April 17, 2007:
Italy is taking a lot of heat for
the way they pressured the Afghan government to release five captured Taliban,
in order to get an Italian journalist released from Taliban captivity last
month. In response, the Italians are calling for international guidelines,
supervised by the UN, on how to deal with these hostage situations. This is
seen as another cynical move by the Italians, who have long been willing to
make deals with terrorists, as long as it was in Italys interest.
The recent Italian effort in this area has resulted
in two French citizens and at least twelve Afghans being kidnapped. The Afghan
government has already said it will not repeat the mistake it made in dealing
with the Italians. So the new bunch of captives are in danger of being killed,
since the Taliban generally don't release captives when the ransom demanded is
not forthcoming. The Taliban also have their standards.
The recriminations and finger-pointing in Italy has
revealed that the government paid a $2 million ransom for another Italian
reported kidnapped in Afghanistan last year. That buys a lot of hired guns, and
gets a lot of Afghan and NATO troops killed. But the Italians don't care. The
Italians know full well that the best policy is no ransom, no negotiation, and
go after the kidnappers. But this is politically unacceptable in Italy, where
many leftists are sympathetic to the Taliban, and don't support using force
against them. As the old saying goes, all politics is local.