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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Iraq - Afghanistan

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 004248

SIPDIS


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.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Iraq - Afghanistan
U.S. - EU Summit - U.S. Image Abroad - North Korea - Somalia
PARIS - Wednesday, June 21 2006

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Iraq - Afghanistan
U.S. - EU Summit
U.S. Image Abroad
North Korea
Somalia

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

Le Monde carries two highly critical op-eds about the U.S.:
political analyst Daniel Vernet writes about the "West's Failure in
Iraq and Afghanistan" while Sylvie Kauffmann entitles her column:
"America Loses the Image War." (See Part C) But Le Monde's front
page is more upbeat about U.S. relations with the EU: "The U.S. - EU
Summit Under the Sign of Partnership." "The summit will provide the
opportunity to verify the renewed transatlantic relationship which
followed the diplomatic fracture over Iraq..." Inside, Corines
Lenes's article is entitled "Americans and Europeans Seal their
Appeased Relations Despite Guantanamo." The article is accompanied
by a color photo of three Austrian militant protesters dressed up to
look like Guantanamo hooded detainees in their orange jumpsuits.
(See Part C)

Le Figaro features Secretary Rice on its front page in connection
with her warning to North Korea "not to cross the yellow line." (See
Part C)

Several reports confirm Tokyo's decision to withdraw its troops from
Iraq. Liberation's report comments: "Washington's requests were
sufficient to convince Tokyo to keep its troops in place until the
end of President Bush's term... But while this was big news in
Japan, it leaves the Americans unmoved, because Japan's presence was
more symbolic than anything else..."

Front pages and editorials are overwhelmingly devoted to the latest
clash at the National Assembly pitting PM Villepin and Socialist
Party leader Hollande over EADS and the insider trading accusations
made against EADS's co-president Noel Forgeard, who was appointed by
the government. Hollande is questioning Villepin's continuing
support of Forgeard. Several UMP deputies have taken their distance
from Villepin, while Christine Boutin is asking for his
resignation.

La Croix devotes several articles to the situation in Somalia, with
one report indicating that "the U.S. may be ready to talk with the
Islamic Tribunals" while another story warns about the danger of
"the Somali war spreading to the region." (See Part C)

La Croix's question of the day, "Why Is China So Interested in
Africa?" is answered by Francios Lafargue, author of a book on the
energy war between the U.S. and China: "Africa's mines and oil
reserves are necessary to China's industrial development... China's
ambitions on the African continent are not political, they are
essentially economic... Contrary to India which is developing thanks
to its service sector, China's development is industrial..."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Iraq - Afghanistan

"Iraq-Afghanistan: The West's Failure"
Daniel Vernet in left-of-center Le Monde 906/20): "Things are not
going better in Iraq. And nothing is going well in Afghanistan. The
two military interventions... that were intended to bring stability,
if not democracy, to the Greater Middle East, are facing ferocious
opposition... The worsening situation in Afghanistan... is not
unrelated to the failures of the U.S. in Iraq... Yet, at the start,
the two cases were vastly different... President Bush's 'coalition
of the willing' seemed to unite the 'civilized world' against the
Mullahs... even if all do not share the same ideology. Some rally to
the U.S. out of solidarity, others because they are America's
clients... Afghanistan might have become a case study in nation
building... But this may not come to pass. The Taliban are back...
International troops are facing growing mistrust from the local
population... NATO could well ruin its reputation in a theater,
which stands outside its mission. The causes are multiple, including
Afghanistan's longstanding poverty. But more than in Iraq where
President Bush can be held responsible, the Afghan experience leads
one to re-assess the principle and the manner of military and
political determination."

U.S. - EU Summit

"Americans and Europeans to Seal their Appeasement Despite
Guantanamo"
Corine Lesnes in left-of-center Le Monde (06/21): "Yesterday's
adversaries are no longer tearing each other apart as they did over
Iraq, but finding compromises like the one on a temporary mechanism
to provide aid to the Palestinians... The EU Commissioner Manuel
Barosso acknowledges that 'relations have been considerably
reinforced... We work together to face economic, political and
environmental challenges.' Except for Guantanamo, which the
Europeans want closed... The climate in Vienna will be somewhat
darkened by violation of human rights issues by the U.S. Army in
Iraq and the repetition of incidents which the U.S. says are
isolated ones, like Abu Ghraib or Haditha."

"EU and U.S. Want to Advertise Their Entente"
Pierre Avril in right-of-center Le Figaro (06/21): "The EU and the
U.S. entente will be proven again today in Vienna. It is, as Steven
Hadley said, 'an opportunity to reaffirm a strong relationship...'
Brussels and Washington can be proud of their united front against
Iran... And regarding the promotion of democracy, Brussels is
convinced that the European doctrine is now serving as inspiration
in the American approach... In this generally harmonious ambiance,
the only dark cloud should be Europe's request for Guantanmo's
closing, a subject that is causing embarrassment to the Bush
administration... The topic is extremely sensitive in European
opinions which are guarded in their welcome for the U.S.
President... three out of four Austrians think 'president Bush is a
bad President, who is dangerous for world peace.'"

