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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Haiti, U.S. Yemen, Iran, France,

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1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (Haiti) Aftermath of Quake, Montreal Conference
3. (U.S.) State of the Union, Austerity Program, Banking Crisis
4. (Yemen) London Conference
5. (Iran) Karrubi Gives In
6. (France) Ban on Burqas
7. (Afghanistan) London Conference, German Strategy

1. Lead Stories Summary

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The main item in the print media is the government's new strategy on
Afghanistan. Editorials focused on the government's new Afghanistan
strategy and the new leadership of the Left Party. ZDF-TV's early
evening newscast heute opened with a report on the new leadership of
the Left Party following Oskar Lafontaine's withdrawal, and ARD-TV's
early evening newscast Tagesschau opened with a story on the new
strategy in Afghanistan.

2. (Haiti) Aftermath of Quake, Montreal Conference

Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/27) editorialized: "The estimated costs of
Haiti's reconstruction are three, ten or even fifteen billion
dollars. Nobody has yet made a sustainable calculation as the
period of providing emergency assistance is not yet over. There is
no functioning Haiti government to speak of, which is not its fault.
It is clear that, given the extent of the destruction, Haiti will
depend on international support for a long time.... The U.S.
Secretary of State was right to note at the international donors'
conference that assistance must be transparent and efficient, not
wasted and disappear. Haiti needs patient partners-and sustainable
infrastructure projects."

Under the headline "New Colonies," Die Welt (1/27) opined: "Aid
organizations had to ignore state structures after the earthquake in
Haiti. UN forces were also not capable of responding effectively.
In order to prevent chaos and violence, the U.S. Army had to take
the initiative and set up its own logistics. Without this
protection, aid would not have reached the people, and rescue teams
and doctors would have had to fear for their lives. The strong role
of the U.S in Haiti raised old memories. However, this time around
it was about help, not predominance. The word of neo-colonialism
was spread in Port-au-Prince, but it had a positive connotation. A
colony of aid workers was created. This phenomenon is not just
restricted to emergency cases. There are now new kinds of colonies
in many parts of the world because security must be provided where
only long-term international engagement can help."

3. (U.S.) State of the Union, Austerity Program, Banking Crisis

Several papers (1/27) carried reports on President Obama's plan to
pursue an austerity course and impose a budget ceiling. Under the
headline: "Restart for a Man - Barack Obama Suffered Defeats, but
Now he Wants to Improve his Image - Among other Things by following
an Austerity Course," Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported: "The TV
interview with ABC is only a prelude to many others. On TV we saw a
humble president, one who concedes that 'I probably make one, maybe
two mistakes per day.' And we saw a president who is blaming
himself in view of declining ratings and a painful defeat in the
by-elections for the Senate, even though Obama struck a totally
different tone last week." Die Welt carried a report under the
headline: "Obama Announces Radical Austerity Course - It Could Cost
him his Re-Election," and wrote: "Obama said in ABC news two days
before his State of the Union address that he wants to stick to his
controversial healthcare reform plans even if it cost his
re-election. He also said that in his address to the nation he
would primarily focus on jobs and economic growth."

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Sueddeutsche (1/27) headlined: "Without Substance - Obama's Budget
Ceiling Is Ineffective And this is Good" and judged: "Driven by the
fear of losing the support of the voters, the U.S. President
presents new, ill-conceived initiatives almost on a daily basis. He
presented the plan that pretends to cut down the size of banks, then
there is the idea of offering tax cuts to the middle class tax, even
though it only need secure jobs, and the most recent one is to
reduce debt by imposing a ceiling on the budget. Why? The budget
ceiling is a defensive maneuver. The opposition is putting pressure
on the government by demanding a quick reduction in debt. But the
ideology that calls for budget discipline during times of crises was
discredited already in the 1930s. Obama knows this, but instead of
standing up for his convictions, he is giving in to the Republicans.
Without massive state spending, the United States would have faced
a depression. The IMF is strongly warning against ending economic
stimulus programs prematurely. That is why we must count ourselves
lucky that the budget ceiling is without substance. But,
nevertheless, it is dangerous because it is preparing the ground for
further cuts, months, probably years, too early."

"Battle Against the Banks" is the headline in Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(1/27), which editorialized: "The world is waging two great wars:
one against terror, and one against the financial industry. George
W. Bush instigated the first...and Barack Obama proclaimed the
second one last week. But the enemy has not entrenched itself in
the distant mountains of Afghanistan but this time it is sitting in
the U.S. itself: It is the gentlemen on Wall Street. Obama is
attacking the doctrine that the economy can only thrive if it is
ruled by the financial markets. But this war is much more difficult
to wage than the one in Afghanistan and Iraq. And Obama will win
this war only if he succeeds with two things: He must gather enough
allies...but these allies were surprised about the battle plan
because Obama missed the opportunity to integrate Germans, French,
and the British to form a 'coalition of the willing.' But it will
be decisive to see whether Obama will also use the right weapons,
and in this respect we have our doubts. In principle, Obama is
heading in the right direction but of what use will it be to ban the
banks from doing certain kinds of business if this business
emigrates to hedge funds?... If Obama is able to stay the course,
he can become a great president, but if he fails, Obama will rather
be compared to James Buchanan...and, according to historians,
Buchanan was a weak, indecisive president without fortune."

