Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Will Italy Run Too? 

Just received the news about the murder of one of the Italian hostages in Iraq (via Winds of Change, but since WoC got the news from al-Jazzera, this needed independent confirmation). Sick. Just plain sick.

The terrorists are being beaten back. I often thought of the previous kidnapping strategy, where it seemed that hostages getting away as much as getting nabbed, as a "revolving door" strategy: when a store's door keeps spinning, it seems like there's lots of ingoing traffic. But the business is dying and the noose is getting tight, so the militias have to up the ante. The effect of killing hostages will depend on a multitude of factors: compare the response to terror by America and Australia to the response by Spain. So it's too soon for me to say how the Italian government will react, although Berlusconi is stating that he'll hold firm.

Berlusconi's an interesting character. By appearances, I would say that calling Berlusconi "unscrupulous" would not be a far stretch by Anglosphere standards (Continental standards are more lax; see Chirac, Jacques). But if he really is who he seems to be, Berlusconi would be the last person to join in on the Iraq enterprise, a venture with distant long run benefits but extremly costly in the short run and a big political liability. And I don't see many benefits in terms of the power struggle in the EU: regardless of America's distain for the Franco-German Axis, its preferred policy is to work above the EU, not to get tangled within it. So the fact that Berlusconi is still determined to stay the course is a sign that people are probably a lot more complex than they appear.
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