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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Obama-Nobel, Afghanistan, Italy, Uk, U.S.;

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091208Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5449
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO US AF IT UK ECON
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: OBAMA-NOBEL, AFGHANISTAN, ITALY, UK, U.S.;

Berlin

1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (U.S.-Norway) President Obama Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
3. (Afghanistan) Future U.S. Strategy
4. (Italy) Implications of Court Ruling on Berlusconi
5. (UK) Tory Party Conference
6. (U.S.) Economic Development

1. Lead Stories Summary

Print media have only one story this morning: the awarding of the
Nobel literature prize to German novelist Herta Mller. Editorials

focused on Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi losing his
immunity, and on Herta Mller. ZDF-TV's early evening newscast
heute
and ARD-TV's early evening newscast Tagesschau also opened with
reports on Mller.

2. (U.S.-Norway) President Obama Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Commercial TV station n-tv (10/09) noted: "Sensation in Oslo.
Obama
gets the Nobel Prize at a time when he is faced with many
challenges...
So is this a prize thought to be an incentive to do more? ... This
is
certainly coming as a surprise to the White House... Honoring a
president who has still three or maybe seven years to go is
certainly
daring. This continues the trend of honoring other politicians such

as Arafat, where you could have had serious doubts later that the
honoring was justified. However, Obama cannot be equated with such

politicians because he has shown during his election campaign and in

the first months of his presidency that he is serious about
dialogue,
for instance by opening direct talks with Iran."

A commentator on N24-TV (10/09) said: "This is not the first time
that
the committee in Oslo has sent a signal by awarding the prize to a
person who is seen as a great hope so early in his political career.

When Willy Brandt got the prize in 1971 he had only been chancellor

for two years and his rapprochement policy towards the East was far

from complete. He was able to make use of the prize to counter the

domestic resistance to his policy. This is probably the intention
of
the Nobel Prize committee: While President Obama is too new to
office
for the committee to honor his policy, it hopes to support him for
what is still to come.... This is an investment in a man the world
is
expecting to do a lot.... This is a political signal and he will
make
use of it."

Spiegel Online (10/09) reported: "Sensational decision: Barack
Obama
gets the Nobel Peace Prize. The committee in Oslo honored the U.S.

President for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen diplomacy and

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cooperation between people. Only very few expected this
decision....
The committee announced that Obama's vision for a world free of
nuclear weapons played a special role in the decision-making."

ZDF-TV's Mittagsmagazin (10/09) reported: "While some think he has
not
done anything yet, the rest of the world believes he has already
achieved a great deal. Unlike his predecessor, he has reached out
to
the world, e.g. the Prague speech, the Cairo speech. These are all

very important symbols.... This will certainly strengthen him."

3. (Afghanistan) Future U.S. Strategy

Spiegel Online (10/09) headlined "U.S. examines cooperation with the

Taliban," and added: "President Obama's government is possibly about

to change its policy on Afghanistan. Secretary Clinton is
considering
cooperating with the Taliban. This could mean that the military
commanders' call to deploy more troops to Afghanistan will not be
realized."

Under the headline "U.S. army lacks resources for mission in
Afghanistan," Handelsblatt (10/09) reported that "President Obama
might decide the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan today.... Obama's

decision-making is not just influenced by strategic considerations.

If the President sends numerous additional forces to Afghanistan, it

would be a great challenge for the U.S. army... With some 550,000

soldiers, the U.S. army is only a third of the size it used to be
during the Vietnam War... The sluggish increase in the number of
troops
has to do with the fact that former Secretary Rumsfeld pursued a
plan
limiting the number of military recruitments in order to cut down on

costs. Only under current Secretary Gates, was recruitment
accelerated.... The U.S. would therefore have to rely all the more
on
support from its allies. Canadian Defense Minister Mackay is
expecting Gates to call on European allies during the NATO defense
ministerial in Bratislava in two weeks to deploy additional
troops....
There is uneasiness among European allies because they feel poorly
informed by the United States. A NATO diplomat said the U.S. has so

far understood Afghanistan to be an American war. It is therefore
not
astonishing the Europeans are waiting for Obama's decision."

