Reaction to yesterday's missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for terrorist bombings in Africa
The Washington Post
THE UNITED States was correct to send its military forces into action against terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan yesterday. The bombing two weeks ago of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 250 people and injured thousands more was an act of war. It is not the kind of war many Americans grew up with, in which one country invades another, but it is war nonetheless.
THERE CAN be no denying that this is a gamble of considerable proportions for President Bill Clinton. Committing violence deep inside a distant state is not an action to be undertaken lightly. The risks are obvious: of something going militarily wrong; of a political backlash in the Islamic world; of an escalating war in which many more innocent lives are lost. The only question is whether the threat posed by the terrorists to US and international security is large and imminent enough to justify running such risks.
IT IS tempting, in light of President Clinton's fall from public grace earlier this week, to deduce that the strikes were planned as a powerful ploy to shift domestic opinion and shore up America's damaged reputation abroad. But Mr Clinton declared that the strikes were planned and executed for more important reasons and, this time, we must take him at his word.
LET'S BE sober about what has been achieved. Twelve years ago, the US launched a bombing raid on Libya. It succeeded in quieting Col Moammar Gadhafi for a time - but he's still around, still a sponsor of world terrorism. The missile assault on bin Laden's operation may well chill his efforts for a time but won't reverse the course of terrorism. As for timing, for now we'll take on faith that the president's domestic troubles had no impact on this initiative. To think otherwise is chilling in itself.
FOR MR Clinton the firm action against those who have taken American and other lives is a clear way of demonstrating that the institution of the US presidency is about much more than the first DNA test taken at the White House.
IN PROMOTING favourites Mr Blair has done nothing that many of his predecessors have not done: prime ministers have a natural urge to have those they know and trust about them. Indeed, this can make for effective government. But if pursued too relentlessly, cronyism can cocoon a leader from political reality and rob the government of talent. Mr Blair may not have crossed this line with his changes. Nonetheless, he has strayed close to it.
Detroit News Chronicle
AMERICA'S TERRORIST enemies do need to understand that America's domestic differences stop at the water's edge. When talk of impeachment was gathering strength during the Nixon administration in 1973, for example, a new Arab- Israeli war broke out, with the Soviet Union threatening to involve itself. Yet America rallied to Israel's defense. Likewise, this President's political and legal difficulties should not be read by others as a license to make America a target. The US, as a constitutional democracy, is bigger and more formidable than any one man, including the President himself.
Murdered for living in peace
THE BOMBING OF OMAGH
Opinions on the bombing by the Real IRA of a small market town, which left 28 dead and 330 injured.
The Boston Globe
THE WORST terrorist attack in 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland gets its special horror from the indiscriminate nature of the killings. The town of Omagh, 50 miles west of Belfast, is a relatively integrated community, with Catholics and Protestants striving to live together. Both Catholics and Protestants voted for the political settlement approved resoundingly in May. Both Catholics and Protestants were killed by those who would undermine the settlement.
That is the outrage: The dead apparently were not targeted because they were perceived as oppressors or separatists or in retribution for other violence but simply because they lived in peace.
The Irish Times
THE TWO governments are not immune from charges of tardiness. Perhaps after the pinnacle of the Agreement and the tensions of the Drumcree crisis an element of exhaustion or some loss of concentration came about. For what happened at Omagh was not unpredictable. The so-called "Real IRA" had already made six bombing attempts, of which the most recent was at Banbridge. Their murderous intent was clear and their capacity proven. There is nothing known about these people's intentions or capabilities which was not known before last Saturday.
It should not have taken the outrage at Omagh to mobilise the governments to action. The measures which are now to be taken - and they are almost certain to include new law - must be considered carefully and then put into place with speed and resolution.
The Daily Telegraph
IN ATTENDANCE at yesterday's funerals were Sinn Fein/IRA's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, as though it was the most normal thing in the world. Instead of being chased from the burial ground, they have garnered further publicity. If the gun is for ever to be taken out of Irish politics, then opprobrium must be heaped on all apologists for violence.
ADAMS, McGUINNESS and McLaughlin have taken their organisation a long way from the strategy of bombing as many British and Protestants as possible; they are enmeshing themselves in a democratic politics which, now, means media politics and at least some degree of transparency. They are close to losing their mandate of blood and soul. The real test - of a spiritual as well as a political denunciation - has yet to be passed.
MAKE NO mistake about it: Ulster is a far sicker place then Germany was after a dozen years of Nazi power. Two hundred years of institutional bigotry have made sure of that. Unless Mr Blair and Mr Ahern roll up their sleeves, it will be hard to prevent this bleeding ulcer from contaminating life in the rest of Ireland and perhaps eventually in parts of Britain, too.
