International Papers

Australia Bows to the Queen

Australian newspapers, which were mostly pro-republican in the campaign to abolish the monarchy in Australia, reacted huffily to the monarchists’$2 55 percent to 45 percent victory in Saturday’s referendum. “Australia bows to Her Majesty” was the Sydney Morning Herald’s contemptuous headline Monday. The paper agreed with Rupert Murdoch’s prediction last week that rejection of a republic in the referendum would provoke a political backlash against the country’s monarchist prime minister, John Howard, who had skillfully divided the pro-republican forces. “John Howard should reflect on his place in Australian history,” the Syndey Morning Herald said in an editorial. “He must know that Saturday’s referendum settled nothing.” The paper warned that because 75 percent of Australians want a republic, the debate will continue. “But it will remain confused, bitter and divisive until another leader steps forward to bring the country together. … The deep division between direct-election and parliamentary-election republicans which Mr. Howard and the monarchists exploited in Saturday’s election will not continue.”

The Australian, which also supports a republic, summed up the divisiveness of the referendum, in which the monarchy’s supporters came mainly from lower-income groups, with the headline “One Queen, two nations.” The Herald Sun said the referendum has also widened divisions within Howard’s government and generated “serious fears for its chances at the next election.” In Britain, where Queen Elizabeth II marked her triumph Saturday by presenting the rugby World Cup championship trophy to the staunchly republican captain of the Australian team, John Eales, after its win against France, there was talk of subjecting the monarchy to a referendum by the British as well.

The mass-circulation Sun, a Murdoch paper, claimed in a front-page splash that Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, is eager to have such a referendum, believing the monarchy would prevail. But in an editorial, the Sun came close to advocating a republic for Britain, too. “We doubt that, eventually, a monarchy can exist as part of a democracy,” it said. “Anyone who has spent a few years living in the United States has experienced at first hand what it is like to be in a TRULY free country. … There is no us and them in America. … Great families come and go–the Rockefellers, the Kennedys, the Hearsts. …We see this even now as Bill Gates’ gigantic Microsoft empire looks threatened by his own government.”

The Guardian noted in an editorial that “democracy seems to like monarchy” and that the queen “is, more than ever, head of the antipodean state not by grace of God but thanks to a popular vote.” The Independent sounded a similar note. “The tempering of the hereditary principle by democracy has produced a curious constitutional hybrid,” it said in an editorial. “In Britain we now have elected hereditary peers. In Australia they have what is, in effect, an elected hereditary monarch. … Of course, the Independent is not in favour of the hereditary principle, but if it happens to coincide with the popular will, then who can argue with it?”

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s finding in the Microsoft antitrust case was a huge story around the world both Sunday and Monday, leading the front pages of Die Welt of Germany, Le Monde of France, and Britain’s Financial Times, which also devoted an editorial and two inside pages to it. In its editorial, the FT praised the judge for his “sophisticated grasp of the workings of the computer industry” and said he had successfully demolished most of Bill Gates’ arguments. Gates “must know that the chances of a drastic remedy–such as the breakup of the company he founded are no longer negligible,” the paper said. “Though this would probably not be the best outcome, the judge’s findings demonstrate that, if it were to happen, Microsoft would only have itself to blame.”

Le Monde in an editorial said Jackson would be remembered in history for recalling “a basic principle of the American system, one of the principles which assure the vitality and dynamism of the United States economy: the struggle against monopoly situations and respect for competition.” The judge in effect told Gates, “You may represent the industry of the future, but you are no less a monopolist than those who came into being at the beginning of the century.” An editorial in the Times of London, however, was more sympathetic to Microsoft. It said Gates has made his fortune primarily through his own ingenuity and that “American antitrust law should not be used solely to rein in large and successful firms and keep more complacent alternatives in business.” The paper added, “The fundamental concern must be whether or not it is actually true that Microsoft can command this market in a fashion that will frustrate innovation.”

Libération of Paris, which led its front page Monday with the headline “Setback for the Master of the Universe,” said that it was “the Internet, more than the American Department of Justice, that is making his empire tremble.” La Repubblica of Rome Sunday, in an article by Furio Colombo, said that “Bill Gates, who with his image and his self-promotion has become a sort of Mao Zedong of the new technologies, evidently considers that there is no difference between the good of Microsoft and the good of all.” The case against him began when lawyers and judges became convinced that the interests of the citizen “had been violated, and therefore humiliated, by the conquering ride of Microsoft and by the personality cult of its leader,” the paper said.

The Times of India reported Monday from the eastern state of Orissa that receding waters after last week’s cyclone disaster have revealed mounds of corpses in almost every village. It said survivors believe that 5,200 people have died in 18 villages alone, compared to an official estimate of 765 deaths in the entire region. The paper complained in an editorial that “the corrosive tawdriness of political populism” was delaying relief efforts, with government and opposition politicians arguing about money and whether there should be a formal declaration of a national calamity. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Deccan Chronicle had as its front-page lead a report from San Francisco claiming that the United States would only send further help to Orissa if India asked for it. “This stance has created ripples of outrage among Indians and pro-India Congressmen here who interpret these signals as being a clear indicator from Washington that India must hold out a begging bowl to the US,” it said. The paper said the India lobby complained that American aid to Orissa was “but a drop in the ocean” compared to the “astronomical” amounts it sent to Turkey following the earthquake there.

The Pakistani daily Dawn put a positive spin on George W. Bush’s failure to name the country’s new military leader. “General Pevez Musharraf has suddenly become an overnight celebrity and a ‘yardstick’ of general knowledge for Americans and may well become the factor to decide who will be America’s next president,”  began a front-page report from Washington on Monday. “The Musharraf quiz craze, as many are calling it, has stormed America with everyone asking everyone else: ‘Who is the leader of Pakistan?’ If you don’t know the answer, you are considered dumb, like presidential candidate George Bush. … His flunking of the pop quiz test is snowballing into a major political threat to the Republican Party as their top candidate, who has raised millions of dollars, appears increasingly like a dumb duffer who cannot make out whether a ‘military coup’ is a good thing or bad.”