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In this issue

In this issue - ATLANTIS

Marco Bertolini, Editor Sconfinare.

Aldo d’Orso, Editor Sconfinare.

Domenico Letizia, Journalist.

Eleonora Lorusso, Journalist.

Maurizio Melani, Ambassador.

Cristina Pappalardo, Journalist.

Stefano Ronca, Ambassador.

Francesco Sitta, Editor Sconfinare.

Luca Volpato, Italian Office Council of Europe.





Geopolitics and Strategy: ISMM meeting in Venice

Geopolitics and Strategy: ISMM meeting in Venice - ATLANTIS

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict: repercussions on the political-strategic and military level.

Traditional appointment with the Study Days promoted by the Italian Navy and the Institute of Maritime Military Studies of Venice. The event which took place in the library of the institute at the Arsenal of Venice, on the morning of 12 October 2023, was opened by the greeting of Admiral Andrea Petroni, commander of the Institute of Maritime Military Studies of Venice. During the introduction, Giuseppe Schivardi, rear admiral and Director of the Institute, emphasized the importance of the crucial historical moment, in which after more than a year of war between Russia and Ukraine, worrying scenarios have been added that need to be analyzed in depth.

The first panel saw the participation of Alessandro Colombo, Full Professor of the Department of International Studies of the University of Milan. Director of the Transatlantic Relations Program at the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) for which he writes the annual report for 2000, he has focused his attention on the foreign policy of the United States of America in the last 10/15 years which - he underlined - she stood out for her disengagement. The clear position in the Ukraine crisis therefore represented a discontinuity. The slogan that characterized Biden: America is back, America is back in the world, that is, close to its allies, was the keystone of the new US foreign policy. The withdrawal from Afghanistan was perceived as a colossal US failure. But now the Americans have returned to take the lead of their traditional allies and show them the way forward. Of course it is a complex management of their hegemony both from a military point of view and from the point of view of legitimacy. The US literally called to order the allies who had opened collateral ties with Russia and China. In short, Biden has relaunched a non-inclusive multilateralism: now the door is no longer open to everyone but only to friends. Globalization is not dead and it is not over but it is only done with friends. Internal reasons stand in the way of this position, which up to now has been held with a certain firmness. American public opinion, as next year's presidential elections approach, is showing signs of opposition and is in favor of a new disengagement, obviously led by the Trumpist still dealing with primaries and various judicial problems but still alive and stinging. Moreover, it is also true that any disengagement may decrease military economic spending in favor of the internal economy but it will undermine the credibility of the United States of America in the world. Here - concludes Colombo - keeping these two issues together: credibility and sustainability is the American challenge.
Aldo Ferrari and Guido Samarani of the Venetian University of Ca' Foscari spoke about Putin's Last War and the Russian-Ukrainian War seen through Beijing's eyes.

The first panel was moderated by Lieutenant Commander Davide Ghermandi, ISMM Deputy Director.

The second panel was moderated by Frigate Captain Luca Pegoraro. Theme The forms of conflict.
Walter Coralluzzo, Associate Professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis at the University of Turin, began with a provocation: the Russian-Ukrainian war is leading us towards the war of the future, a mix of tradition and innovation. If the Gulf War was the televised war and the Arab Spring the social media war, this war will represent a watershed both for multilateralism and for the use of propaganda tools on innovative platforms. Perhaps we could call it the first war of the metaverse (in which Russia proved clumsy and outdated).
Andrea Gaiani, Journalist, director of Defense Analysis, has carefully analyzed a series of maps that attest to the substantial stalemate of the military situation.
The day ended with the speech by Francesco Zampieri, PhD in European History and Professor at La Sapienza University of Rome. For Zampieri, naval warfare in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is fundamental. This is done by observing both the conventional and the more innovative aspects. The action of the Ukrainian navy, since the beginning of the conflict, has managed to push the Russians further and further east, freeing up routes on the Black Sea that are essential for the transport of grain and other raw food materials. Moreover, the Russians have demonstrated that over the years their strategic military bets were anything but wrong: the missiles launched by relatively small naval units capable of traveling 1000/15000 kilometers were a great deterrent intuition.

