Thursday, March 17, 2005
After the initial media and commentariat frenzy about the "crumbling coalition", precipitated by the reports of the Italian withdrawal around September (and by the way, most countries are hoping they can start withdrawing their troops sooner rather than later, when Iraq's own security forces become strong enough to fight the insurgency), it seems that the matter is not as clear cut. Here's President Bush during his media conference:
"[Bush] said Italian President Silvio Berlusconi flatly denied [that Italy would start withdrawing its troops in September] during a phone conversation. The president said Berlusconi told him there had been no change in his policy and any withdrawals would be done in consultation with allies. And then they would be dependent upon the Iraqis' ability to defend themselves."(hat tip: Dan Foty). Here's Berlusconi himself:
"There's never been a fixed date [for withdrawal]... It was only my hope [to start withdrawing troops in September]. If it is not possible, it is not possible. The solution should be agreed with the allies."Better hold those horses and pop that cork back into your champagne bottle for the time being.