Cablegate: Media Reaction; Iraq; Argentine-Imf Ties; Argentine
DE RUEHBU #2016/01 2831509
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101509Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9447
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002016
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
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; IRAQ; ARGENTINE-IMF TIES; ARGENTINE
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER; 10/09/07
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Weekend international stories include UK Gordon Brown's decision to
reduce UK troops deployed in Iraq; ties between the IMF and
Argentina; and the risks to be met by Argentine Presidential
Candidate Cristina Kirchner if she wins the presidency.
2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS
- "The US is increasingly alone"
Hugo Alconada Mon, daily-of-record "La Nacisn's" Washington-based
correspondent, comments (10/09) "Six months ago, Gordon Brown was on
the verge of announcing the partial withdrawal of UK troops from
Southern Iraq. However, the White House managed to delay his
announcement by arguing that it could complicate the offensive
promoted by US Commander David Petraeus.
"Yesterday, the Bush administration reacted with moderate public
gestures in view of the withdrawal of 2,500 (UK) soldiers. It
lamented in private that the UK was 'fleeing' Iraq when US official
sources believe that the right plan is quite the opposite - staying
and promoting the stabilization of the country.
"... The US president envisions a 'long-term' presence in Iraq, just
like in Germany or South Korea. This possibility is also gaining
strength among Democrats who compete to succeed him.
"... In view of the situation, Americans are increasingly isolated
in Iraq, where they have deployed 160,000 troops. UK troops and the
rest of the so-called 'coalition of the willing' are already
withdrawing their troops.
According to Toby Dodge, an academic from the International
Institute for Strategic Studies, 'the White House is deeply
uncomfortable with this decision.'
"... The strategic value of Southern Iraq lies in its oil fields as
well as in its land routes, which are indispensable for the way out
of US troops heading for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
"... According to 'The Telegraph,' which quoted 'high-ranking US
Pentagon members, US 'hawks' promoting the bombing of Iran also
believe that Brown's announcement will not alter the support they
say they have received last July from the UK for an attack.
"Nevertheless, the UK withdrawal adds a new problem for Petraeus,
who will have to 'seal' or at least reduce the porosity of the
border between Iran and Iraq by using less reliable troops in order
to avoid retaliation against his troops if the bombing is ordered.
"In this scenario, the 180,000 custodians and contractors hired by
the US Pentagon and the Department of State in Iraq take on
importance, including the questioned Blackwater, Triple Canopy,
DynCorp and Halliburton."
- "Argentina and the IMF"
Daily-of-record "La Nacisn" editorializes (10/09) "At a particularly
critical moment of the world economy, the Argentine Government's
support for the new IMF Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn,
seemed to be a sign of change in the country's relationship with the
IMF, which President Kirchner blamed for the country's worst
"... In the face of (Argentine) presidential elections, official
candidate Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner received many signals about
the positive effect of an improvement in the country's ties to the
"No one questions IMF responsibility for the Argentine crisis. The
IMF itself concluded in a report from its Independent Evaluation
Office (IEO) that it had been 'too indulgent' with Argentina for
'having maintained its support for the convertibility plan when the
latter was no longer sustainable...'
"This means that the IMF acknowledged its partial responsibility in
the crisis, all of which is constructive...
"However, in spite of the acknowledgement of mistakes, the IMF has
had a failing since the time it was founded - the continuity of the
1944 unwritten deal whereby European countries reserve for
themselves the right to appoint their managing director and the US
has the right to appoint the head of the World Bank...
"... In the IMF mea culpa regarding Argentina, the multilateral
lending agency imposed 'more rigorous standards on itself in the
future'... Rato warned Argentina that it should accelerate the
structural reforms included in the three-year program reached in
2003. The Kirchner administration subjected them to the review of
the program since monetary and fiscal guidelines had been honored.
What remains pending is compensation for local and foreign investors
after the December 2001 default.
"In this scenario, the Argentine Government's support for
Strauss-Kahn seemed to be a signal of membership. If one member is
willing to modify a structure, then one should take part in it.
Otherwise, criticism could be interpreted as remarks from a country
that did not accept the acknowledgement of third parties' mistakes,
and prefers to remain outside of a debate in which it should
participate as a member."
- "Cristina's risks"
Leading "Clarn's" political editor Eduardo van der Kooy writes
(10/07) "Cristina Fernndez is not a candidate campaigning for
presidency. Rather, she seems to behave like a president-elect only
three weeks before elections and two months before the transfer of
power takes place. Is this miscalculation, a mistake or a strategy?
"... The strategy could bear fruit in the (presidential election)
campaign and also abroad. When US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice met with FM Jorge Taiana in New York last week, she asked
Taiana about how the US-Argentine bilateral relationship could
evolve in the future. The new head of the Southern Cone at the US
Department of State, Milton Drucker, made a short visit to Buenos
Aires to gather information almost exclusively about Cristina. Lula
mounted a decorated stage for the candidate with the attendance of
the twelve most powerful businessmen in Brazil...
"Problems for Cristina will unlikely appear during her election
campaign. Problems could well appear, if she wins, during the
transition period and the first months of her term in office. There
are social and economic problems to be met by any triumphant
"Cristina's role as a parallel and virtual president will make her
share the Kirchner administration's dusk, which seems to have more
shadows than lights, regardless of the social consensus the
President attributes to him... The honeymoon every recently elected
president enjoys could run the risk of reduction and could pave the
way for increasing popular claims.
"Perhaps all these threats led to a soft change in the official
campaign. Cristina's trips abroad have come to an end... Instead,
she will present herself in the country and perhaps she will have to
change her speech, in which big political lines prevail, for another
one regarding ordinary difficulties met by Argentines...
"... The government's relationship with the media is not the main
problem to be solved by Argentina, but still it is a problem...
"Inflation does pose a big dilemma for everyone. Kirchner is still
clinging on some imprecise conspiracies to justify the criticism of
the government's price manipulation and the INDEC political
disaster... Most opponents... agitate the issue as an omen of chaos.
Just for once, Cristina was not able to escape the 'fire' when a
Brazilian banker asked her about it."
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