International Papers

Tootin’ Putin 

The Guardian of London led Friday with a report from Moscow that Russia’s acting president, Vladimir Putin, is about to unveil a new defense doctrine “to make it easier to press the nuclear button in an international crisis, while unequivocally declaring the west a hostile power that must be resisted.” The previous doctrine formulated by ex-President Boris Yeltsin in December 1997 declared that nuclear weapons could only be used “in the case of a threat to the very existence of the Russian Federation as a sovereign state.” The new one, which the Guardian said was to be published by Putin Friday, states that the use of nuclear weapons is necessary “to repel armed aggression if all other means of resolving a crisis situation have been exhausted or turn out to be ineffective.” While the old doctrine spoke of “partnership” with the West, the Guardian said Putin’s doctrine buries this concept and portrays Russia as being “in conflict with ‘the west led by the US,’ which aims to use its military might to dominate world affairs.” The paper commented, “The hostile tone appears to seal a drawn-out process of disenchantment with the west.” It also partly attributed Russia’s return to Cold War rhetoric to its military setbacks in Chechnya.

A Guardian editorial, headlined “Mad about the boy,” lamented the plight of 6-year-old Elián González, the Cuban boy whose extradition case “has been turned into an American political and legal football.” The Guardian blamed the situation on “the Clinton administration’s abject failure to end America’s 41-year-long, undeclared Cuban war.” The paper asked, “Why, when the US believes it can resolve intractable disputes from Jerusalem to Belfast to Pristina, does it make no serious effort to end this self-defeating stalemate on its very own doorstep?” Bill Gates’ decision to step down as CEO of Microsoft led the front page of the Financial Times of London, which said that “the world’s most prominent computer geek has decided to go back to the lab.” It called his decision “a pivotal event” at a time when the software world was about to go through its biggest upheaval since the arrival of the personal computer. But the FT said it was unlikely to herald an early resolution of Microsoft’s antitrust battle with the U.S. government. “Some antitrust experts, including consultants to the company, argue his withdrawal from day-to-day management might even delay any decisive moves by the company to end the dispute,” the paper reported.

In India, the Asian Age made no mention of Gates’ decision but fronted instead a Washington Post story that the U.S. Justice Department is to call for Microsoft to be broken into three separate companies. The FT noted that the corporation’s new chief executive, Steve Ballmer, takes a strong line against this idea, calling it “absolutely ridiculous and irresponsible.” The Asian Age led with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee proposing the creation of a new Silicon Valley in India. “The entire government—indeed, the entire country—has now adopted promotion of it as its strategic goal,” he told a gathering of 15 American information technology entrepreneurs in New Delhi. The paper said they have pledged their complete support for India’s endeavor to become an “IT superpower.”

While British newspapers reported that Amnesty International and other human rights groups plan to challenge the legality of the British government’s decision to send Gen. Augusto Pinochet home to Chile, they fronted the news that Mike Tyson is to be allowed into Britain for a boxing match against the British heavyweight Julius Francis Jan. 29 in Manchester. The Daily Telegraph called this “an extraordinary U-turn” by Home Secretary Jack Straw, who previously let it be understood that Tyson would be refused entry because of his U.S. rape conviction. Straw had said that British immigration officials would apply the normal rules, which deny admission to any foreigner convicted of an offense that would carry a jail sentence of one year or more if committed in Britain. But following protests by immigration officials that one of them should not be put in the unenviable position of having to turn back Tyson and his entourage when they arrive by Concorde at a London airport this Sunday, he ruled that he should be granted “leave to enter the U.K. until Jan. 30 for the purpose of the scheduled contest.” Several Labor members of parliament, including the former actress Glenda Jackson, a candidate to be mayor of London, have called for Tyson to be barred.

Another top British story Friday was a decision by the royal family to end its patronage of Harrods, the London department store, because its Egyptian owner, Mohammed al-Fayed, has repeatedly accused Prince Philip of planning the “murder” of Princess Diana and his son Dodi Fayed, who died together in a Paris car crash in 1997. One of three royal “warrants” to be removed named Harrods as “outfitters” to the Queen’s husband.

La Repubblica of Rome fronted the news that author Saul Bellow has become a father at the age of 84. It noted that he thus beat the records of Anthony Quinn, who fathered a son in 1996 at the age of 81, and of Charlie Chaplin, who did so at 73.