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May 6, 2005

Berlusconi and Bush Renew Their Vows


by Dr. Teresa Whitehurst

"Now it's time for the cherry on the cake: have a photo-op with both leaders smiling, preferably in the Oval Office, announcing that their respective nations are firmer friends than ever. The admirable ways in which this tragic incident was handled, with great cooperation on both sides, only strengthens their resolve to stand by one another in the War on Terror, no matter what the cost."

- "The Unfortunate Incident Protocol"

Who can resist a good love story? There's just something about that flutter of the eyes, the lover's quarrel, the parting of the ways, and the tentative gestures of regret and reconciliation. Many couples say that the tension of fighting and even breaking up for awhile is a small price to pay for the intoxicating joy of making up.

In a lover's spat, the more wounded party usually has a few valid complaints against his or her beloved. Misunderstandings and hurts take time to heal. But before heartfelt vows to one another can be reaffirmed, tempers must cool and absence must make the heart grow fonder. The greater goal – keeping a marriage together or a war going – must be cherished by both partners. Only then can the lovebirds begin to have long conversations about the unfortunate incident that caused the problem. Only then can the guilty party look into the other's eyes and say, "Yes, I bear some blame… but we mustn't let this hurt our relationship."

"Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said the U.S. bears some blame for the killing of an Italian agent, but it will not hurt relations. He told parliament that the U.S. had implicitly acknowledged some problems at the checkpoint where U.S. forces shot dead Nicola Calipari in March. U.S. and Italian reports differed sharply on the events leading up to the killing, which caused outrage in Italy. But Mr. Berlusconi said Italy remained Washington's close friend and ally. He said Italy had no intention of rushing troops out of Iraq before their job was done."

- "Berlusconi Renews Support for U.S."

Sometimes a quarrel will be intensified by others' complaints regarding the continuing misbehavior of one partner. These complaints stoke the fires of anger and resentment, particularly if differing accounts of a partner's actions or motives become apparent to all.

"DIFFERING ACCOUNTS

"US military: Car approaches checkpoint at high speed

"Troops attempt to tell driver to stop with arm signals, lights and warning shots

"Soldiers shoot into engine

"Italian government: No warning signs to motorists about impending checkpoint

"Car not speeding and did not accelerate after warning shots

"Proper inquiry impossible because vehicles removed and army logs destroyed just after shooting."

- "Berlusconi Renews Support for U.S."

The more offended or wounded partner may find this new information very difficult to ignore, but if he or she is desperate to keep the relationship at any cost, excuses will be made for the guilty party's behavior.

That's Amore!

Last but not least, wounded partners the world over use this classic excuse for inexcusable behavior: "I know he hurt me, but look how much he's changed since then!"

"[Berlusconi] said that the absence of intent on the part of the soldiers did not mean that there was no-one to blame for the fatal shooting, adding that U.S. forces had changed procedures at checkpoints since the killing. 'If you change the rules then, implicitly, you admit that the previous rules were not working,' he said."

- "Berlusconi Renews Support for U.S."

Time-tested excuses like these, developed in the laboratory of romance and marriage, are especially important (and effective) for Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi. The B-Boys may fuss and quarrel from time to time, but after a few angry words, provocative silences, and hurt feelings they'll make up, reaffirm their vows, and resume their mission to remake the world by military force with lots of civilian casualties and a very nice profit margin.

When tragic "mistakes" are made, it's tempting to think that their respective citizenries will finally begin to rebel and throw the rascals out. But that's not going to happen, because, hey – nobody can resist a good love story.


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Dr. Teresa Whitehurst is a clinical psychologist, author of Jesus on Parenting(2004) and coauthor of The Nonviolent Christian Parent (2004). She offers parenting workshops, holds discussion groups on Nonviolent Christianity, and writes the column, "Democracy, Faith and Values: Because You Shouldn’t Have to Choose Just One." Visit her website.

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