Many thanks to John Rosenthal. Glad to find another Italianist around, and I’m looking forward to his review of my forthcoming book on Naples, which he’ll be able to cherish in a few months. Of course Foreign Minister Frattini, like his European colleagues, doesn’t want to do anything and invokes the wrongheaded doctrine of “non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.” Especially when Italy is the other country’s leading trading partner. No surprise there. Italy has long had a very flexible foreign policy, and in modern wars has invariably ended up on the winning side, regardless of the starting position (and, for extras, has often privately counseled very solid policies while adopting a very different politically correct stance in public).
Europe has a brave Libya policy, which Obama has adopted in full: hope for the best and click your tongue. Meanwhile, the need to actually do something has supporters in the Italian media. Try this, for example, in Italy’s version of the Wall Street Journal.
As for evil people with guns joining the anti-Qadhafi forces, I know, I know. They’re coming from many wonderful places like Zimbabwe and Sudan, and they’d kill me and John if they could, never mind their current targets. It’s bad over there, made worse by the West’s refusal to realize that we are at war and to work for regime change. I agree that there is no attractive “big” option, which is what happens when you shirk your responsibilities for decades, as we have famously done with Iran and Syria, etc etc.
Part of the reason we have so little leverage is that so many American leaders, from President Obama on up, have spent more time apologizing for real and imagined past sins than in advancing freedom. If you never act to support your friends, your enemies take the initiative.
But that’s no reason to just bemoan our current plight, which is odds-on to get worse, and to continue to analyze delusional speeches from the tyrants, promising, one fine day, to do something. And stopping the slaughter of civilians with military aircraft is little enough. It is morally virtuous and would demonstrate a (small) revival of will. That might pay dividends a bit later, when we will, alas, most likely face dilemmas far graver than this one.
So hell, yes, I’m serious. Faster, please!