Cablegate: Media Reaction: Afghanistan-Civilians,

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1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (Afghanistan) Civilian Casualties
3. (Afghanistan) Fears of Dutch Domino Effect
4. (Afghanistan) German, NATO Role
5. (Turkey) Arrest of Senior Military Officers
6. (Dubai) Israel Criticized Over Dubai Killing

1. Lead Stories Summary

Two stories dominate in this morning's print media: the suspension
of the strike by Lufthansa pilots and the sponsoring affair of the
CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia. Editorials focused on the Lufthansa
strike and the dismissal of the secretary general of the CDU in
North Rhine-Westphalia. ZDF-TV's early evening newscast heute and
ARD-TV's early evening newscast Tagesschau opened with a story on
the suspension of the Lufthansa strike.

2. (Afghanistan) Civilian Casualties

Financial Times Deutschland (2/23) headlined: "NATO is Bombing its
Own Afghanistan Strategy" and reported that "According to Afghan
government sources, 27 civilians, among them four women and a child,
were killed during an air strike by U.S. helicopters. It was the
worst misguided strike since the devastating air strike near Kunduz
on September 4.... NATO Supreme Commander Stanley McChrystal
expressed his 'apologies and regret at the tragic incident' and
ordered an investigation. Over the past few months, McChrystal
tried to change operation rules to prevent inadvertent air strikes
on civilians. Since the beginning of the large-scale 'Mushtarak'
offensive...more than 50 civilians have died. Doubts are now
growing that NATO is serious about its attempt to avoid civilian
casualties in its operations."

Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/23) carried a report, headlined: "In the
Shadow of Bad News," and wrote: "Since the beginning of the
offensive in Helmand Province, there have been increasing reports
about civilian victims. Not all of the victims are linked to the
offensive but they are jeopardizing the hoped-for new beginning.
The commander of the ISAF promised on Monday that one would
intensify efforts to avoid the killing of civilians. In a sad way,
this statement sounds familiar. For months, ISAF commander
McChrystal has been apologizing for the mistakes of his soldiers.
On Sunday, it was 30 civilians whose cars became the target of an
air strike by ISAF." Berliner Zeitung (2/23) reported under the
headline: "Collateral Damage with 27 Civilians."

In an editorial Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/23) judged: "It is right
that each victim of a misguided missile is one victim too many,
because such victims undermine the Afghans' confidence in ISAF and
produce new recruits for the militant Islamists. The conclusion is
that the Taliban, who are pleased at this recruitment mechanism,
will do everything so that NATO is unable to distinguish between
fighters and civilians. That is why it is also clear that ISAF
commander McChrystal is in a dilemma. In August 2009, he issued
orders to avoid civilian victims at any cost. But at the same time,
he is waging an asymmetric war in which the opponent has no scruples
taking civilians hostage. If it is NATO's supreme goal to avoid
civilian victims, then it cannot fight this war."

Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2/23) opined under the headline: "The bombing
of Civilians Demonstrates that NATO is its Own Enemy in
Afghanistan." and judged: "The Taliban will be in business as long
as they are able to promise successes. Afghans have been
opportunists for a long time; and this is not meant in a disparaging
way. The experience of years of war has taught them that the chance
to survive will increase on the side of the stronger force. But if
the Taliban are weakened, then they will be unable to offer

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protection or to threaten others. It is a mystery why NATO
continues to ignore these principles of life in Afghanistan.... The
offensive in the South is justified because ISAF forces will now
occupy a territory that the Taliban have thus far controlled. Air
strikes are always risky because a reasonable reconnaissance on the
ground is difficult. That is why air strikes have become a symbol
of arbitrariness and a blind exercise of power. It is a sign that
the strangers do not want to deal with the situation on the ground.
No air strike has ever resulted in the Taliban giving up territory.
Security in Afghanistan does not come from aircraft."

