. . . Wednesday March 9, 2005

With Us and Against Us?

I’m not sure why (other than the for public, political points) there is that much shock over the fact that U.S. troops shot at a car carrying an Italian journalist just released by her captors in Iraq.

You don’t have to be an expert on world affairs to put this together (or to brush aside that journalist’s insane suggestion that she was intentionally targetted). Car bombs are the key threat facing coalition troops today in Iraq, so it makes sense that they would be on edge and that, yes, terrible mistakes will be made.

There is a much bigger part of this story that continues to be overshadowed by the investigation into the shooting itself.

It is pretty much accepted in Italy that Italian officials are paying ransoms for the release of hostages.

That helps explain why Italians have been taken hostage at a disproportionately high rate (10 hostages in the last year). The ransom-paying not only encourages hostage-takers, it also funds their other violent efforts.

The U.S. has been criticized all along for building such a tiny coalition. Let’s flip that line of thinking as well. If countries think it’s a reasonable strategy to pay-off terrorists for their hostage-taking ways, then maybe we should consider a smaller coalition. Is there any doubt – that when one takes this strategy into account – that the Italians are doing more harm than good in Iraq?

Concentration is important!