Saturday, 23 February 2013

United States Power and Italy's Choices

President Obama sent for the president of Italy last week.  Dressed up as a farewell visit at the end of Napolitano's remit and an expression of esteem, the discussions will have been centred on two obvious matters: the conviction and condemnation to prison terms of 27 Americans who, as members of the CIA arranged and carried out the rendition of a man from the streets of Milan for torture, who are now subject to immediate arrest and imprisonment if they set foot anywhere in Europe; and the status of the Italian peninsula as one of the most important US bases in the world outside of the United States itself.

We know President Obama asked President Napolitano to pardon the CIA men and women.  This was a particularly disgusting group of CIA operatives because they treated the entire 'operation' as an opportunity for taking their various squeezes at public expense on a holiday to Italy with delivering-up their victim to torture as a convenient justification for their free frolics.  To our shame Napolitano said he had to think about it.  What does he need to think about?  "No." is the only clean reply.

On the second subject of discussion a more vivid demonstration of the centrality of the Italian Peninsula for war in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa  could not be imagined than the ousting of Gadaffi.  The RAF was flying (some of the time) from England and the French flew some sorties direct, but almost everything was really based in Italy at the strategic US bases here. 

President Obama  would be derelict in his duties if he wasn't putting in place arrangements, indeed confirming arrangements already in place and prioritising them, for any electoral outcome.  But Obama's duty is not necessarily our interest.  It can be made our interest, of course.    Italy has a fine tourist industry that can accommodate even the armed forces of the United States.  We expect to be paid.  And not in the devalued, over printed dollars of the Obama presidency.  The problem is that what President Napolitano wants and what the people of Italy want are no longer the same thing.

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