The July 28 deaths of two Italian soldiers in Herat, Afghanistan—occurring shortly after the most recent Wikileaks deluge—prompted an article entitled “Obama’s ‘Just War’ is Already Lost” in the Italian daily La Repubblica, in which Italy’s involvement in said conflict is described as follows:
We Italians are in Afghanistan for America. But the Americans are no longer sure about the reasons they thought they were there… Our [other] allies have understood this and… [are] all in search of a way out and an exit date from the Afghan trap. As for us, we remain hitched to a crazed convoy with various derailed [components].”
The two casualties in Herat bring the total number of Italian troop losses in Afghanistan to 29 since the start of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in 2004. As for other victims of Italian government policies, a former small business owner named Eugenio complained to me the other day in Rome that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was “killing us without actually killing us”, and attributed the closure of his small business to the fact that Berlusconi was only in favor of the existence of large businesses that he himself owned. Eugenio additionally suggested that enthusiastic Italian endorsement of counterproductive international undertakings by the United States was presumably rendered easier by the tendency in Italy to spurn actual news in favor of musical television programs about current grocery prices.
Italian variations on War on Terror tactics such as domestic wiretapping have meanwhile added to the feud between Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of the lower house and the cofounder with Berlusconi of the People of Freedom movement (PdL). Fini’s opposition to Berlusconi’s apparent conviction that the freedom of the people will be gravely infringed upon if the press is permitted to freely report wiretap transcripts implicating him and his colleagues in criminal and other dubious behavior has fueled Berlusconi’s accusation that Fini is attempting to orchestrate the “slow death” of the PdL and has aroused speculation that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano may be called on to form an interim government until new elections are held. Eugenio of Rome has downplayed such a threat, however, arguing that the exaggerated occupation of the political spotlight by the Prime Minister has resulted in a situation in which perhaps even Napolitano himself is not aware that he is President of the Republic.
As for the debate over how much awareness should be permitted the citizenry, La Repubblica reports that the released Wikileaks documents regarding Italy—such as one obtained from the U.S. embassy in Rome—reveal that, during Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s term in 2007, more Italian troops and equipment were promised for Afghanistan with the stipulation that discussions of the promise were not to be made public due to “Italian political sensitivity vis-à-vis the ISAF mission”. CNN meanwhile summed up the clarity of the mission and the continued concern for political sensitivity—as well as for the deaths of things other than conservative political alliances—in September 2009:
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said it would be ‘best’ for the country’s troops to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible after six were killed in a car bombing in Kabul.
‘There is no idea,’ Berlusconi said about a possible date for leaving Afghanistan.”