Diplomacy and Geopolitics

Diplomacy and Geopolitics - ATLANTIS

Stefano Ronca


From chess to drones via Alexa
In 1997, Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in the world, was beaten in 19 moves by Deep Blue, IBM's super computer. Only a few years earlier it was unthinkable that a machine could prevail over the human intelligence from which it was created.
Deep Blue based its “skill” on programs centered on moves designed by expert players. In other words, the computer software relied on strategies and moves developed by humans. The machine's competitive advantage lay in its astonishing calculation speed which allowed it to analyze 200 million moves per second.
But in 2017 the then most powerful chess program in the world was sensationally beaten by AlphaZero, an algorithm developed by Google. It was a real revolution because AlphaZero did not operate on the basis of strategies programmed by human beings. His ability was the result of Artificial Intelligence training which the creators had "taught to learn" to obtain the maximum number of victories. Alpha Zero performed moves that no player had ever predicted. He sacrificed pieces at the start of the game that human players deemed as essential as the queen. But what would happen, asks H. Kissinger, in his latest book "The Age of Artificial Intelligence", if for reasons of national security AI decided that a large number of citizens must be sacrificed to guarantee victory over the enemy?
Revolutionary artificial intelligence, although it is a complex technology, can be summarized in a simple basic idea: developing hardware and software systems equipped with the ability to learn autonomously from the data sent to them.
provided and capable of building an autonomous and original model for each specific problem that arises.
Over the last twenty years, AI has entered every aspect of human life. Security and defense have not remained on the sidelines. There is now a belief in security circles that the world is on the brink of a revolution equal to, and perhaps superior to, that brought about by firearms in the 1300s and nuclear weapons in the last century. And the competition between states to gain advantageous positions in the field of artificial intelligence applied to defense is growing.
AI has been able to produce a dramatic evolution capable of changing the nature of wars through the acceleration of decision-making processes, intelligence, power and types of weapons (for example the application of AI to cyber warfare ). In fact, AI has the ability to radically change the methodology of conflicts. AI is not just a technology. It is a class of technologies that can be integrated into a wide spectrum of applications, including military ones.
According to Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, the most advanced AI models today have 5 billion times more processing power than those of ten years ago. And within five years AI models will be available capable of managing one hundred billion billion (100 trillion) parameters which is approximately the number of synapses in the human brain. In 2018, GPT1, a language model already capable of creating texts and answering questions, worked with 117 million parameters. Today GPT4 works with over 1 trillion parameters.
“Artificial intelligence,” Commission President von der Leyen said in his State of the Union speech to the European Parliament on 13 September 2023, “proceeds with increments that its creators had not foreseen.” “Accessible, powerful, adaptable, it will be used for civil and military uses. AI will improve healthcare, increase productivity and manage climate change. But today, experts say, it is a priority to reduce the risks of extinction due to a pandemic or nuclear war that AI could provoke. AI therefore needs a structure that rests on three pillars: limits, governance and guided innovation.”
On the same day as the speech to the European Parliament, the American Senate listened to Altman, Gates, Zuckemberg, Musk and twenty other key figures in the sector to acquire useful elements for regulating AI, which is a harbinger of extraordinary progress and very serious risks. NATO, as we will see later, has also provided guidelines for the use of AI and is working on its regulation.

