Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Iraq Galileo
271326Z Dec 05
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 008654
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 - Iraq Galileo
PARIS - Tuesday, December 27, 2005
(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:
B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:
A hotchpotch of domestic social and economic news makes up
today's front pages and editorial commentaries. The launching
of Galileo, "a rival of the American GPS" makes the front page
in La Tribune, while the editorial predicts a "joint European
effort and success" once national political interests are set
aside. (See Part C) France Soir devotes its lead to France's
image as seen through the eyes of foreign tourists, especially
after last month's suburban violence. The report quotes
tourists as saying "The French are too arrogant" and "they
speak poor English." Catholic La Croix devotes its lead to
parliamentary investigations in France and how they function.
In connection with the lead story, Catherine Rebuffel reports
on the Congressional investigation on 9/11 and more generally
she comments: "These investigations are an amazing weapon
against the President." She concludes: "On certain sensitive
subjects, such as the conditions of detention in Guantanamo,
human rights proponents have yet to obtain the creation of a
Congressional investigation, something they have been asking
for the past year."
Iraq and the legislative elections are a major story in Le
Figaro, which also reports on Ayatollah Sistani's "call for
wisdom to avert a civil war." (See Part C) La Croix interviews
European coordinator on counter terrorism, Gijs de Vries: "The
Iraqi conflict has complicated the fight against terrorism
because it is enticing European youth to undertake `jihad.'
But all nations are threatened with terrorism, not only those
participating in the war in Iraq. The concern in Europe is
that these young Europeans can be a threat once they return to
their individual countries. Europeans are cooperating through
their police forces. There is also a widespread cooperation
with the U.S. . On the CIA controversy, it is the Counsel of
Europe, not the EU, which is leading the investigation.
Secretary Rice during her visit emphasized that the U.S. was
bound by the UN Charter against torture. This is important in
order to convince all those who are fighting against
radicalism. The balance between freedom and security would be
broken if one government ever accepted torture, which in my
view illegal, amoral and politically counter-productive."
La Croix profiles Donald Rumsfeld as "an impatient hawk.' (See
(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:
"Towards a Government of National Unity"
Right-of-center Le Figaro (12/27): "Overcome by the violence
of daily attacks, Iraq is now in the grips of a political
battle. A number of demonstrations have been organized
throughout Iraq to protest the results of the legislative
elections. In order to avert a confrontation, the solution of
a national unity government seems to be taking shape. Hence
the talks between the different political groups initiated by
President Talabani. The idea gained momentum on Sunday during
a meeting between Kurdish leaders attended by the U.S.
Ambassador Khalizad. Among those who are contesting the
results, the Sunni leader Saleh Motlak is also open to
negotiations. The religious Shiite movement led by Ayatollah
Sistani is also favorable to a coalition government open to
other groups. On the U.S. side, former Secretary of State
Powell said he feared the election results may `accentuate the
friction. The Shiite majority is more fundamentalist than we
"Rumsfeld, an Impatient Hawk"
Jean-Christophe Ploquin in Catholic La Croix (12/27): "On
Saturday, Secretary Rumsfeld harbored the white coat and hat
of a Chef as he shared Christmas dinner with U.S. soldiers in
Iraq. The evening before he announced that the number of GIs
stationed in Iraq would be reduced by spring. Rumsfeld, one of
the hawks who convinced the President to go to war in Iraq,
would have preferred to state a higher number of soldiers
would be able to return home. The U.S. is eager to drastically
reduce its military presence in Iraq by next July. It would
like to keep the war from weighing in too much on the mid-term
elections. But the situation on the ground is dictating the
numbers needed on the ground. While in Kabul, Secretary
Rumsfeld waved aside speculation on his future. For weeks now
Washington has been abuzz with rumor about his departure from
the Pentagon. The rumors are tied to the controversy about the
use of torture, which has been raging in the U.S. in the
framework of the war against terror. Last year, Secretary
Rumsfeld had to acknowledge his `responsibility' in the cases
of abuse by Military personnel in the prison of Abu Gharaib."
"A Messenger From the Stars"
Francois-Xavier Pietri in centrist La Tribune (12/27):
"Galileo, the famous `European GPS' will be taking flight
tomorrow. The stakes for Europe are twofold. First,
commercial: because the system has very concrete applications,
such as the on-board systems used in automobiles. Second,
strategic: It was during their involvement in the Gulf war
that the Europeans realized how dependent they were on the
U.S. system and to what extent this could be detrimental to
them. While Galileo is conceived for civilian applications,
its military extension is easy to imagine. It is easy then to
understand why Europe decided it was in its interest to
develop such a project. This is also why Europe is envied.
This project proves how the pooling of energies within the
Union, when nationalistic political interests are set aside,
can be productive for the Old Continent in its entirety."