Europe's newspaper commentary on Thursday went from the battlefields of Najaf, Iraq to Internet search engine Google's initial public offering.
Il Messaggero from Rome wanted to know, "if we can believe Moqtada Sadr," the radical Shiite cleric who promised his army would finally give up the holy site in Najaf, which has been surrounded by US forces for almost a month. The paper supposed the promise may be "just another move in the chess game which has been going on for two weeks." Wednesday "should have been the day of reckoning in Najaf," the paper said. "Instead it led to a ceasefire." The paper went on to warn readers, "The attention being paid to that cease-fire in Najaf shouldn't make us forget that there is still more fighting and death in other parts of the country."
La Repubblica, also from Rome, said Sadr is facing two challenges: first from the "occupiers" and second "from the current Shiite leadership." The paper wrote that Sadr's goal "isn't just to end the occupation, but to realign the power relationships and religious structure of the Iraqi Shiite community." In that task, the paper pointed out, he is influenced by the "Iranian model" in which "one hand is active in the social and political sector, while the other holds a weapon." The paper's analysis of Sadr is that he has "brought together the ragged proletariat and a new militant tradition, in the style of Ayatollah Khomeini."
There were mixed reactions in the European papers to the massive price cut in the stock auction of Internet search engine Google. The Financial Times of London took a look at the unconventional Internet auction system Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin tried to put in place for public stock offering. The paper admitted "Google certainly did little to help the IPO, with a series of gaffes," but it's not the auction system's fault. "Investors had a chance to assess Google coolly without the normal background din of irrational exuberance," the paper wrote. "There are many reasons for the price cut, but the auction is not among them."
The French paper Liberation wrote: "The Google universe is an expression of the herd instinct. It's populated by stars, vain people, and those who are obsessed with sex and conspiracy theories." The paper reflected that "in this consumer market of information, it is the popular that is given importance, rather than the dependable or the fruitful." Internet search engines, according to Liberation, "are just mental crutches... they make our daily life easier but they don't make us any less stupid."