The “weaponisation” of artificial intelligence
The field of geopolitics, war and deterrence is probably the one that will undergo the greatest transformations due to AI, according to Michael Hirsh in “How AI Will Revolutionize Warfare”. The United States has invested many resources, especially in AI applied to the air force, developing the capacity for autonomous piloting of F16 aircraft in operation. The Chinese are no different in every sector of the military. The Russians are working on AI applied to the operation of tanks. New weapon systems such as swarms of unmanned aircraft that accompany and assist human-piloted aircraft in various functions are the latest cry from the US Air Force. If we are to be optimistic, a less lethal war could result and deterrence could be strengthened by the development of AI. The exponential increase in drones in the land, naval and aeronautical fields could reduce human losses in war. However, concern currently prevails about the risks that uncontrolled applications of AI in the military field could pose for humanity. One of the problems that arise in current conflicts, which is very evident in the Russian-Ukrainian one, is the reduction of the time necessary to identify the target, communicate its position to one's artillery, hit it and move quickly so as not to suffer enemy fire having revealed its position with the attack. AI is enormously reducing the time of this process which involves knowledge of data, processing and action. The compression of time for action is fraught with consequences for decision-making processes on the battlefield. One of the main risks is that this acceleration progressively leads to the emergence of AI systems that replace human intervention. If this evolution already presents risks in conventional wars, in a potential nuclear conflict the danger for humanity would increase exponentially. Last January, the American Department of Defense therefore updated the directive on weapon systems that involve the use of AI by inserting in the command directives the obligation of a human evaluation prior to their use. Nonetheless, the Pentagon has made no mention of decreasing development programs for the integration of AI in decision-making processes even if the director of the Defense intelligence center, Gen. Shavahan, stated that "this integration will not concern the command and control of nuclear forces." A political reluctance, perhaps even greater than the American one towards autonomous weapons, is also present in Russia and China. A characteristic common to both China and Russia concerns the centralization of decision-making processes. The Chinese political leadership has so far always asserted political control over military control. It would be surprising if it wants to delegate to computers what it is not willing to delegate even to the military class for fear of losing absolute control of command. It is therefore probable that the tendency is to maintain, as far as possible, human control of defense systems. According to Xi Jiping's direct statement, this is obvious with regards to nuclear weapons which would be excluded from any autonomous activation mechanism as happens in the United States. These are the intentions. But contingencies and interests, as we know from history, can change good intentions.
Competition between Powers
The two major powers already competing for dominance in the field of AI are the United States and China. According to Paul Sharre, a well-known author in defense AI circles, in his latest 2023 book “Four Battlegrounds”, the four battlefields on which the contest will take place are the talents, the actors (public and private) who operate in the technological field, computers and data. “The country that prevails in the competition for these four resources will acquire significant advantages in the political, economic and military fields. It will have more information than its adversary and will be more effective in the use of military force. It will dominate information and cyberspace. It will be more lethal in conflicts."
The United States has numerous talents and is ahead in research and technology. In this field, the USA is the country that presents the most attractions globally for similar talents, even if China has produced four times as many AI graduates as the USA and in China there are 400 universities offering degrees in this subject. The direction of the research is different in the two countries. In China, studies are directed towards image recognition and in particular facial recognition, action and linguistic translation. In the USA the focus is more on understanding and processing texts and speech recognition. Paradoxically, however, the interaction between the two scientific communities is still high and in 2021, 10 thousand joint Sino-American studies were published. This is a fact that could potentially encourage a certain dialogue.
China is behind in chip production but with 900 million users it has greater data availability without privacy constraints. Various Chinese apps have huge user bases which the Communist Party accesses without restrictions.
Among the actors, an essential role is played by private companies. The boundary between civil and military use of AI is undefined and the osmosis of knowledge between one and the other, just as the dual use of civil and military systems is intrinsic to these technologies. Google, Microsoft, TikTok, and Alibaba are essential protagonists in the development of AI and as such will inevitably be involved in the planning and development of AI systems in defense. In this regard it should be noted that Chinese private companies are massively financed by the state and the synergy between public and private is much closer than in the United States or Europe.
Having highly powerful computers to develop effective artificial intelligence models is an essential requirement to prevail in this field. That means hardware, chips and power. The new powerful computers with large computing capacity are increasingly complex and expensive. The chips necessary for AI will represent 20% of the semi-conductor market by 2025. This is the sector in which the USA exercises the greatest control over exports to China, also through pressure on other producing countries.
AI supported by large amounts of data will be fundamental in the wars of the future. However, according to some authors it will not radically transform combat. Human intelligence will remain in control of lethal weapons systems, including those that operate remotely (drones). The situation in the combat area is almost always confusing and complex and to effectively operate a weapon system, skill, cunning and the presence of human judgment will always be necessary. But a country that intends to prevail in an armed conflict will increasingly need "big data" and the ability to analyze information from the battlefield through AI. It will require efficient computers, algorithms and software to manage information as well as scientists, engineers and programmers in command posts to make best use of them. The Russian-Ukrainian war already provides a clear perception of the advantage of those who can conduct military operations based on data processing through AI.
The energy required to create AI models is much greater than the already enormous energy needed to “mining” bitcoins. This means that companies interested in the development of AI will increasingly also move towards the acquisition of energy sources. The availability of energy sources and water to cool computers will therefore be an advantage for the development of AI.
A detailed RAND study “Military Application of AI” commissioned by the Pentagon examines in depth multiple issues relating to the use of AI in the military context in the USA, China and Russia.
According to that study, the United States has thus far developed an assortment of military technologies with varying degrees of autonomy. The political leadership has been cautious in evaluating the decision to deploy autonomous weapons and even those who believe it is necessary to encourage their development, but not their deployment, remain of this opinion. Some "defensive" systems (Aegis and Phalanx missiles) have reached an operational stage due to the advantages they offer both in speed and maneuverability in the event of large-scale simultaneous attacks. On the contrary, in the case of "offensive" applications the attitude of political leaders is more conservative. This is because the speed advantage is less pressing in the case of offensive operations. Since the attackers have the option of initiative, they can choose the timing and methods of the attack, forcing the defenders to react. Furthermore, offensive operations imply greater ethical resistance. Attackers may decide not to attack if doing so would endanger civilians.
Defenders, on the other hand, do not have this choice and are granted greater freedom of action on an ethical level
being forced to save their lives. The result of these considerations is that the American leadership did not want to deploy autonomous offensive weapons even though they had already been developed and used in exercises.
The “Maven” project constitutes an interesting example of ethical and political resistance. It consists of a model designed to analyze videos and photographs collected by drones and satellites with the aim of accelerating the integration of big data and "machine learning". The project born in 2017 by Google has been managed since last year directly by the Geospatial Intelligence Agency since Google employees refused to continue developing it despite the project being limited to the collection and processing of data and not the management of armaments. The "ethical resistance" of the civilian components involved in the project could still put its further development into doubt. This is a clear example of how ethical aspects regarding AI applied to defense are politically relevant in Western democracies.
According to RAND, China is actively developing AI and robotics applied to defense. There are currently no known fully autonomous Chinese weapons systems. However, some of them already do so to a high degree and could easily operate without human control if their software were modified. We have already mentioned the Party's reluctance to cede any kind of meaningful control to other actors be they military commanders or software models. Beijing is conducting research into AI target identification that could make weapons systems more independent of human operators. Other studies concern autonomous systems designed to provide information aimed at facilitating and accelerating decision-making processes. According to Rand's study, it would be appropriate for the United States to engage Beijing in negotiations to ban lethal autonomous weapons. Unfortunately, despite requests from the US administration to initiate “military to military” discussions during Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Beijing in June 2023, in which AI would certainly be a central point of the agenda, China refused the meeting. The West would probably have everything to gain from a treaty that introduced mandatory human control of autonomous weapons since ethical standards in democracies are certainly stricter.
