What the foreign papers are saying.
Jan. 10 1998 3:30 AM

The word "Enough," splashed across the front page of the Algerian government newspaper El Moudjahid, referred not, as one might have expected, to the continuing massacres by Islamic extremists, which are reported to have claimed at least 600 dead since the holy month of Ramadan began Dec. 30, but to the agitation the killings have provoked in western Europe and the United States. "Only Paris has no Algeria plan," ran a headline in Germany's Die Welt over a story about France's fear of offending its former North African colony.


Everyone else was urging Algeria to agree to an international commission of inquiry, an offer that it angrily rejected. El Moudjahid suggested that the countries trying to meddle in Algerian affairs "begin by worrying about the terrorists they harbour and protect in their own territories in the name of the right of asylum and the rights of man."

The Vatican's official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano (ignoring the murder of a gentleman-in-waiting to the pope, which was given big play in all other European newspapers because of its apparent homosexual overtones), called for "a clear and decisive intervention" in Algeria to stop the massacres from sliding into "genocide." Most of the press in the Arab world remained silent on the subject, an exception being the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, which appealed to Algiers "to accept the offers of Arab countries and to co-operate with them to study ways of pursuing the authors of these terrorist crimes."

On the subject of terrorist crimes, the Daily Telegraph of London carried an op-ed feature by former Washington correspondent and veteran conspiracy theorist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (whose Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories was reviewed in Slate) under the headline "The Oklahoma Bomb: has justice been done?" It claimed that the Justice Department and the FBI had deliberately covered up the fact that the bombing had been a broad conspiracy, involving several other people, in order--for unexplained reasons--to put all the blame for it on Terry Nichols and Tim McVeigh.

In an editorial opposite this piece, the conservative Daily Telegraph noted that even the meltdown of the Asian financial system had failed to stem the fall in the price of gold, and said: "The insatiable demand for dollars, and for dollar instruments backed by Washington, is a defining vote of confidence in the American political economy." "The US economy now rules supreme, vindicating the chaotic dynamism of American culture, so much better suited to the technologies of the 1990s than the dirigiste and over-regulated system of Japan," it added. "But some of the credit, at least, must go to Alan Greenspan, who has re-asserted the primacy of the US Federal Reserve, which he chairs, by pursuing a monetary policy of near-perfect calibration for the past decade."

Across the English Channel, the influential Le Monde said that nothing seemed able to stop "the financial torment of Asia," which was now poised to claim China as its next victim unless there was a "rapid and collective reaction" by the international community. "Like the Titanic, Asia seems to be sinking inexorably into crisis," its alarmist editorial continued. "There is a vicious circle from which one can see no way out."

Titanic--James Cameron's $200-million movie, that is--opened in continental Europe this week to rave reviews, with Le Monde describing it (under the headline "The world's most beautiful melodrama between Belfast and New York") as one of "the masterpieces of the 1990s." Germany's Die Welt was equally enthusiastic and commented, "This Titanic is unsinkable."

Warm praise was bestowed by the left-leaning Paris newspaper Libération on the often derided paintings by Sir Winston Churchill, of which the auction house Sotheby's staged an exhibition in London this week. "The old lion had some paw," it said. "Without going as far as the Times [of London], which likened some of his paintings to Monet on a bad day, the exhibition shows the work of a real artist," Libération added. The press in Britain agreed that Churchill had anyway far outstripped Adolf Hitler in artistic talent.

The most widely published photograph across western Europe was of Mohammed al Fayed, the Egyptian owner of the London department store Harrods (and now-never-to-be father-in-law of Princess Diana), holding on his head a diamond and platinum coronet that had been reduced in the Harrods sale from $400,000 to just under $300,000. He was standing in at the opening of the sale for the actress and singer Cher, who had pulled out after the death of her former husband and stage partner Sonny Bono. (Click here for the spin on Bono's fatal skiing accident.)