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Viewing cable 09BERLIN1148, MEDIA REACTION: AFGHANISTAN, EU, ECONOMIC, U.S.-WILSON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BERLIN1148 2009-09-17 11:11 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO7934
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHRL #1148/01 2601149
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171149Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5220
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1542
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0234
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0757
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2282
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1289
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0475
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE//J5 DIRECTORATE (MC)//
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
RUKAAKC/UDITDUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BERLIN 001148 
 
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" 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.0. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO GM US RS IR PK IN IC
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: AFGHANISTAN, EU, ECONOMIC, U.S.-WILSON 
 
1.   Lead Stories Summary 
2.   (Afghanistan)   Presidential Elections 
3.   (EU)   Barroso Election 
4.   (Economic)   U.S. Recession, Lehman Bros. 
5.   (U.S.)   Issue of Race in America 
 
 
1.   Lead Stories Summary 
 
ZDF-TV's and ARD-TV's primetime newscasts opened with stories on the 
European Parliament's reelection of Jose Manuel Barroso to a second 
term as EC President. Newspapers led with various stories. 
Frankfurter Allgemeine, Berliner Zeitung and FT Deutschland led with 
reports on election fraud allegations against President Karzai. 
Stern magazine's cover story said: "Get out of Afghanistan-but when 
and how?"  Editorials focused on the Barroso's reelection and the 
German election campaign. 
 
2.   (Afghanistan)   Presidential Elections 
 
The EU observers' statement that a quarter of all Afghan votes are 
questionable is a major story in the German media this morning. 
Front-page headlines included:  "EU accuses Karzai of large-scale 
election fraud" (Frankfurter Allgemeine), "EU mistrusts Karzai's 
victory" (Berliner Zeitung), "Afghan elections turn into farce" (FT 
Deutschland) 
 
Under the headline "Stolen election," Frankfurter Allgemeine 
commented: "It is disastrous that, according to the EU election 
observers, a quarter of the ballots cast in the Afghan elections 
were manipulated or are suspicious.  This raises the question 
whether the international community can still cooperate with 
President Karzai, apparently the main benefactor of the fraud.  This 
undermines the legitimacy of the Kabul government and its already 
weak authority throughout the country....  Is there an alternative 
to Karzai?  The Afghans themselves must make this decision without 
too much interference from outside.  However, this poses the risk of 
violent conflicts....  Instead of plunging the country into the 
turbulence and conflicts of an election campaign, we should have 
strengthened the rule of law and fight corruption." 
 
S|ddeutsche Zeitung carried a front-page photo showing women wearing 
burqas and holding a sign saying "reconciliation."  In an editorial 
under the headline "The Afghan disaster," the paper said: "America 
and Europe must make the decision whether to recognize Karzai as 
president at all."  The paper added: "Given the hopeless situation, 
it would be better to leave the decision to a Loya Jirga, which 
traditionally enjoys legitimacy in Afghanistan.  The representatives 
like to meet for a long time and that would put us in the middle of 
the Afghan winter.  This would have advantages: even the toughest 
Taliban turn into pacifists in the icy winter.  This would give 
decision-makers in Europe and the U.S. time to profoundly reconsider 
the war and democracy in Afghanistan." 
 
Tagesspiegel opined: "Nobody can believe four weeks after the 
election in Afghanistan that President Karzai has reached an 
absolute majority.  Is the winner clear?  Not at all.  A new 
battlefield is opening up in the country, which is divided more than 
any other country....  It must be seen as an affront against the 
West that the preliminary results were announced only hours after 
the massive fraud allegations.  Given the elections disaster, we 
might consider whether it would not have been better to put the 
elections at the end of the democratization process." 
 
Berliner Zeitung's editorial headlined "Annulling the elections _or 
civil war" and remarked: "This election must be annulled.  Such a 
decision would not move Afghanistan forward, but it would prevent it 
from experiencing a decade-long setback." 
 
 
BERLIN 00001148  002 OF 004 
 
 
Regional newspaper Der Neue Tag commented: "Despite all the praise 
he got in advance, President Karzai is increasingly a part of the 
problem and not part of the solution.  He does not have his country 
under control.  The administration, army, police forces and the 
courts are more corrupt than ever before.  It takes a lot of help to 
manipulate 1.5 to 5.5 million votes." 
 
3.   (EU)   Barroso Election 
 
All papers carried reports and editorials on Barroso's re-election, 
with much of the commentary expressing doubt whether Barroso was the 
right choice.  ARD-TV's late evening newscast Tagesthemen commented: 
"The outcome of the election is clear, but we have not heard in 
Brussels and elsewhere that this was also a good choice.  During his 
first term, Jos Manuel Barroso did not acquire great respect.  Why 
then his re-election?  This is indeed the question.  The reason we 
hear almost everywhere including from Berlin is that there was no 
alternative.  Apart from the fact that this is a poor argument, it 
is also nonsense.  It is probably right that something else but 
Barroso was not desired.  Not only because it is much more 
comfortable for the big EU countries to have someone at the top in 
the EU who gives in readily to their requests.  And it is probably 
more important that the EU member states are governed by a 
generation of politicians whose European ambitions tend to be 
zero." 
 
Westdeutscher Rundfunk radio of Cologne broadcast the following 
commentary: "the past weeks demonstrated that Europe is witnessing a 
change in its political institutions.  The [European] Parliament has 
become stronger.  Basically, there should have been an election 
campaign with several candidates and not a just a concert of 
complaints about Barroso.  But this is something the parties only 
realized after his reelection. Very few people acknowledged 
regarding Barroso that his job requires more skill in reaching 
compromises than any position in the world except for the Secretary 
General of the United Nations, who has to find a common denominator 
for the policies of China, Russia, Europe, and the U.S.  Everyone 
who criticizes Barroso these days should answer the question of what 
Barroso could have done better [in his first term]." 
 