"Europe Does Not Want Visas to the U.S."
Sebastien Maillard in Catholic La Croix (06/21): "The Austrian
Chancellor will be going to bat to ask for a complete exemption of
visas to the U.S. In addition to asking for Guantanamo's closing...
the question of U.S. visas will be on the agenda of the U.S.-EU
summit... The EU wants the U.S. to extend the visa waver program to
all EU members... According to a European diplomat quoted in AFP,
the EU could go further than just raising their voices, and require
U.S. diplomats and military personnel to have visas to travel to
Europe... The EU must resolve another issue, that of Washington's
request for the transfer of passenger data."

"Energy Security and Trade at the Heart of Transatlantic Summit"
Right-of-center Les Echos (06/21): "While the U.S. refused to adhere
to the Kyoto Protocol, climate change will also be discussed...
Insisting on the convergence of views with the Americans, Europeans
are expected to show their disagreement over two political dossiers:
Guantanamo and visas... The 25 are asking that the U.S. lift visa
requirements that affect 10 countries, members of the Union...
Regarding the Doha Round negotiations, George W. Bush has in vain
stated that the U.S. is ready to make new sacrifices to unblock the
negotiations, but this does not seem to be Congress's opinion. It is
unlikely, therefore, that the transatlantic summit will lead to any
concrete advances."

"U.S. and Europe Showing Off their Newfound Entente"
Right-of-center La Tribune (06/21): "Three years after the falling
out over the second American military expedition in Iraq, (the
Europeans) are expected to work to show that this black page has
been turned... Four subjects of disagreement will be on the menu,
however: Guantanamo, 'rights of people' (i.e. visas), and economic
issues such as the limits imposed on foreign investment in some
American sectors, and the Doha negotiations."

U.S. Image Abroad

"America Loses the Image War"
Sylvie Kauffmann in left-of-center Le Monde (06/21): "The Bush
administration calls it public diplomacy. And the least one can say
is that it does not excel in it. Its aim is to improve the image of
the U.S. around the world. A priority that emerged after 9/11... One
year ago President Bush called on Karen Hughes, a close advisor
whose reputation preceded her. But Hughes's efforts, and those of
Secretary Rice, who, since she arrived at the State Department has

SIPDIS
been re-orienting America's diplomacy, have changed nothing:
America's image continues to plummet, and on the eve of the U.S. -
EU summit two recent studies (Pew and the Financial Times) prove
this in an alarming demonstration... The U.S. is more dangerous than
Iran: this is enough to elicit some thinking in President Bush as he
travels on Air Force One towards Vienna, where climate, among other
issues will be discussed, and which contributes to tarnishing the
U.S. image in the world... The initial comments on the Guantanamo
suicides by the camp's commander and a 'specialist' in public
diplomacy are openly being criticized in Washington's high
circles... Secretary Rice's influence in communications is clearly
more positive than Vice President Cheney's or Secretary Rumsfeld's.
But America's image problems and its failings in public diplomacy
cannot hide the fundamental issue of what to do with Guantanamo.
President Bush can be certain that this issue, and any excess in the
war on terror, will be raised in every Euro-American diplomatic
meeting... As long as the U.S. has not regained its standing on the
international scene regarding the rule of law, as long as its
diplomats who travel to Europe continue to say one thing, while the
administration does another, the U.S. will continue to look like the
number one loser in the battle of ideas against terrorism...
President Bush can find consolation in one thing: according to the
two studies, Europeans and Americans agree on Iran."

North Korea

"Washington and Tokyo Warn North Korea"
Philippe Gelie in right-of-center Le Figaro (06/21): "Is Kim Jong
Ill bluffing to get attention away from Iran and back to him? ... A
year ago the world expected a nuclear test from North Korea which in
the end never came. This time, Pyongyang could well say it is
launching a commercial satellite. And if Beijing and Seoul believe
the story, it will make it more difficult to have a consensual
reaction at the UN."

Somalia

"The U.S. Ready to Talk with Islamic Tribunals"
Francois D'Alencon in Catholic La Croix (06/21): "The talks last
week at the Norwegian delegation to the UN between U.S. and the
'Somali contact group' were characterized by observers as an
initiative by the State Department to regain a political foothold in
Somalia after their apparent fiasco... The U.S. policy of alliance
with certain Somali faction leaders had some results, such as the
arrest of a suspect allegedly connected to Al-Qaeda... In the
framework of the U.S. global war on terror, the U.S. has also
stationed troops in Djibouti to lead operations in the Horn of
Africa... The relationship between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic
Tribunals remains unclear, although not so for the U.S.
administration... After the fall of Mogadishu, the U.S. did not
indicate whether it had stopped its support of the Somali
warlords... An internal memo from Michael Zorick, a U.S. political
advisor in Kenya in charge of the Somali dossier, criticized
America's Somali policy, and earned him a transfer to Chad... As
proof that the Americans are intensely committed in the Horn of
Africa, CENTCOM's General John Abizaid was seen in Addis Ababa on
Monday for talks with the Prime Minister on 'on going efforts to
fight against terrorism.'" STAPLETON

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