Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Nasiriyah In Focus Again, Unfortunately 

I think it's only coincidence that Nasiriyah is the site of the latest anti-Coalition attack while Pfc. Jessica Lynch is in the midst of a lot of media coverage. But it's something that came to mind while thinking about this latest attack.

It's not every day that Italians and war come together in our minds. After all, they've ceased to make any prominent military contributions since WWII. But I'm still immensely thankful for their contribution in Iraq nonetheless.

Now, AFAIK, Italians have yet to establish any reputation of great courage in the face of immense danger (not because they are cowards, but they don't seem to have faced the sort of tributations that the British handled so well and the French so pathetically). But throughout the entire debate on Iraq before the war, and up to now, I've been impressed by PM Berlusconi's firm position on the issue.

For someone whose reputation is a slippery, shady businessman, he's shown a lot of backbone. Maybe it's just media bias, or maybe Italians have a pessimistic view of politicans in general, or both, or something else. But whatever it is, Berlusconi's been as strong on the importance of liberating Iraq as Bush, Blair, Howard, or Anzar. That is enough to earn my respect.

His political opponents, on the other hand, either don't understand the significance of Iraq and the importance of every country's contribution, or they do but wouldn't care.
"It is immoral to put the lives of thousands of young Italians at risk for Bush's pre-emptive wars," declared Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, who heads the Greens. "We need to pull out our troops immediately."

Pietro Folena of the main opposition party, the Democrats of the Left, said, "The Italian servicemen must come home. It is the right thing to do now."

More moderate opposition groups were calling for a U.N. peace force to replace the coalition. Francesco Rutelli, who heads the Daisy (Margarita) party, said, "Today is not the time for critical reflection, which will come over the next few days about the Italian presence, on the aim of the mission, on the need for a U.N. force."
Okay then, Sig. Rutelli, who will be in this UN force of yours? And give me some good reasons why they won't get attacked.

No answer? Yah, I thought so.

And since this attack happened in Nasiriyah, some distance from the Sunni Triangle, I'm sure some of us (myself including) are asking: is the violence spreading? Well, it's clear that the terrorists are trying to spread it, but I'll let the Iraqis speak for themselves:
In Nasiriya, the common attitude was grief for the Italians and support for the occupation forces. Reporters were assured that the attackers had to have come from the north, or perhaps from Islamic fundamentalist groups elsewhere in southern Iraq. On street corners, and in homes as much as a mile from the blast where doors were blown out and wrought-iron window grills buckled, people competed with one another to say that they did not want the attacks to drive coalition forces from Iraq.
This is why I'm not concerned about any significant spread of violence to the south. Unlike, say, Fallujah, nobody supports these bastards, and as Mao might call them, they'd be a fish out of water.

Nonetheless, the United States must do its part to strike back at the enemy. Changes are undoubtedly necessary, whether a change in tactics or troop number. I'm inclined to believe the former (what good are more troops doing the same thing as the troops already there?), but both may be necessary. I think the recent set of airstrikes are a good sign of tactical changes, but I'm hoping that this is based on the Israeli model (shoot to kill) than the pre-9/11 US model (shoot to scare, or maybe to annoy).

In any case, I'll be doing my best to show my support by eating and buying more Italian. No offense to the Americans, Brits, Aussies or Poles, but for once I feel that I can satisfy my moral and indulgent tastes at the same time.
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