China is also very advanced in the development of the "operational concept" in the use of AI in the military field and in "cognitive warfare". Xi launched the idea, which in Italian is translated with the neologism "intellicization of the military instrument" to describe the key to the Chinese military reform still underway. China depends 85% on imports in the microchip sector which are essential for the development of AI and which are strongly hindered by the USA. However, in the strategic field, says Mr. Takaci, head of the Japanese Ministry of Defense for security in East Asia, the Chinese know that the ability to develop an innovative concept of tactical use of a system can make those who implement it prevail on an opponent with superior forces. A historical example is Germany's rapid victory over France at the beginning of the Second World War thanks to an innovative use of tanks (Blitzkrieg) despite France having more numerous and better-performing tanks than the Germans.
And in the Franco-Prussian war, despite the fact that France had superior railway technology to the Prussian one, Moltke managed to prevail over the French by using the railways to disperse and then concentrate, simultaneously maneuvering them, the Prussian troops on the objective (an idea that recalls that of the drone swarm). China is investing many resources in "cognitive warfare" which can be defined as a doctrine aimed at evaluating and exploiting to its advantage, with the help of AI and its extraordinary multiplier effect of analysis, psychological, cultural and emotional aspects that they guide human decisions in sync with other instruments of power. It aims to influence the opponent and gain the upper hand over the latter and does not necessarily imply confrontation. Its scope of action lies rather below the threshold of military conflict.
Russia is much less advanced than China, not to mention the US, in the field of AI. Russian development prospects are limited by structural, demographic and cultural factors. The Russian budget is smaller than that of the USA and China, and Russia has long suffered from a continuous exodus of talent from the country. Furthermore, like China, Russia is characterized by strong decision-making centralization. The Russian political leadership and high command would not allow the use of autonomous or even semi-autonomous weapons in scenarios where technical errors could generate escalatory situations. However, less reluctance towards the use of autonomous weapons could derive from the perception, in the current war in Ukraine, of a real threat to the security of its territory. The strategic concern could represent a priority for Russia. In this case, Moscow could be induced to use its own, albeit limited, capabilities in the field of military AI technology by employing them more aggressively than its adversary. Russia is also learning very quickly from its confrontation with Ukrainian forces in the field of AI applied to warfare.
AI in the military field in Great Britain, France and Italy
Great Britain: the website of the British Department of Defense on the topic of AI in defense appears ambitious, articulated, pragmatic and informative. In 72 pages, not only the chain of command of governance in the matter is indicated in detail but also clearly the policy for the use of AI in defense supported by practical examples "...the British commands can exercise rigorous and adequate control over AI weapon systems even without permanent and direct supervision of human supervision. This is the case of a naval platform capable of protecting itself from hypersonic missiles with autonomous systems that react faster than humans could." In the latter case the DoD introduces the limits of open sea and that of a specific threat of a supersonic missile within which the system can operate completely autonomously. As regards the budget, 6.6 billion pounds have been set aside for research and development for the years 2024-2025 and it is specified that "this provides an idea of the needs to deal with future threats including those deriving from AI and advanced weapons". directed energy” (laser weapons).
France: the Ministry of Defense publishes on the website the amount of the allocation relating to research and development of AI in the military sector which amounts to €700 million allocated for the period 2019-2025; the recruitment of 200 specialists by the current year (2023); the involvement of 5 General Directorates of the Ministry of Defense; reiterates the close coordination with the main players in the field of innovation, research and the defense industry; confirms the desire to keep the use of weapons in the hands of military commands, excluding a priori, as everyone else does at least in words, the "out of the loop" option of the unlimited human operator.
Italy: when visiting the sites of the Ministry of Defence, the General Staff, the CASD and Cemiss, one finds intense brainstorming activity on artificial intelligence, "emerging disruptive technologies", multi-domain operations, "cognitive warfare". The reference offices at the Ministry of Defense for artificial intelligence are the UGID (General Office for Defense Innovation) and at the Secretariat of Defense the V Department.
In the Defense budget for 2023, out of a total of 27,748.5 million euros, the Spending Chapter 7420 provides 120.3 million for "Interventions for the implementation of programs of high technological value" and the Chapter 7421 877.9 million for "Interventions for the development of high-tech industrial activities in the aeronautical and aerospace sectors" which include research and development on the topic of AI to an unspecified extent.
a on the PNRR underlines "the need to enhance the contribution to Defense by developing the applications of artificial intelligence".
According to the information collected, the Italian Armed Forces do not have weapon systems with totally autonomous capabilities. In the private sector, Leonardo, the Italian company considered the first company in the defense sector in the EU, has been developing technologies directly or indirectly linked to AI for years, specifying "to adhere to the standards that ensure that the use of weapon systems autonomous operators always guarantee human control on the loop or in the loop".
Alongside private companies, it is worth highlighting the contribution of academic institutions such as the Polytechnic of Milan and the Sapienza of Rome which have developed various projects in recent years, including UAV aircraft, in swarms or singles, equipped with statistical learning, automatic identification of targets, surveillance capabilities of pre-established areas, in operational missions and innovative autonomous driving systems for ground vehicles.
Lessons from Ukraine
Despite the growing pervasiveness of AI and cyber warfare, the conflict in Ukraine tells us that warfare is not all AI and cyber. The importance of preparation and the number of soldiers, the artillery, the quantity of ammunition available still play a large role. What the war is proving is that the "mass" in terms of striking force (soldiers, weapons, ammunition, logistics) and the "AI technology" associated with satellites, drones, electronic intelligence, must be interconnected to prevail over the enemy. The time factor has become a central element in this equation.
The Ukrainians have achieved incredible results by inventing combat in which a variety of sensors (video, interceptions of telephone communications, thermal images, radar, radio antennas) are able to discover enemy targets and communicate their position quickly to the best weapon in that available moment . They have created what is called a “kill-chain or kill-web” of unprecedented effectiveness and speed. A private app created by the Ukrainians called "the Uber of artillery" allows you to share enemy positions in real time with all the batteries in the area and intervene with efficiency and speed unthinkable with traditional communication systems. But the Russians are also quickly learning from the innovations of their Ukrainian adversaries.
Drones that autonomously identify tanks through AI systems provide the software with a very high number of images of tanks in the most different configurations: camouflaged, immersed in mud, semi-hidden by trees. Furthermore, they must be able to distinguish them from civil, agricultural and goods transport vehicles. Understand if the tank is friend or foe. Right now, Ukraine is the only place in the world where it is possible to collect the enormous amount of data that Ukrainian forces and the countries and software companies that assist them have been accumulating for 18 months. At the end of the war, the organizations and companies that have this information will be able to offer absolutely original products in the military field. It is obvious that this wealth of information is truly attractive for the military, intelligence and industry of many countries.
Technology increasingly also involves civilians as fighting forces. In the war in Ukraine the civilian population operates at the heart of the resistance against Russia. With the majority of civilians in possession of smartphones, Ukraine effectively has an army of 200,000 people who act as intelligence actors for enemy location, such as hackers carrying out attacks on Russian targets in Ukraine, or in Russia, and through commercial satellite platforms, in the world. This entails significant legal consequences. In fact, one of the key principles of international law is discrimination between combatants and non-combatants. If civilians identify enemy targets, fly drones over them, threaten enemy civilian facilities wherever they are located, are they still protected by international law as civilian subjects or do they rather become potential legitimate military targets? According to the Geneva Convention, in fact, civilians who take a direct part in hostilities lose this protection.
Even at sea, on land and in the air, the role of drones is rapidly expanding. If the Russian navy has much larger surface units in the Black Sea than Ukraine, the latter can significantly limit their movements near the coast thanks to AI models connected with drones and artillery. Naval drones (very similar to the Italian “explosive boats” of the First and Second World Wars) equipped with modern guidance systems, AI and satellite communications are the greatest threat to the Russian fleet.
The war of the future will be a war of AI and drones even at sea. After the attack on the North Stream Pipeline, the threat to underwater infrastructure is perceived as a priority risk. In the North Sea, 600 underwater drones, some of which are completely autonomous, monitor an area of 9 thousand km2 on behalf of Great Britain, Norway, Denmark and Germany. NATO created a new inter-allied coordination cell for submarine defense this year.

