Cablegate: Media Reaction: Afghanistan, G20, Un Climate Change,
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FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
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INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
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RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0489
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RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE//J5 DIRECTORATE (MC)//
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BERLIN 001180
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO GM AF US IS XF
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: AFGHANISTAN, G20, UN CLIMATE CHANGE,
MIDEAST, USG PERCEPTION; BERLIN
1. Lead Stories Summary
3. UN Climate Change Summit
4. Mideast Trilateral Summit
5. Obama Presidency
6. G20 Summit
1. Lead Stories
Primetime newscasts and several newspapers opened with President
ObamaQs speech to the UN climate change summit. Sueddeutsche
Zeitung and Berliner Zeitung both headlined: QObama disappoints
climate activists.Q Die Welt headlined: QBarack Obama warns world
community against climate catastrophe.Q Other newspapers led with
stories on Afghanistan and the German elections. Editorials focused
on the German elections and climate change.
Front-page headlines: QWhite House and military leadership disagree
over strategy on AfghanistanQ (Frankfurter Allgemeine), QNo new U.S.
troops for AfghanistanQObama wants to develop a strategy first
(Tagesspiegel), QAfghan President Karzai supports the demand to
deploy more U.S. troopsQ (Die Welt).
Die Welt commented: QAt least half a dozen of times, McCrystal
mentions in the report that the NATO mission in Afghanistan could
fail. For a commander, this is close to defeatism. He must be dead
serious about his demands. Given the disaster of the allegations
of election fraud, many Americans are turning away from Afghanistan.
Eight years at war without any attacks at home have made the goals
Tagesspiegel remarked: QThe rift is going right through the
administration. At the end of a reworked strategy, there will not
be a completely new approach. Obama will probably focus on three
things: winning the support of the Afghan people will be more
important than killing as many Taliban as possible. Afghans will be
given more responsibility and the training of the Afghan police
forces and the army will be pushed forward. This means for the time
being that more must be done before the engagement can be reduced.
Under the headline QThe Afghan Dilemma,Q Berliner Zeitung opined:
QThe most senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan admitted that the
last seven years in the country were lost yearsQfor the people in
Afghanistan, ISAF, and the goal to stabilize the country and turn it
into a place were terrorists can no longer find a safe haven. The
Afghan project is threatened with failure. The U.S. is facing a
second debacle on the scale of Vietnam Withdrawal would be the
logical result. McCrystalQs strategy offers a small exit by
focusing on the training of Afghan police forces and soldiers.
Theoretically, the governments of Washington and Berlin have
understood this necessity. The practical implementation is however
ridiculous and worthless.
3. UN Climate Change Summit
Although media welcomed President ObamaQs speech as a Qdramatic
callQ (Die Welt), several newspapers highlighted that he did not
make new commitments, noting that QObama disappoints climate
activistsQ (Sueddeutsche, Berliner Zeitung). Spiegel Online
headlined: QObamaQs climate speech frustrates climate activists.
Several media focused on JapanQs determined promise: QAsians
Outshine ObamaQ (FT Deutschland front-page headline).
ARD-TVQs Tagesthemen commented: QThere was no lack of powerful
words of wisdom. Also Obama drastically chastised the consequences
of global warming and called for a common fight against the climate
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catastrophe. However, what will America deliver? Obama did not
give an answer. America and China matter.... Those who cause so
much damage must bear their responsibility to resolve the problem.
They must take the lead and not trail behind. We can trust Obama
that the topic is a priority for him, but not for the rest of
America. AmericaQs political energy is focusing almost exclusively
on the health care reform. There is no time to resuce tomorrowQs
world. As a result, his people make the world hope Obama a lame
Under the headline QForget Copenhagen,Q FT Deutschland editorialized
on its front page: QThe UN summit on climate change produced on
specific result. However, it has nothing to do reduction goals and
greenhouse gases, but the political realization that we should
forget Copenhagen. The long-expected speech by President Obama and
his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao to the UN showed that the
Copenhagen climate conference cannot be rescued even with the
greatest negotiating skills. Neither the U.S. nor China will make
sufficient moves by then to make an agreement possible that defines
carbon dioxide reduction goals by 2050 or even 2020. However, the
success of the talks between the 192 countries depends primarily on
the U.S. and China. It is unfortunate that Obama wants to get the
climate change bill through the Congress only next year, if at all.