Under the headline:"Dangerous Offensive in Afghanistan," Berliner
Zeitung (2/23) editorialized: "The original plan of the offensive
against the Taliban in Helmand Province is not bearing fruit right
now. ISAF had planned to expel the Taliban in fights on the ground
and then reconstruct the country together with the civilian
population. But with every civilian casualty the support among the
Afghans for the allied operation will continue to decline. This is
fatal since the offensive has the right goals. If the allies fail
in Helmand in such a blatant way as before, they can forget all
their nice plans for reconstruction, police training, and education

3. (Afghanistan) Fears of Dutch Domino Effect

Under the headline: "NATO Seeking Replacement For Dutch - Total
Dutch Withdrawal Caught NATO Unawares" FT Deutschland (2/23) wrote:
"The collapse of the governing coalition in The Hague is causing
problems for NATO that are hard to resolve. A NATO spokesman
described the Dutch government's decision to totally withdraw its
forces from Afghanistan as a 'crucial break.' It is still totally
unclear how the almost 2,000 Dutch soldiers can be replaced in
disputed territories. It is likely that it will be one of the most
difficult tasks for NATO to find a replacement for the Dutch because
the situation in Uruzgan is tense and dangerous."

Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/23) reported: "Thus far, there is no one
in sight who could replace the Dutch contingent; the Australians who
are also deployed in Uruzgan Province, thwarted such hopes over the
weekend. Observers are now expecting the United States to jump in
again. And this could threaten the fragile quiet in Uruzgan because
this is the result of the 'Dutch approach' which aims at finding an
accommodation with all sides. But NATO is also worried about the
political echo of the Dutch debate. The possible withdrawal of one
of its most important troop contributors could also initiate similar
considerations in other countries."

Under the headline: "ISAF Is Afraid of a Disintegration of Forces,"
Handelsblatt (2/23) wrote: "The likely Dutch withdrawal will weaken
the Afghanistan force. Will other allies now follow The Hague's
example? Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said that his
forces "are unable to take over the leadership" in Uruzgan Province
once the Dutch have withdrawn. This means that the Bundeswehr could
face new demands, i.e. that the Bundeswehr could increase its
engagement also outside of its relatively quiet operation area in
northern Afghanistan."

Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2/23) reported under the headline: "Successful
Warriors," that "the Dutch forces in Afghanistan have more or less
created peace in its territory - its withdrawal will now hit NATO
hard. The Taliban are likely to consider the Dutch withdrawal as
their victory."

4. (Afghanistan) German, NATO Role

According to an editorial in Stuttgarter Nachrichten (2/23), "the
impression is consolidating in Germany and in other European
countries that the main issue in Afghanistan is to show loyalty to

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the United States. Only in order to make it possible for President
Obama to save face and to end the war some day in the future,
additional soldiers with additional secret missions must now operate
in Afghanistan. If the common military victory is in the center of
such efforts, the German government must now put the cards on the
table. But then it should not pretend in the ninth year of the
mission that it is primarily interested in reconstruction,
stabilization and a democratization of Afghanistan, however it may

Financial Times Deutschland (2/23) opined under the headline: "The
Fairy Tale of a Clean War," that "the reality check for the new NATO
strategy is under way.... But the attack from Sunday makes it clear
that, despite strict rules for the use of the air force, mistakes
can happen. The fact that this reality check has thus far failed
does not mean that the NATO strategy is basically wrong...but each
killed civilian reminds us that a war is going on in Afghanistan and
this cannot be embellished with nice words. During an attack in
Afghanistan, no one can be sure at whom he fires. Our opponents do
not wear uniform and cannot be distinguished from ordinary farmers.
To demand soldiers to accept every risk in order to avoid
jeopardizing innocent people would be totally out of proportion.
There is no clean war even if politicians and their supreme
commanders want it."

5. (Turkey) Arrest of Senior Military Officers

The arrest of high-ranking military officers is reported all over
the press and one daily carried an editorial. Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(2/23) carried a correspondent report under the headline:
"Ex-Commanders Arrested," and wrote: "This action is only the last
strike in a number of police actions and activities of Istanbul's
Prosecutor's Office against a formerly untouchable armed force. It
follows the revelation of several plans for a coup that date back to
the time when Premier Erdogan and his AKP took power in 2002."

