Cablegate: Us President Bush's Popularity Rating; War in Lebanon; Iran
DE RUEHBU #1983/01 2441948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011948Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5754
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001983
STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECT: US PRESIDENT BUSH'S POPULARITY RATING; WAR IN LEBANON; IRAN
NUCLEAR THREAT; UN ROLE; THE US ECONOMY; CUBA; US-URUGUAYAN FTA;
US-ASEAN FTA; AIRPORT SECURITY; 08/28/06
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Today's major international stories include US President George W.
Bush's popularity rating; the status of the war in Lebanon; the
nuclear threat posed by Iran; the role the UN should play in
international conflicts; the US policy on Cuba; the US-Uruguayan
FTA; the US-Asean FTA; and international airports security treated
as a foreign policy issue.
2. OPINION PIECES AND KEY STORIES
- "Bush's popularity on the rise thanks to his security policy"
Leonardo Mindez, columnist of leading "Clarin," writes (08/26) "For
the first time this year, recent opinion surveys have pleased the
White House. After months of slumping support, US President George
W. Bush again has popularity ratings of over 40 per cent...
"According to two opinion surveys, one performed by the CNN network
and another from USA Today-Gallup, US President Bush's approval rate
is 42 per cent...
"... The new point is that Americans seem to have separated the
Iraqi 'swamp' from the global war on terrorism. In this way, CNN
reveals that when asked what party can better lead the strategy in
Iraq, American citizens gave Democrats a six-point lead (47 vs.
41%), but when they are asked who would better lead the war on
terrorism, Republicans obtain a 10-point lead (47 vs. 38%)."
- "The EU will send 7,000 troops to Lebanon"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" reports (08/26) "After two weeks of
intense negotiations and pressures from the international community,
the EU finally agreed to be the 'backbone' of UN peace-keeping
troops in Lebanon, and it committed to contributing at least 7,000
troops, largely from Italy, France and Spain.
"European representatives put aside their reticence and committed to
strengthening the truce between Israel and Hezbollah.
"UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said 'It is a great achievement.
Now we can start creating a reliable force to help the Lebanese army
control the South of the country, which is one of Hezbollah's main
- "War intermezzo"
Centrist "Perfil" newspaper carries an opinion piece by Jorge
Castro, political analyst, who writes (08/27) "The war in Lebanon
between Israel and Hezbollah, from July 12 thru August 14, can only
be understood in regional and global terms.
"It is a war based on a continuum, which comes from the 1947/48
conflict, continues in that of 1980/82, and will continue virtually
after the pause started on August 14, which is a simple intermezzo
in political and strategic terms in a long-standing conflict.
"... The war between Israel and Hezbollah is an asymmetric conflict
of high technology. All other wars that Israel waged with its Arab
neighbors were waged between countries. By definition, asymmetrical
wars are long, lack a clear result and a sliding victory.
"No asymmetrical conflict can end in a short war. This end is only
possible in conventional wars, in which troops of warring countries
face each other, as happened in that of the Six Days (1967) or that
of Yom Kippur (1973). Hezbollah seems to have noticed the true
nature of the conflict. Israel will have to adapt itself to it."
- "Iran takes one more step in its nuclear program"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" reports (08/27) "Only five days away
from the deadline of the UN ultimatum to Tehran to put an end to the
sensitive activities of its controversial nuclear program, the
Islamic Iranian regime redoubled its bet and challenged the
international community by launching a heavy water plant and
successfully testing a 250-km land-to-ocean missile.
"In spite of criticism of Western powers' pressure, Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated yesterday the nuclear
plant and asserted he will 'strongly' defend his 'nuclear right.'
"... While heavy water is civilian technology, it will serve to
launch a nuclear reactor, which Iran is planning to inaugurate in
2009 and which the international community considers a risk."
- "Washington seeks another way to impose sanctions (on Iran)"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" reports (08/27)d "Vis-`-vis the
possibility that the UN Security Council does not manage to impose
sanctions on Iran due to its controversial nuclear program, the US
is reportedly assessing whether to create an independent coalition
aimed at imposing sanctions on Iran.
