Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Sgrena Code 

The Italian hostage friendly fire story (or unfriendly fire, depending on who you believe) continues to roll on. It's not at the stage yet where Giuliana Sgrena's version of events has more holes in it than her car, but it's getting there. For the best round-ups, check the Moderate Voice, Instapundit and the continuing coverage at Little Green Footballs.

I wrote two days ago that "the critics think America Machiavellian enough to want to kill the Italians, and at the same time stupid enough to do it a way that created one of the more serious diplomatic incidents since the start of the war. Can't have it both ways, I'm afraid." My sentiment has been echoed by an unnamed Italian intelligence source quoted in "Corriere della Serra": "It would have been the simplest thing for the Americans to send their agents to suppress the incident and therefore blame the Iraqis, or to send Iraqis to perform the dirty job, rather than commit the act with friendly fire without even succeeding in the attempt."

People who have not had much direct personal experience of politics, the military, or for that matter any other large and complex organizations, tend to think conspiracy is a way of life. Those who have, know that in most cases it's stuff-ups.

As one German newspaper
writes: "Sgrena's kidnappers wanted, with the help of the journalist's dramatic appeal, to create a mood in Italy that would lead to the withdrawal of the country's troops... But they didn't succeed because Berlusconi remained firm... [However, because of the shooting,] the terrorists achieved an unexpected victory... [Intelligence agent] Calipari's death and the circumstances of the shooting of the journalist by American troops will create political damage in Europe and will foment the debate in Italy over withdrawing its troops."

Sgrena thinks the Americans wanted her dead, possibly because their opposition to paying ransom for kidnap victims, possibly for some other shadowy reasons that Sgrena so far has refused to disclose. But you have to wonder why the Americans could possibly want to create one of the biggest propaganda coups for the opponents of war and damage the relationship with one of their staunchest allies in order to silence one woman. Sadly, in a world where "The Da Vinci Code" is the best selling book of recent times, too many people will think that just about anything is possible.


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