Handelsblatt (2/23) carried an AFP/Reuters report under the
headline: "Ex-Military Leaders in Turkey arrested under the
Suspicion of Having Planned a Coup." Tagesspiegel headlined;
"Ex-Generals in Turkey Arrested," and wrote: "In Turkey, the
investigations because of alleged preparations for a coup have
reached their peak. At the order of Istanbul's Prosecutor's Office,
police arrested 50 active and retired soldiers."

Under the headline: "Operation Sledgehammer," Financial Times
Deutschland (2/23) carried a front-page report, saying: "The plot,
which Turkish police is now supposed to have uncovered, was called
'Operation Sledgehammer.' Security agencies have now arrested a
number of high-ranking military officials under the suspicion of
having planned a large-sale plot. Turkey has a long-term experience
with military coups. Again and again civil governments were ousted
by the military. The armed forces acted like a state in a state in
which independent structures and loyalties were valid. With its
pro-European course and its far-reaching reform policy, the Islamic
AKP governing party has gained support among the Turks, but, at the
same time, it has stirred up the hostilities among the nationalists.
Fear remains in the liberal camp that a coup attempt could succeed
some day in the future."

In an editorial, Tagesspiegel (2/23) argued under the headline
"Turkey's Military Under Pressure," that Turkey is about to
reprocess one of the most difficult chapters of its most recent
history: the intervention of the military in politics. On Monday,
police arrested 50 soldiers...and a few years ago, such an activity
would have been unthinkable. But the EU process has changed the
country. The military must accept that the times are over when they
were able push an unpleasant government out of power. If Turkey is
able to demonstrate that it is able to politically deprive the

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military of power by relying on the rule of law, democracy in Turkey
will have made a great leap forward."

Die Welt (2/23) carried a lengthy editorial under the headline: "The
Netherlands As a Domino," and opined: "Progress in the heavily
fought regions in Afghanistan has shown that NATO, but primarily
U.S. forces, could succeed in turning the tables in Afghanistan.
The greatest factor of insecurity, however, is the political public
in the various NATO countries. The ouster of the Dutch government
is the most concrete example that the fight for public opinion with
respect to Afghanistan seems to have been lost in the majority of
European states.... If no one succeeds in stopping this populist
trend, the allies will not only lose the campaign against the
Taliban in Afghanistan but also at the home front. And if the Dutch
leave, other countries could follow like dominos. How should the
Belgian, Italian, British or German governments explain to their
citizens that one has to stay in Afghanistan if other partners
already bade farewell? It is true that a similar war weariness
exists in the U.S., but the political elite are willing to pursue
strategic goals with perseverance and resolve, unlike the elites in
Europe. This is also the real reason why America is still a global
power, while Europe, with a larger number of people and its economic
power is a dwarf as far as power politics is concerned. That is why
it is more than a domestic affair whether the Netherlands will stay
in Afghanistan or not. Europe as a whole is now facing a test. If
The Hague leaves the coalition and others follow suit, Europe's
suitability as a U.S. strategic partner will be in question, as will
be the meaning of NATO."

6. (Dubai) Israel Criticized Over Dubai Killing

Under the headline: "Distraught Helplessness," Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(2/23) editorialized: "Of course, the Europeans are right when they
condemn the killing in Dubai....but, at the same time, the EU is
demonstrating a distraught helplessness. The reputation of their
passports could suffer because the hit squad stole the identity of
EU citizens. That is the only thing that comes to the mind of the EU
foreign ministers. Europe is now looking for a parallel war theater
to hush up the fact that it is losing influence in the Middle East.
Jerusalem will shelve the [EU's] declaration because it could be
expected. The EU is divided and that is why Israel is taking
advantage of it. European foreign policy that was supposed to be so
strong after the EU reform is considerably ailing in this matter.
But the Europeans must primarily blame themselves for their lack of
power in the Middle East. They still have not understood that
reconstruction assistance alone is not enough. Only those will get
influence in the Middle East who can offer long-term security


© Scoop Media

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