Today's Papers

Union for the Unionists

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times lead with the resuscitation of the Northern Ireland peace deal. The New York Times fronts the news from Ireland but leads instead with a worried look at possible unintended consequences of the missile defense system currently being considered by President Clinton.

Yesterday Northern Ireland’s largest Protestant party narrowly voted to revive their power-sharing plan with Sinn Fein. Three weeks ago, the IRA finally gave the Unionists pretty much what they wanted: a pledge to retire (if not dispose of) its weapons. In return, the Unionists agreed yesterday to re-enter the power-sharing agreement mandated by the Good Friday accord. Control of the province, which has resided in London since the agreement collapsed in February, will return to Belfast at once. The Unionists will require weapons-inspections requirements, but are not setting a hard deadline for disarmament. The WP story–the clearest and most detailed of the three–explains why: Last time around, the IRA balked at the very idea of adhering to a Unionist-set timetable. The Post also sketches the battles surely to come, over national symbols such as flags and police insignias.

The NYT’s lead speculates that the missile defense system currently being considered by President Clinton could stir up an arms race among China, Pakistan, and India. The defense system is apparently intended for relatively small-scale threats from rogue countries such as North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. But the story is laced with quotes from anonymous defense officials who insist that China may not treat it as such and could respond by bolstering its own arsenal. The story concludes that this is really a debate over “orthodox arms control theory, which holds that the construction of a missile defense prompts an adversary to build more missiles in the hope that at least some can get through the defense.”

A WP front-pager reveals that the DOJ may indict General Augusto Pinochet for conspiracy to commit murder. Pinochet has long been suspected of involvment in a 1976 Washington, D.C., car bombing that killed a former Chilean opposition leader and an American colleague, and when the former dictator was arrested in the U.K. last year, DOJ re-opened the charges. The main evidence comes from Pinochet’s former head of intelligence, who has already been convicted of the murder back at home and told his prosecutors that Pinochet had directly approved all of his operations. Two other subordinates have already been convicted and imprisoned in the U.S. for the bombing. An American trial is still highly unlikely because of Pinochet’s poor health. Still, Janet Reno sees the bombing as “a state-sponsored act of terrorism on U.S. soil” and has reassured the opposition leader’s widow that justice will be served.

A piece inside the WP checks in with John McCain and finds him transformed by his time on the presidential stump. Much was made of how glibly McCain expanded his policy interests during the campaign, but his new beliefs seem to be sticking. He now supports more robust gun control and patients’ rights plans and is also following through on his newfound interests in global warming and education reform.  Meanwhile, he’s heading back on the campaign trail too: He is hugely in demand as a speaker for congressional Republicans facing tough re-election battles.

An essay in the NYT Book Review provides a quick cheat-sheet for sorting out the strains of literary criticism that have sprung up in the past thirty years. The author, an English professor at NYU, argues that deconstruction, New Historicism, postcolonialism, structuralism, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and African-American and feminist criticism (to name a few) have more commonalities than differences. Simply put, they’re all tools for figuring out how individual authors are influenced by the cultural context in which they write.  Despite the numerous reports of its disarray, “literary study in America has never been in better shape.”

For the second time this week, the NYT pokes fun at NRA plans to open a theme restaurant in Times Square. The “Week in Review” section features a stinging mock review written by William Grimes, the paper’s food critic. Grimes recommends the “stuffed shells” and “the Congressional Special: weakfish prepared tableside, where an N.R.A. lobbyist removes the backbone with no difficulty whatsoever.” The restaurant opens at high noon and tipping is highly, highly recommended: “How do you leave less than 20 percent to a waiter in camouflage gear carrying a Glock 9-millimeter pistol and 1,000 rounds of ammunition?”