International Papers

The End of History


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Love for President Clinton is undiminished in the Emerald Isle. Le Monde of Paris, over a report from Dublin, carried the headline “The Most Important Visit Since That of St. Patrick”–a quotation from a senior citizen in Armagh. The Irish Times, in an editorial Monday titled “Trouble Ahead for Mr Clinton,” hoped he will survive his present crisis. “His visit here was exemplary in its political substance and confirmed the sure touch he continues to demonstrate on the Northern Ireland peace process,” it said. The paper quoted his golf caddie in Ballybunion as saying, “This has been the greatest day of my life.”

In Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Catholic Irish News said that “although his trip helped strengthen the Irish peace process, it will be remembered for one thing: his first ever apology over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.” The Irish Times read his statement on receiving the freedom of the city of Limerick–that he was pleased to know he could go there when he stopped being president–as a reference to the possibility that he might not stay in office for long.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s warning last week that the United States cannot remain indefinitely untouched by the troubles in Asia and Russia aroused anxious comment around the world. London’s Financial Times said in its main editorial Monday, “With US savings so low, and consumption sustained in good part by stock market gains, a continuing slump on Wall Street will slow growth as well as inflation. If this proves to be a correction, the Fed’s task will become easier. But Mr. Greenspan’s speech shows he is thinking of darker possibilities that would require prompt and decisive action.”

The rest of the British press was largely taken up Monday with fresh argument about the future of the monarchy after Demos, a think tank close to the Tony Blair government, published a report proposing the removal of the queen’s last remaining powers and a referendum to decide if Prince Charles should be allowed to succeed her. The conservative Daily Telegraph, in its main editorial, called this a demand for a “republic by another name.” The conservative tabloid Daily Mail said that “last week’s pictures of embattled Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin clinging to one another like drunks trying to stay upright do not exactly lend weight to the think tank’s call for an elected monarchy.”

Dominating the news pages of the British and Australian press Monday was Rupert Murdoch’s $840 million bid for the English soccer team Manchester United, with the British press–in particular the liberal Guardian and the Independent–generally demanding it be resisted. “Blair must stop Murdoch taking over our national sport,” said the Independent. The Times of London, which belongs to Murdoch, made no comment.

Iran’s military threat to Afghanistan was the subject of a front-page editorial in the conservative Le Figaro of Paris. Titled “American Ambiguities,” it pointed out that U.S. demands that Iran respect Afghanistan’s frontiers come from a country that violated them just last month with its airstrikes.

Aweek after the anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, Le Monde reported on the low-key ceremonies in Calcutta to mark the anniversary of the death of her heroine, Mother Teresa. The paper predicted that it will be a long time before she is canonized, but quoted her successor, Sister Nirmala, as saying, “We know she is a saint, so it’s not important whether that is declared now or later.”

In Canada, under the headline “Highway to NAFTA?,” the Globe and Mail lamented the state of Canada’s road system. Praising President Clinton for his federal transportation law to upgrade U.S. highways, the paper said that “without a similar effort on our part, American superhighway traffic will come grinding to a halt at the Canadian border.”

Interviewed by the British Journalism Review about the extent of his personal interference in the editorial policies of his newspapers, which include the Independent, Tony O’Reilly, chairman of the Heinz food company, said he gives his editors “absolutely free rein” provided they abide by “some general rules.” These, he explained, were a “constructive” editorial policy for the country in which the paper is located and an appreciation of history: “We are all moving towards what is in a sense the end of history, the fin de siècle, and I believe this is the right time to be alive. The rules are very clear.”