4. (Yemen) London Conference

Under the headline: "120 Minutes For a New Trouble Spot,"
Sueddeutsche Zeitung (1/27) reported that "the meeting in the
Foreign Office will only last two hours. This will not be much time
if the representatives of all the 21 invited nations want to take to
the floor. But primarily, these 120 minutes are too short to
discuss the complex array of problems with which the Yemen
Conference in London wants to deal. Only since the failed bomb
attack in Detroit has the general public realized that al-Qaida is
training attackers in this poverty stricken Southern Arab
country.... The meeting in London will alternate between admonition
and encouragement.... Yemen's President, who has been in office for
more than 32 years now, will not travel to London, but he will send
several Cabinet members instead. Secretary Clinton announced her
participation. She wants to make good governance in Sana'a a
precondition for the complete payment of the 3.3 billion euros in
international aid which were already promised at the Yemen
conference in 2006."

Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/27) carried a report under the headline:
"A Failing State," and wrote: "It may be possible that that the
London conference will create a new confidence and lead to a
rapprochement between the parties in Yemen. The most important
western and Arab nations are pressing Yemen to initiate a political

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process and no longer rely on weapons only. Foreign Minister
al-Qirbi said that the issues in London should only be development
funds and support in the fight against terror, and that internal
conflicts and human rights were domestic issues that were no
business for the international community. But economic assistance
does not exhaust itself in funds. The Yemenites hope that the Gulf
states will approve the return of several hundreds of thousands of
workers who would reduce the burden on the labor market and whose
return would result in new transfers of money from migrant workers.
The Yemenites also hope for Arab investment in new industrial plants
which would create jobs in Yemen itself. The Yemenites are also
complaining that the Saudis, for security reasons, are blocking the
transit of trucks loaded with fruit. But after the Arab neighboring
countries ignored Yemen for a long time, it is now primarily up to
them to avert a further looming destabilization of the country.

5. (Iran) Karrubi Gives In

In an editorial under the headline: "The Revolution Divides Its
Children," Sueddeutsche Zeitung (1/27) focused on opposition leader
Karrubi who has made an offer of peace to the powers-that-be in
Tehran. The paper wondered: "Is this gesture of subjugation the
demise of the Iranian opposition? Has the resistance now been
broken? No, Karrubi's remarks only show that the regime has gained
the upper hand in the power struggle. Karrubi has now drawn a red
line for himself and his supporters: We must accept the authority
of supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei. And between the
lines, Karrubi is saying that it would be good to criticize
individual government members but not to question Khamenei's power.
If Karrubi decides to take such a step, then this says much about
the regime's persistence. He submitted an offer of reconciliation
to the regime and, at the same time, fired a warning shot at his
supporters. Karrubi thus shows responsibility for the fate of his
followers, but whether he has done the opposition a favor is a
different question. The opposition remains a patchwork of people,
groups, and networks. At the grassroots level they often act in a
spontaneous way. This is the basis for its strength but it is
unlikely that this strength, which lacks a cohesive leadership, will
be enough to counter a regime that stops at nothing."

6. (France) Ban on Burqas

According to an editorial in Die Welt (1/27), "a large majority of
French think that the burqa will threaten the core values of the
French Republic, even though there are only a few hundreds women in
France as a whole who wear a burqa. Now it is then same Republic
that intervenes and issues a ban that restricts, in the name of its
highest value - freedom - the people's right to wear what they like.
This paradox cannot be resolved even with a well formulated bill."

In a front-page editorial, Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/27) judged:
"When dealing with its Muslim minority, France is pinning its hope
on even less tolerance. This 'burqa ban' is probably expressing the
helplessness of the ones who are politically responsible to prevent
the spread of an extremist Islam by means other than strict
conditions laid down in a law.... France wants to express that it
is not willing to give in to a militant Islam and to relativize
equal opportunities for men and women in the name of Islam.... Only
recently, President Sarkozy recommended to the Muslim believers
'humble discretion.' With this remark, he reacted to the Swiss vote
on minarets. In the midst of the debate over national identity, he
formulated what France is expecting of the Muslim citoyens: more
discretion, less provocation."

