Saturday, March 05, 2005

For the last month the people of Italy have followed with great interest the story of Giuliana Sgrena, a female Italian journalist kidnapped by insurgents just over a month ago. The kidnappers demanded that the Prime Minister of Italy withdraw the 3000 troops that were stationed here in Iraq. He was keeping those soldiers here despite widespread opposition from his own citizens. Now if it had been me, I wouldn't have cared what the stupid people thought. But public opinion matters a lot in democracies, which is a fundamental weakness of that horribly flawed form of government.

So it was with great relief that the Italian people and their President learned of Sgrena's release yesterday. I don't know why she was let go, but her release was negotiated by Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence official.

So what happens on their way to the airport? As they approached a checkpoint, American soldiers opened fire on the vehicle. Calipari, instead of diving for cover, instead threw himself on top of Sgrena to shield her.

His actions got him killed while saving the freed reporter's life, though she was wounded. An accident? Well, yes. But all accidents carry consequences for those responsible.

The repurcussions of this event will be severe. Don't be suprprised if Italy ultimately decides on pulling its troops out of Iraq because of it.