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WikiLeaks: 2009-03-20: 09BERLIN328: Media Reaction: Iran, Afghanistan, EU Summit, Fed, France, Pope, Iraq

by WikiLeaks. 09BERLIN328: March 20, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 06:33 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BERLIN328 2009-03-20 12:06 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Berlin
R 201206Z MAR 09
E.0. 12958: N/A 
1.   Lead Stories Summary 
2.   President Obama's Video Message to Iran 
3.   New U.S. Strategy on Afghanistan 
4.   EU Summit, Financial Crisis, G-20 
5.   Fed Policy 
6.   General Strike in France 
7.   Papal Visit to Africa 
8.   Iraqi Refugees in Germany 
1.   Lead Stories Summary 
ZDF-TV's early evening newscast Heute opened with a story on 
Chancellor Merkel's governmental address in the Bundestag, while 
ARD-TV's early evening newscast Tagesschau opened with a story on the EU summit in Brussels. The papers opened with various stories ranging from the 1.2 trillion dollar additional intervention by the Fed to fight the recession, to Chancellor Merkel's governmental address and to the difference in pay between men and women. Editorials focused on the Chancellor Merkel's governmental address and the trial of Josef Fritzl in Austria. 
2.   President Obama's Video Message to Iran 
ARD-TV's Tagesschau showed part of the video and said: "In a video message to Iran, President Obama talked about a new beginning. Obama said the U.S. is striving for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations.  He said this cannot be achieved through terror and weapons.  In a first response, the Iranian leadership welcomed Obama's announcement.  A spokesman for President Ahmadinejad said the statement must now be followed by actions." 
Spiegel Online headlined "Obama offers Iran new beginning," and 
noted: "While his predecessor believed Iran belonged to the axis of evil, President Obama is venturing on a radical course change.  In a TV address, he offered the Iranian people a new beginning in relations.  The message indicates the end of a decades-long ice age." 
Zeit Online remarked: "President Obama has once again emphatically signalled to Iran the opportunity of a new start in relations between the leaderships in Tehran and Washington.  He added that it is up to the Iranians to decide whether they want to take their rightful place in the international community." 
3.   New U.S. Strategy on Afghanistan 
In an editorial, the Sueddeutsche stated: "U.S. proposals to puff up the Afghan security forces to 400,000 troops are a desperate attempt to meet the security needs of the people with an organizational plan....  The idea is understandable, but it is also very American. The number of 400,000 sounds gigantic, but given the size of the country it is nothing.  This is the wrong message of the new Afghanistan strategy.  The world, which has doubts about the success of the mission, wants 400,000 judges, prosecutors and civil servants.  The worn out Afghan people do not have them on offer." 
4.   EU Summit, Financial Crisis, G-20 
ARD-TV's late evening newscast Tagesthemen aired the following 
commentary: "Now in this crisis, Europe must demonstrate why it 
exists and what it is able to achieve.  This first of all means, 
vigorous but common action, for all sides involved are aware that the end of the horror has not yet come.  We need common rules and coordinated action not only in the automobile industry.  Unbridled market capitalism prevails and politicians did not set limits. This must change now!  No market without oversight!  No actor without control!  Europe is able to achieve this if it only wants to badly enough.  This is, by the way, also the answer in the controversy with the U.S. about more billion dollar economic stimulus programs. 
This summit in Brussels and the G-20 summit in London must show that the leaders have the power to take control over the ominous free play of the liberal market forces.  This would be a courageous policy.  This would be Europe's task." 
In the view of Handelsblatt, "20 years have passed since the fall of the Wall and the Iron Curtain, but while Europe is preparing for celebrating this anniversary, a new invisible wall is threatening to be built between East and West.  In this crisis, no one wants to help the [eastern European] neighbors whose will for freedom and willingness for reforms was praised so often.  This hesitance is having potentially fatal effects.  People in Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest again consider themselves to be second-class people.  They rightfully expect greater solidarity from the wealthy West.  Those who in good times made a good profit from the new member states should not forget in bad times that they are not only customers but also partners." 
Sueddeutsche opined: "The world of central bankers is now turned 
upside down.  The taciturn self-confident administrators of money, who were installed by governments...look as if they are helpless in view of the crisis.  That is why the governments must now play a more important role.  They must spend even more money to stimulate the economy because the lowering of interest rates has had almost no effect.  The governments are the only ones who could counter this development.  After this crisis, the world, including the world of central banks, will be a different one.  Greenspan's heirs will have less influence and will have to give away part of their power to politicians." 
According to Tagesspiegel, "the gap between the U.S. and Europe with respect to stimulating the economy must be narrowed.  Either President Obama's giganto-experiment will succeed - then Europe must refute the argument to have restructured itself at the expense of the Untied States - or it will fail, and then Europe's faintheartedness will be made responsible for it.  To put it bluntly:  In this crisis, Europe all of a sudden finds itself in a lose-lose situation.  For the people, who are suspicious of excessive state interventionism, this may not matter, but for the political dynamism of the West the impact could be threatening." 
In a second editorial, Handelsblatt observed: "The G-20 leaders will meet in London to discuss a new global financial order, and what is the contribution of banks?  Not much compared to the list of recommendations that the International Banking Organization (IIF) has formulated for the meeting.  In it the banks emphasize their responsibility but do not announce their own confidence-building measures to overcome the crisis.   To put it briefly: measured against their own proposals, the banks have apparently not learned their lesson.  With their tone and with respect to the substance of the recommendations, the big shots of the banking sector continue as before, as if the worst case scenario in the history of finance with horrendous damage in the real economy had not existed.  In the past the IIF had a considerable influence in politics and the public. But this is over now." 
