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courage is contagious

Viewing cable 09BERLIN485, MEDIA REACTION: SWINE FLU, IRAQ, OBAMA, TALIBAN, CIA,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BERLIN485 2009-04-27 13:01 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Berlin
INFO  LOG-00   EEB-00   AMAD-00  INL-00   DOTE-00  PDI-00   DHSE-00  
      EUR-00   FAAE-00  UTED-00  VCI-00   TEDE-00  IO-00    LAB-01   
      CDC-00   VCIE-00  NEA-00   DCP-00   NSAE-00  ISN-00   GIWI-00  
      ISNE-00  DOHS-00  IRM-00   NCTC-00  FMP-00   BBG-00   R-00     
      ECA-00   IIP-00   SCRS-00  OCA-00   DRL-00   CARC-00  SAS-00   
      FA-00      /001W
                  ------------------5A9C83  271329Z /38 
   
R 271311Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3926
INFO WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
DIA WASHINGTON DC
CIA WASHINGTON DC
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
FRG COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
AMEMBASSY ROME 
USMISSION USNATO 
USMISSION USOSCE 
HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE//J5 DIRECTORATE (MC)//
CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
UDITDUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
UNCLAS BERLIN 000485 
 
 
STATE FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/PAPD, EUR/PPA, EUR/CE, INR/EUC, INR/P, 
SECDEF FOR USDP/ISA/DSAA, DIA FOR DC-4A 
 
VIENNA FOR CSBM, CSCE, PAA 
 
"PERISHABLE INFORMATION -- DO NOT SERVICE" 
 
E.0. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO GM US IZ PK SF IC
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: SWINE FLU, IRAQ, OBAMA, TALIBAN, CIA, 
ARMENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, ICELAND 
 
1.   Lead Stories Summary 
2.   Outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico 
3.   Secretary Clinton in Baghdad 
4.   President Obama's First 100 Days 
5.   Pakistan's Fight against the Taliban 
6.   CIA/Rule of Law 
7.   U.S.-Russian Disarmament Talks 
8.   Turkish Reaction to Obama Remarks on Armenia 
9.   South African Elections 
10.  Iceland Elections 
 
 
1.   Lead Stories Summary 
 
Editorials focused on the debate over the possibility of social 
unrest if the financial crisis continues, the outbreak of swine flu 
and the outcome of the elections in South Africa.  The headlines in 
the national press focused on the swine flu, while Berlin's dailies 
opened with stories on the failed campaign to allow Berlin students 
to take religion courses instead of mandatory ethics classes. 
ZDF-TV's early evening newscast Heute and ARD-TV's early evening 
newscast Tagesschau opened with stories on swine flu. 
 
2.   Outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico 
 
Frankfurter Allgemeine headlined: "First suspected cases of Swine 
Flu in Europe" and wrote: "the outbreak of the swine flu with a 
previously unknown virus has resulted in alarming statements from 
health authorities all over the world."  The daily also carried a 
front-page commentary saying: "It is conspicuous that primarily 
young, healthy people have become sick, a parallel to the 
devastating 'Spanish flu' almost 100 years ago.  But what this means 
for the pandemic potential of the Mexican flu will come to the fore 
only in the coming days." 
 
"WHO is Afraid of Swine Flu Pandemic," Die Welt headlined, and 
reported: "Following the outbreak of the swine flu, more than 80 
people have died and more than 1,300 people have been infected in 
Mexico.  German health authorities are beginning to prepare for the 
scenario that the virus will arrive in Germany.  A spokesman for the 
Robert-Koch Institute [which coordinates such efforts] said that 
'the risk for Germany cannot yet be assessed.'  The Foreign Ministry 
said that it will not yet issue a travel warning for Mexico."  In a 
front-page editorial, the daily judged: "The WHO is using drastic 
words and is making it unmistakably clear that that the new virus 
has the potential for a pandemic.  However, this is in strange 
contrast to the measures that have been proposed thus far." 
 
Handelsblatt editorialized: "It is ironic that a similar plague 
[such as SARS] among Mexican pigs is now causing new fears of a 
pandemic.  At least it is now becoming visible how little mankind is 
able to do to defend itself with precautionary measures against the 
surprises of nature.  Now it will be important to stop the spread of 
the virus with security measures especially at airports and to 
insist on the fact that countries where the virus broke out such as 
Mexico and the United States prevent a further spread of the 
disease.  But there is not a single reason for causing panic like 
two years ago." 
 
