Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Middle East; Mercosur and Fidel Castro; Us-Argentine Ties

VZCZCXYZ0007
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1643/01 2052036
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 242036Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5343
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001643

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECT: MIDDLE EAST; MERCOSUR AND FIDEL CASTRO; US-ARGENTINE TIES
07/24/06

1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Weekend papers cover the situation in the Middle East; US Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to the region; and the outcome and
implications of the Mercosur summit in Cordoba.

2. OPINION PIECES AND KEY STORIES

- "The US asks for more pressure against Hezbollah"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion" reports (07/23) "According to US
President George W. Bush, the US will ask the leaders from the
Middle East to increase pressure on Hezbollah and the countries
supporting it in order to solve the crisis in the Lebanon.

"So far, the US has supported the Israeli offensive, which included
the bombing of Lebanese civilian targets, in spite of the EU's
criticism that the Israeli retaliation is 'out of proportion.' On
the other hand, it hindered the approval of a UN Security Council
resolution ordering a cease fire from Israel.

"... US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice will travel today to the
Middle East after having met with Bush and representatives of the
Saudi Arabian government. The USG official will meet with Israeli PM
Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abas during her visit.
Her tour will also include a stop in
Rome in order to analyze the situation with the US' European and
Arab allies."

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

- "The end of a strategy"

Claudio Mario Aliscioni, columnist of leading "Clarin," writes
(07/23) "Among the interpretations raised by the Israeli offensive,
there is one that should be taken into account in order to assess
the future direction of events - the attack represents the end of
the 'democratization' promoted by George W. Bush in the Middle
East.

"So far, Lebanon has been the only example of this policy vis-`-vis
the Iraqi fiasco.

"In order for Beirut's weak democracy to survive, the condition was
allowing Hezbollah to have room in the local parliament. But
patience was dismissed and the White House started to encourage the
attack. The problem is that the military solution is not enough to
guarantee the destruction of the group and will only fuel increasing
hatred."

- "Focuses of tension have increased during the last five years"

Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," comments (07/23) "... Analysts agree
that US President George W. Bush's foreign policy has created
greater instability in the world...

"Frank Rich, political analyst of The New York Times, said 'In fact,
this presidency has never had a view of the world.' 'It had a fixed
idea regarding Iraq, and the chase of said obsession imprudently
lowered US power to an improvisation based on intuition and public
relations strategies, not a doctrine. This has not changed.'

"A high-ranking USG official told 'La Nacion' that 'Bush's staff
believes that criticism reveals a biased and forgetful view. First
and foremost, they forget that September 11 attacks changed the
world and our priorities. We are at war. Secondly, we are in a
situation in which we are always criticized. If we do intervene, we
are accused of being imperialistic and similar things. If we
maintain a low profile, we are said to be an absent power. What do
they want?'

"Michael Shifter, VP for Political Affairs at the Inter-American
Dialogue, emphasizes that 'Bush's wrong policies and impressive lack
of competence have worsened the situation in many hot places.'

- "Can we still continue being Jews?"

Left-of-center "Pagina 12" carries an opinion piece by contributor
Leon Rozitchner, who writes (07/23) "I am not only taking sides with
the Palestinian people but with the Jewish people. I do reaffirm
that the Jews' historic situation made it necessary for Jews to make
up one more nation among the nations of the world... But this fact
also imposed on Jews the obligation to respect other peoples' lives
just like no other people may perhaps feel it.

"... The escalation against Gaza and Lebanon is in the framework of
the expansion of the new liberal Western empire against Muslim
countries. Wouldn't the US be the one that, bogged in Iraq, needs a

sure border in Lebanon against Syria and Iran, and from there on,
the massacre of civilians in order to invade them?

"... Peace and political understanding are in the Israelis' hands -
they only have to decline ambition over territories that do not
belong to them and claim the value of life against death."

- "The rupture of Lebanese political unity"

Maria Laura Avignolo, on special assignment in Beirut for leading
"Clarin," writes (07/22) "With an imminent Israeli land invasion of
Lebanon and the trip of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to
the region in search of a 'lasting peace' not including an immediate
cease fire, Lebanese political unity has started to break into
peaces.

"The spirit of the 'Revolution of Cedars' is fainting away. Lebanon
cannot forgive Hezbollah for its non-consulted decision to launch
missiles against Israel after the kidnapping of soldiers. Lebanon is
afraid that the consequence will be Syria recovering control of
Lebanon."

- "Is there only one Latin America or several ones"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion" carries an opinion piece by political
analyst Mariano Grondona, who writes (07/23) "... Bipartisan
democracy is the prevailing model in Europe and North America, and
also in Latin American countries like Chile, Brazil and Uruguay...

"... We call democratic dictatorship the other political model in
Latin America in which one political power has taken over through
democratic elections, but it is not willing to acknowledge pluralism
and wants to monopolize political life. Here lies the dictatorial
element. Discord prevails in countries falling under this
category... The Venezuela of Chavez and the Bolivia of Evo Morales
pertain to this second kind of regime.

"... For now, Fidel Castro represents, alone, the third Latin
American political model. After the downfall of the Soviet Union in
1989, his totalitarian regime is the only surviving dictatorship in
the world along with that of North Korean Kim Jong Il.