The introduction of artificial intelligence in the defense sector will influence many aspects of future conflicts, especially if applied to emerging destructive technologies, in which AI will play a key role. In addition to autonomous systems applied to numerous types of weapons, they include biotechnologies (in particular the creation of DNA), space technologies (hypersonic missiles and laser systems in orbit), quantum computers. AI is still a volatile subject where there are no shared definitions or interpretations nor a common perception of the advantages and dangers that these technologies entail. Some recent reflections by European allies underline the need to create a methodology aimed at defining a common language and strategies to be adopted at an international level. Concrete systematization proposals aimed at creating an inventory of these technologies and an analysis of the risks and opportunities they entail are currently circulating on the initiative of some countries. Among the risks, for example, is that of lowering the threshold for the use of force generated by non-traditional destructive technologies such as cyber ones. Among the opportunities is to increase the effectiveness of arms control mechanisms. This is an effort aimed at finding the most suitable international instruments aimed at regulating this complex matter which takes into account the sensitivities and interests of the numerous actors involved: governments, public institutions, industry and civil society.


Diplomacy and Geopolitics

Diplomacy and Geopolitics - ATLANTIS

This Diplomatic Letter follows the previous one, dedicated to the use of artificial intelligence in the military sector. In the first letter, after introducing the general theme of AI and its "weaponisation", we focused on the ongoing competition between the main powers and the role that AI is having in the war in Ukraine. Here we will deal with the ethical and legal implications and the growing awareness of the risks deriving from the use of weapon systems managed by AI which has led governments to intensify international consultations and meetings aimed at containing them.