In a front-page editorial, die tageszeitung had this to say: "If we 
surf on Twitter for too long, we get the unavoidable desire to run 
to the next pharmacy to buy Tamiflu and breathing masks.  One 
Twitter page that is run by the U.S. Center for Disease Control had 
more than one million hits on Saturday alone.  Of course, it is good 
to see how quickly important information is spread these days, but 
the problem is the assessment.  The media and individual people make 
mistakes, get panicky and infect others, and do this faster than the 
swine flu does.  When looking back at the last candidate for a 
pandemic, SARS, then we must say that little remained, at least 
here.  Of course, we must take precautionary measures, but panic is 
not the right antidote." 
 
3.   Secretary Clinton in Baghdad 
 
Frankfurter Allgemeine wrote under the headline; "Clinton: We 
Continue to Stick to Withdrawal Plans," and added: "During her first 
visit to Baghdad since taking office, Secretary of State Hillary 
Clinton confirmed that, despite the increase in violence, the United 
States would stick to its withdrawal plans from Iraq.  On Thursday 
and Friday, more than 150 people were killed during the worst 
attacks in this year."  The paper added: "U.S. and Iraqi government 
officials said that one of the reasons for the most recent attacks 
is that the U.S. withdrawal and the transfer of responsibilities to 
Iraqi security forces has resulted in security gaps which are now 
being exploited by the Jihadists." 
 
Sueddeutsche carried a report under the headline: "First Visit to a 
Country in Fear" and quoted an unnamed Iraqi citizen as having said: 
"To be frank we are scared, and many people have no confidence in 
the Iraqi security forces."  The daily added: "This is a problem 
that Hillary Clinton is likely to have addressed in talks with U.S. 
Chief of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who also traveled for a 
surprise visit to Iraq.  There are also a few U.S. generals who are 
afraid that the troop withdrawal, which President Obama promised, 
will take place too fast and that this is one of the reasons for the 
[recent] violence." 
 
Frankfurter Allgemeine commented:  "For many months it looked like 
Iraq had calmed down a great deal.  However, the recent attacks made 
clear that fanatics could dash the hopes for a permanent 
pacification of the country at any time....  One can assume that 
Sunni extremists are behind the attacks.   However, this is not 
certain at all.  Let's hope that the [Iraqi] government's recently 
successful attempts to reduce the violence will work again in the 
future because the sooner the date for the American withdrawal 
comes, the greater the risk for new violence." 
 
Frankfurter Rundschau argued: "Following the most recent devastating 
attacks in Iraq, Hillary Clinton's words sound like holding out 
slogans.  During her visit, she gave Iraq assurances that the United 
States would offer unrestricted support, but that the U.S. would 
also continue to stick to its withdrawal strategy.  But what else 
could she have said?  The most recent problems will bind U.S. forces 
much more than the planners are thinking.  This could jeopardize the 
U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the U.S. wants to 
create calm with more soldiers.  These are not good prospects for 
anyone." 
 
4.   President Obama's First 100 Days 
 
Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine highlighted in a feature article on 
President Obama's first 100 days: "Although the President is 
popular, many people believe he is overreaching.... Obama started 
his presidency with messianic furor...  Since Obama's inauguration, 
600,000 jobs have been lost every month, the number of foreclosures 
is still rising, house prices continue to fall, the flow of loans is 
still bumpy, and bankruptcy is the key word in Detroit.  Given all 
this, was it really necessary to start a dispute over the brutal 
interrogations of the CIA ....  Less would have been more in the 
first 100 days." 
 
Under the headline "The Riddle of Obama," Sueddeutsche commented on 
the President: "The day will come when this man will be human again 
- no longer a demigod - who has been enchanting the world as a 
verbal magician.  He will no longer be the one who walks on water, 
but an ordinary politician....  This day of soberness will come, but 
nobody is talking of it this week as America's idol is celebrating 
his 100th day in office...  The President has achieved more in the 
first three months than all his predecessors since Franklin D. 
Roosevelt....  Obama always succeeds in selling his policy as a 
necessity - a simple result of sheer reason, a logical step that is 
not based on any ideology.  However, tedious pragmatism does not 
explain the hysteria.  The key to the riddle is his personality, 
which meets the desire for visionary leadership." 
 
