Italy and "the International Community"
analysis of a crisis
by Generale Marco Bertolini
All around us, in the Euro-Mediterranean area of which we represent the centre part, the point in which from the Roman society first and Christian one then came the idea of the West, are occurring epochal crisis that they will deliver to our children a different world and much more difficult and dangerous than the one in which we lived, children of war and spectators of the cold war.
It is a reality that is being imposed to the general awareness, even if overrides often the temptation to be limited to a microanalysis of each crisis situations, under the illusion to work them out. Doing so, however, you lose the overview of what continues to recur as the usual long-established confrontation between the US and Russian interests, that does not leave us nothing but the resigned role of the bit parts, and often of the victims, of the friction between the two giants.
This situation is particularly dangerous for a country like Italy, geographically exposed like no other and that, although this, it seems to have enthusiastically opted for the refuse to identify national “genuine” interests to defend. On the contrary, it normally prefers flatten out over those of an International Community (IC) changing, volatile and very difficult to define.
Plays a key role in this passive approach a constitutional setting that seems made to cut us off from reality.
The example of the useless article 11 of the Constitution is emblematic: beyond the inconsistency of a “repudiation” (of the war) which can only be rhetorical, this stance prevents Italy to come to terms (at least in words) with a constant of the history and takes away dignity to the military instruments of which however it continues to be provided with (the Armed Forces). Consequently, in our country we have to follow those who do not harbor aforementioned qualms and that continue to be well determined to pursue their own interests - obviously disguised as “common” interests - by all means, including war. And I do not speak of some despotic African or middle Asian regimes, but of countries such as the US superpower, as well as Russia, Great Britain and France, to remain within the European scope. As regards Germany, it does not comment about for obvious reasons, but it continues for some time to maintain healthy and exercise a definitely important military instrument that is further upgrading.
So, International Community above all and first of all. But what are we talking about? The idea of community that in the desires of many deluded should ensure dignity to an our supposed vocation to liabilities in the international field is what should realize in a deep community of values and interests, most notably that of peace. Peace first of all, indeed. But it is actually the case? No, and confirm it precisely the crisis that surround us.
Let’s start with that closest to us and for which we are paying a very considerable price, Libya. The IC was that which, blatantly contradicting all previous Italian initiatives in that country, in its Anglo-French connotation, pseudo-NATO and para-EU, in 2011 it decided to unilaterally intervene, completely disregarding by our interests and even from our view of main neighbour to that area. One might wonders if it would behave in the same way, namely by presenting us with a fait accompli, if in the Boot there had been any other State, not necessarily one of those previously mentioned. But anyhow that in any case it pardoned us to jump on his bandwagon of exporters of democracy and progress up to make us sharers in or complicit of the creation of the situation that is delighting us more than half a decade. In short, the IC removed us from a very favourable position in the market of Libyan hydrocarbons, it put at risk many of our companies after decades of darkness had managed to re-install in Libya and now it exposes us into a momentous migratory flow, from which the good relations with Gaddafi put us in a safe place.
Today, in its European representation (EU) is supporting us in the huge work of rescue of hundreds of thousands of economic migrants who take the sea clandestinely from the coast of Tripolitania to our shores, however, being very careful to take them off only to us and keep them confined to the south of the Alps. A good try of solidarity!
As to the political situation in Libya, in its ONU representation the IC, after having supported the parliament in Tobruk for a long time and its General Haftar (man of the USA, it was said), it performed in the classic jump of quail, pass through the support of Serraj, new Prime Minister in Tripoli, in turn supported by pro-Islamist militias of Misrata. And it is especially at this point that the Community has ceased to be such: it is in fact divided into two, with one part led by the UN and the US alongside Serraj aiming for a united Libya and allegedly under the protection of UN / USA / NATO (the EU will adapt), while another part continues to support Tobruk. The latter does not hide the expectation of a division of the country to open to France the possibility to exploit the oilfields of the petroleum half moon, allows Russia to prevent another country under American tutelage, perhaps reserving to it an additional alternative Mediterranean outlet or complementary to Tartus, and it does not go down the Egyptian territorial ambitions in the east of the country, at least at the level of interference. Italy, obviously and fairly, is part of the first group and one wonders what its strategic location is connected to the strange obstinacy with which he began to ride the Regeni case after a long period of merciless court to Egypt, denying now any possibility of honourable escape, tight as he did in a corner of accusations that are difficult to prove they are equally to refute.
On the European front, the IC strongly suffers the burden of the global interests of the United States that pushing NATO and consequently its local virtual representation, the EU, to a strong contrast with their Russian competitor. Hence, the strengthening of the north side, with the excuse to silence the concerns of the Baltic States and of Poland but above all to allow the US to move far to the right its presence in what twenty years ago it was the territory of the Warsaw Pact. A little further south, however, looms the dreadful Ukrainian crisis, for which there are still visible way out. In this country, in fact, the whale on the one hand a great opportunity for US to exclude forever Russia from the Black Sea, depriving it of the bases in the Crimea, and from the Russian side on the contrary continues to materialize the risk of being cut off permanently from Europe and from all forms of presence in the Mediterranean. So, a development to not miss from the American side and an opposite threat to be avoided in the Russian field that led to the current situation of armed stalemate.
