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  • National Trauma
    Posted by Nicholas Fiorenza 4:32 PM on Sep 22, 2009

    I just got off the plane from Italy, which has been experiencing a national trauma over the deaths of six paratroopers of the Folgere airborne brigade in Kabul last week. Italian and EU flags are at half mast and even President Silvio Berlusconi's first reaction to the bombing was to cast doubt about his country's continuing involvement in Afghanistan.

    The funeral of the six Italian soldiers was televised live yesterday, as was the return of their mortal remains on Sunday. The Pope sent condolences and the ceremony was interrupted by a peace activist shouting "Peace now!"

    Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini is taking a more balanced view which still envisages an eventual withdrawal. La Stampa newspaper carries the headline "Frattini: We won't stay in Afghanistan forever, there should be a roadmap." Speaking to journalists on the plane to the UN General Assembly in New York, Frattini said that Italy, which holds the rotating chair of the G8 industrial nations, is seeking a consensus for the international conference of foreign ministers to be held in Kabul by the end of the year. "We are beginning to work on concrete things to put in black and white what we expect from the Afghan government and what we can offer," La Stampa quotes him as saying. "We have to explain to the publics of our countries what the new strategy is."

    With the death of the six Italian soldiers, that public is wobbling in Italy, as it is in Germany, which is also calling for a roadmap. With Italy heading International Security Assistance Force troops in western Afghanistan (and Germany in the north), this is not a good sign.

    Tags: ar99, Italy, Afghanistan

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