Regional daily Volksstimme of Magdeburg (1/27) judged: "Europeans
always have difficulties accepting Muslim women wearing headscarves,
but when it comes to the burqa the line has been crossed. The burqa
does not fit European culture, nor does a bikini fit the culture in

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Yemen. France has now taken a first step against the burqa. It is
to be pushed out of public life and President Sarkozy declared it to
be 'undesired.' This requires a ban, but such a ban hardly fits a
pluralist society which usually guarantees the freedom to wear
whatever the individual wants to wear. Sarkozy could also have
openly said that democratic tolerance ends here."

Regional daily Allgemeine Zeitung of Mainz (1/27) had this to say:
"We can certainly argue about female teachers wearing headscarves or
about minarets, but not about burqas. It is a political religious
symbol that elevates the Muslim claim to rule and it is at the same
time an instrument that suppresses women even though they deny this.
Every reasonable citizen of a country is interested in getting
along with his neighbor, irrespective of whether or not he has a
migratory background. But this does not mean one has to accept
every peculiarity if it is diametrically opposed to one's own
cultural background."

die tageszeitung (1/27) judged under the headline; "Islamophobia
Instead of Economics," that "it could be possible that this debate
over the burqa, which has kept the parties in France busy for a long
time, is a red herring in order to avoid talking about the deep
crisis of capitalist society, because it is no coincidence that
France has spent so much energy on the fight against an ideological
enemy. With this more or less nationalistic campaign, President
Sarkozy's governing UMP wants to prevent disappointed voters
migrating to the extremist right."

7. (Afghanistan) London Conference, German Strategy

In a front-page editorial, Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/27) wrote: "The
goal of turning Afghanistan into a Westminster democracy has been
abandoned. The governments of the allies only want to stabilize the
country and the Afghan government to be able to withdraw from the
expedition, so that it does not collapse the next day. What has to
be done to reach this goal must be discussed again, this time in
London. The German government wants to follow the American example
by providing more money and additional soldiers to be able to
withdraw one day. However, Chancellor Merkel's government is
pursuing a special German path. Berlin, which praised the strategy
of a comprehensive approach at a time when Americans did not care
much about the victims of their bombings, is shifting the priorities
even further to the civilian side than Washington."

ARD-TV's Tagesthemen (1/26) remarked on the German strategy for
Afghanistan: "The macabre logic of this war is that we first have to
send in more soldiers before we can withdraw gradually. This is
difficult to understand, but there is no alternative to the
international community's last desperate attempt to give Afghanistan
and its people a chance for a future without the rule of the
Taliban. It was high time that the German government agreed to this
strategy shortly prior to the London conference on Afghanistan,
after weeks of embarrassing battles."

Deutschlandfunk (1/26) opined: "The German government is serious
about its change of policy on Afghanistan. Although many details
are not new, there is a new commitment. With the change of
government last autumn, an essential part of the policy on
Afghanistan is no longer the object of ideology. The attempt to
coordinate the efforts in the north now makes a compressive approach
possible.... However, disbanding the rapid response unit now is
premature. The more the Bundeswehr withdraws from such tasks, the
more it will be left to the Americans in the north, where actually
the Germans are responsible. Do we really want this to be handled
with the methods of the U.S. Army? And do we really want another
debate about a lack of German commitment within the alliance?
Domestic considerations have won the upper hand, which is always bad
in foreign policy. However, overall, it is a clear change of

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strategy. If it works, it will be possible to withdraw forces in a
few years. Afghan President Karzai must be the first one to take

Norddeutscher Rundfunk (1/26) commented: "The policy announced in
Berlin is a suitable present for the international conference in
London and will work if pursued with others.... The acid test for
the creation of Afghan security will not come in London but in
Kabul. The Karzai government and the difficult warlords must be
told that enough is enough. They must get their people to give the
reconstruction of the country more priority than religious and
cultural fundamentalism. Foreign soldieries cannot enforce such
priorities and the West must not pour money into the pockets of a
few. Hopefully, the chance to tell Karzai the conditions will not
be wasted in Berlin and London."

In an editorial, Sddeutsche (1/27) remarked: "The U.S. actions, the
30,000 additional soldiers and financial assistance, which will
surpass all the money Europe is providing, will determine the future
of Afghanistan. It is strange that the German government and
opposition view President Obama's massive engagement from a
distance, while simultaneously making use of his goal of a quick
withdrawal. The half-truths of Germany's policy on Afghanistan have
not changed."

Die Welt (1/27) commented on its front page: "It is worrying that
the question of a withdrawal has become the priority in all
countries of the western alliance. It sounds like a last effort
before we are quickly moving out as if the withdrawal is more
important than success. It would have been better if the
governments had made the case once more to their people as soberly
as possible that a withdrawal without having achieved any results
would be a catastrophe."


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