This reduces the opportunities of the developed countries to
negotiate and force developing countries to make concessions. In
addition, he gives China a reason not to make another move. The
chances that we will get more than a non-binding framework agreement
faded further yesterday. They are now about zero. It would
therefore be best to postpone the conference until the U.S. is ready
for making real progress in the negotiations. Otherwise, a
compromise in Copenhagen could make real progress impossible for
years because the climate sinners can hide behind it.
Die Welt commented on its front page: QPresident Obama also used
that killer argument of the end of the world in his speech to the
UNQhe made a commitment to reach a post-Kyoto agreement although he
knows that his parliamentarians will not approval of it.
4. Mideast Trilateral Summit
Media noted that Qon the margins of the UN summit, the U.S. tried to
restart the deadlocked Mideast peace processQ (ZDF-TVQs Heute).
Sueddeutsche carried a front-page photo of Obama and the Israeli
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas,
highlighting that he told them: QIt is past time to talk about
starting negotiations. It is time to move forward.Q Berliner
Zeitung headlined: QThe summit of modest expectations.
Spiegel Online headlined QU.S. gets lost in the Mideast mazeQ and
wrote in its intro: QBarack Obama is at risk of getting sidetracked
in the Mideast conflict. His meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu
and Palestinian President Abbas was not more than a photo
opportunity. No U.S. President before him has dared to hold such a
summit without a common statement.
Sueddeutsche comments: QThe American sunny boy is being caught up by
realties in the Middle East. In the trilateral meeting with
Netanyahu and Abbas, Obama was standing there with empty hands. For
months, his envoy was engaged in a shuttle diplomacy. The result is
sobering: A UN photo opportunity.
5. Obama Presidency
Frankfurter Allgemeine commented: QDuring his visit to Europe in
April, ObamaQs message of change and hope still captivated many
people. Half year later, most Americans and many people throughout
the world have all returned to earth. Concerning the Afghanistan
war, ObamaQs leadership in recent weeks was everything else but
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impressive. Nobody in Washington is apparently concerned that, in
addition to the Canadians, important European allies might withdraw
their troops from Afghanistan in 2011. It is time for Obama to
deliver a great speech on the necessity to succeed in Afghanistan.
Whether his calculation to reset relations with Moscow will work by
renouncing the deployment of a missile defense shield in Central
Europe will be seen only in a few months. In the Mideast policy,
Obama and his envoy Mitchell only got a photo opportunity in New
York. There is no sign of democratization or economic
liberalization in Cuba, although some American sanctions were
lifted. Also in Pyongyang, ObamaQs message of change and readiness
to talk without preconditions has not had any impact yet [With his
trade policy on China and Mexico], Obama is continuing the bad
examples of his predecessors Reagan, Clinton and Bush, although
neither of them were protectionists. This is not the change we can
believe in. How does Obama want to credibly restart negotiations on
free trade at the G20 summit? As the host of the world in New York
and Pittsburgh, Obama will certainly find nice words. He has
already found them for the topic of climate change on Tuesday.
However, they are at best a promise.
FT Deutschland commented that Qoptimists see the G20 as a global
leadership forum. However, there is much evidence indicating that
the group has surpassed the hill and that the summit in Pittsburgh
will bring us down to earth again.Q The paper added: QEurope is
probably the greatest obstacle to turning the G20 into a permanent
leadership forum. In the long run, regular meetings of the 20 most
powerful countries make no sense if they are not talking about
currency issues. For the euro zone, euro chairman Jean-Claude
Juncker would be the right representative, not Merkel, Sarkozy and
Berlusconi. As a representative for the increasingly less
important pound, Brown would have to give up his seat. Both things
are not conceivable in the foreseeable future.