THE MOST frustrating aspect of the Omagh bomb is that the authorities have evidently already established the identities of leading members of the Real IRA. In Northern Ireland, the eternal problem for the police has been to secure sufficient evidence to bring to justice those who were known to be behind various terrorist campaigns. Internment has been raised as an option, but it should be unnecessary to resort to a measure which has proved counter-productive and ineffective in the past.
The best means of ending the Real IRA's campaign is for the whole community to unite against this maverick organisation. The will of the people is the most effective weapon in a concerted drive against an organisation which has brought shame on Ireland.
The Irish News
THE ONLY way out of the abyss is via the Good Friday agreement. The need to work it has been strengthened by Omagh, not weakened. Sinn Fein and the Unionists will have to get around a table. The prisoner release programme will have to continue, despite the Paisleys', the Robinsons' and the Donaldsons' cheap shots at Mo Mowlam on the issue. The goal after Omagh must be the pursuit of justice, not vengeance, and, via the Belfast agreement, the achievement of a state of relationships within these islands wherein such a hideous catastrophe can never ever reoccur. (Tim Pat Coogan)
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S CONFESSION
Comments following Bill Clinton's televised address in which he spoke of having had an `inappropriate' relationship with Monica Lewinsky
The Sydney Morning Herald
AFTER PRESIDENT Clinton's extraordinary address to the American people, the most important question is whether it marks an end to something that has gone on far too long or the beginning of an even deeper descent into a debilitating political crisis. The US political system is a model of free and open democracy. But in this affair the central forces - the political parties, the media, the "moral majority" - within American democracy have produced a situation where the original cause is so out of proportion to its broad political effects, the world stands amazed.
THE WHOLE world was in the Map Room with Clinton, and it wasn't looking for a marital confession. It was looking for the proof of steadiness of nerves, critical competence, and intelligence. Or else, America would have wanted to see someone that, even by their tone of voice, realises the vastness of the disillusion to the public, even by asking: "Can I still govern?" In doing so, Clinton would have shown he understood the importance of this drama. None of these things happened. His four-minute address to the country was a sad and pathetic act from someone who thought he could lie and still easily get away with it.
IT SEEMS to the American liberal establishment that Clinton has lost an opportunity to say sorry unambiguously, to acknowledge his guilt and appeal with contrition to the people's good sense. On the contrary, the President, in line with his personality, wanted to pay the minimum political price for his indisputable error: "I didn't tell the whole truth, but I didn't lie." Only legalistic cynicism can reconcile these two proposals.
New York Times
HERE WAS a man of compassionate impulse and lofty ambition who went to Washington with every imaginable political skill except one. He seemed to think he was immune from a rule that leaps out from any reading of modern Presidencies. Everything comes to light sooner or later. Mr Clinton cannot stop the process of revelation in which he participated yesterday. By and by, we will see entire the lineaments of his fate and his standing among the Presidents. It can never be what he and the nation hoped, for he long ago chose to manipulate the narrative of his political life in such a way as to cripple trust.
Verdicts on this year's A-level exam results, released on Thursday
THE A-LEVEL results are out and Britain's kids have done it again. Another record year for passes is a cause for celebration. We are delighted that all the hard work and dedication paid off for so many teenagers. And parents will be pleased that the money they invested in home computers has paid off, too. All those hours surfing the Web were educational after all!
The Daily Telegraph
THE FACT is that subjects such as television studies and sport have no business masquerading as A-levels. They should be redesignated as vocational courses, and A-levels returned to being the purely academic qualifications they were originally designed as. All concerned, pupils and parents, schools and universities, would then know what each qualification was really worth. If A-levels are ever to be restored to the undisputed status they previously enjoyed, we must first be clear as to what they stand for.
WHAT OUGHT to be the "gold standard" of our school system has been eroded. This claim might have had some validity in other years. Not this time. The overall pass rate has gone up by an insignificant 0.2 per cent. Hardly galloping erosion. We congratulate all who have done well. And hope they go on to do even better.
THERE IS still hope for those who think they have missed the mark. Of those who started as undergraduates last year, 54,401 gained their places through clearing. So even to those for whom this morning brings disappointment, the message must be: don't give up hope.
GLENN HODDLE'S BOOK ABOUT THE WORLD CUP
Comments on the England football coach's publication of a book
detailing his conversations with players during the World Cup
HOW CAN Lancaster Gate now threaten anyone this season with bringing the game into disrepute after the revelations in Glen Hoddle's new book? Chris Sutton, Gazza, Alex Ferguson and others were all slagged off by the current England coach in a book co-written with the FA's David Davies. He may have the title but a kiss-and-tell book while in office will hardly give him the respect of those playing under him.
