"Italy is ready to send up to 3,000 troops to Lebanon, as long as other EU countries contribute enough forces to ensure that Europeans make up at least half of what could be a 15,000-strong UN operation.
An Italian deployment on this scale could make Lebanon Italy’s largest military commitment in the world, bigger than the 2,700-strong contingent in Iraq – and that is just the message the Prodi government wishes to send.
The Lebanon deployment thus serves as an opportunity for Mr Prodi to burnish Italy’s credentials in Arab circles, as well as to restore Italy’s image as a reliable international power after the supposedly wayward Berlusconi years."
* fred barnes via laura:
"So bring on the midterm election, right? The answer is an emphatic no. As favorable as recent trends have been, they are not nearly enough to spare Republicans a nasty defeat, including the loss of the House and perhaps the Senate. The country is in a disagreeable mood and ready for a change. The Republican base is grumpy and apathetic. Bush may be America's choice to fight terrorism, but he falters on other issues. His boost in the polls doesn't mean he's now popular. He's merely less unpopular. And the August bounce may prove to be ephemeral, as earlier upticks have.
There's much to do. Standing pat and expecting terrorism to dominate the campaign would be foolhardy. ... It's Bush's actions, not his words, that will matter. Americans want to see him fighting for America's security. ...
The place to start is Iran. The diplomatic option is exhausted. No one expected the mere possibility of economic sanctions to cause Iran to halt its program to build nuclear weapons. And it hasn't. Now Bush must brook no dissent in pursuing stern sanctions. Russian and Chinese leaders have personally assured him they would back sanctions if Iran refused (as it has) to stop uranium enrichment. The president must hold them to their word, warning that their relations with America will be jeopardized if they balk. It's also time to make clear to Iran that the military option is indeed an option. ...