Thursday, September 21, 2006

Perspective on Iraq (from Italy)

Below is a translation of a post from the forum 'Italians' on the Corriere della Sera site. The writer, Alex Garattoni, addresses his thoughts to Beppe Severgnini, a famous journalist and writer, ex-Italian correspondent of The Economist and moderator of the forum.

In your reply to MTC, you maintain that the Italy of 1945 was different from the Iraq of today because then "there weren't Shi'ites and Sunnis mauling each other". Humph, technically, bang on, there were no Shi'ites and Sunnis around then...but, we had communists, ex-fascists, partisans, whites, Actionists, Titoist partisans, monarchists, republicans, etc. And they weren't mauling each other? I beg to differ.

Until 1948, Italy was much worse than today's Iraq, with many more deaths. Just think of the foibe [sinkholes in the Kras region, shared by Italy and Slovenia - Tito's forces when they entered Venezia Giulia and Dalmatia in 1943 slaughtered an unknown number of people (from 2,000 to 20,000) and threw the bodies into the foibe], or what my region (Emilia-Romagna) did to deserve the nickname Triangle of Death. This went on at a lower level of intensity, what with a fascist outrage here and a communist reprisal there, a murder or three ... you could say it went on until the fall of the Berlin Wall. It took 8 years, from Italy's entrance into the war in 1940 to the elections in 1948 for some degree of public security to be attained and we'd only had 20 years of dictatorship and had already lived through a form of democracy before that. It's been 3 years in Iraq, after how many years of dictatorship - 30 for Saddam, but he only dethroned another dictator. What would they even know of political pluralism? Without considering the natural aversion of Islamic cultures to any tolerance of those who think differently about anything? If we look at things as they are, we realise that it would have been impossible to pacify Iraq in 3 years. How long have we got there?

Ask yourself what would have happened, in 1945, the war barely over, if the Anglo-American forces had abandoned us to our fate. My hypothesis: after years of civil war, we would have ended up in the hands of the Soviets.

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