques Roche in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/16): "The
patent failure of European diplomacy when it comes to Iran and
the nuclear crisis cannot be explained exclusively by the
election of a populist president and the disappearance of the
threat of a U.S. military intervention. The troika was
probably wise in privileging a diplomatic approach; but its
approach is anachronistic when it opposes negotiations to the
use of force and when it continues to uphold a hierarchy that
is outdated and which places the diplomat above the soldier.
Because of new threats, international intervention has become
the norm and replaced the very conservative concept of non-
intervention. Even if the soldier is sometimes working blind,
the diplomat is even less well-equipped to deal with
terrorists. Hence today's negotiations have become arm-
wrestling matches where one doesn't hesitate to strike in
order to convince the other to negotiate. Diplomacy has become
coercive, as it did in Kosovo. Today diplomacy would like to
be preemptive. But faced with a distant enemy, diplomatic
negotiations appear so ill-equipped that military doctrines
must prepare for more frequent uses of force despite the
obvious risks of collateral damage." STAPELTON