International Papers

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling


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The Irish press gave an unqualified welcome to President Clinton Thursday. Editorials dwelt not on his personal troubles but on his contribution to peace in Ulster. In the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Independent called Clinton “an invaluable friend of Ireland” and said that foolishness in his personal life “does not justify the persecution to which he has been subjected,” nor take away from his achievements as president. “Among these, his role in Irish affairs ranks high,” it said. “His interest in Ireland is not sentimental, or designed merely to attract Irish-American votes and the friendship of Irish-American leaders. It is intelligent, well-informed–and fruitful.” The first lady, who was described in the main front-page headline as “radiant,” received high praise from conservative Catholic columnist Mary Kenny, who said that the president “would probably fully agree that in terms of strength of character, Hillary is the better of the two.”

In the Irish Times, republican Catholic columnist Mary Holland wrote that even before the president’s arrival in Ulster, his “visit to Ireland has had a dramatic effect.” Saying she shared “the sense of disappointment and bewilderment” over the Lewinsky affair and the bombings in Sudan and Afghanistan, Holland said she also believed “there are very many people alive in Ireland, and further afield, today who would be dead were it not for President Clinton’s commitment to the search for peace in Northern Ireland.”

In the North, the Protestant Belfast Telegraph said that “the mere fact of his presence … has achieved more progress in the last two days than in the previous two months, since the June election.” The Catholic Ulster paper Irish News said in its main front-page headline, “Clinton flies in with a brave message of hope.”

The Moscow summit received less enthusiastic press around the world, though the daily Novye Isvestiya said that although “Clinton did not have much space for maneuvering between support of Yeltsin and instructing potential Russian presidential candidates,” everything that he did in Moscow was “correct.” Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a paper controlled by financial magnate Boris Berezovsky, reported that the Moscow Institute of Economic Analysis would show, in research to be published Friday, that Russia faces inevitable bankruptcy and that, by the end of the year at the latest, it will have to admit it can’t make payments on its foreign debts.

India strongly criticized the summit because of Clinton’s request that Russia sever its defense links with the country. The Times of India said that New Delhi need not take this too seriously, because it is “just one of several banana skins the US leader dropped and stepped on in Moscow.” The Hindu said, “Mr. Clinton is not known for his adherence to commonly accepted norms of behaviour, either in his personal conduct or in terms of international policy,” noting that “nothing was right about the summit, least of all its timing.”

In Italy, Corriere della Sera ran an interview Thursday with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who, asked if the West had made mistakes in its behavior toward post-Communist Russia, said it had made several: regarding Yeltsin as the sole guarantor of Russian democracy, trying to impose economic policies that were completely unsuited to Russia, and closing both eyes to the corruption of the system. “I sometimes think that the West prefers a Russia that is weak and half-wrecked–not actually in pieces but nevertheless not in a state to raise its head,” Gorbachev said.

In Japan, Mainichi Shimbun predicted “significant repercussions” for North Korea’s firing of a long-range ballistic missile over Japan last Monday. It criticized the Japanese government for its slow response and its delayed release of information to the Japanese people. “In cooperation with the United States, South Korea and other concerned parties, the Japanese government must adopt a resolute posture toward North Korea while demanding that it terminate its ballistic missile program,” the paper concluded.

Japan’s biggest paper, Asahi Shimbun, published an article Thursday by Tetsuo Maeda, an arms control expert and professor at Tokyo International University, saying that the U.S. missile attacks on Islamic terrorist targets have expanded the definition of war. They will “be remembered as the first case in which a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, which has special responsibilities for the maintenance of ‘international peace and security,’ has openly applied the ‘state’s right of self-defense’ to irregular fighters,” Maeda said. “Terrorists are criminals and should be treated as such. However, they should not be punished without due process in the name of ‘national security’ or ‘protection of citizens’ lives.’ In light of U.S. history, such punishment is virtually a return to the lynching that was practised during the frontier development period.”

Asahi Shimbun also reported that the Japanese National Personnel Authority is drawing up regulations to try to stamp out sexual harassment based on a new report defining what kind of behavior is “inappropriate.” It said, “Such behavior ranges from demanding sex from co-workers to forcing female office staff to serve tea or to clean the workplace.” Ogling colleagues or forcing female employees to sit beside their bosses at social events is also unacceptable. “[W]omen mocking men by calling into question their masculinity is also classified as sexual harassment,” the paper added.