We look at Putin's confusion over white ribbons and condoms, the latest lapse in the Entente Cordiale, and the official ceremony marking the end of the war in Iraq. That's the focus for this look at the world press, Friday 16th December 2011.
The International Herald Tribune leads with a photo of American troops bowing their heads in prayer at Baghdad airport at a ceremony marking the end of the Iraq War. The paper says that “after nearly nine years, Iraq is still shattered and marred by violence and political dysfunction”. A cartoon in the UK paper The Independent shows US President Barack Obama taking down the flag, which turns out to be George W. Bush floating in the wind. Obama does that standing on a pile of skulls. Online, a tweet by Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich says that “as the war officially ends, it’s important to remember how it began based on lies and falsehoods. Never again”.
News of Russia’s surprise UN resolution on Syria came too late for papers but there is plenty of coverage of anti-Putin sentiment in Russia itself. The Guardian has a piece pillorying the Russian Prime Minister. The paper says that in a four and a half hour television phone-in to the nation on Thursday he started out trying “to take credit for the spontaneous expression of discontent”, then dismissed the white ribbons being used by protesters as looking to him like condoms. He then ended by “blaming all problems on the West”. Internet-savvy protesters posted a mock picture of Putin with a condom on his chest online, which became a web hit in minutes, the paper says.
The Moscow Times says the State Duma elections were “among the dirtiest ever and also among the most Soviet”. It says Putin’s arguments that protests are part of a western plan to weaken Russia are “too similar to the crude conspiracy theories that dominated Soviet propaganda for 70 years”.
The China Daily, a Chinese government mouthpiece - in its cartoon - is not so keen on the US doing some bear-bashing. That’s the Russian bear. The cartoon shows Uncle Sam beating one with ballot boxes.
And from bear-bashing to Brit-bashing. The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo fuelled anti-British sentiment on Thursday with a cover asking: “Who wants the English in Europe?” along with a not very nice stereotype of a British couple. This current lapse in the Entente Cordiale is linked, of course, to the Cameron veto on a new EU treaty aimed at solving the eurozone debt crisis.
Britain’s The Daily Telegraph bounces back with a front page lead saying: “France declares war of words on Britain”. That’s after Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer said the British economy is in a worse state than France’s and so was a better candidate for a credit ratings agency downgrade from triple-A. In the spirit of "1,000 Years of Annoying the French", the Telegraph’s cartoon shows a Brit holding up a torch on the White Cliffs of Dover telling his wife: “Hey, I’ve got a Triple A Battery. I’m reminding the French of our credit rating”. So much for neighbourly relations.