Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Iraq, Russia, Rumsfeld,

R 151241Z DEC 08





E.0. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-Iraq, Russia, Rumsfeld,
Financial-Crisis, Car- Industry, EU-Summit, Germany, Zimbabwe

1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (U.S.-Iraq) Bush in Baghdad
3. (Russia) New Opposition Party/Antigovernment Protests
4. (U.S.) Report on Rumsfeld Regarding Detainees
5. (U.S.) Financial Crisis
6. (U.S.) Car Industry
7. (EU) Reaction To EU Summit
8. (Germany) Reaction To Financial Crisis
9. (Zimbabwe) Mugabe On Cholera

1. Lead Stories Summary

Editorials focused on the meeting in the Chancellery between
Chancellor Merkel and leading business representatives on the state
of the economy and on the debate over stolen bank data. ZDF-TV's
early evening newscast Heute opened with a report on the meeting in
the Chancellery and ARD-TV's early evening newscast Tagesschau
opened with a story on the stabbing of Passau's chief of police.

2. (U.S.-Iraq) Bush in Baghdad

Die Welt wondered "how President Bush's image would look like if the
Iraq war had not happened? He would probably have entered the
history books as a leader who, after 9/11, succeeded not only in
preventing more terrorist attacks on the United States but who also
developed an anti-terror strategy that would remain valid for
decades. But the Iraq war damaged the reputation of the U.S.
president. However, Bush won't be put off. He is loyal to his
principles and considers the U.S. mission in Iraq to be
indispensable. That is why it is only consistent that he now bids
farewell to his forces in Iraq."

3. Russia) New Opposition Party/Antigovernment Protests

S|ddeutsche commented: Russia's new liberal democrats have given
themselves a great name, but they will not achieve the power of the
Polish model party. They are as far away from being a mass movement
as Moscow's glass palaces from the Siberian taiga. In an
election... they would probably only get one-digit results although
they do have a point. Russia is suffering under the worst economic
crisis in ten years. The country needs a real democratic movement,
more pluralism, and more competition in parliament. It was shocking
that a serious problem like the bill to extend the tenure of the
president was pushed through without a debate. In Russia, the
Kremlin is omnipotent - this is the key problem of the democrats."

Die Welt editorialized: "Once again, Russia's liberal democrats are
making a new attempt to play a role in the political life of the
country. They have founded a new party that they want to establish
as an alternative to the ruling elite. That is very honorable
because the Russian 'sovereign democracy,' which looks like the
Communist model in Eastern Germany, needs a capable, independent and
constructive opposition.... The new party will be artificially
created as the political force of the middle class, which is,
according to the new line of the Kremlin, supposed to rescue the
country.... Solidarity, the new organization, will, however, not be
able to change much. One reason is the autocratic setting in which
the tandem of Putin and Medvedev operate. But the liberal democrats
are also part of the problem, e.g., former Prime Minister Nemzov now
pretends to stand for a new beginning although his reputation was
damaged during the privatization in the 1990s. Thirty percent of
the Russian voters would potentially cast their ballots for
democratic alternatives, but only one percent actually votes this
way. Most people no longer want to see the faces from the 1990s."

Berliner Zeitung remarked on the antigovernment protests on Sunday
in Moscow: "Every suspected protester was watched by 80 police
officers, 20 journalists, ten undercover police and secret service
agents, five agents provocateur, five pro-government protesters, and
a few passersby. If they hadn't taken some people out of the group
of journalists, police officers, agents, provocateurs and passersby,
one could have thought that there were no demonstrators. One day
there will be demonstrations in Russia without protesters;
demonstrations of the state power without any spontaneity."

4. (U.S.) Report on Rumsfeld Regarding Detainees

Berliner Zeitung commented: "Last summer, Jane Mayer published 'The
Dark Side' - a kind of charge that contained many details proving
that the leading U.S. politicians did not just approve of criminal
practices but also initiated them... This was not enough yet to
take Rumsfeld to court. This might not be that bad because if
Rumsfeld is taken to court after the Bush era there might be a
chance that he will not be pardoned by the President."

5. (U.S.) Financial Crisis

Frankfurter Allgemeine noted: "Hardly a day passes in which a higher
sum is not mentioned that President-elect Barack Obama will approve
after his inauguration to stimulate the U.S. economy. But the goal
is clear: state supported demand is to help where private demand no
longer exists. This sounds nice and can be sold as investments for
the future. But the problem is that the money for such investments
does not fall from the sky. Obama would be better advised to
concentrate on lowering both income and corporate tax rates linked
to the promise to put the state finances as quickly as possible in
order again."

6. (U.S.) Car Industry

Regional daily S|dwest Presse of Ulm judged: "It is time for the
three U.S. carmakers to go bankrupt. Only then can the situation
improve. Badly managed, highly indebted, without a plan, and in
addition stubborn, the companies which have run up debts amounting
to 40 billion dollars should not be surprised if the U.S. Senate
considers another 15 billion for them to be wasted money. The only
practicable solution is bankruptcy under Chapter 11. But this is
only the first step. The second one refers to their bosses.
Instead of financial experts, the companies need people at the top
who consider cars more than only products with which to make

Mdrkische Allgemeine of Potsdam noted: "We must fear that the next
disaster is already waiting at the horizon. With the looming
bankruptcy of three U.S. carmakers, a global economic slump is
looming whose extent is hardly foreseeable President Bush's
surprising move to rely on the savings package for U.S. banks shows
how helplessly politicians are reacting to the crisis. Even if GM &
Co. can be saved for a while, it is totally unclear what should
happen thereafter."