DeutschlandradioKultur opined: "The question now is whether Barroso 
will take advantage of his second term and whether he will really 
change his political style in a way he promised.  The chances are 
not bad.  Many previous presidents of the European Commission had a 
weak first term.  There is a simple reason for this: Commission 
presidents are allowed to run only two terms in a row.  Barroso can 
now enter into the many conflicts much freer than during his first 
term." 
 
In the view of Frankfurter Allgemeine, "No other previous European 
Commission president has presented such a comprehensive working 
program and was asked to make such far-reaching concessions.  But 
with this great variety of concessions, the old and the new 
president confirmed his reputation, namely that he does not pursue 
his own independent policy but rather changes his colors like a 
chameleon, saying whatever the EU leaders want to hear." 
 
According to Financial Times Deutschland, "the social democratic 
members of the European Parliament [EP] must also be blamed for the 
lack of competition about the best ideas and the most important 
position in Brussels.  They shied away from suggesting an 
alternative to Barroso.  In view of the conservative majority in the 
EP, it seemed hopeless to assert one's own candidate.  But the 
current legal situation must also be blamed for the situation 
because the European Parliament only plays a side role when 
determining the Commission President.  But this will change as soon 
as the Lisbon reform treaty will enter into force.  The EP will then 
gain in significance and a true competition will become possible." 
 
 
BERLIN 00001148  003 OF 004 
 
 
Handelsblatt editorialized: "The tasks that lie ahead of the next 
European Commission are enormous.  At issue is not only how to lead 
the EU in an orderly way out of the crisis.  This is a task for 
which Barroso, after his yearlong laissez-faire policy, seems to be 
ill-prepared.  At issue is also how to lead the EU on a new 
sustainable path of growth.  Both tasks will become extremely 
difficult because, during this crisis, the 27 EU member states have 
drifted apart.  There is hardly anything in common anymore between 
jeopardized countries such as Ireland and Latvia and recovering 
countries such as France and Germany.  Egotism and nationalism are 
on the advance.  At the same time, EU policies such as the Stability 
Pact and the Lisbon agenda for jobs and economic growth have turned 
out to be fragile.  Even the EU's internal market, the supportive 
pillar of a common economic policy, is suffering.  It is high time 
for a general overhaul of the EU." 
 
Regional daily Mannheimer Morgen observed: "As far as politics is 
concerned, Barroso is only a lightweight.  In the coming five years, 
the European Commission will have get an even less significance 
under his leadership.  He owes his re-election to the 27 EU leaders. 
 He knows this and will act correspondingly.  That is why we should 
not expect an independent self-confident course from Barroso.  Those 
who think that he has a great selection of possible EU commissioners 
are wrong.  That is why the European Commission will fail as an 
engine of reform." 
 
4.   (Economic)   U.S. Recession, Lehman Bros. 
 
Under the headline: "The Right Timing," Frankfurter Allgemeine 
judged: "The U.S. economy has finally left behind the worst of the 
recession and is again moderately growing.  Fed chief Ben Bernanke 
stated this.  He is right with his assessment that all obstacles for 
an economic recovery have not yet been removed.  There are still 
some burdens for the consumers and that is why Bernanke and some of 
his colleagues are not in a rush to end their relaxed monetary 
policy   Nevertheless, it is necessary to carefully prepare for a 
change of course to a stricter availability of money and not to miss 
the right timing.  The liquidity that was necessary to stabilize the 
financial system and the economy must be siphoned off in time. 
Otherwise consumer prices will inflate and new dangerous bubbles in 
the markets for assets such as stocks and real estate will be 
looming." 
 
Financial Times Deutschland headlined: Caught in a Bubble," and 
judged: "It may be possible that the largest economic areas have 
left behind the recession and are on their best way to recover.  But 
no one knows how strong the upswing will be and in order to justify 
the euphoria in the financial markets, this upswing must be 
gigantic.  If the stock markets continue to rise and, at the same 
time, the interest rates for securities go down, then this is a 
clear indication that too much money is in the markets.  In the 
financial markets, the next bubble is developing and the central 
banks should do everything to let the air slowly out of them.  But 
the Fed and the European Central Bank are in a dilemma.  If they now 
end the extremely expansive monetary policy of the past 
months...they would probably suffocate the fragile economic upswing. 
 The central banks must resolve a basic problem: consumer prices are 
taking a completely different course than asset prices.  That is why 
the central banks should make up their mind as quickly as possible 
on how to deal with this situation.  And investors should assume 
that this new bubble will not grow forever." 
 
Regional daily Die Tagespost of W|rzburg opined: "The balance sheet 
one year after the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. is not very promising. 
 The decisive question has not yet been answered: will the G-20 
succeed in chaining the international finance world at the upcoming 
summit in Pittsburgh?  Everyone agreed that another fiasco can be 
prevented only if at all three levels - the international, the 
European, and the national level - rules are adopted that 
 
BERLIN 00001148  004 OF 004 
 
 
mercilessly tackle non-transparent financial products, greed, and 
excessive bonus payments for managers.  The market itself does not 
have sufficient self-healing forces.  This is for sure." 
 
5.   (U.S.)   Issue of Race in America 
 
Commenting on former President Carter's statement that Rep. Wilson's 
outburst during a speech by President Barack Obama was "based on 
racism," Frankfurter Allgemeine wrote: "We are currently burying 
another hope many contemporaries associated with Obama: the end of 
the divide running through American politics and society.  The 
reform of the health care system is being fought with a 
vengeance....  However, [with his comment about Rep. Wilson] the 
former President is not exactly a model for a debating culture.... 
In America accusations of racism can kill even legitimate 
criticism." 
 
  MURPHY