In a lengthy analytic piece under the headline "contradictions of a

mission," Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/09) wrote: "Obama's hesitation
to
respond to the call for more troops in Afghanistan and to take more

risks corresponds with the hesitation of the NATO allies.... In his

report to Washington, General McChrystal only summed up what most
ISAF
commanders currently think and stand by. However, he has not

BERLIN 00001270 003 OF 006


discussed and resolved the contradiction of, on the one hand, the
need
for an active and preemptive fight against insurgents and, on the
other hand, for the protection of civilians... According to German

officials, McChrystal is also under massive political pressure from
a
political advisor representing the government in Washington who
accompanies him to meetings. The commander in chief knows that time

is getting short."

4. (Italy) Implications of Court Ruling on Berlusconi

All papers (10/09) reported of Italy's Prime Minister Berlusconi's
reaction to the decision of the Constitutional Court, which
overturned
a law that granted him immunity from prosecution. Sueddeutsche
headlined: "Left-Wing Conspiracy," and reported that "Minister
President Berlusconi again assailed President Napolitano and the
Constitutional Court. The opposition forces were outraged, as were

some government members, as they called upon Berlusconi to show
moderation." Die Welt wrote under the headline: "Berlusconi Wants
to
Defend Himself," and reported: "The Berlusconi era is not yet over.

Even after the Constitutional Court suspended his immunity, it is
not
yet clear the escape artist will not succeed in having the two
chambers of Italy's parliament adopt a 'waterproof' immunity bill
that
stands above all constitutional concerns." die tageszeitung
headlined: "A Bad Loser," and wrote that, with his reaction,
"Berlusconi is now presenting the strategy of his right-wing
coalition: in substance, he is refusing to accept the ruling of the

Constitutional court and is not even shying away from a
constitutional
conflict with the president. The Italian prime minister is
convinced
that the approval of the voters...will not suffer even after this
ruling, because he has worked for more than 15 years now in
explaining
to the public that he has become a victim of political justice."

Sueddeutsche Zeitung (10/09) judged: "For how long does Silvio
Berlusconi want to rule? For how long will he be allowed to abuse
the
president, the justices at the Constitutional Court, and his
political
enemies? For how long will the Italians allow him to abuse their
patience? For more than 15 years, this man, who has lost all his
inhibitions, has dominated his people, irrespective of whether he
was
the opposition leader or government head. During this period, Italy

has become worse off. As far as the economy is concerned, it has
taken a step back, and as far as politics is concerned, Italy is
hardly taken seriously abroad. It has lost domestic cohesion."

In the view of Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/09), "Italy is facing
stormy
times. This rude fierceness with which Berlusconi attacked the
president and the Constitutional Court does not bode well. In this

'war of institutions,' which Berlusconi now wants to fight though
with
his compatriots, Italy cannot win."

BERLIN 00001270 004 OF 006

According to Handelsblatt (10/09), "the government head of one of
the
most important EU countries has lost his immunity and must now face

several trials. This smells of a state crisis, but as a matter of
fact, it is not, because we are in Italy and the affected person is

Silvio Berlusconi. That is why different rules are valid, and it is

extremely unlikely that he will step down or that new elections will

be held after the ruling of the Constitutional Court. And if new
elections are really held, Berlusconi would win again. One reason
is
different ethical standards that dominate in Italy. Corruption and

tax evasion do not have such a negative connotation as, for
instance,
in Germany."

Berliner Zeitung (10/09) opined: "In every other country, the prime

minister would have stepped down in view of such facts. But
Berlusconi does not want to give up, at least not as long as his
coalition partners continue to support him for strategic
calculations.
He has nothing to fear from the left wing in parliament. It is in a

desolate state. That is why the debate over Berlusconi could soon
be
transferred to the streets places in Italy. He announced yesterday

that he wanted to demonstrate to Italians what kind of man he is.
This is reassuring for one camp and a threat to the other camp."