"We say that Castro acts alone for now because the fact that he was
welcomed to the Cordoba meeting represents a serious renunciation of
democratic ideals. We should also note that, in violation of
Mercosur's fundamental political principle, which is the demand that
its member countries should be democratic, Mercosur has just
admitted dictator Hugo Chavez as a full member. On the other hand,
both Chavez and Morales increasingly show their devotion to Castro.
President Kirchner's Peronist left wing is not too far from this
devotion."

- "The man with a foreign policy handbook under his arm"

Oscar Raul Cardoso, leading "Clarin's" international analyst, writes
(07/22) "Aside from what one thinks of Fidel Castro, it is
impossible not to admire the permanent efficiency of the foreign
policy of his regime.

"With only a short visit to the Mercosur summit, which was held in
Cordoba, the summit changed its profile from a regional to a
hemispheric one, and he calmed down a new political offensive from
Washington against him.

"During recent weeks, US newspapers strongly speculated about the
Cuban leader's health... This is in alignment with the release of
the third annual report of the Committee for Assistance to a Free
Cuba, a special group created by US President George W. Bush and
presided over by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

SIPDIS

"... As a matter of fact, the report is scandalous as an
unprecedented example of interference in the domestic affairs of a
sovereign country."

- "The US believes Mercosur is weakened"

Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
writes (07/23) "While the US Department of State chose to be silent
once again, Republican analysts with access to the White House and
Democratic opponents agreed that the Mercosur summit in Cordoba was
an essentially political meeting that will not lead to the bloc's
commercial and economic consolidation. Even the project to create a
regional bank raised Washington's skepticism.

"Claudio Loser, former IMF director for the Western Hemisphere, said
'If the model for this bank was the Andean Corporation, it would be

a good idea, but everything indicates that he bank they want to
create would essentially be funded by Venezuela, Brazil and
Argentina. Then, it is a very attractive idea from a political point
of view, but it is senseless from an economic point of view.'

3. EDITORIALS

- "Threat to world peace"

Conservative "La Prensa" editorializes (07/23) "For the sake of the
humanitarian minds of the world, which have called for a ceasefire,
Israel has decided to finish this work. Israel is determined to
destroy Hezbollah by air, land and sea...

"... Is this an intelligent strategy? We should recall once again
that Israel is a full democracy and that its enemies are also
enemies of any peace initiative in the region. Hezbollah's missiles
are coming from Iran and its attacks would have been impossible had
not Syria given its support...

"Just like pacifist writer Amos Oz has said, a blunt defeat of
Hezbollah will be a victory for Lebanon."

- "One summit, many agendas"

Liberal, English-language "Buenos Aires Herald" (07/22) "The
high-profile presence of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro joined by the
hardly less extreme Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of
Bolivia (who actually pose a bigger threat to the region than Castro
- both because of their youth and the fossil fuel wealth of the
countries) has led to yesterday's Mercosur summit in Cordoba being
described as tilting the trade bloc left but perhaps the real worry
should be about the regional grouping moving in several directions
at the same time.

"Much was made of a trade arrangement between Mercosur and Cuba
offering preferential prices on up to 2,700 items and thus dodging
the US blockade against the island but at the same time Uruguay is
actively seeking an FTA with the US...

"Thanks to Chavez, Mercosur is increasingly a political rather than
commercial bloc and yet a more political Mercosur is ignoring its
democratic clause more than ever by paying attention to the likes of
Castro.

"The 'historic' new member Venezuela looms as the bloc's future
heavyweight because of its energy wealth yet formally the Mercosur
presidency has been transferred to the regional giant, Brazil."

- "Agreement and disagreement in the Southern Cone"

Leading "Clarin" editorializes (07/23) "... One of the dominant
aspects of Mercosur's regional relationships is the influence of the
energy issue. Mercosur countries have a relationship with Venezuela
that is based on some political affinities of its leaders, but
basically on the oil contribution that Venezuela can make to the
Southern Cone.

"... Mercosur has also signed a deal with Cuba, which will
facilitate the mutual access to the two markets, which will
primarily benefit Southern Cone exporters, but it is also evaluated
as a relief for Cuba bearing in mind the US blockade imposed on the
island.

"... This outfit of deals and projects tends to boost regional
commercial and financial relations but also to consolidate political
accords vis-`-vis the hegemonic power in the region, the US.

"We hope that all these deals will contribute to strengthening the
countries' negotiating capability on issues of their national
interest, but also that this will not be used as a tool for
counter-productive confrontation."

- "The danger posed by a spiral of violence"

Leading "Clarin" (07/24) editorializes "It can be said that the
trigger factor of the current conflict in the Middle East were Hamas
and Hezbollah's successive attacks against Israel.

"Obviously enough, no country would stay indifferent vis-`-vis
events of this nature and Israel has the right to defend itself and
guarantee its own security. However, in both cases, the response was
out of proportion. And the Israeli response against Lebanon is
absolutely out of proportion and threatens to generate huge present
and future damage.

"... In brief, Israel could be expanding a spiral of hatred and

violence in the Middle East, and its own territory and friendly
countries would be the victims."

To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our classified website
at:
http://www.state.sqov.gov/p/wha/buenosaires

MATERA

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.