Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S., Afghanistan, Iran, Haiti, Swift,

DE RUEHRL #0131/01 0291510
R 291510Z JAN 10






E.0. 12958: N/A

1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (U.S.) State of the Union Address
3. (Afghanistan) London Conference
4. (Iran) Execution of Opposition Politicians
5. (Haiti) Aftermath of Quake
6. (U.S.-EU) SWIFT
7. (Greece-EU) Bailout Program?
8. (France) Clearstream Trial

1. Lead Stories Summary

Most print media led with the Afghanistan conference in London (FAZ,
Sueddeutsche, Die Welt); Financial Times Deutschland dealt with an
EU rescue plan for Greece. Other issues were the planned new
capital requirements for banks (Handelsblatt) and a court ruling
that declared a minimum wage in the postal sector to be invalid
(Berliner Zeitung). Editorials focused on the minimum wage for the
postal sector, the Afghanistan conference in London, and President
Obama's State of the Union Address. ZDF-TV's early evening newscast
heute opened with a report on the increase in unemployment, and
ARD-TV's early evening newscast Tagesschau opened with a story on
the Afghanistan conference.

2. (U.S.) State of the Union Address

All papers (1/29) carried reports on President Obama's State of the
Union address. The reports do not all appear on the front pages but
some papers carry at least pictures of the President addressing
Congress. Sueddeutsche headlined: "Back to Start - U.S. President
Obama Admits Mistakes in his State of the Union Address and Focuses
on a New Task: Creating Jobs." Frankfurter Allgemeine reported
under the headline: "Obama: Our Prime Goal are Jobs," and wrote:
"New figures from the labor market confirmed on Thursday what
President Obama turned into the focal point of his State of the
Union address on Wednesday evening: the creation of jobs is the most
important task for the political leadership in Washington." Die
Welt reported on its front page: "Obama Concentrating on the
Creation of Jobs."

Many papers and TV media also carried editorials.

Deutschlandfunk (1/28) carried a commentary by its Washington
correspondent Klaus Remme: "This was not a blow of liberation.
Barack Obama delivered a speech that was much too long and remained
below his possibilities. Since November, [his speechwriters] have
been working on this address, and after the election defeat in
Massachusetts, it turned into an unfortunate dichotomy between a
balance sheet of the work his government has accomplished and a
political defense. With respect to contents, Obama did not give up
a single position. Good so! Healthcare reform is important and
this is right, irrespective of whether the Democrats have 59 or 60
votes in the Senate. There was no other alternative than his
economic policy last year. Everyone knows that the precondition for
political success of the Democrats in Congress and the White House
is a revival of the labor market, and it is ridiculous to blame this
president for the loss of million of jobs...."

Sueddeutsche (1/29) carried an editorial headlined: "The Third
Obama," and argued: "For more than ten days, Barack Obama has known
that he cannot make a name for his administration with the Democrats
alone. The by-election in Massachusetts has forced him to make
compromises with a few Republicans and this constraint is getting
stronger because the Democrats are ailing. At the latest after the
presumably horrible Democratic losses in the Congressional elections
in the fall, the President will have to seek his majorities also
among opposition politicians - over and over again, for each project
or bill. A new "third Obama" is already preparing for this changed

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political environment. That is why he is admitting to mistakes,
that is why he is all of a sudden cultivating a well dosed populism
against banks and large companies. By warming up the hearts of the
ordinary people, the President wants to exert pressure on Congress
and then wriggle out of intensified cooperation with Republicans in
the name of the people. This strategy is risky and the coming
months will tell whether the American people will give Barack Obama
a second chance. Only one hour after his State of the Union
Address, the President already sent a new message via e-mail with
the subject line: 'I am unable to achieve it on my own.'"