Financial Times Deutschland (10/09) is of a different opinion and
editorializes: "It may be possible that Silvio Berlusconi is a
scoundrel. But the Italians, who have elected him as prime minister

for the third time, already know this. The courts frequently proved

that he relied on corruption to build up his media empire. But if
Italians, nevertheless, elected a scoundrel as prime minister, then

this prime minister must also have the chance to govern. Of course,

Berlusconi must be held accountable for his machinations. But it
cannot be the right of a few judges either to determine the end of
his
term by arresting him. Irrespective of the current case, Italy
needs
a law that shows the justice authorities their limits and protects
the
state leadership from prosecution, even though this would require an

amendment to the Constitution. Such a rule could save the country a

month-long trench warfare and political standstill."

Regional daily Mnchener Merkur (10/09) opined: "Basically, the
ruling
of the Constitutional Court is unspectacular. It is the normal
reaction of a state to the attempt of one individual politician to
put
himself above the institutions. Every citizen understands this, but

not Berlusconi. This elusive politician is still hoping that there


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will be no political alternative to him. But this should change if

the past catches up with him before the court. For Italy, this
means
an eroding loss of reputation, and Berlusconi does not want to save

his compatriots from such a development. Otherwise he would have
taken the necessary steps and stepped down."

5. (UK) Tory Party Conference

Sddeutsche editorialized: "The Tory leader has charisma and can
speak
quite well. However, charisma is not a feat if the political
opponent
is Gordon Brown, who is as warmhearted as a tense bulldog. And a
charismatic speaker can quickly turn into a vain chatterbox. Barack

Obama is currently undergoing this experience. Cameron once saw him

as a model.... In a crisis, people do not want rhetoric but
determination. So far, Cameron has not shown any of that. A
victory
of the Tories is therefore not certain."

Die Welt carried an editorial under the headline: "On the Island of

Debt," and judged: "No other party but the Tories has ever tried to

win elections for the House of Commons by demonstrating so much
courage. They made a clear statement on what is needed in the
future,
ranging from a strict austerity policy to wage cuts and a retirement

age that will be shifted. This alone is evidence of the tense
situation in the UK. In this situation, the gamble the British
conservatives are taking with their European Union membership looks

like a partisan attempt to push aside of a lot of bad news. They
think that by coming on strong to Brussels, they can let off steam
towards the EU. But splendid isolation is no answer to the EU's
reform deficiencies; only cooperation would be."

6. (U.S.) Economic Development

Handelsblatt (10/09) deals with the interpretation of the quarterly

results of U.S. companies and warns of rash conclusions. The daily

editorialized: "Alcoa has now offered a picture which we will
continue
to see during the reporting season of quarterly results. Almost all

results are favorable because the companies cut costs, while sales
continue to stay at the crisis level. At best, they improve
slightly,
and, in a worst case scenario, (such as in the U.S. automobile
industry) they are again beginning to decline. This does not leave

companies any other choice but to continue to thin out their staff
and
to orient their activities to medium-term lower sales levels. For
the
largest economy in the world, this is a central and still
underestimated problem in the financial industry. Even if the
quarterly results are better than expected, they will be at the
expense of the people and will escalate the unemployment problem.
The
dangerous development is that in the second wave of staff cuts,

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well-
paid managers and employees will also lose their jobs. In addition,

an increasing number of civil servants in the United States will
lose
their jobs because states such as California are almost bankrupt and

must cut their budgets. The trend of, to an increasing extent,
well-
paid workers also losing their jobs is already apparent...and this
means
that a cut of consumer spending is only a question of time. And for

trade, these are sad prospects which do not fit the picture of a
solid
recovery. The jobs that the United States is currently losing in
crisis sectors cannot be built up again in other sectors. In the
short-term, all indications are that, despite assistance, more jobs

will be lost in the United States than new ones will be created. In

order to break this trend, corporate America needs an increase in
sales at home and in competitive products for the markets abroad.
But
improved quarterly results that are primarily based on cuts are at
best tranquilizers for the financial market."

MURPHY

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