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Europe

European Press Review: Brawn over Brains?

From strong arm tactics on the silver screen to equally muscular shows of strength in the political arena, the European press focussed on Arnold Schwarzenegger, George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon on Wednesday.

Not for the first time in history did the editorial pages of the European press read a little bit like the entertainment section, mainly due to the fact that most couldn’t stop talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger, the action hero turned governor of California.

Writing in the style of a cinema film critic, La Tribune from France said it expected Schwarzenegger to swoop down and save the state's economy. Californian voters wanted someone to balance the budget, hold or even drop taxes and still improve performance in education, health, infrastructure and public safety, the paper wrote. Such a heroic feat in tough economic times needs a heroic character, it continued, and added that Schwarzenegger could pull the Californians through. La Tribune stated that Schwarzenegger could be another Ronald Reagan, a man who carried his economic revolution from the Golden State to the White House twenty years ago.

However, Moscow paper The Kommersant was much more grounded about the election of Schwarzenegger. It sternly pointed out that "The Terminator" is the perfect embodiment of U.S. foreign policy. Arnold’s appointment was the epitome of the world power’s philosophy of saving humanity from evil. That means international terrorism, said the Kommersant and added that in politics, nobody should be allowed to play "Terminator".

The editorial of Le Courier Picard from Ameins traveled from the deserts of California to the deserts of Iraq, the future destination of Turkish troops. The Turkish government has agreed to send troops to the country and the paper made it clear that it thought the Americans were taking a big risk by welcoming the Turkish forces. The paper supported its view by stating that the Kurds in the north of Iraq had already warned America that they wouldn't put up with Turkish troops in Iraq. Time will tell, the paper said, if that move turns out to be a big mistake.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung from Munich was of the view that U.S. attempts to save Iraq from dictatorship may escalate and lead the whole Middle East region into war, considering the mounting tensions in neighboring Israel. President Bush saw the war as a necessary evil on the way to peace, the paper added, but the truth is, the war has led to chaos and not to stability. The Middle East is notorious for its complex inner workings and connected troubles, said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and little fires in Israel and Iraq could soon lead to the whole region being consumed by a single huge, raging inferno.

But if Bush isn't the superhero of the Middle East, neither is Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, according to the Norwegian paper Aftenposten. In fact, while the paper discussed the recent attack on a target in Syria and asked if Sharon was at all interested in implementing America's road map to peace, it appeared to paint the Likud leader as a super villain. His history and his ideology go against peace, the paper commented. The fact is, said the Aftenposten, Sharon is on top of a coalition government, and a lot of parties in that government would never accept the two-state solution of the road map. The paper believed that what is materializing now is a systematic policy of destroying every attempt at negotiation.