US embassy cable - 02AMMAN5238

DRAWING A ROADMAP FOR IRAQ PUBLIC DIPLOMACY: JORDANIAN PERSPECTIVE

Identifier: 02AMMAN5238
Wikileaks: View 02AMMAN5238 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Amman
Created: 2002-09-12 16:17:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: KPAO PREL OPRC
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 005238 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NEA FOR LAROCCO, NEA/PPD FOR MACINNES, BOURGEOIS, EUR/ERA 
FOR ALLEGRONE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2012 
TAGS: KPAO, PREL, OPRC 
SUBJECT: DRAWING A ROADMAP FOR IRAQ PUBLIC DIPLOMACY: 
JORDANIAN PERSPECTIVE 
 
REF: A. SECSTATE 169975 
 
     B. AMMAN 05196 
     C. AMMAN 05168 
     D. AMMAN 05131 
     E. AMMAN 05173 
 
Classified By: HMAHONEY, PAO, FOR REASON 1.5B 
 
(C) SUMMARY. THE PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ENVIRONMENT IN JORDAN 
REGARDING U.S. POLICY TOWARDS IRAQ IS FRAUGHT WITH SUSPICION 
AND ANGER ABOUT PERCEIVED U.S. AMBITIONS TOWARDS THE REGION. 
JORDANIANS WIDELY BELIEVE THAT U.S. POLICY IN THE REGION IS A 
PRODUCT OF ITS STRONGLY PRO-ISRAELI STANCE WITHOUT REGARD FOR 
ARAB INTERESTS.  JORDANIANS ARE ALSO DEEPLY WORRIED ABOUT THE 
IMPACT OF U.S. MILITARY ACTION IN IRAQ (WHICH MOST THINK IS 
ALMOST INEVITABLE) ON JORDAN'S POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC 
WELL-BEING.  JORDAN'S ECONOMIC TIES TO IRAQ ARE CLOSER THAN 
THOSE OF ANY OTHER ARAB COUNTRY.  LINKAGES OF KINSHIP, 
EDUCATION AND CULTURE ARE ALSO STRONG, AND SECOND ONLY TO 
THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PALESTINIANS IN THEIR EMOTIONAL 
INTENSITY.  WE CAN EXPECT THE GOJ TO ATTEMPT TO DAMPEN 
POPULAR EMOTIONS, BUT OFFICIAL PUBLIC STATEMENTS ON U.S. 
ACTIONS WILL BE CAREFULLY CALIBRATED TO AVOID PROVOKING OR 
WORSENING POPULAR EXPRESSIONS OF ANGER AGAINST BOTH THE U.S. 
AND THE GOVERNMENT. SHOULD U.S. MILITARY ACTION OCCUR, THE 
EMOTIONAL REACTION WILL MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO GET OUR MESSAGE 
HEARD, ESPECIALLY IN THE INITIAL STAGES OF ENGAGEMENT. 
NEVERTHELESS, WE MUST MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO STATE OUR PUBLIC 
DIPLOMACY MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR AND PURSUE A LONG-RANGE 
STRATEGY OF EXCHANGES AND DIALOGUE IN ORDER TO LIMIT THE 
DAMAGE TO OUR BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JORDAN.  END SUMMARY 
 
2.  THE CLIMATE: A WITCHES' BREW 
 
(SBU) SEVERAL EMOTIONAL AND WIDELY HELD VIEWS OF U.S. 
MOTIVATIONS TOWARDS THE ARAB AND ISLAMIC WORLD COMBINE TO 
PRODUCE A STRONG REACTION AGAINST OUR EFFORTS TO CHANGE THE 
IRAQI REGIME AND ELIMINATE IRAQ'S POTENTIAL TO THREATEN US 
WITH WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. IN FACT, JORDANIANS ARE 
LARGELY UNCONCERNED ABOUT SADDAM'S ACQUISITION OF WMD.  EVEN 
IF HE GETS THEM, THEY ARGUE, SO WHAT?  OTHER EQUALLY 
DANGEROUS COUNTRIES HAVE WMD OR THE CAPACITY TO BUILD THEM, 
MOST NOTABLY ISRAEL, BUT ALSO SYRIA, AND NORTH KOREA. 
JORDANIANS BEGIN FROM THE ASSUMPTION THAT U.S. PLANS TO 
INVADE IRAQ ARE MOTIVATED BY A DESIRE TO PROTECT ISRAEL, 
DOMINATE THE OIL-RICH REGION AND ACT OUT  FEAR AND THIRST FOR 
REVENGE AFTER SEPT. 11.  WHATEVER EFFORTS SADDAM MAY HAVE 
MADE TO ACQUIRE WMD, JORDANIANS DOUBT THAT IRAQ POSES ANY 
REAL DANGER TO THE UNITED STATES, AND BELIEVE THAT THE 
DETERRENCE ARGUMENT IS A PRETEXT. THE LOCAL MEDIA ROUTINELY 
PORTRAY THE U.S. ACTIONS AFTER SEPT. 11 AS AN EFFORT TO 
EXPLOIT A GENUINE HUMAN TRAGEDY AS A PRETEXT TO GO AFTER 
ARABS AND MUSLIMS WHO STAND IN OUR WAY. JORDANIAN 
COMMENTATORS ON THE U.S. DOMESTIC SCENE WARN OF GROWING 
HOSTILITY AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ISLAM AND ARABS IN U.S. 
SOCIETY: A BETRAYAL OF AMERICAN IDEALS OF FREEDOM AND 
EQUALITY. 
 