According to Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/29), "a year ago, Barack
Obama was carried into the White House on a wave of enthusiasm (or
anger at Bush). Now a new start of his presidency is necessary.
Even in 2009, the majority of Americans were more interested in jobs
than in healthcare reform. Did he pursue the wrong priorities? In
his sober State of the Union Address, in which he pretended to feel
the people's concerns, and in which he criticized a political
business of which he is a part, Obama declared the creation of jobs
the task of the year without giving up healthcare reform. Again it
is the economy, and again a President can re-invent himself in the

Handelsblatt (1/29) expects the Republicans to continue to act as a
lock-step opposition and judged: "The Republicans cannot refuse to
accept President Obama's proposals, because these are also their
main issues and because they do not want to be made responsible for
the loss of jobs and for a state in which the people are burdened
with excessive debt. But even after Obama's State of the Union
address, there is not a great probability that a turnabout will
succeed. For the conservatives the prospects are too tempting to
continue to appear as the party of 'nay-sayers.' Over the past few
months, this attitude resulted in victories."

Berliner Zeitung (1/29) opines that "Barack Obama continues to
deliver good speeches, but America no longer wants to listen but
wants to see results. The economic crisis has turned long ago into
a crisis of the political institutions and that includes the
president. The lack of confidence that Barack Obama addressed in
his State of the Union address also affects him. But in his working
program for his second year in office, he is bringing the priorities
of his government in line with the problems of the people. The
opposition is still profiting from distrust towards Washington, but
it is not popular. Obama must now try to turn the blockade of the
Republicans against the conservatives themselves. If the economic
recovery comes, if America sees successes, it will again listen to
the president."

Regional daily Leipziger Volkszeitung (1/29) is of the opinion that
"that Barack Obama is trying to shift the focus on new issues. With
such an approach he wants to regain the initiative. More domestic
instead of foreign policy; this is the slogan. He is promising the
U.S. middle class jobs, jobs, jobs. He is now starting an argument
with U.S. banks to get populist approval beyond the new rules for
this industrial sector. There would hardly be another U.S. president
who would take a different tactical approach. Obama has now
definitely turned from a redeemer to a U.S. president who is
desperately fighting for his agenda."

3. (Afghanistan) London Conference

All media (1/29) carried prominent reports on the London conference
on Afghanistan. Lead headlines included "West promises change in
Afghanistan" (Sddeutsche), "Afghanistan: support and demands -
London conference decides on assistance and puts pressure on Karzai"
(Die Welt), "Westerwelle: The process of transition to the Afghans
begins now" (Frankfurter Allgemeine). Several outlets expressed
skepticism over whether the "new" strategy would improve the

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situation in Afghanistan quickly. Frankfurter Allgemeine remarks
that the statements made in London "sound familiar" and Berliner
Zeitung highlights: "The international community decided on a new
beginning at the London conference - and some even believe in it."

ARD-TV's Tagesthemen (1/28) opined: "London - a conference of
desperados who want to end the disaster in Afghanistan as quickly as
possible.... The international community admits that the last eight
years of the policy on Afghanistan have been a failure. Because
they were unsuccessful, they are now trying something else and call
it a change of strategy. As often before, the prospect of success
is uncertain."

Norddeutscher Rundfunk radio of Hamburg (1/29) remarked: "Indeed,
many decisions made in London now sound more realistic and concrete
than those of the past... The most important thing is that Afghans
are now supposed to take over the responsibility for the future of
their country. President Karzai announced a plan to integrate the
rank and file of the Taliban and to start reconciliation talks with
their leaders. This comes late, but it is the only path to create
peace in the country. This will be a difficult process."

Ina front-page editorial, Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/29) wrote:
"Americans and Britons never believed that Afghanistan could be
pacified with military means alone. In the south, they faced the
fact much earlier than the Germans in the north that the enemy is
also opposed to the civilian reconstruction and the stabilization of
state structures. This change of strategy is not as epochal as the
German government claims it is. The West has always been pursuing a
dual strategy."

