Italian government falls

Prodi's broad coalition in Italy has collapsed*. The trigger was a failed vote on Italy's participation in the NATO Afghanistan force and the construction of a new US military base in Vicenza.

Various commentators will have their opinions, and much of the blame is already being levelled at Rifondazione, the communist party in Prodi's government. Communists always make good punching bags, it is true, but a good portion of the blame should be assigned to Prodi himself and, especially, Massimo D'Alema, the foolish (ex-) foreign minister.

First, D'Alema was the one who made the vote into a vote of confidence when it wasn't intended as such. Naturally, the far-right, led by the reprehensible and criminal Berlusconi, happily picked up on this when the vote failed. Second, and much more important, D'Alema's reasoning behind both Italy's Afghanistan venture and the US base is deeply flawed and, considering the Italian public's overwhelming anti-war position, unsustainable.

As long as countries like Italy keep their soldiers in Afghanistan, the US can continue to devote its resources and attention elsewhere (like Iraq and, increasingly likely, Iran). Propping up the US in Afghanistan - in which it has had a military occupation for nearly 6 years already, with deteriorating conditions and nothing like the promises that were made before the invasion - enables the Bush administration to interfere elsewhere in the world and maintain a damaging and unworkable policy there.

D'Alema's contention that rejecting the base "expansion" (actually, the construction of different facilities in a different part of the city) would have been a "hostile act" towards America is laughable and, to put it as nice as I can, rather stupid. It might have been a "hostile act" towards the Bush administration's arrogance and hubris - certainly not a bad thing - but not towards the United States, whose ever-increasing network of bases around the world enables it to engage in increasingly despotic imperialistic behavior. Such an eventuality is not good for the victims themselves, not good for Italy, and also not good for Americans.

D'Alema and Prodi were in a position to deliver leadership, actually represent the Italian public and contribute (in a small way, to be sure) to reigning in America's overinflated and increasingly dangerous ambitions. But they chose not to do this. The danger now is that Berlusconi will take over the government again, and they will have contributed to this potential outcome in no small measure.

*One part of this article is rather disingenuous. The author makes it seem like the "Machiavellian" Giulio Andreotti was one of the string-pulling communist wreckers by placing his betrayal of the government in between two paragraphs fingering the far-left for the government's collapse, when in fact Andreotti is a member of the Christian Democrats.

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