Ethical and legal problems of the use of artificial intelligence in the military field
An essential element in assessing the danger of AI applied to weapon systems is their level of autonomy in the decision-making process that precedes the attack in the observation, orientation and decision phases. There are three levels of autonomy attributable to these weapons and vary depending on the type of human involvement. In the first, the man is "in the loop" and must give consent to activate the weapon system. In this case the system is defined as semi-autonomous. In the second the man is "on the loop". That is, he supervises the process of research, identification and engagement of the system but can intervene at any time to prevent or interrupt the engagement. In this case the system is autonomous but supervised. In the third case "out of the loop" the human operator cannot intervene and the system is defined as completely autonomous.
Weapon systems associated with AI, especially if "out of the loop", which indicates total autonomy, pose serious ethical and legal problems. The General States often tend to state that their use is intended for anti-missile defense or to protect against sudden air attacks or in the case of offensive operations for attacks on fixed infrastructures (for example radar, telecommunications systems). That is, they maintain that the targets would be chosen from inanimate structures, military vehicles and non-civilian targets. Or which are intended for use in open environments (sea) where there is no danger to civilians. However, the possibility that autonomous weapons systems become weapons of mass destruction is, according to scientists, experts and journalists, a real possibility and many are worried about the dangers of a development in this direction. Whatever their level, in fact, they would not respond to the "principle of discrimination between combatants and civilians" in violation of the Geneva Convention. There is little doubt about the fact that autonomous weapons fall within the area of competence of international law and that it is therefore up to the international community to regulate their use as soon as possible.
Various jurists and scientists exclude that autonomous weapon systems can be used, in compliance with the Geneva Convention, in combat situations, especially on land, where the theater is dynamic and complex and civilians and military are often disorderly amalgamated. There does not yet appear to be the possibility of training a drone to operate autonomously in such fluid situations. The opportunity to entrust command decision-making processes in war to an algorithm raises many doubts even among some militaries. Decisions in war in fact require the interpretation of complex and uncertain political and military information and assessments that imply maturity and judgment beyond technical skills. Among other things, there is a serious danger that these systems could fall into the hands of unscrupulous state and non-state actors with serious risks to global security. Unlike what happened in the past when few powers had large destructive capabilities, whether conventional or nuclear, AI is a tool that can be used by a variety of actors due to its easier proliferation. AI algorithms are easier to copy and disseminate than physical objects. And the AI models will soon also be manageable from Smartphones. No technology has so far been so easily and quickly accessible on a global level. In fact, if the creation of AI models requires large resources, powerful computers and high computing capacity, the use of such models which could be used for insidious cyber attacks is also possible by individuals in possession of common devices. This risk is increased by the fact that the boundary between civil and military applications of AI is very blurry. An autonomous system created to fly an airliner can also fly a fighter-bomber. An application to create a vaccine can also build and spread a virus.
However, the major powers see immense advantages in AI applied to defense and will not easily accept constraints that slow down their development and leave them behind others. A massive collection of data effectively processed by AI allows commanders to perceive the tactical and strategic picture with incomparable resolution and precision for both defensive and attack purposes.
This evolution, which is perhaps already a revolution in progress, will entail contradictory needs: that of preparing the armed forces to prevail in the event of conflict by means of weapon systems based on artificial intelligence and that of guaranteeing, at the same time , respect for fundamental humanitarian principles such as protecting non-combatant civilians. Also maintain the development of these weapons systems by ensuring that they do not escape human control with escalatory risks with catastrophic consequences. But one would be erring on the side of optimism by counting on the fact that the major competitors (USA, China and Russia) will even give up completely autonomous weapons a priori (i.e. those with a human operator out of the loop).
AI governance and international institutions
Artificial intelligence is a powerful technology destined to become increasingly pervasive, more effective, more widespread, more economically accessible and more autonomous. It is no wonder that the governance models known so far will not prove adequate. Flexibility, speed and imagination will be needed to create new ones that are adaptable to the exponential development of AI.
If it is possible to find forms of AI governance, they will hardly be able to take on the traditional forms of exclusive management used so far by governments and it will be necessary to include companies and other private actors in relevant positions in management.
The revolution initiated by AI will largely take place outside the state apparatus as it moves too quickly for the pace of operation that characterizes the latter. It will also be essential to establish a dialogue between the major powers to limit the security risks that may arise from it (Bremmer).
The sensitivity of international institutions on the topic is growing rapidly. There is now broad consensus on the fact that the human operator must always remain in control of AI systems that manage weapons. And it is certainly desirable that the use of AI in the military sector increasingly becomes a topic of debate at an international and internal level. On a multilateral level, and especially within the United Nations, it will be easier to bring to light the countries capable of allocating large resources for the development of AI systems and verify their real willingness to negotiate the limits to the development of AI in the field. military.
On 15 February 2023, the first Global Summit on the responsible use of AI in the military field REAIM (Responsible Artificial Intelligence in the Military) met in The Hague, in which Foreign Ministers took part to discuss the opportunities, challenges and risks connected to it. 80 governments were officially represented at the summit with the participation of 2000 delegates from 100 countries. The next summit will take place in Korea. The aim of the next meeting will be to seek consensus towards the responsible development, deployment and use of AI in the military sector within the limits of international laws. So far, over 60 countries have joined the "Call to Action" document on the responsible use of AI, produced at the conclusion of the work.
In the conclusions of the REAIM Conference, the delegates in point 3 "acknowledge that they are not able to understand and anticipate the implications and challenges that arise from the introduction of AI in numerous applications in the military sector”.
Developing an "AI litteracy" is urgent and indispensable to govern its unpredictable developments. Faced with the disorientation caused by the unpredictability of the consequences that AI can produce in the military field, a contradiction emerges. On the one hand there is a strong interest in collaborating to explore the advantages that can derive from the exchange to increase the military capabilities of each country, on the other there is that of collaborating to control the dangerous drifts that can originate from an instrument that is still unknown and imponderable.
On May 26, 2023, the G7 launched the "Hiroshima AI Process", a forum dedicated to the harmonization of AI governance that is in line with the democratic values of its members and takes into account the delicate safety aspects of the matter.