Sddeutsche (1/29) editorialized: "The threat of withdrawal was
necessary to get the Karzai government out of its inactivity and to
make clear that it will soon no longer be under foreign protection.
This was President Obama's intention when he noted that 2011 would
be the year when the withdrawal begins. However, realism now
forbids the international community and Germany to give a concrete
timetable for the withdrawal."

Under the headline "Hope in Afghanistan," Die Welt (1/29) opined on
its front page: "The London conference on Afghanistan has reached
results. The goals agreed are more specific than the smallest
denominator reached at the Copenhagen climate conference. The
agreement of the 70 governments on such a complicated issue like
peace in Afghanistan is in itself valuable. The question of how
long the agreement will hold is a different issue.... The London
conference avoided the question of what should be done if the
civilian measures fail. However, we don't yet need the answer."

The editorial in FT Deutschland (1/29) headlined "Attention! Ready
to Turn!" and highlighted: "The opposition of Germans against the
mission in Afghanistan has never been greater. The new strategy of
the German government was therefore overdue - it has finally broken
its silence."

4. (Iran) Execution of Opposition Politicians

In an editorial, Die Welt (1/29) noted: "The religious dictatorship
is lashing out in all directions in its helpless anger and political
helplessness. Show trials, death threats against dissidents and
their families - totalitarianism is now showing its full dimension
in Iran. Why? Because Ayatollah Khomeini's heirs see themselves
threatened by the greatest threat since the Islamic Revolution in
1979. This mediocre leadership team around Ahmadinejad spiritual
leader Khamenei has not only attracted the anger of the street. The
Shiite religious leaders also no longer back them.... Opposition
politician Mehdi Karrubi is predicting that the moderate forces will

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unite and save Iran. Maybe then the answer to the question about
who the real enemies of God are will be clarified.

Berlin's tabloid B.Z. (1/29) judged under the headline; "Mullah
Regime Cornered" that "Iran's leaders feel threatened and will no
longer stop at anything. The mass protests have awakened the
regime, and these protests could be rekindled at any time. This
would be fatal right now because the regime will celebrate its 31st
anniversary in two weeks. These celebrations should not develop
into anti-regime protests. Show trials with death sentences are
supposed to demonstrate power, but it is questionable whether this
will succeed. The hatred against the mullah regime and the longing
for freedom is too great."

5. (Haiti) Aftermath of Quake

Frankfurter Rundschau (1/29) editorialized: "The first shock is over
and the time of miracles will also end soon. The incredible rescue
of living victims two weeks after the catastrophe, are the last
spectacular images of the earthquake. We were all generous -- the
Germans, the Europeans and particularly the United States.... In
Haiti, like elsewhere, occupation and slavery were replaced by an
economic colonial regime. The domestic agriculture collapsed under
the competition of the global market and a WTO prohibition to impose
punitive tariffs. Today, the farmers who fled to the slums of
Port-au-Prince eat imported rice from the United States.... It is
not impossible to imagine Barack Obama saying at the end of his
second term in 2016 that his country has learned from Haiti respect
for the rights of the poor."

6. (U.S.-EU) SWIFT

Under the headline: "Banking Data on Call," Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(1/29) argued: "Money can be traced back to terrorists. That is why
there are good reasons to check suspicious money transfers. And
those who do this should not be suspected of violating data
protection and the rule of law. But this is what the agreement
between the United States and the EU on the transfer of data of
European bank customers is doing. As long as there are no
watertight guarantees that the information that is passed on is
exclusively used for the hunt for terrorists, that third parties
have no access to them, and that these data will be deleted after
use, this agreement should not enter into force. And even if these
concerns have been removed, it should be ratified only if the
affected people can rely on clear and reliable laws against the
spying on of their banking data. The fact that the United States is
cultivating a laxer treatment of data protection should not prompt
the Europeans to give up their standards but to insist on them. We
do not ask the Americans too much when we ask them to stick to
European rules. The hunt for terrorists will not be impeded in any
way, but the confidence of the people that their rights will not go
overboard will be strengthened."

7. (Greece-EU) Bailout Program?

