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Dept. Of Unintended Consequences: Could The Libyan Fiasco Help Destroy The E.U.?
The European country that had the most to lose from a protracted conflict in Libya was Italy. Of all the Western countries, it was Italy that relied most heavily on Libyan sweet oil, and could not easily modify its refineries, or find other sources of supply without paying a premium. It is Italian contractors, Italian businesses, that have been most heavily involved in Libya, and it is they who, with the disruption in economic acitivity during these -- pace Obama -- hostilities, have suffered the most.
Had Qaddafy won decisively, or had NATO decided to win decisively for the other side, then four months of a halt in Libyan oil exports and in economic activity might have been reduced to one month, and the Italian economy would have suffered far less.
The Italian economy has been mismanaged for years. Now the Economics Minister, Tremonti, despite the hostility of the inimitable crook Berlusconi, is trying to do something.
But there is always something to set things off. There was, back in 1929, the krak of the Kreditanstalt.
La goccia che fa traboccare il vaso -- a frequently-used phrase in Italian -- means "the drop that makes the container overflow."
Should Italy endure a debt crisis similar to those in Ireland, in Portugal, in Greece, requiring an E.U.-wide rescue, would that, at this point, lead inexorably to the end of the European Union?
Something to think about, when one is in the mood to think of unintended consequences.