5.   Fed Policy 
Frankfurter Allgemeine argued: "A Federal Reserve that would allow itself to serve government and Congress would be fatal for the stability of the economy and the monetary value.  The time in which Fed officials and economists thought that they were able to pursue a reasonable monetary policy without using money as a variable in their equations should be over now.  The current course of the Fed is the best example that there is a connection between the stability of prices and the amount of money that is available. 
That is why Ben Bernanke should not miss the timing for a necessary change of directions if he wants to prevent the seeds that he has now sown for the development of the next bubble from bearing fruit. Then the Fed must act as resolutely and creatively as today, because this crisis does not change the iron principle that only scarce money is good money." 
Die Welt judged in a front-page editorial: "How great must be the misery that the Fed is willing to take such a step?  The price that Fed chief Ben Bernanke is paying will be high.  The limits between government and central bank have become fluid in the U.S.  The Fed has turned into a division of the Treasury Department.  But exactly this lack of independence was the reason for the big waste of money in Europe in the past century.  All those who are now calling upon the European Central Bank to follow suit should keep this in mind. 
As bad as the current economic crisis is, it is absolutely necessary to keep the long-term implications in mind when choosing the means to fight the crisis.  It would be disastrous if the savings claim for pensions and life insurance were no longer worth anything because the central bank had lost sight of its most important goal." 
Financial Times Deutschland had this to say: "In view of the 
dramatic crisis of the financial system and in the real economy, the Fed has practically no other choice but to accept such very risks with this step.  But it is also clear that this operation is by no means as harmless as a helicopter flight.  'Shock and awe' can result in massive collateral damage." 
Regional daily Nordbayerischer Kurier of Bayreuth argued; "The Fed's dramatic action shows in what bad shape the U.S. economy really is. With all his might Fed chief Ben Bernanke wants to stop the decline and give the economic recovery a new impetus.  Because he is at his wits' end - U.S. interest rates have almost reached zero percent - he is now opening the monetary floodgates.  But this inflated amount of money in circulation will confront unchanged demand for goods and services.  This is the nurturing ground that can turn into a mega-inflation." 
Augsburger Allgemeine noted: "The chancellor and the European 
central bankers do not use the Americans moves as a standard because they are now flooding the markets with money.  The Fed is now starting the money printing machines, thus creating the next bubble. These risky moves reveal sheer despair.  Chancellor Merkel, Finance Minister Steinbrueck and Economics Minister zu Guttenberg are acting with greater circumspection.  If the crisis escalated, they would still have some trump cards in their pack of cards, while the responsible U.S. officials are now forced to show their hand." 
In an editorial regional daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung of Halle had this to say:  "During his election campaign President Obama called for a state intervention of 50 billion dollars.  But the amount of money which the U.S. state has pumped into the economy since then - please hold your breath - is hundred times as much.  How should this work out?  The arguments have been the same since the beginning of the crisis:  The U.S. and the global economy need a massive infusion of money to survive.  Nevertheless, there is mounting skepticism, even suspicion, for the U.S. crisis management is becoming more frenetic, more populist, and - more expensive." 
6.   General Strike in France 
Sueddeutsche comments: "Due to the relatively small number of 
members, French trade unions act like big shots to increase 
pressure.  On Thursday, they also benefited from the French tendency to blame Paris for all problems.  Playing a little revolution on the journe d'action?  The French as individualists like it." 
7.   Papal Visit to Africa 
Sueddeutsche commented that "the Pope forgot to seriously take sides with the poor during his visit to Africa" and adds: "It would be helpful for Catholics in Africa if the Pope were to engage as a bold and intrepid fighter for the poor and name the problems the people really have.  This includes corrupt rulers, who currently court him, and a doctrine that is closer to the life of the people." 
Frankfurter Allgemeine defended the Pope: "Condoms are a proven 
means of contraception, but its usage is not the way out of Africa's misery.  Abstinence and faithfulness are the Pope's yardstick to avoid HIV infections....  The idea to have intercourse with an unlimited number of people if one only uses a condom... might be closer to life, human, politically liberal and very convenient.  But religions and morality exist to put a stop to some human behaviors." 
8.   Iraqi Refugees in Germany 
Frankfurter Allgemeine commented: "A total number of 2,500 refugees will come.  Most of them are persecuted members of religious minorities.  The American and British war is partly to blame for this.  However, it must be said that before the war Iraq was already a country where human rights were not worth much.  Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party's policy on minorities was unpredictable.... 
Experience shows that Arab Christians integrate easier into European societies than their Muslim fellow citizens.  There is a good chance that the Iraqis who are now coming will find a new home in Germany." 
Die Welt editorializes: "It would be better if the Chaldean 
Christians, who have a history of 2000 years in the region, could find a future in Iraq.  It would be a defeat if the last third of the 800,000 Iraqi Christians would also be expelled from the country.  However, given that it is a question of life and death, it should be natural for a Christian country like Germany and a Christian continent like Europe to help." 
Tagesspiegel remarked: "This is a signal.  Germany accepts 2,500 
Iraqi refugees.  Despite the economic crisis, the country is 
open-minded and acknowledges the by far greater misery of others. This is both noble and human - characteristics that are becoming more popular in the current crisis.  Given that most Germans rejected the war in Iraq, there is a good chance that they will welcome the victims of this campaign, the terror, violence and chaos." 


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