Tagesspiegel editorialized: "The majority of the Americans would 
still make the same decision.  Obama is their President.  He is not 
coming to terms with Bush through the courts, but by showing through 
his policies and reforms that America can change." 
 
5.   Pakistan's Fight against the Taliban 
 
A Sueddeutsche editorial highlighted that "Pakistan can't stop 
focusing on India, although the Taliban pose the greatest threat" 
and added: "The U.S. is having nightmares over the idea that the 
Pakistani nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of radical 
Muslims, who are also leading the fight against the West in 
Afghanistan.  The U.S. has little understanding for Pakistan's 
sentiments.  Washington hopes in vain that the fight against 
terrorism will be a uniting bond.  Pakistan has an archenemy and 
this is India, not the Taliban.  The Pakistani perception is 
overblown. However, we have to deal with it....  U.S. Secretary 
Clinton now admitted a mistake made in the past.  This was overdue. 
The U.S. cannot mediate between Pakistan and India at the moment. 
The resentment is too big." 
 
Sunday's Die Welt commented: "Pakistan's future is at stake.  This 
is not just important for Pakistan, but also for whole international 
community because the country posses nuclear weapons....  As the 
Taliban are leaving their refuge of the Swat Valley and moving 
towards Islamabad, alarm bells are ringing, particularly in 
Washington....  President Obama, who is willing to hold talks, will 
not make compromises when it comes to national security.  The 
Pakistani government of Zardari is under extreme international and 
particularly American pressure.  It must end its hesitating and 
ambiguous policies....  It must realize that the Taliban pose a 
threat to a democratically organized civilian society.   A 
Talibanization of Pakistan would have a serious impact on the war in 
Afghanistan, which the West must win if it wants to prevent the 
return of the breeding ground of terrorism that led to September 
11." 
 
Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine remarked: "Regardless of whether the 
peace agreement was a sign of weakness or simply a failed attempt to 
drive a wedge between the Islamist groups in the country, Islamabad 
does not seem to have a strategy for fighting the extremists in its 
own country.  The capture of Islamabad is not imminent... but the 
situation is a cause for concern.  The consequences of the mixture 
of weak state structures, social misery and Islamic radicalization 
in the region can be studied in the neighboring Afghanistan." 
 
6.   CIA/Rule of Law 
 
Under the headline "Torture must be punished," Die Welt commented: 
"President Obama's amnesty for CIA officials who applied brutal 
interrogation methods might be understandable.  However, it is not 
appropriate.  The mistreatment, torture and harassment that were 
part of the interrogation of detainees in Guantanamo violate 
American and international laws.  The majority of inmates were 
terrorists.  The interrogations were about protecting America's and 
the world's security....  However, torture must not be the tool to 
gather information.  This had never been the case in the U.S. until 
September 11, 2001 changed the country.  One can understand the 
amnesty, but it is not right." 
 
7.   U.S.-Russia Disarmament Talks 
 
According to Frankfurter Allgemeine, "the chances for a quick 
success are nowhere as great as in the U.S.-Russian talks about a 
reduction of strategic nuclear weapons.  The START treaty expires at 
the end of this year.  Even before the change of government in 
Washington, both governments agreed that there should be a follow-on 
agreement with lower ceilings for nuclear warheads and carrier 
systems.  That is why it is no surprise that, after the beginning of 
the talks in Rome, people see a promising beginning.  Each 
disarmament step begins with START, but time will tell whether 
Russia will turn into a reliable partner at eye level." 
 
8.   Turkish Reaction to Obama Remarks on Armenia 
 
Frankfurter Allgemeine opined: "Even though President Obama did not 
explicitly use the term 'genocide' in his statement, leading Turkish 
politicians expressed their dissatisfaction with his view on the 
'Armenian atrocities.'  Turkey insists on the establishment of a 
'commission of historians' and this view is based on the opinion 
that Turkey's version is likely to be reconfirmed.  But what would 
happen if this did not come true?  This controversy cannot be kept 
away from politics.  But probably, the government in Ankara would be 
more accessible if Armenia did not always question the Kars-G|mr 
border treaty from 1912.  Turkey is also afraid of compensations 
payments.  The issue is not about 'honor' alone." 
 
