Cablegate: Media Reaction: December 1 President Obama's Address On
DE RUEHBU #1314/01 3371317
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 031315Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0136
INFO RHMCSUU/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001314
STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC, WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KPAO KMDR PREL AR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: DECEMBER 1 PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ADDRESS ON
AFGHANISTAN; 12/03/09; BUENOS AIRES
REF: STATE 122234
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: PRESIDENT OBAMA'S DECEMBER 1 ADDRESS ON
AFGHANISTAN; 12/03/09; BUENOS AIRES
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
All local dailies carry wire service stories and opinion pieces on
President Obama's West Point speech. Press reaction was cautiously
positive, praising Obama's determination to put an end to the war,
but questioning the feasibility of the strategy. The general tone
was one of skepticism, with most journalists portraying the
decision to send more troops as a risky bet and questioning whether
withdrawal would really begin in 2011. Several articles also noted
the lack of support for the new strategy by European and ISAF
countries. Key themes were: President Obama's need to beat back the
Taliban and bring a quicker end to a "costly and unpopular"
eight-year-long war; the lengthy internal debate about the new
strategy, which allegedly took several months with President Obama
meeting not only with members of his Cabinet but with military and
political advisors as well; President Obama's request for
additional troops from European countries; concern about increased
military expenditures given the high U.S. unemployment rate and
deficit; lack of support for the new strategy by EU and ISAF
countries; skepticism from some Obama advisers about investing more
troops and money when the Kabul government is widely seen as
corrupt and inept; and opinion polls indicating high percentages of
rejection of the war in Afghanistan. The opinion piece written by
daily-of-record "La Nacion's" Washington-based correspondent,
Silvia Pisani, is more critical than the paper's usual pro-US
editorial position on the issue.
2. FRONT-PAGE HEADLINES
- Daily-of-record "La Nacion": "Obama's bet: more troops to
3. IN-PAGE HEADLINES
- Daily-of-record "La Nacion": "Obama bets on deploying more
troops (in Afghanistan)."
- Leading circulation "Clarin": "Afghanistan: US will send 30,000
more troops but will withdraw in 2011."
- Centrist "Critica": "Barack Obama goes out to hunt the
- Business-financial "El Cronista": "Obama will send 30,000 more
troops to Afghanistan and promises to withdraw in 2011."
- Business-financial "Buenos Aires Economico": "Obama takes a
risk: he will send 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan to obtain a
- Business-financial "Ambito Financiero": "Obama will send 30,000
more troops to Afghanistan (withdrawal will start in 2011)."
- Left-of-center "Pagina 12": "Obama launches his 'Game over'
plan." "Obama's war plan divides the EU: two (countries) will send
(additional) troops and two others will not."
- Liberal, English-language "Buenos Aires Herald": "Obama to
speed troop deployment to Afghanistan."
- Conservative "La Prensa": "Obama sends additional troops to
4. OPINION SUMMARIES
- "A risky decision that could mark his presidency"
Silvia Pisani, daily-of-record "La Nacion," opines (12/02), "This
is the riskiest decision of the Obama administration, and perhaps
the most difficult to understand. A Nobel Prize winner has just
announced more war.
"Never before have the rates of rejection of the Afghanistan war
been so high, with only four of every 10 Americans willing to
understand why one should be killed there.
"Obama's step will imply a military expenditure that his fellow
citizens do not want: in total, some 30 billion dollars per year
now that the unemployment rate is higher than 10 per cent.
"Obama addressed a difficult audience, an international community
that will hardly be satisfied with this. He spoke to some people
who do not want more war, lawmakers who do not want to approve more
expenditures, soldiers that are not sure of what they are doing in
a foreign land and who have the highest rate of suicides ever
"For sure, a long time will have passed before the sense of this
decision is known. Before this is unveiled, Obama will travel to
Oslo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize."
- "Afghanistan: the US will send 30,000 more troops but it will
withdraw in 2011"
Ana Baron, leading "Clarin's" Washington-based correspondent,
writes (12/02), "The number of Americans who compare the
confrontation in Afghanistan with the war in Vietnam has increased
remarkably during recent months. This is why President Barack Obama
announced yesterday that he will send 30,000 more troops to
Afghanistan while he set July 2011 to start the US withdrawal from
the country. However, is his strategy realistic?
"Obama's goal is weakening the Taliban so that Afghan security
forces can have time and room to develop and can eventually be
replaced by US troops. The second mission of the US troops to be
sent to Afghanistan will be to train Afghan security forces to take
charge when the time comes.
"While Obama made clear that the 100,000 US soldiers will gradually
start their withdrawal from Afghanistan, there will be US military
presence for a long time."
- "Barack Obama will go out to hunt the Taliban"
Macarena Vidal, centrist "Critica's" Washington-based
correspondent, highlights (12/02), "The White House's new strategy
is 'to dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda network and prevent its return
to Afghanistan.' For this purpose, Obama will increase the number
of troops at a much faster rhythm than currently. In this way, he
wants to speed up the training of Afghan forces so that they can
take charge of the country's security by 2011, when US troops will
start withdrawing from the country.
"With this measure, Obama wants to ensure US citizens (who are
increasingly disappointed with the war) that the stay of troops
does not have an 'unlimited nature.' The only thing Obama did not
commit himself to announce is the date when the withdrawal will be
finished or its rhythm. That will be subject to the 'field
- "Two (countries) will send (additional) troops and two will
Left-of-center "Pagina 12's" Paris-based correspondent Eduardo
Febbro writes (12/02) "Two countries will send troops and two will
not. For different reasons, France and Germany refused to send
additional troops to Afghanistan as requested by President Barack
Obama. For their part, UK and Spain will endorse the US President's
"Nonetheless, even with the additional troops from the UK and
Spain, Barack Obama will not obtain from his allies the 10,000
additional troops he had requested.
"Out of the 45 country-members of the International Security
Assistance Force (of which 26 are NATO members), just a few are
willing to support Obama's new strategy.
"Obama's strategy has exasperated many Europeans due to the slow
implementation of his strategy. Several capital cities consider
their men have been suffering for eight years and have contributed
more than what they should to the Afghan cause. The absolutely
military option has not generated consensus among his allies,
particularly when Afghan President Hamid Karzai has become an
embarrassing ally due to the corruption that marked his first term
in office and the massive fraud in his re-election Afghanistan is
for many experts a dead-end ally."
To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
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