As italian, i must say i'm relived that finally my country has agreed to take on a part of the strain of Libya ops. So far, we have provided the bases (some of which are NATO ones anyway, and can hardly be considered a pure italian contribution other than because they are italian soil) and some pointless flights of fighters flying over Libya to scare planes that exist no more after the Tomahawks crumbled their bases.
Despite providing so little, Italy had been noisy in demanding NATO control and voice into the operations, with the very unfortunate declarations of our foreign minister, ready to "take back the bases" if NATO wasn't timely put in charge of the planning.
It was embarrassing. For the general public it might have felt like a good thing, but for someone that follows military matters as i do, it was something worth all the shame in the world. We had the courage of asking for control over operations of our allies, while doing nothing useful ourselves. After doing much less than we could and should on other fronts, as well, such as in Afghanistan, where italian Tornados and AMX planes only flow RECCE missions and never fire or drop a bomb, and where even the Mangusta attack helicopter uses its gun only in extreme circumstances. Sure, we've contributed, and paid with the blood of over 30 of our soldiers, and the guys on the ground deserve my gratitude and admiration: they have no guts to envy to anyone else.
But on the other hand, we've done much less than we should have, under many points of view, because of often absurd political decisions.
Because dropping bombs is evil no matter what. Noble, perhaps, but at the same time endlessly stupid a position in foreign policy, and in particular when we have accepted to be part of a NATO mission, only to ignore calls for additional support later on.
We are not alone, of course. France itself in Afghanistan did little compared to what it should have. Germany, much the same. Denmark all but turned down the NATO request for 6 additional F16s to deploy in the area, and even providing helicopters has been ridiculously challenging despite all the machines that the European members of NATO have in their inventories. And so a lot of strain has fallen on the UK, and on the US of course.
Now mister Berlusconi awakens and finally admitts that it is time to drop a bomb or two over Libya.
I don't think we'll be real eager, and we miss a weapon such as Brimstone, that can hit targets even in heavily urbanized areas.
But there is still plenty we could do to ease the pressure on the other allies, and i hope that, for once, we will do our little bit to the end.
Better still if we make it not too little a bit.