International Papers

Their Way

The Hindu of India caught up Monday with the death of Frank Sinatra, devoting an editorial to the subject. “He combined distinctive phrasing, punctuated pauses and delicate emotional overtones to create songs that were at once mechanical in their precision and dream-like in their effect,” the newspaper said. “Unruffled and self-assured in its confidence, his was a voice that seemed to comprehend the rhapsody of romance, the obscure logic of love.” The only negative thing the Hindu had to say about the great Sinatra was that “My Way” was “one of his less memorable songs.”

This tribute to a great American was especially welcome in a week in which the Indian media were not feeling well-disposed toward the United States. The Times of India said in an editorial Monday that the United States, the “world’s self-professed conscience keeper which claims to be committed to non-proliferation of nuclear and missile technology,” has turned a blind eye to the fact that Beijing has long been arming Pakistan with conventional weapons as well as “nuclear and missile technology while issuing public denials and pledging itself to improving relations with New Delhi.” Despite this, “Washington actually approved the first export of advanced nuclear reactor technology to China after obtaining assurances that Beijing would limit its arms exports to Teheran (but not Islamabad),” the newspaper said.

The Asian Age of New Delhi said that “Pakistan is in a dilemma: to test or not to test,” because (contrary to Pakistan’s claims) it “definitely does not have the capacity” to make a hydrogen bomb. “If Pakistan tests without matching India’s performance, Prime Minister [Nawaz] Sharif will face the brunt of his electorate’s disillusionment and wrath,” the paper said in an editorial. “If it does not test, the government might find it difficult to survive against the strong public reaction.” On the other hand, if it does test, “Bill Clinton will probably take it as a personal affront” and impose sanctions that would “certainly” cause the country to collapse. “The way out for Pakistan at the moment lies in a dignified exit from the nuclear arms race,” the AsianAge said.

Dawn, Pakistan’s main English-language newspaper, devoted an editorial Monday not to the mounting U.S. pressure on Islamabad to drop its plans but to an attack on U.S. policy in the Middle East. “There seems to be no end to the Americans’ theatre of the absurd over the Middle East peace process,” the editorial said. It accused Clinton of indifference to the Palestinians’ plight and of weakness toward the Israeli government. “Israel needs more than mere arm-twisting from America,” it said. “It must put Mr. Netanyahu on notice to come round to the negotiating table by a fixed deadline. Mr. Clinton certainly has the clout to be able to do that.” Claiming that American Jewish leaders were becoming exasperated with Israel, Dawn suggested that “the big, bad wolf, of which the U.S. President appears to be mortally afraid while dealing with Mr. Netanyahu, exists, perhaps, only in his mind.”

In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post devoted its main editorial to an attack on the International Monetary Fund for its handling of the economic crisis in Indonesia. If the banks reopen in Jakarta, it said, “then at least the International Monetary Fund will be physically able to hand over the next tranche of its bailout package.” While admitting “the problem is primarily political and the IMF can hardly be blamed for Mr. Suharto’s mismanagement,” the newspaper said that “it will now be difficult to rebut the increasing perception that the IMF has failed in Asia.” Although the “U.S. continued to loyally defend the IMF yesterday, it is probably only a matter of time before other Western nations, such as Australia, break ranks and push for alternative remedies,” it added. “In any event, even the IMF can hardly describe as a success a program that is partly responsible for such bloodshed and one which cannot even now be implemented.”

In a front-page news analysis of the Group of Eight summit in Birmingham, England, this weekend, Alan Friedman of the International Herald Tribune in Paris wrote that the meeting served merely to “highlight the limits of power in an increasingly complex world.” On issues such as India’s nuclear testing, the prospect of Pakistan’s carrying out its own tests, and Indonesia’s descent into anarchy, participants were “either divided or unable to offer much beyond rhetoric,” Friedman wrote. “Moreover, both India and Pakistan remained oblivious to it.”

The news that the U.S. government was launching a legal battle against Microsoft led the Financial Times of London Monday and was on the front pages of most European newspapers.