According to an editorial in Die Tageszeitung under the headline: 
"Not a Big Disaster," at first glance, "Barack Obama was unable to 
reconcile all sides involved.  The only ones whose irritation is now 
well-founded, however, are the Azeris, because the Turkish 
government, in consent with Barack Obama, is of the opinion that 
only a new real rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia can improve 
the poisoned atmosphere between both sides. The opening of borders 
and the free exchange of people and goods would be an important step 
for this.  Thus far, no U.S. president wanted to insult Turkey.  But 
it was Obama, who, a few weeks ago, addressed the issue of coming to 
terms with the past.  Publisher Hrant Dink, who was killed in 
Istanbul three years ago, once said: 'I consider the conscience of 
my Turkish friend to be more important than the things the 
powers-that-be in the world have to say.'  And at the beginning of 
the year, 30,000 Turks signed a declaration in which they apologize 
for the 'Great Disaster from 1915 to their Armenian neighbors. Thus 
President Obama knows what he is talking about." 
 
9.   South African Elections 
 
In a front-page editorial, Frankfurter Allgemeine had this to say: 
"The ANC has now lost four percent in the elections, and thus its 
two-thirds majority.  Basically, the real winner of this election is 
the Democratic Alliance (DA) with Capetonian Mayor Hellen Zille at 
the helm.  These elections signal a change, but more than the DA, 
Cope is responsible for it.  It achieved two goals at the same time: 
it was able to convey in a credible way that it is not tantamount to 
treason not to vote for the ANC, and to establish itself as a 
reservoir for the black and white middle class.  The ANC will now 
have to adjust to the view that it will be unable to increase its 
share beyond 66 percent.  The party will rather be threatened with a 
massive loss of votes if it is again unable to create the promised 
jobs and inexpensive housing.  After a long lasting economic boom, 
the country is now in a recession, and more than 300,000 jobs will 
be cut in the mining and automobile sectors.  It will be the Zuma 
government's prime task to reduce this social unrest until the next 
elections.  However, it is unclear how to do this in view of an 
inefficient educational system, economic decline, and an 
unemployment rate of almost 40 percent." 
 
Regional daily Schwaebische Zeitung of Leutkirch argued: "Jacob Zuma 
has often been characterized as a bogeyman, as unpredictable and as 
an enemy to the economy.  But this is exaggerated.  Of course, Zuma 
is a populist.  He played the card of left-wing populism in the 
campaign in order to be elected.  Trade unionists and the party's 
left wing have paved his way to the presidency.  They will now 
demand something in return.  In view of the high expectations, it 
will be impossible for Zuma to avoid disappointments." 
 
10.   Iceland Elections 
 
"Iceland's Left-Wing Achieves Absolute Majority," is the headline in 
Frankfurter Allgemeine which noted: "In the early Icelandic 
elections, in the voters have reacted to the financial debacle with 
a clear slide to the left...  However, the result was less obvious 
that previous opinion polls allowed us to assume.  Iceland's new 
Prime Minister Sigurdardsttir called the outcome a 'day of reckoning 
with Neo-liberalism.'" 
 
Sueddeutsche Zeitung editorialized: "Following these elections, the 
outcome of the referendum on Iceland's accession to the EU is 
totally open.  Prime Minister Sigurdardsttir will have difficulty 
convincing her people of the advantages of the EU, for Europeans and 
Icelanders have totally differing expectations of an accession. The 
Icelanders like the EU because of the strong euro, but in other 
areas, they do not want to have any EU interference such as in 
fishery policies.  If the EU, however, were able to convince the 
Icelanders of these advantages, this would have a symbolic effect, 
and Brussels would be able to strengthen its influence in a 
strategically and economically important region." 
 
In an editorial, Frankfurter Rundschau noted: "The early elections 
in Iceland have resulted in the expected day of reckoning with the 
ones who were politically responsible for the financial chaos.  Now 
the island is knocking at the EU's doors.  But making this happen 
will be difficult because only the Social Democrats clearly 
advocated Iceland's accession to the EU." 
 
Die tageszeitung opined: "Now the Icelanders have achieved all the 
things for which they took to the streets over the past few weeks. 
The old government stepped down, the heads of the Central Bank were 
fired, and early elections took place over the weekend.  In any 
case, the high voter turnout signals that that the Icelanders have 
not lost their confidence in the political system.  And the election 
result shows that they think they have found the ones to blame for 
the misery, and a majority voted for a social democratic/green 
coalition." 
 
KOENIG