WHAT A load of old tosh Glen Hoddle does talk. His memoirs of the World Cup are filled with paeans of praise for faith-healer Eileen Drewery - at one point he compares her to Christ - and he reckons that had she accompanied the England squad to France, the outcome would have been different. Really? So how come when David Beckham consulted her about a problem with his calf, it ended up with an uncontrollable twitch? (Carol Sarler)
HODDLE HAS prevailed, not by moral rightness but by the power of a good performance. It is the only way to acquire moral stature in a culture that looks to television for its moral lead. You can do anything you like, inappropriate, or flagrantly immoral: but, if you can still look the camera in the eye and put on a decent show, you will never lose. (Simon Barnes)
The Daily Telegraph
HODDLE MUST be naive to think the players might accept his invitation to tell him if they dislike the book. What Hoddle has inevitably lost is some dignity and trust which may undermine the Euro 2000 campaign. (David Miller)
The Evening Standard
YOUR COUNTRY needs you, Glenn Hoddle but it needs you most to win football matches. It doesn't need you to be a great author, diarist or instigator of protracted controversies. All we ask is that you win the matches that matter - like the ones against Romania and Argentina in France in June. (Michael Hart)
FILM OF THE WEEK
Reviews of the film version of `The X-Files'
The Daily Telegraph
THE X-FILES is more than passable fun, for all its modish millennial angst. Both stars look in their element on a 50ft screen - the low-key Duchovny, especially, looks as though he has a glowing future in movies. One could say the same for The X-Files itself, clearly being positioned as a future franchise along the lines of Star Trek films (its ending hints none too gently at possible sequels). But things could be worse: did you really want to see Godzilla II?
THE FILM'S influences lie somewhere between All the President's Men and Superman, and it should attract a wider audience because of that. The X-Files, we now see, is what happens when Nixon's children grow up. Because the film's uniformed protocol is so well played, it's easy to miss the fact that it is based on a presupposed belief in the paranormal by all parties. The question is never whether aliens exist (though of course the audience is inclined to side with the believer heroes). The issue is that some people are open about their belief (or knowledge), and some people are covering it up.
WITH A narrative that's gone bonkers, you never know what's coming next, and there are a number of delicious surprises in store for the unwary. There's fun to have from the teaser storyline, and plenty of movie references to tick off, though the major mystery remains why the dark forces don't just shoot Mulder and Scully and be done with it. Guess that would harm a very obvious sequel opportunity. (Trevor Johnston)
Quotes of the Week
"For some people, sex is the main reason for going to work. I sometimes wondered whether any work was being done at all."
Jean Civil, a psychoanalyst who has spent seven years studying sex in the workplace
"It's fair to say this is not the best day of her life."
Marsha Berry, Hillary Clinton's press secretary, on the day the President confessed his infidelity on TV
"In France we tried to make films like The Full Monty, but they were just boring. It was people on the dole eating soup."
Daniel Auteuil, French actor
"There are a lot of people in Sweden in my situation. I have to clean out my kidneys and liver, and they should do the same."
Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea
"It is a place of indescribable grief - a land of shadow and appalling pain, for which there are no words."
Shane Bradely, Buncana parish priest, at a funeral for three child victims of the Omagh bombing
EVEN THOUGH Zambia is a poor country which is now dependent on alms, certain minimum standards of self-respect ought to be observed. Such ceremonies as the handover of kitchen utensils at Lusaka Central Prisons yesterday are ridiculous, demeaning and troubling. They raise questions of whether the Zambian government is serious or has been seized by a particularly virulent form of mental paralysis. The utensils that the Swedes bought for the prison are highly appreciated, and Zambians have no right to be ungrateful. But they are items which the Ministry of Home Affairs can buy any day from its own resources even with the economic problems the country is going through.
DESPITE THE fact that Lord Gautam Buddha was born in Nepal, the truth has been overshadowed and Nepal has been unable to attract Buddhist tourists to this country. Over 500 million Buddhist people live in Asia alone. Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc have a majority Buddhist population. Even taxi drivers in Thailand show great interest in Buddha.
WHILE MANY young Japanese wish to get married, some tend to spend their twenties working and playing so hard that they have little time to find a partner. This may leave them wondering how to find a spouse later in life. Japan Marriage System can provide a solution - a go-between service helping those who wish to find marriage partners. Changes in society mean that commercial matchmaking services are springing up alongside their traditional counterparts.
FEW PEOPLE have neutral feelings about the 1970s. In North America many people describe this period as an era of great excitement, that is, big afros; funky bell-bottom trousers; wide, high-heeled shoes; and rousing disco music. For others, it is a period best forgotten along with its outlandish fashions, loud annoying music and the little it offered by way of creative cultural ideas.