Have you heard about the new Italian rifle?
It’s never been fired and only dropped once.
Jokes like this hoary old chestnut have lately fallen out of favor because they tend to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. However, some stereotypes exist for a reason, and although generalizations by nature, are often based on solid experience.
So it is with the Italian Army, whose military prowess is mocked worldwide as less intimidating even than the French, Canadian or Kuwaiti Armies. The memory of Rome’s mastery of Western Europe, cemented by scarlet swathes of powerful and highly-disciplined legionnaires , is confined to the dim recesses of history. The Italians’ only significant victory in modern times was in 1936 over Ethiopia, and only after suffering a defeat to the African nation in 1896. Moreover, Italy shares the singular distinction of switching to the winning side in not one, but two World Wars.
But much-maligned Italian Prime Minister and orgy enthusiast Silvio Berlusconi believes he has at last found a way for the Italian Army to at least partially redeem its sullied reputation. For the second time in recent years, Berlusconi is sending troops to Naples to tackle a recurrent problem: garbage. 170 troops and 73 vehicles are being deployed to clean up the plethora of filth in the festering Italian city.
Critics charge that the PM is cynically shoring up votes ahead of the upcoming elections, as well as deflecting from allegations that he habitually retained the services of a seventeen-year-old Moroccan prostitute. However, vocal members of Berlusconi’s party disagree, denying that the troop deployment was in any way politically motivated. Said one, “Naples is a shithole, and the army needs something to do.”
Promethean Times agrees. Let the rest of the world’s armies fight the rest of the world’s wars; the Italian Army is needed at home. Plus, there’s the sad but undeniable fact that Italian forces couldn’t even take the Salvation Army, let alone a real one.