Allgemeine Zeitung of Mainz opined: "If the bankruptcy of the U.S.
car industry would not lead to unforeseeable consequences for the
entire U.S. economy, we would unrestrictedly applaud the Republicans
in the U.S. Senate for their 'no' [to the financial package for the
U.S. car industry]. It is by no means the upcoming global economic
crisis that has brought GM, Ford, and Chrysler to the brink of
abyss. It is rather their business plan of selling outmoded models
that demonstrates that they have not realized the turn of an era in
the world. The future for this industrial sector is called
environmental awareness and economy. But with their gas guzzlers,
the Americans are miles away from it."

7. (EU) Reaction To EU Summit

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung judged: "An old European rule is
still intact: Germans are considered good Europeans only if they
pay. But despite the immense external pressure, it was more
important for the chancellor to stick to her course of a controlled
crisis management than to be everybody's darling or to remain
Sarkozy's darling. The argument of spin doctors that Germany would
isolate itself if it did not run up debt for the benefit of Europe
could easily be parroted. But in Brussels, it was also easy to
observe what kind of nonsense this is."

Sueddeutsche Zeitung argued: "The chancellor's credibility crumbled
and the failure of the EU climate package seemed to be
preprogrammed. But the opposite happened. Weighing politics
between climate change and economic crisis, and supported by a very
committed EU President Nicolas Sarkozy and a generous chancellor,
the leaders adopted a climate package that did not follow the
doctrines of environmental activists or the economic lobby. And
this gives reason to hope. This European climate package is a
quantum leap in the global learning process. Who would have bet
eight years ago on such climate rules?"

In the view of Handelsblatt "the fagade still stands. Despite
considerable demolition work in the interior of the climate package,
the EU continues to remain loyal to its goal of reducing greenhouse
gas emissions by 25 percent in 2020. It can still consider itself a
trailblazer in climate protection, for Barack Obama lags miles
behind the EU with his announcement that it plans to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions to the level of 1990. And from the rest of the
world we can expect even less. Politics needs models to convince.
And thus far, the Europeans have been the only ones who have shown
the courage to do so. Despite the economic crisis, the EU leaders
have withstood the temptation to round file climate protection."

According to Financial Times Deutschland, "the EU several times
committed itself to supporting the analysis of the UN Climate
Council. But instead of investing money in the restructuring of
buildings in the EU and making transportation more environmental
friendly, the Europeans are now supposed to invest more in cheap
climate projects initiated by the developing countries. In order to
avoid jeopardizing the overall package, the European Parliament must
approve it. But the parliamentarians must make clear that they want
to correct this mistake if the EU reviews its climate laws after the
Copenhagen conference in 2009. Otherwise, the EU will not be
considered a credible trailblazer with respect to climate

Westfdlische Nachrichten of M|nster argued: "With this climate and
economic package, the EU has proven that, despite the economic
crisis, it is capable of acting. But the EU failed with respect to
its new own structure, i.e. the Lisbon Treaty. It is simply a
disaster that Ireland - and thus all other EU countries - will get
their own individual commissioner in Brussels. Thanks to the new
basic rules, Europe was supposed to become faster, more democratic,
and less bureaucratic. How should this work with 27 commissioners?"

8. (Germany) Reaction To Financial Crisis

Stuttgarter Zeitung had this to say: "Merkel's situation reminds us
of the one of legendary Odysseus who had to choose between Scylla
and Charybdis. If she wastes billions of taxpayers' euros for
useless activities, she won't have the funds for an effective
economic policy. But if she hesitates for too long, she will risk
entering the history books as a chancellor who even worsened this
unprecedented crisis. The current Nobel Prize winner in economics
is loudly thinking about the question of whether Merkel
misinterprets the seriousness of the situation and whether she lacks
the intellectual flexibility that is now necessary. Criticism could
hardly be more devastating."

Express of Cologne argued: "With every new day of the financial
crisis, helplessness is rising. Recipes such as bailout packages
for banks and companies costing billions of euros to a lowering of
taxes or consumer vouchers are in the tool box. But does the
ordinary citizen understand this confusing debate? In addition, he
or she cannot buy anything with promises. They are nothing but
packages with a false label that the governing parties want to use
until the Bundestag elections. Currently, the Merkel Cabinet seems
to lack a concept. We must fear that the Chancellor will
anesthetize the country with her policy of a quiet hand and of
sitting out problems--making it impossible for the
vigorously master the crisis."

According to L|becker Nachrichten, "the picture that German politics
is currently offering is not very appropriate to create confidence.
It rather looks like a chicken coop. The reason is probably less
the Chancellor's defensive crisis management but rather her apparent
lack of authority that is characterizing Angela Merkel's leadership
style. The confidence in the Chancellor's ability to master this
crisis is waning, and the main reason for this is the nebulous
positions of her Cabinet and the governing parties."

9. (Zimbabwe) Mugabe On Cholera

According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "Mugabe's rhetoric
about cholera as the continuation of British colonialism with
biological agents is as miserable as the government's pledges that
Mugabe only sarcastically declared the end of the epidemic. The
draft for a constitutional amendment that the government has now
presented is only a tiny step down the path to political hygiene
because Mugabe continues to block a real division of power that
would also end the rule of police and the military. And Mugabe will
hardly be able to survive without the military, but not because he
is afraid of an invasion but because his people know who is
responsible for the cholera epidemic despite all the propaganda."


© Scoop Media

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