- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Corriere della Sera

Iran nuclear crisis

MILAN, Italy — The international community keeps wondering why oil-rich Iran — with at least 4 million barrels extracted each day — should really need nuclear energy only for economic purposes.

Instead of being persuasive, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims the world is jumping to conclusions about his intentions and his country is being discriminated against, in comparison with other countries with nuclear power.

Such threats or claims … do not mean that Tehran, when and if it builds the [nuclear] bomb, will go so far as to risk a suicidal nuclear challenge. After such a conflict, it’s evident that Iran could be wiped out by inevitable and overwhelming retaliation.

Nevertheless, for the sole reason of having atomic weapons, it would be easy for Tehran to permanently upset the entire geopolitical and strategic scene from the Persian Gulf to the Middle East.

Asahi Shimbun

Rising oil prices

TOKYO — Oil prices have been climbing relentlessly, from around $20 per barrel in the second half of the 1990s to the current $70 range. Even after adjustments for inflation, oil prices are now at levels not seen since the second oil crisis at the end of the 1970s.

Japan’s economy could run out of steam before long if the corporate sector, the main engine of recovery over the past couple of years, takes a big hit from more costly oil.

If so, the course of the economy in coming months will need to be vigorously monitored. Even more pronounced price growth would not spell an end to deflation, if it is caused mainly by high-flying oil prices and doesn’t really reflect any improvement of the economic fundamentals.

At the same time, higher oil prices could revive public awareness of the importance of energy-saving technology and provide strong incentives to develop new technologies for cutting back on energy consumption.

The Age

Steve Irwin’s death

MELBOURNE, Australia — This should not have been the script: Steve Irwin, dead at 44. This should have been the script: Steve Irwin, wildlife besotted to the end, lived a long and happy life. But that’s the trouble with life, and death; they run to no one’s script.

Mr. Irwin, who died Monday from a stingray barb to the chest while snorkeling, would have known better than anyone the risks of his endeavors. His life was immersed in the lives of creatures that were not beholden to rules … be it crocodiles, snakes, whales or stingrays. …

And yet by following this life into the world of the untamed, he sucked in millions of people, not only in Australia but around the world to follow him. It was visceral for him; it was vicarious for us. …

In Australia, he has been remembered as larger than life, the larrikin writ large. In Australian folklore, the larrikin holds a special place. Part-mischievous, part-irresponsible, part-loveable, part-incorrigible, part-self-promoting, the larrikin is free of malice, but full of mirth.

The Times

China’s government and press

LONDON — China’s political leadership is largely unknown to outsiders and still a mystery to most Chinese. There is a generational change taking place at a time of exceptional economic growth. The interview given by Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, to the Times … before his forthcoming visit to Britain, Germany and Finland, offers an insight into what disturbs those at the top of the Communist Party. …

[Mr. Wen] admits openly that endemic corruption is now a pressing problem that is not merely a threat to China’s economic development but is the cause of enormous popular resentment. …

Mr. Wen should indeed be very concerned about official corruption. He and … his comrades would help their own cause if they saw independent media as allies, not rivals. An assertive press would have, and in some cases has already shown, every incentive to investigate and to reveal abuse of office.

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