"According to yesterday's 'Los Angeles Times,' the White House is
holding talks with the purpose of creating an alliance of several
countries that would freeze Iranian assets and restrict commercial
ties with the country.
"... Russia and China have already expressed their intentions of
blocking any attempt to impose sanctions on Iran.
"... Reportedly, Washington wants Japanese and European banks to set
a limit on their business with Iran."
- "Ahmadinejad's show"
Left-of-center "Pagina 12's" international analyst Santiago
O'Donnell writes (08/27) "... Ahmadinejad is driving George W. Bush
nuts. Before the war in Lebanon, the US President had obtained, with
great effort, a UN resolution compelling Tehran to stop its nuclear
program by August 31 under the threat of sanctions.
"... According to The New York Times, the US is planning to resume
the plan of old-style unilateral sanctions, pressure on financial
institutions doing business with Iran, etc. However, according to
experts, the thing is not that easy. The only sanction that would
immediately damage the Iranian economy would be a boycott on oil
imports and investment in the energy because Iran does not have
enough oil refineries... Nonetheless, with respect to this approach,
Tehran could sit on its oil barrels, thereby making world oil prices
skyrocket, which could trigger an international financial crisis.
"Bush wanted something much easier. He wanted UN inspectors to close
the nuclear plant in Natanz... But Iran, along with its ally
Hezbollah, has just won the war, and it is not planning to leave its
incipient nuclear program aside."
- "The UN should not be wrong again"
Leading "Clarin" carries an op-ed page by Agustin M. Romero,
professor, Master in International Relations, University of Buenos
Aires, who writes (08/26) "The UN is attempting to organize a force
to implement Resolution 1701, which seeks a cease fire based on the
end of Hezbollah's attacks and Israel's military operations in
Lebanon. Nothing leads us to believe that this mission will have a
better outcome than those deployed in Lebanon, Rwanda, Somalia and
"In order to avoid a new failure, the UN should not make the same
mistakes and it will have to adapt itself to a new international
"The national security paradigm has changed... and now dilemmas come
from within the States...
"In this framework, the UN should draft a long-term strategy beyond
currently established governments.
"Secondly, before intervening in a confrontation, the UN should bear
in mind what its objectives are to establish clear mandates. Neither
of these two things has been accomplished in Resolution 1701.
"... Once the UN has a clear strategy and objectives, it should
provide its troops with financing, equipment and infrastructure to
accomplish those purposes."
- "The US: clouds over an indebted economy"
Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading "Clarin,"
opines (08/26) "There is a large group of stubborn US critics, among
whom we find prestigious economists, who are delighted to see that
there are signs that could support their eternal speculation about
an inevitable and imminent decline of the US giant and its power.
"... As never before, and for many understandable reasons, this
criticism of the US decline gained new impetus when George W. Bush
took over six years ago.
"Bush brought with him irresponsible fiscal policies. These policies
only benefited the wealthiest sector of society, favored the
downward spiral of the trade balance, discouraged the protection of
natural resources and, as though all this was little, jeopardized
world security (invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq).
"Even further, there were crises under the Bush administration such
as that of 'the new economy', which bet on the revolution of
communication, just like the scandalous bankruptcies of global
conglomerates like Enron."
- "'US policy on Cuba is basically a philosophy of punishment'"
Paula Lugones, international analyst of leading "Clarin," interviews
Soraya Castro Marino, a prestigious Cuban academician (08/27) "While
Fidel Castro has temporarily left the Cuban government, Soraya
Castro Marino does not envision changes in the US-Cuban relationship
in the short term. A researcher at the Center of Studies on the US
at University of Havana, Castro Marino believes that the White House
policy on the island is basically a 'philosophy of punishment' and
that progress will only be possible when a generational change
occurs both in Cuba and in Miami...
