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Cablegate: Media Reaction: President Obama's Address On Afghanistan


DE RUEHIN #1423/01 3370935
R 030935Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 3 on the lead-up to the local elections scheduled
for December 5; on the National Communications Commission (NCC)'s
review of Next Media's applications to establish TV channels; and on
the resignation Masaki Saito, Japan's representative to Taiwan.

2. In terms of editorial and commentaries, two articles commented on
United States President Barack Obama's Tuesday address on
Afghanistan. A column in the KMT-leaning "China Times" questioned
what the President's strategy was for Afghanistan. The column held
a pessimistic view about President Obama's latest announcement to
send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan because the Afghanistan problem
cannot be resolved simply by military means. An editorial in the
China-focused "Want Daily" said the war in Afghanistan is a war that
the United States cannot fight anymore. The editorial gave five
reasons explaining why the United States should not stay in the
quagmire of Afghanistan. End summary.

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A) "What Is Obama's Strategy on Afghanistan"

The "International Lookout" column in the KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 120,000] wrote (12/3):

"United States President Barack Obama announced his plan to deploy
[more United States] troops in Afghanistan. This is absolutely
compromise plan in which [he] wants to please everyone. It is hard
to say whether [the plan] will have a significant impact on the
situation in Afghanistan. ...

"The most fundamental issue is that, increasing troops (even if the
troops are increased by 80,000 more) cannot reverse the situation in
Afghanistan. This is because [the problems in Afghanistan] cannot
be resolved by military means. Rather, they are problems that
involve various aspects, including politics, economy, and society.
Afghanistan is called 'the graveyard of empires.' Could it be said
that the [reason why the] military forces of the United Kingdom and
the [former] Soviet Union failed [in Afghanistan] was because of the
shortage of troops? ...

"Afghanistan should not be put on a par with Iraq. Iraq almost
produced an atomic bomb. However, three fourths of the population
in Afghanistan remains illiterate. There is not even a [decent]
highway. There are abundant oil reserves in Iraq. People in
Afghanistan can only grow poppy.

"It was only a pretense that the United States' attacked Afghanistan
wanting to destroy the Taliban and catch Osama bin Laden. Why did
the United States cooperate with the Taliban in the past? The real
purpose of the United States is the same as that of the former
British Empire and the [former] Soviet Union -- to control the
strategic hub in Central Asia.

"Obama realized that [former President George] Bush's ambitions in
Afghanistan were hard to fulfill. [Obama] is either unable to move
forward on or retreat from the legacy [left by Bush]. Some people
believe that the strategy [of sending more troops] that he announced
yesterday was just to pretend to move ahead in order to hide his
intention to retreat. That way of thinking is probably true."

B) "The War in Afghanistan Can Not be Fought"

The China-focused "Want Daily" [circulation: 10,000] editorialized

"... The problem is that, is it worthwhile to fight this war [in
Afghanistan]? Can the war be fought? First of all, according to
historical experience, it is unlikely that the United States will
win a war without the support of public opinion. ... Second,
judging from several wars in the past, it is unlikely [that the
United States] will win a war without the support of Congress. ...
Third, what is more important is that, can the United States
vanquish the enemy? Before James Jones assumed the National
Security Adviser [position], he pointed out in a report to the
'Atlantic Council' that it was impossible for NATO forces to win the
war in Afghanistan. Jones also held an extremely pessimistic view
concerning the prospects for the United States in Afghanistan,
believing that 'the United States could send 200,000 more troops to
Afghanistan, but they would continue to fall into a quagmire as they
had been.' ...

"Fourth, [United States President Barack] Obama goal in sending more
troops to Afghanistan is to prevent the resurgence of Al Qaeda as
well as the remnants of the Taliban forces which fled to Pakistan.
The ultimate goal is to return responsibility for security and
defense to the Afghanistan government as soon as possible. ... The
problem is that the Afghanistan government is led by President Hamid
Karzai [who] is fatuous and incapable. ... It is only wishful
thinking by the United States to [think it can] train 400,000
Afghanistan troops so they can replace the troops of the United

States and [its] allies within three or four years.

"Fifth, as early as the 'U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue'
from April 27-28, Obama hoped China would assist the United States
in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Beijing
pretended to be a deaf mute [to Obama's hopes]. On November 17,
when he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Obama mentioned the
issue again. Hu [again] did not respond directly to the issue.
Beijing and Washington have a common goal in South Asia and
Southeast Asia, which is that they do not want to see Islamic
extremist organizations spread and develop in the two regions.
Beijing has not yet demonstrated its support for the United States'
request to cooperate in fighting terrorism in South Asia out of a
concern that the influence of the United States would take root in
South Asia. Furthermore, [China is concerned that the United
States] will collaborate with India to jointly contain the rise of

"Finally, if Obama cannot realize his commitment to remove troops
from Afghanistan within three years, the United States will
definitely fall into the quagmire as it did in the Vietnam War and
the war in Iraq. If this happens, the United States will have to
devote excessive amounts of national power to overseas conflicts,
while China, India and Russia [will continue to] develop their
economies with their full strength. At that [future] time, it is
likely that there will be a new change in the relative national
strengths of the global superpowers.


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