Friday, October 16, 2009

Definitely Not the Endorsement He Must Have Wanted

Tony Blair endorsed by Taliban-bribing Berlusconi

Tony Blair's campaign for the soon-to-be-created office of the President of the European Union received a significant boost today, as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi endorsed him for the job.

"Tony Blair has all the right credentials for becoming the first president of the European Council in the terms enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty, and to be appointed to that post as soon as it is legally and politically possible to give the go-ahead to the implementation of the clause renewing the union's governance," Berlusconi wrote in a letter to Il Foglio.

But this is one endorsement that Blair may want to distance himself from.

As it turns out, Berlusconi's government has been bribing the Taliban to keep their operations quiet in areas where Italian troops are operating.

When the Italians handed responsibility for Sarobi in 2008, the tranquil conditions in the province led the incoming French command to sorely misjudge the security situation in the region. 10 French soldiers were quickly killed in a single ambush when the Taliban, no longer receiving tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, retook the field of battle.

The French are understandably disappointed in their erstwhile allies. As Benedict Brogan notes, they'll likely get even with the Italians in their own time.

But considering the judgement of Berlusconi's government on how to discharge its duties to NATO -- an organization that Italy honestly ought to be expelled from over this episode -- Silvio Berlusconi's endorsement is one that Tony Blair should actually reject.

After all, Blair committed British troops to Afghanistan. It very well could have been British troops that came to harm over Italian duplicity.

Accepting Berlusconi's endorsement ought to be utterly toxic to Blair's Presidential campaign.

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