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Cynically seeking the spoils of war

The week's news at a glance.

Italy

Gianandrea GaianiPanorama

Italy picked the perfect spot for its troops in Iraq, said Gianandrea Gaiani in Rome’s Panorama. Our government chose to deploy Italy’s contribution to the coalition of the willing in Nasiriyah, so that Italians would be sure of “controlling some of the oil pipelines.” Six months before the beginning of the war, the government commissioned a study to select “the spot that would be most favorable economically for our military engagement.” Of course, our soldiers weren’t told that. They were told about the humanitarian aspect of their mission and the need to protect Iraq’s priceless archaeological heritage. But “one of their primary functions” was to guard oil pipelines and refineries. Still, Italy shouldn’t feel bad about exploiting the Iraqis’ misfortune. After all, “every other coalition member is doing it,” too. The U.K. has 9,000 men guarding the key oil port of Umm Qasr; South Korea placed 3,200 troops in oil-rich Kirkuk; and even Tokyo’s token 1,000 men are deployed near the oil deposits of Al-Ghavraf. The coalition of the willing turns out to have been a coalition of the “greedy.”

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