I was in Rome for a few days and interviewed Italy’s foreign minister and others close to the prime minister. They sounded — how shall I put this? – not at all like Jacques Chirac (or Howard Dean or Ted Kennedy or Al Gore or …) .
The Italian government believes it is necessary for the U.S. and its Free World allies to fight a robust War on Terrorism. The Italian government believes Iraq is the most important theater in that conflict – and cutting and running is not an option.
I’m in Istanbul at the moment. True, there are people here who believe it was not advisable for the US to intervene in Iraq. But it’s not because they harbor illusions about Iraq, not because they saw Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as Michael Moore portrays it – an irenic land where children flew kites in the warm Mesopotamian breezes until those deluded and jackbooted Americans arrived. And, so far at least, no one I’ve encountered has expressed anything like the anger over Iraq that is now routinely expressed by the American Left.
The toughest message communicated to me was: “We were only trying to tell you that it was going to be very rough there. You’re not going to turn Iraq into Turkey overnight and you won’t do it without a lot of pain. If you can do it at all.”
Of course, at least as important a question is whether democratic Turkey will stay democratic. Michael Rubin explores that question incisively in his NRO piece today.