On 18 July 2023, United Nations Secretary General Guterres delivered a vibrant speech to the Security Council on the need to regulate AI due to the security risks that its developments entail. This intervention marks an important stage since for the first time the topic of AI was debated there despite the disagreements that divide its members today. In his speech, Guterres evokes the danger of attacks on vital infrastructure and the horrific levels of death and destruction that AI, associated with cyber warfare, could cause by states, terrorist groups and criminals. He focuses on the destabilization and security risks induced by the development of AI in the military field. He fears the danger that nuclear and biotechnological weapons could be associated with AI models. “The widespread availability of AI tools and their easy access, the difficulty of locating AI tools, unlike nuclear weapons and chemical agents, the role that private actors can play in this field - states Guterres - has few equal in other strategic technologies". He therefore advocates the creation of a United Nations body which, like the IAEA in the nuclear field, develops the lines to govern this technology and to this end he has decided to convene an Advisory Board for AI which will report by the end of 2023 on options that can lead to global AI governance. Furthermore, he recommends that States initiate AI regulation at the national level that respects Humanitarian Law; to commit to developing rules, regulations and principles on the applications of AI in the military field at a multilateral level and to set up a "global framework" to regulate the use of AI in the fight against terrorism. The ultimate goal is to formulate a binding legal instrument banning the use of autonomous weapons operating without human control by 2026.
Guterres' intervention in the Security Council was most appropriate. A sudden crisis between great powers may leave no time to start negotiations on AI-driven weapons. It is essential that, starting with the major players, mechanisms are identified to guarantee decision times compatible with those necessary for human reflection. Kissinger, and his co-authors Schmidt and Huttenlocher, in the “Age of Artificial Intelligence” (Mondadori, July 2023), clearly express the urgent need for “leaders of rival nations to be ready to talk to each other regularly about the risks of AI for security as their predecessors did during the Cold War.”
The European Council, on the basis of a Commission study on AI, proposed a text (AI Act) in 2021 aimed at regulating the subject of artificial intelligence. The European Parliament voted for it, by a large majority, in June 2023, accompanying it with recommendations and amendments. This is one of the most ambitious documents produced so far by an authoritative international institution, certainly destined to become a global reference in this field. However, despite it recognizing the need for a coordinated approach "to ensure peace and security through arms control", the military sphere escapes the regulation of the European Union. As already mentioned, the President of the Commission von der Leyen, on 13 September 2023 in his speech on the state of the European Union, dedicated ample space to the need for regulation of AI, committing to present a legislative project within one hundred days.
The EU's position on the matter is also evident from the recent speech of its ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on 3 August 2023 in which he underlines the need for the development, production, deployment and use of LAWS (League Autonomous Weapons Systems) to take place in compliance with international law and in particular humanitarian law. A distinction is put forward by the EU ambassador between autonomous weapons (which, being in conflict with international humanitarian law, cannot be developed or produced) and those weapons which, despite having autonomous characteristics, are regulated by international humanitarian law or are compatible with it . But, beyond the recommendations, he himself admits that the EU's area of regulatory competence does not currently include that of AI developed for military purposes.
AI-driven systems provided by European industry to Ukraine are a key asset for its resistance to the Russian invasion. Unmanned vehicles and aircraft supplied by Norway, Luxembourg and Great Britain and underwater drones sent by the Netherlands are tasked with preventing Russian attacks. Unmanned ground vehicles and autonomous mobile centers greatly enhance Ukrainian intelligence capabilities. AI systems for acoustic detection warn in advance the arrival of missiles. Now, while European industry is working at full speed, Europe's political leadership gives the impression of ignoring the role that individual member countries and European industry actually play in the conflict as suppliers of AI in the military field. The EU proposal for an AI regulation (Artificial Intelligence Act EU) claims to promote the ethical use of AI as well as respect for human rights but then recalls, "en passant", that the military uses of AI go beyond its competences. This leaves individual Member States with plenty of room for maneuver in the area of military AI. This is why it would be appropriate, according to Rosanna Fanni of CEPS, for the EU to enter into the matter and provide guidelines for both dual-use and military systems. This would serve to direct the armed forces and the defense industry towards the creation and use of systems that comply with a shared European position and humanitarian law. According to this analysis, a European directive on the military use of AI would represent an essential reference at a global level and for any other international institution. It would also give the perception that Europe intends to play a role in the governance of AI to limit its risks and use in contravention of humanitarian laws.
The Atlantic Alliance is also sensitive, albeit from a different perspective, to the implications of AI. The NATO Review Board on AI met on 7 February 2023 with the aim of developing a standard certification to help institutions and industries of allied countries ensure that the artificial intelligence projects they develop are in line with standards and the values of the Atlantic Alliance, among which first and foremost is respect for international law and humanitarian laws. The latter are contained in the October 2021 document which establishes concrete guidelines as well as "checks and balances" on the governability, traceability and reliability of the systems. The standards, which will also apply to data exploitation and include quality controls, will be presented to the Atlantic Council by the end of 2023.
One of the most interesting problems that Kissinger raises in his latest book on AI is that of the problematic nature of negotiations and deterrence in the field of AI-controlled weapons. In particular, he draws a comparison between cyber weapons, even more closely associated with AI than other weapons, and nuclear weapons. Of the latter, unlike the former, it has so far been possible to prohibit the use thanks to negotiations between the powers based on the balance of terror: "we find ourselves on the threshold of a strategic transformation equally full of consequences as the advent of nuclear weapons but with more diversified, widespread and unpredictable effects". The problem, according to Kissinger, is that “evaluating the nuclear balance was rather simple. The nuclear warheads could be counted and their destructive power was well known." Conversely, AI and computing capabilities are dynamic, not firmly fixed and difficult to track. “Once trained they can easily be copied and used by rather small machines. And identifying their presence or verifying their absence is difficult if not impossible."
Furthermore, in negotiations on nuclear forces it was possible to describe the characteristics of one's warheads and their carriers "without compromising the function of one's armament." In the field of cyber armaments - a category which is still legally non-existent - revealing the characteristics of one's devices can cause their neutralization by adversaries. The counterparty, in fact, on the basis of this knowledge, can intervene with immediate defensive countermeasures or by equipping itself with aggressive tools towards the revealed vulnerabilities of the adversary.
As regards deterrence, although AI has processing capabilities, it does not possess the emotional component, nor the ethical one nor the political sensitivity to implement dissuasive mechanisms against the adversary.
The introduction of artificial intelligence in the defense sector will influence many aspects of future conflicts, especially if applied to emerging destructive technologies, in which AI will play a key role. In addition to autonomous systems applied to numerous types of weapons, they include biotechnologies (in particular the creation of DNA), space technologies (hypersonic missiles and laser systems in orbit), quantum computers. AI is still a volatile subject where there are no shared definitions or interpretations nor a common perception of the advantages and dangers that these technologies entail. Some recent reflections by European allies underline the need to create a methodology aimed at defining a common language and strategies to be adopted at an international level. Concrete systematization proposals aimed at creating an inventory of these technologies and an analysis of the risks and opportunities they entail are currently circulating on the initiative of some countries. Among the risks, for example, is that of lowering the threshold for the use of force generated by non-traditional destructive technologies such as cyber ones. Among the opportunities is to increase the effectiveness of arms control mechanisms. This is an effort aimed at finding the most suitable international instruments aimed at regulating this complex matter which takes into account the sensitivities and interests of the numerous actors involved: governments, public institutions, industry and civil society.

