Italy and the Taliban
Ah, the Italians. You've gotta love them. The Times of London reports that they paid off the Taliban in 2008, so that they would have peace in the area of Afghanistan that is patrolled by their soldiers. What an eminently practical idea. There's no real sentiment among the Italians for the war in Afghanistan, yet the Italian government probably feels compelled to participate. No doubt the US government has bullied them into that position, so they have responded in a thoroughly reasonable fashion.
What else can you expect though? This is the land of the Medicis, the land where double-entry bookkeeping was invented. They understand they value of money, and though corruption is everywhere, the Italians seem to have made an art of it. One may not approve of such corruption, but what the hell? We Americans are as bad. We're just damned hypocrites is all. I will never forget a 60 Minutes segment from the 1980's. I don't recall the topic that was being addressed, but it involved corruption in Washington DC. They reported that a Japanese diplomat said that doing business in the United States was like doing business in Indonesia. You just had to know who to pay off and how much. The politicians interviewed by the 60 Minutes folks were outraged by that remark and it probably seemed controversial to a lot of folks back then. Subsequent history though, it's been a bitch. The proof of that statement can't be doubted by anyone who observes politics in the United States with a clear eye.
Italy may be the land of the payoff and the 18-year-old girl friend. (That's right, Prime Minister Berlusconi who would qualify for Medicare in the US, has an 18-year-old girl friend.) However, the US is the land of the deluded prig. I watched this documentary called The American Ruling Class. It was pretty tame and I don't particulary recommend it. However, in the course of the film, they interviewed James Baker. He sat there with a straight face and said the world was better off with the US as the dominant military power, a power that our government wasn't afraid to use. In other words, he was saying that we are the good guys and, when we engage in military action, it's because it's the right thing to do. It is to our misfortune that a very large segment of the US population agrees with that opinion.
So, what to do about Afghanistan? I certainly wouldn't like to see the people there abandoned to fanatics like the Taliban. On the other hand, I sure as hell wouldn't want to see their fate in the hands of the puppet Karzai and the American military. Unfortunately, it would seem to be the case that, no matter what happens, those folks are well and truly fucked.