Italy to Begin Pullout of Troops from Iraq by Daniel Williams and Caryle Murphy Washington Post 03/16/05
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, one of the United States' most ardent supporters on Iraq, said Tuesday he intended to begin withdrawing his country's troops in September. That makes Italy the latest country to announce that it will reduce or eliminate its military contingent in the U.S.-led force.
Gosh, do you think that might have something to do with the Sgrena incident?
Official White House orders to the Patriotically Correct say that has nothing to do with it:
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan advised reporters not to make a cause-and-effect link between Berlusconi's decision and the Baghdad shooting incident. He played down the significance of a possible Italian withdrawal, saying it would be keyed to the ability of Iraqi forces to assume more responsibility and would be carried out in coordination with allies.
Italy isn't the only one, of course.
On Monday, 160 Dutch soldiers arrived home as part of a phased withdrawal. On Tuesday, Ukraine welcomed back more than 130 members of its 1,500-person force and has said it will complete its pullout by October. Poland is planning to remove a few hundred of its 1,700 soldiers this summer and the rest by early 2006.
Funny thing. Those Italians just didn't seem to appreciate American soldiers carelessly shooting their nationals. Despite the official White House line, I'm guessing that the Freepers and the Foxists are already digging around for insults to start routinely applying to the Italians: they're all still Fascists; they're cowardly and incompetent; they use too much olive oil; whatever.