"Asked whether this is a proper time for a change in US-Cuban ties,
Castro Mario answered 'There will not be any changes. The USG had
decided not to boost any changes before Fidel Castro's surgery. Last
month, Washington revealed a document in which it stated it would
not accept a government led by Raul or Fidel, even if they were
elected in American-style elections. The White House has said it
does not want a succession but a transition. The Iraqi program
prevails - a transition model that will require a series of measures
such as calling several political parties to free elections.'
"Asked whether she believes that the US encourages a military
solution, Castro Marino answered that while the war in Iraq showed
us that the US is willing to act unilaterally, the US situation in
the Middle East is too complicated to start another military
conflict along the lines of the Iraqi model not only in Cuba but in
any other part of the world."
- "Washington funds the Venezuelan opposition"
Conservative "La Prensa" (08/27) reports "The USG is spending
millions of dollars in the name of the Venezuelan democracy. It
funds human rights seminars, trains emerging leaders, advises
political parties and makes donations.
"President Hugo Chavez's supporters suspect that Washington... is
disbursing thousands of dollars to help the Venezuelan opposition.
"... USG officials insist that the help is mainly legal and
politically neutral cooperation, and that in the event those who
receive donations were identified, the Chavez administration would
"However, the Venezuelan president believes that the US is making an
open as well as a secret campaign to undermine his leftist
- "US, Asean sign expanded trade and investment pact"
Liberal, English-language "Buenos Aires Herald's" "World trade
supplement" reports (08/28) "Southeast Asian trade ministers signed
an expanded trade and investment agreement with the US on Friday
that calls for a mechanism that allows US imports easier access to
"The Trade and Investment Facilitation Arrangement, or TIFA, was
signed by USTR Susan Schwab and trade and commerce ministers from
the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"It came a day after the bloc revived free trade talks with India,
breaking months of deadlock."
- "The US could enter Mercosur through Uruguay"
Alcadio Oa, columnist of leading "Clarin," comments (08/26) "The
big Mercosur partners (Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela) could find
themselves in political and economic trouble if Uruguay makes
progress on a trade deal with the US along the lines of the deal
Washington reached with Peru. It would not be an FTA, but it would
be very similar - similar enough to set off serious trouble within
"President Tabare Vazquez already said that he will ask for a waiver
from his partners to speed up negotiations. And the idea of reaching
a deal along the lines of Peru was a US idea.
"Such a deal would lower tariffs for the mutual entry of goods,
preferences in governmental purchases, IPR protection, and access to
service and investment markets. Some provisions could benefit
Uruguay, but all of them are in alignment with US policies. The US
would not jeopardize its farm subsidies.
"... Those points that could bear fruit for Uruguay, would not make
a major impact on the US economy. It seems remarkable that the US
interest in the deal is not economic but political."
- "A foreign policy issue"
Daniel Santoro, political columnist of leading "Clarin," writes
(08/26) "Yesterday, the FBI arrested an American citizen bringing
explosive elements that had not been detected at Ezeiza airport
"Airport security is no longer an international problem but a
foreign policy issue. The US increasingly demands the implementation
of more and more security measures at airports where US airplanes
arrive and then rates them.
"The incident with Howard Mac Farlane Fish is not only due to a
shortfall in agents from the Airport Security Police, who did not
see the explosives in his luggage at Ezeiza airport, but also to
lack of equipment and new technologies. To this, one should add the
old and inefficient infrastructure of the section of Ezeiza airport
where luggage is verified before boarding planes."
- "The use of nuclear threat"
Leading "Clarin" editorializes (08/28) "The proliferation of nuclear
weapons is the main threat posed to international security...
"Iran is one of the most sensitive cases because its government has
given signals of its decision to continue enriching uranium as part
of a rearmament policy. This implies dismissing claims from
international organizations while maintaining its challenge to the
US, which asked for the suspension of the nuclear plan...
"Iran's nuclear development introduces another element of tension in
Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and Middle East, and will impact oil
prices, thereby disturbing the international economy. For its part,
the USG did not contribute to improving the situation when it made
progress on deals with India and Pakistan outside of the Non
Proliferation Treaty. This implicitly acknowledges that the nuclear
development of some countries is authorized while for others it is
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