FT Deutschland (1/29) led with a report under the headline "Germany
supposed to help Greece - Recue plans of several EU countries -
German government denies talks." Die Welt headlined "Greece becomes
trauma for the euro" and Handelsblatt headlined: "Euro zone fears
for its economic unity - difference over economic power of Euro
countries is increasingly widening." Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/29)
headlined: "Debt crisis is escalating - Risks of Greece and Portugal
reaches climax."

Under the headline "Caught in the Tap," FT Deutschland (1/29)
editorialized: "Greece has plunged the countries of the Euro zone
into a real dilemma. They cannot allow the bankruptcy candidate to
become insolvent - because similar problems might then spill over to

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Portugal and Spain, which also have enormous national deficits.
This could bust the whole currency union. However, while Europe is
forced to work out assistance plans, it must avoid the perception
that it is doing so.... The current insecurity of financial markets
over the strategy of the Euro Group is hiking the interest rates for
Greece. Unlike warnings from European colleagues, this will force
politicians in Athens to show more discipline. In addition, the
Greek government can explain tough measures better if the people
cannot rely on help from abroad. Europe's strategy to help Greece
secretly has only one catch: it seems to be impossible to keep the
strategy secret and credible."

A front page editorial in Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/29) noted: "Not
just the Greek misery poses a threat to the currency union. It is
therefore important that we do not prematurely look for loopholes
for Greece. The way we deal with Greece will be a precedent for
future cases. The EU cannot afford to rescue half a dozen member
states from a looming national bankruptcy. Minimizing the currency
union by a few member states is also an absurd idea. The economic
consequences would be devastating. The existing rules must
therefore be applied accurately. Not just Greece, also the growth
and stability pact is facing an acid test. The fact that it was
watered down in the past is not a reason to forget it now."

8. (France) Clearstream Trial

Sueddeutsche (1/29) editorialized under the headline: "End of an
Unworthy Deal," that [the acquittal for Dominique de Villepin] is a
legal but also political blow for President Sarkozy. For de
Villepin, however, it could be the beginning of a return that could
lead him to the Elyse Palace. For the time being, only a verdict
was pronounced and the prosecutor is likely to appeal the decision.
The war between the two is likely to last for a long time to come.
But for France, this trial has been a worrisome lesson: The French
Republic continues to suffer from affairs that are taking place in
the grey zone of politics, the economy, and the intelligence
services. Nevertheless, the ruling also brings good news for
France: The conservative camp now has a second man, in addition to
Sarkozy, at the top - a potential candidate who is intelligent, able
to cope with a heavy workload, experienced, and ambitious enough to
act as a strong president. If Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn
decides to run in 2012, the left-wing opposition would also have a
heavyweight candidate. French voters would then have a real choice
- a situation which other Europeans could only envy. But for
Sarkozy this would not be good news."

"Old Rivals," headlined Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/29) and
editorialized: "French President Sarkozy did not do himself a
service by acting as joint plaintiff in the libel trial against his
former Prime Minister de Villepin. This ongoing power struggle
using other means violated the dignity of the highest office in the
state. Could a now rehabilitated de Villepin turn into a serious
rival for Sarkozy? De Villepin no longer has many supporters in the
party. It is questionable whether the inner-party opposition to
Sarkozy will concentrate on him. All indications are that time has
passed over de Villepin."

Berliner Zeitung (1/29) and Frankfurter Rundschau (1/29) had this to
say under the headline: "Defeat for Sarkozy" that "Now President
Sarkozy looks like a fool. This libel suit against his rival did
not produce the desired result. De Villepin can now present
himself to the people as a victim of an overbearing president who is
currently unpopular among the people. De Villepin can now return to
the political stage with his head held high. The question is
whether the French want to trust an aristocrat during times of
crisis. During this libel suit, politics showed its ugly face, as a
world full of intrigues and lies. In the end, both (Sarkozy and de
Villepin) will feel the French's weariness about this."

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