Rome still pays tribute

In the decadent centuries of the Late Roman Empire, emperors and their generals often resorted to bribes to convince the barbarians to attack someone else, or to just stay quiet.

Their modern successors are still doing it:

French troops were killed after Italy hushed up ‘bribes’ to Taleban

When ten French soldiers were killed last year in an ambush by Afghan insurgents in what had seemed a relatively peaceful area, the French public were horrified.
Their revulsion increased with the news that many of the dead soldiers had been mutilated — and with the publication of photographs showing the militants triumphantly sporting their victims’ flak jackets and weapons. The French had been in charge of the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, for only a month, taking over from the Italians; it was one of the biggest single losses of life by Nato forces in Afghanistan.
What the grieving nation did not know was that in the months before the French soldiers arrived in mid-2008, the Italian secret service had been paying tens of thousands of dollars to Taleban commanders and local warlords to keep the area quiet, The Times has learnt. The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials.
US intelligence officials were flabbergasted when they found out through intercepted telephone conversations that the Italians had also been buying off militants, notably in Herat province in the far west. In June 2008, several weeks before the ambush, the US Ambassador in Rome made a démarche, or diplomatic protest, to the Berlusconi Government over allegations concerning the tactic.
However, a number of high-ranking officers in Nato have told The Times that payments were subsequently discovered to have been made in the Sarobi area as well.
Western officials say that because the French knew nothing of the payments they made a catastrophically incorrect threat assessment.
“One cannot be too doctrinaire about these things,” a senior Nato officer in Kabul said. “It might well make sense to buy off local groups and use non-violence to keep violence down. But it is madness to do so and not inform your allies.”

When ten French soldiers were killed last year in an ambush by Afghan insurgents in what had seemed a relatively peaceful area, the French public were horrified.

Their revulsion increased with the news that many of the dead soldiers had been mutilated — and with the publication of photographs showing the militants triumphantly sporting their victims’ flak jackets and weapons. The French had been in charge of the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, for only a month, taking over from the Italians; it was one of the biggest single losses of life by Nato forces in Afghanistan.

What the grieving nation did not know was that in the months before the French soldiers arrived in mid-2008, the Italian secret service had been paying tens of thousands of dollars to Taleban commanders and local warlords to keep the area quiet, The Times has learnt. The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials.

US intelligence officials were flabbergasted when they found out through intercepted telephone conversations that the Italians had also been buying off militants, notably in Herat province in the far west. In June 2008, several weeks before the ambush, the US Ambassador in Rome made a démarche, or diplomatic protest, to the Berlusconi Government over allegations concerning the tactic.

However, a number of high-ranking officers in Nato have told The Times that payments were subsequently discovered to have been made in the Sarobi area as well.

Western officials say that because the French knew nothing of the payments they made a catastrophically incorrect threat assessment.

“One cannot be too doctrinaire about these things,” a senior Nato officer in Kabul said. “It might well make sense to buy off local groups and use non-violence to keep violence down. But it is madness to do so and not inform your allies.”

I’m willing to bet the “senior NATO officer” was European.  What he’s describing is cowardice disguised as “being reasonable.” In fact, to devout jihadis of al Qaeda and the Taliban, this is nothing more than an act of tribute, the weak non-Muslims acknowledging the strength of the Believers and paying the jizya (Qur’an 9:29), an act of submission and dhimmitude.

I’ll agree with the unnamed officer in one regard: madness was at play here, but the madness was contained in the bribes themselves. The barbarians Taliban took it as their due for being the best of men, while non-Muslims are the worst. (Qur’an 98:6-7) When the French failed to pay the jizya, the jihadis did the predictable thing in order to chastise and subdue the “worst of men.”

The Italian government’s craven attitude cost French lives, but don’t bet on our allies learning from this. (The lesson the NATO officer seemed to take was “at least tell us when you’re paying bribes.”) Until they recognize and understand the ideological and theological motivations of our enemies, there will be future foolish attempts to buy peace that instead only buy trouble.

(hat tip: Jihad Watch)

LINKS: More at Fausta’s blog, Weasel Zippers.

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One Response to Rome still pays tribute

  1. [...] Rome still pays tribute « Public Secrets pubsecrets.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/rome-still-pays-tribute – view page – cached In the decadent centuries of the Late Roman Empire, emperors and their generals often resorted to bribes to convince the barbarians to attack someone else, or to just stay quiet. — From the page [...]

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