(C) UNDERLYING THE HOSTILITY AND SUSPICION IS THE CONVICTION, 
FREQUENTLY EXPRESSED IN THE PRESS, THAT THE U.S. VIEWS THE 
REGION AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM THROUGH THE ISRAELI PRISM, 
AND IS INCAPABLE OR UNWILLING TO SYSTEMATICALLY FACTOR IN 
ARAB INTERESTS.  MANY CONTACTS TELL US THAT THE PALESTINIAN 
ISSUE IS BIGGER THAN IRAQ IN THE JORDANIAN MIND, AND THAT THE 
PERCEPTION OF U.S. BIAS TOWARDS ISRAEL DETERMINES POPULAR 
ATTITUDES TOWARDS AMERICAN ACTIONS VIS A VIS IRAQ. ANY 
ISRAELI INVOLVEMENT IN AN ATTACK ON IRAQ WOULD SOLIDIFY THE 
BELIEF THAT AMERICAN AND ISRAELI GOALS ARE IDENTICAL. DRAWING 
ON STATEMENTS BY ISRAELI JOURNALISTS AND POLITICIANS, SOME 
JORDANIANS FEAR THAT THE SHARON GOVERNMENT WILL USE THE COVER 
OF U.S. MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAQ TO CRUSH THE PALESTINIAN 
AUTHORITY AND EXPEL LARGE NUMBERS OF PALESTINIANS INTO 
JORDAN.   A PALESTINIAN INFLUX COMBINED WITH A SIMILAR 
MOVEMENT OF REFUGEES FROM IRAQ, THEY FEAR, WOULD LEAD TO 
WIDESPREAD ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL TURMOIL. ADD TO THIS THE 
CUT-OFF OF CHEAP IRAQI OIL AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE IRAQI 
IMPORT MARKET AND THE NEAR-TERM PICTURE LOOKS BLEAK FOR THE 
ORDINARY JORDANIAN CITIZEN. 
 
(C) WE CAN EXPECT THE GOJ TO PURSUE A CAREFULLY CRAFTED 
PUBLIC LINE DESIGNED TO DEFLECT POPULAR DISSATISFACTION WITH 
GOJ POLICY.  THERE WILL PROBABLY BE MORE OFFICIAL STATEMENTS 
AND EDITORIALS ADVISING JORDANIANS TO CONSIDER THEIR OWN 
NATIONAL INTERESTS AHEAD OF THE IRAQI OR PALESTINIAN ISSUES 
AND ALLUDING TO THE BENEFITS OF THE U.S.-JORDANIAN OFFICIAL 
RELATIONSHIP.  BUT GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR DOMINATED MEDIA WILL 
CONTINUE TO BE CHARACTERIZED BY EMOTIONAL STATEMENTS AGAINST 
U.S. POLICY.  LIKE OTHER ARAB GOVERNMENTS, THE GOJ HAS BEGUN 
TO PUT SOME EFFORT INTO TEMPERING THESE INFLAMMATORY 
ARGUMENTS (SEE REFS B-D) BUT ITS PUBLIC SUPPORT WILL 
NECESSARILY BE LIMITED LEST IT BE PERCEIVED AS AN AMERICAN 
CLIENT. 
 
3.  PUBLIC AFFAIRS APPROACH: 
 
(U) OUR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY APPROACH SHOULD BE THREE-FOLD: A) 
PRESENT LOUD AND CLEAR MESSAGES ON U.S. POLICY AND SWIFTLY 
COUNTER DISINFORMATION; B) BE GOOD LISTENERS AND SUSTAIN THE 
DIALOGUE C) AFTER THE DUST SETTLES, CONTINUE AND EXPAND THE 
INSTITUTIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL TIES, ESPECIALLY WITH YOUTH. 
 
