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Cablegate: Media Reaction; New Argentine Government Foreign Policy;

VZCZCXYZ0011
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2145/01 3031735
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301735Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9617
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002145

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
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; NEW ARGENTINE GOVERNMENT FOREIGN POLICY;
LATIN AMERICA ARMS RACE; 10/30/07


1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Today's key international stories include speculation about the
newly elected Argentine Government's foreign policy; and an
"emerging" arms race in Latin America.

2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS

- "The US expects Cristina Kirchner's wink"

Hugo Alconada Mon, daily-of-record "La Nacion's" Washington-based
correspondent, comments (10/30) "Republicans and Democrats alike
expect the first concrete "winks" from President-elect Cristina
Kirchner in order to verify whether her actions will confirm the
image she promoted during the election campaign, which was a more
open, neat, moderate and internationalist image than that of her
husband.

"Yesterday at midday, the Bush administration congratulated her.
Sean McCormack, chief spokesperson of the Department of State said:
'We congratulated President-elect Kirchner for her election
victory.' He added that the US expects to work with her 'on
bilateral and regional issues.'

"A US official source told 'La Nacion' that the ball is now in
Argentina's court, and it added that the US expects to see the
Argentine Government play the regional game in a different way, that
is, to join Brazil and Mexico, and distance itself from Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez.

"He insisted: 'We'll have to wait. One always has to go step by step
with Argentina. We do not know how much the Government will change
with Cristina. They sold a more open image of Cristina towards the
US and the world, which will also be less dependent on Chavez, but
we will have to wait.'

"Since Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Shannon took over two years
ago, he has sought to build better bridges with the region,
including Argentina, following the "short-circuits" with his
predecessor, Roger Noriega.

"However, the Bush administration wants to check her first speeches
as President-elect, see how she will form her cabinet and get to
know the first steps she will take.

"Such is the Republican administration's cautiousness that it
avoided making comments that could impact on the election campaign
of recent weeks. This was made clear when the number three at the
Department of State, Nicholas Burns, spoke about the region without
referring to the country in his address to the Council of the
Americas.

"He said: 'We will work with every democratic government that wants
to put aside the points of disagreement in order to meet shared
goals. We do not subject our potential partners to an ideological
test and we do not fear political disagreement.' He set as an
example Washington's alliance with center-right leaders from Mexico
and Colombia, and center-left leaders from Brazil and Chile."

- (Argentine) foreign policy, experts recommend reaching out to the
world"

Walter Curia, political columnist of leading "Clarin," writes
(10/30) "... Most analysts acknowledge the limitations of Kirchner's
foreign policy. They agreed that it has largely been conditioned by
the crisis and by the features of a president that was exclusively
focused on the country's domestic policy.

"... Conditions have changed and the new president's predisposition
also seems to be different. What can we then expect from the next
(Argentine) government's foreign policy?

"Juan Tokatlian, head of International Relations at Universidad San
Andres, says: 'When a country goes through what Argentina did,
foreign policy evaporates. We had a president too focused on
domestic issues and in an internationally restrictive context.
Today, the context seems more appropriate. We can reach out to the
world having the opportunity to hold talks with important leaders,
but this implies considering what strategy we will use.

"In Tokatlian's view, the new stage will call for 'a more heterodox
Argentina on foreign policy issues,' which knows how to handle a
'balance between cooperation and reticence in US-Argentine ties'...

"Roberto Russell, head of the Master in International Studies at Di
Tella University, agrees with Tokatlian that the country 'lost
international weight' as a result of the crisis. 'We cannot have

such weak ties - a relationship with the US in which the presidents
do not speak to each other is absurd.'

"... Jorge Castro, head of the Institute for Strategic Planning,
points out that the new government's main challenge will be
'reorienting foreign policy towards a closer relationship with the
world.' He opines that the country should start revisiting its ties
to the region.

"... Re the Iranian issue, Castro said that the Argentine claim 'is
a demonstration of subordination to the country's domestic policy or
else an international posture...' Russell disagrees. He sustains
that the new government should further its international claim,
'which is due to an Argentine genuine interest, which is independent
from US needs.'

"... Sergio Cesarin, CONICET researcher, believes that, in contrast
to Kirchner, the new government will draw 'a traditional line with
Latin America, Europe and the US,' and he predicts 'an alliance of
gender with Bachelet, Merkel and Hillary Clinton.'"

- "Signs of an incipient arms race in Latin America"

Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading "Clarin,"
opines (10/30) "Until now, the development of a new arms race in
Latin America is a theoretical problem in relation to which analysts
position themselves according to their degree of optimism/pessimism.
Generally speaking, the prevailing opinion since the beginning of
the 21st century has been that the region is one of the moderate
regions (if not the most moderate) when it comes to purchasing
military equipment.

"The truth is that between 2000 and 2004 Latin American countries
have invested about 1.3 per cent of their annual GDP in defense
expenditures. Vis-`-vis the defense budgets of the Middle East and
Northern Africa (3.7%), South Asia (2.5%) and Europe and Central
Asia (2.3%), everything suggests that Latin American democracies are
focused on other uses for their funds.

"However, has this changed? Experts believe that an emerging arms
race has been reestablished in Latin America particularly in 2006
and 2007.

"During a regional forum held in Miami last year, former Costa Rica
President and Nobel Peace Award Laureate Oscar Arias, predicted that
'Latin America has started a new arms race.'

"Arias explained that 'in 2004 Latin America invested a total amount
of 24 billion dollars in troops and armaments, which accounts for an
eight-percent-increase vis-`-vis 1994.'

"... Arias pointed out that 'it is shameful that the governments of
some of the poorest countries continue stockpiling tanks, jeeps and
weapons to allegedly protect people sunk in poverty and
ignorance.'

"While some experts believe this warning is excessively alarmist,
the truth is that many defense budgets have increased again in the
region, as suggested by the Brazilian case.

"According to Real Instituto El Cano, in 2005 Chile and Venezuela
had the highest defense expenditures with 2.78 and 2.3 billion
dollars respectively... Argentina is positioned on the other extreme
of the ranking, with barely 80 million (dollars) on the item.

"Venezuela, which has purchased combat airplanes and submarines on
an alleged US military intervention, is the most frequently
mentioned case, but it is not the only one."

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

KELLY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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