April 27, 2011

Bombing Libya

 Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis
Certainly it was quite unavoidable, but Italy’s decision to send its warplanes on missions to bomb Libya “has not been easy,” as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi admitted during a joint press conference in Rome with French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Not by chance, in fact, for weeks Italy has resisted joining the air missions over Libya. The official reason for this reluctance was that, as the former colonial ruler in Libya, the political cost of causing casualties was too high. But the truth is that, first of all, Italy is the North African country’s biggest trading partner, and second of all, both many conservative members of the government and opinion leaders across the Country are doubtful about this whole thing. There is no substantial likelihood, according to them, that the rebels are better than Gaddafi—which is not to say that Gaddafi is a good guy, on the contrary, the fear is that the rebels are even worse than him.

Are they too pessimistic? Perhaps yes, perhaps no, it depends on too many variables—what do we really know about these rebels? Well, that’s the problem, at least in my humble opinion—but I would like to be optimistic, that’s for sure…

Be it as it may, what is certain is that Berlusconi will now have to calm tensions with his key Northern League coalition partner which has threatened to make the government collapse if Italy conducts lethal attacks on Libya.


  1. It's natural that Berlusconi couldn't jump in from the start, and commendable that he has decided to do so at this critical stage.

    It's a dangerous illusion to prefer the devil one knows. There's no reason, yet, to have any doubts about the true aspirations of the majority of Libyans. It's not likely that after suffering from the dated tyranny of the Gaddafi regime, the Libyans would be inclined to replace it with a Islamic totalitarian regime.

    It's ironic that John McCain feels he should make a personal visit to Libya, and above all, to declare that the democratic world should recognise the National Delegation of Libyan Transition, when Obama still seems reluctant to do so. After having categorically stated that 'Gaddafi must go', his lack of further political commitment to this end is another example of his incoherence.

  2. “Give to us the gas, to them the milk.” Thus (http://tinyurl.com/6yqd7lx) the Italian newspaper Il Tempo synthesized what’s the deal between France and Italy was all about. At the end, realpolitik prevailed. Read here to learn more about the whole milk thing: http://tinyurl.com/5s5ozga

  3. I see what you mean Rob..
    But this doesn't diminish the importance of a more pronounced Italian military commitment in Libya.

  4. You raise a good point. Who knows if the rebels are any better? Watching the news today, I'm struck by what a tragedy it is once again to see a country devastated by war. The destruction is horrific.There seems to be no easy answer.