(U) A.  MESSAGES TO BE DELIVERED BY SPOKESPERSONS AT THE 
HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE WHITE HOUSE, STATE DEPARTMENT, DOD, NSC 
AND RELATED AGENCIES: 
 
C)--OUR GOAL IS TO RE-INTEGRATE IRAQ INTO THE GLOBAL 
COMMUNITY FOR THE BENEFIT OF ITS PEOPLE.  THIS WOULD END 
SANCTIONS AND ISOLATION AND REVIVE IRAQ'S GREAT POTENTIAL AS 
A FULL PARTNER IN THE REGION.  WHILE WE ARE COMMITTED TO 
IRAQ'S TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY, RELATIVE PROSPERITY AND 
STABILITY IN THE FREE KURDISH AREAS SHOW WHAT COULD BE DONE 
IF THE WHOLE COUNTRY WERE FREE OF SADDAM'S GRIP. (NOTE: 
ENDING THE SANCTIONS IS THE ONLY SILVER LINING WHICH 
JORDANIAN COMMENTATORS HAVE SEEN IN A U.S. MILITARY STRIKE 
WHICH TOPPLES SADDAM.  EVIDENCE THAT IRAQIS WELCOME SADDAM'S 
DOWNFALL IF OR WHEN IT HAPPENS WOULD ALSO HAVE A POSITIVE 
IMPACT.) 
 
(U)--THE U.S. WILL NOT RELENT IN ITS EFFORTS TO RESOLVE THE 
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT AND TO PURSUE A LASTING AND JUST 
TWO-STATE SOLUTION BASED ON UNSCR'S 242, 338, 1397, THE 
CONCEPT OF LAND-FOR-PEACE.  NOR WILL WE ALLOW ANY PARTY TO 
EXPLOIT THE IRAQ SITUATION TO CHANGE FACTS ON THE GROUND. 
FOR EXAMPLE, THE U.S. FIRMLY REJECTS EXPULSION OF POPULATIONS 
AND WILL NOT ACCEPT IT. ISRAEL IS NOT PART OF OUR MILITARY 
COALITION AGAINST SADDAM.  (USG SPOKESPERSONS WILL NEED TO 
IMMEDIATELY COUNTER ANY STATEMENTS TO THE CONTRARY, E.G. FROM 
THE ISRAELI MEDIA.) 
 
(U)--THOUGH WE MAY DISAGREE ABOUT STRATEGY, THE WORLD 
COMMUNITY SUPPORTS OUR PREMISE THAT WMD IN SADDAM'S HANDS 
POSE A GRAVE THREAT NOT ONLY TO THE U.S. BUT TO THE REGION, 
AND  MUST BE REMOVED WITHOUT DELAY.  THE U.S. IS NOT ACTING 
UNILATERALLY. (HERE WE SHOULD EMPHASIZE SUPPORTIVE STATEMENTS 
FROM THE U.N.,OTHER UNSC MEMBERS, STRATEGIC STUDIES CENTERS, 
THINK TANKS ETC.  RELEASE OF DOCUMENTATION OR OTHER "PROOF" 
OF IRAQ'S CONTINUING WMD PROGRAMS WOULD ALSO BE HELPFUL.) 
 
(U)--ANY ACTION AGAINST IRAQ IS AIMED AT SADDAM HUSSEIN, NOT 
PART OF A DOMINO-STRATEGY TO REMOVE OTHER UNFRIENDLY REGIMES, 
E.G. SYRIA AND IRAN. 
 
(U)--SEPT. 11 HAD A PROFOUND IMPACT ON THE AMERICAN PSYCHE, 
BUT DID NOT CREATE A CLIMATE OF HATRED AND INTOLERANCE 
TOWARDS ARABS OR ISLAM.  IN FACT, AMERICAN INTEREST IN ISLAM 
AND DESIRE FOR DIALOGUE INCREASED RADICALLY, PROVIDING AN 
OPPORTUNITY FOR BETTER MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING.  AMERICANS ARE 
COMMITTED TO EXPANDING THAT DIALOGUE. 
 
(U)--THE U.S. AND OUR ALLIES WILL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO 
PREVENT ECONOMIC DISLOCATION TO OUR FRIENDS IN THE REGION. 
THROUGH OUR TRADE AND AID APPROACHES WE HAVE A STRONG 
PARTNERSHIP TO ENCOURAGE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THE ARAB WORLD 
WHICH HAS REAPED SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS AND IS ONE OF THE MAIN 
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE GENERATIONS. 
 