And here, at this point, reappear the same IC, in its NATO and EU events, more than ever determined to cut the Russian bear nails using one of the classic instruments of pressure of all time, the penalties. It is a pity that with them, which absolutely not undermine the US economy that have very strongly desired them, in addition to bear nails fall also to the teeth of the rest of Europe - and especially of Italy - tied to Russia by close economic and business commitments now put them at risk, as well as by a territorial continuity that on the contrary there is not with “the American island” (an ocean to the west, one to east and a well fortified fence to south).
On closer inspection, this situation is strictly connected to what is happening also in the Middle East, with particular reference to Syria, where Russia intervened to put a patch to on the troubles done by hypocritical western aversion for “dictatorships”, but especially to put under cover her remaining abilities to be present in the Mediterranean after the risks occurred in Ukraine. The naval base of Tartus, in fact, is the traditional landing point of the Russian Black Sea Fleet ships based in Sevastopol in the Crimea, and its loss would represent a deadly weak point. So, Russia can not withdraw from Syria for much of the reasons why it can not leave the Crimea (and Ukraine). In this context it is also part of the Russian activism aimed to obtain more space in the basin, after the US request to Montenegro to join NATO (Montenegro into NATO!), reducing to a minimum the possibilities to find other landings in non-hostile countries in Mare Nostrum. The recent Egyptian opening for the use for this purpose of the base of Sidi el Barrani could represent an important turning point in its favour.
There is no doubt that the most painful point of this momentous political and military tension is represented by the Middle East (or better, the Near East, for us), with particular reference to Syria and Iraq. For the first time since the Cuban crisis, in fact, especially in Syria you run a real risk of face-off between the US and Russia that could lead to a general conflagration. Russia, for the above-written reasons, it is in fact militarily intervened, blocking the ISIS and Jabath Al Nusra advances (Jabath Fatah al Sham, after a recent cosmetic terminology operation to conceal the ancient Qaedist roots) but above all freezing the US attempt (and Saudi and Turkish and UAE and Qatar and the Israeli and French...) to replace Assad with a favourable regime. And now, faced with the prospect of a Syrian victory (and Russian and Iranian and of Hezbollah) with the liberation of Aleppo by terrorists as previously happened in Palmira (a very important event not only from the symbolic point of view but strangely ignored by all the media), appears unpleasant at the prospect of a Mediterranean with a strong presence of Russia, determined to play again the global power. The media campaign (STRATCOM - Strategic Communication) aimed at present as war crimes the Russian and Syrian attempts to clear east Aleppo from terrorists and the sudden activism against Mosul, after years of military suppleness, can not remove the doubt that everything is especially aimed at preventing that from now to a few months there is only one winner on the field, Russia with its allies, with the consequences for “the West”, forced for some time to consider some of them “terrorists”.
Returning to the national interests, also in this case there is no significant overlap between the Italians and those of the Coalition lead by the US. The Assad regime is notoriously very close to the many Christian communities in the country, which should not be indifferent to that home of Christianity that is now wrongly regarded Italy, and the Syrian Armed Forces, with the significant contribution of Hezbollah, it should the release and safety of numerous ancient and local Christian communities. In addition, there is no doubt that the fall of Assad by the terrorists would not mean the end of the war but the likely beginning of a new phase, with the Kurds, Turks, Sunnis and Shiites all at war with each other, passionately; not to mention the obvious US, Israeli, French and British interferences to put into account. The consequences of such a situation in the close Lebanon, which has just succeed to elect a President of the Republic after more than two years of crisis, would be devastating and from the east coast of the Mediterranean could start a traffic migration to our shores able to embarrass the epochal one in place from Libya.
In short, it is a chaos.
Finally, a reflection on the issue arise in Italy of “European Army”, military transposition of the falling in love for the idea of International Community that it is not clear from what is derived, given the precedents. It is an attempt to involve European countries in continental security issues, with fits-all solutions. Actually it limits itself to a sterile discussion, without the possibility of achievement for the different perceptions that the single countries have of themselves, in the international context. How to reconcile, for example, the French military activism in southern Sahara and the Middle East, or the British as part of the Community “five eyes” around the world, with the attitude folded on its domestic problems of our country?
It is, in my humble point of view, of an ingenuous and awkward attempt to give dignity to our “constitutional” lack of interest in military matters and related to the defence; a kind of desperate offer to others about our “military sovereignty”, seen the annoyance with which for many reasons (all absurd) we do not want to take on it since decades. It is, finally, a way to strengthen a vocation to “being in group” that, on the contrary, we can no longer allow it, given the obstinacy with which “the others” think first of all about their business. They settle, perhaps, with a multinational command in Italy, as was already done in the past in Florence, in which to pass the winter in rotation some General or Colonel on retirement. But on the significant issues, which affect the future of the next generations, their generations, certainly all hold their cards well, as always.
Instead, it is necessary a reflection on the peculiarities of our interests, carefully selecting the countries able to share them, if necessary by reconsidering the details of alliances such as NATO and the EU if they prove to be excessively in Atlantic and northern European traction. This will be necessary and essential if these alliances continue to do be sensitive to our particular needs, as also happened in the recent past, with particular reference to Libya, Syria and Ukraine firstly, without forgetting the Balkans, turned into a jumble of small states hostile to each other and at the mercy of the jihadist movements that during the war to Serbia have taken roots in the area. Subject of particular reflection should also be the relations with Russia, as we are concerned, even simply for purely geographical reasons, to have stability in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and to prevent migration processes from Africa such as those we are suffering. This is not to betray the Atlantic alliance, but to convince it that the interests of our continent can not be defined and decided only by 6000 km away, over the Atlantic.
But I think it will be hard!