B.  SUSTAINING THE DIALOGUE 
 
(U) IT WILL BE CRUCIAL FOR AMERICA TO BE PERCEIVED AS 
LISTENING TO OUR ALLIES IN THE REGION AND SERIOUSLY 
CONSIDERING THEIR VIEWS AND INTERESTS EVEN WHEN THE RHETORIC 
AND POPULAR EMOTIONS ESCALATE.  EMBASSY OFFICERS AND OTHER 
USG OFFICIALS VISITING THE REGION SHOULD ENGAGE IN PUBLIC 
DIALOGUE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, BOTH THROUGH THE MEDIA AND WITH 
UNIVERSITIES, NGO'S AND OTHER PUBLIC FORA. WE ESPECIALLY NEED 
ARABIC-SPEAKING SPOKESPERSONS AND OBJECTIVE COMMENTATORS TO 
APPEAR ON SATELLITE TV TALK-SHOWS TO COUNTER THE EXTREME 
MISCHARACTERIZATIONS OF THE U.S.  THIS IS ESPECIALLY 
NECESSARY TO COUNTER THE WIDESPREAD IMPRESSION THAT 
ARAB-AMERICANS AND MUSLIM AMERICANS LIVE IN FEAR OF REPRISAL 
OR OFFICIAL HARASSMENT IN THE U.S.  MANY JORDANIANS WHO 
STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH OUR POLICIES NEVERTHELESS PIN THEIR 
LONG-RANGE HOPES ON POSITIVE RELATIONS WITH THE U.S.  BUT 
THOSE HOPES WILL DIE IF THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO TALK TO US AND 
VENT THEIR EMOTIONS. 
 
(U)WE WILL ALSO NEED RAPID RESPONSES TO COUNTER 
DISINFORMATION FROM IRAQIS AND OTHERS.  FOR EXAMPLE, WE CAN 
EXPECT MASSIVE EXAGGERATIONS OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES AND 
DISINFORMATION ABOUT ISRAELI INVOLVEMENT.  WE WILL NEED THE 
FACTS VIA USG OFFICIAL RESPONSES ASAP. THE LONDON INFORMATION 
CENTER IS AN EXCELLENT MEANS OF PROVIDING THIS INFORMATION 
AND SO ARE OUR INFORMATION RESOURCE CENTERS AT THE POSTS. 
 
(U) TO COUNTER THE MISPERCEPTION THAT AMERICANS HATE ISLAM 
AND ARABS, WE WILL NEED ARAB-AMERICAN AND MUSLIM-AMERICAN 
SPEAKERS AND OTHERS WHO CAN FORGE LINKAGES BETWEEN THEIR 
ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMUNITIES AND JORDANIANS.  FOR EXAMPLE, 
WE ARE SENDING TO THE U.S. A GROUP OF INTERNATIONAL VISITORS 
FROM SHARIA' SCHOOLS AND OTHER ISLAMIC INSTITUTIONS.  THEY 
WILL MEET WITH U.S. INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS THE GEORGETOWN 
CENTER FOR MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING.  SEVERAL JORDANIAN 
NGO'S HAVE EXPRESSED STRONG INTEREST IN SPEAKER EXCHANGE 
PROGRAMS THAT WOULD GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK 
DIRECTLY TO AMERICAN AUDIENCES.  MANY JORDANIANS ARE EAGER TO 
PRESENT THEIR RELIGION AND SOCIETY TO AMERICAN AUDIENCES AND 
WE SHOULD SUPPORT THIS TWO-WAY EXCHANGE WHEREVER POSSIBLE 
BOTH THROUGH USG EXCHANGE PROGRAMS AND FUNDING FOR NGO'S. 
 
 
 
C.  EDUCATIONAL AND OTHER EXCHANGE LINKAGES 
 
(U) OUR EXCHANGE AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS WILL NO DOUBT 
SUFFER AT LEAST TEMPORARILY FROM ANY MILITARY ACTION IN IRAQ. 
 WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN SOME CONTACTS DECLINING SPEAKER AND 
OTHER PROGRAMS AS A RESULT OF THEIR OBJECTIONS TO U.S. POLICY 
TOWARDS THE PALESTINIANS AND IRAQ.  NEVERTHELESS WE BELIEVE 
THAT OPPORTUNITIES FOR EDUCATIONAL AND OTHER EXCHANGES WILL 
ENDURE AS JORDANIANS REFLECT ON THEIR LONG-RUN INTERESTS.  WE 
SHOULD BE IN A POSITION TO OFFER A SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED 
LEVEL OF EDUCATIONAL AND CITIZEN EXCHANGES, ENGLISH 
INSTRUCTION, AND COOPERATION IN THE FIELDS OF CIVIC EDUCATION 
AND CIVIL SOCIETY AND OTHER AREAS WITH A SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON 
REACHING YOUTH. AND WE SHOULD NOT FORGET THE IMPACT OF 
CULTURAL PROGRAMMING IN THE FIELDS OF FILM, DRAMA, MUSIC, 
DANCE LITERATURE AND THE ARTS.  THE LATTER AREA REMAINS 
ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT AS THE GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN ON 
POLITICAL DISCUSSION LEAVING THE ARTS AS ONE OF THE ONLY 
VEHICLES OF FREE EXPRESSION. 
BERRY 

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