Environment and Geopolitics

Environment and Geopolitics - ATLANTIS

The geopolitics of climate: from the Mediterranean to the Indo-Pacific
Eleonora Lorusso
Climate and global changes were also discussed at the G20 in India, while extreme events in the Mediterranean increased by 135%. Fazzini: “We all have an ethical duty to act to reverse the trend”
The climate has no borders and the demonstration, in recent months, has come from several sensational cases: increasingly violent rains, sudden storms with devastating consequences, winds that lash territories and coasts. Like those of the Mediterranean, which seems to be experiencing unprecedented tropicalisation. It happened with the flood in Emilia Romagna, which on several occasions between May and June 2023 left a deep wound. But it wasn't the only recent extreme climate event. According to Sima, the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine, 432 highly serious episodes were recorded throughout 2022 and in the first five months of 2023 in Italy alone. Last year, 310 hailstorms, storms, tornadoes and similar phenomena occurred, while in the first 5 months of 2023 there was a 135% increase in adverse phenomena compared to the same period last year (122 ). But the problem does not only concern Italy, and it does not only have to do with particularly intense rainfall. Overheating is also a concern.
According to data from the European Climate and Health Observatory, between 2000 and 2018 in Europe as many as 835 thousand deaths were caused by extreme temperatures and last summer was an example of this. At a global level, the figure has almost doubled in the same period of time. Returning to the Mediterranean basin, the memory of the devastating flood that hit Libya is still fresh, causing an unprecedented death toll: from the first hours, after the violent rains and the consequent collapse of two dams in the Derna area, 10 thousand victims are estimated, as well as thousands missing and injured. In this case there was talk, for the second time in a few weeks (before it had also happened in Italy, in August), about “Medicane".
The term, a journalistic synthesis of Mediterranean hurricane, is however also used by climatologists who have long been studying the changes that are taking place in the Mare Nostrum. In fact, the magazine Scientific Reports had already written about a form of hurricane typical of the Mediterranean, before the events in Libya, explaining: "Medicanas have characteristics similar to tropical cyclones, both when they are observed on satellite images and when they take into consideration their dynamic and thermodynamic characteristics". What is especially striking is the fact that these are phenomena that in the past were only associated with tropical areas, such as Florida. They have an "eye" in common, with a spiral of clouds surrounding it, even if there are some differences compared to what they record in the Mediterranean: according to the authors of the article, compared to tropical cyclones, "the duration of Medicanes is limited to a few days, due to the reduced extension of the Mediterranean Sea, their major form of energy". Furthermore, the extension of the Medicane would be smaller in terms of kilometres.
“We could define it as a small hurricane, a Mediterranean version. To be such, however, two elements are needed: the winds on the ground must be at least 120 km per hour; furthermore there is a unique peculiarity for the Mediterranean hurricane, namely that this type of low pressure has a warm heart. It means that in the center the vertical column of air is warmer than the outline of the depression itself. This is typical of tropical storms and Medicane, while usually extratropical depressions have a cold heart, that is to say that the temperatures in the centre, in the eye, are lower than the external ones", explains Massimiliano Fazzini, climatologist at the University of Camerino, coordinator on climate risk of Sigea, the Italian Society of Environmental Geology, which on the occasion of the flood in Libya had reached Tunisia with the intention of arriving in Derna, stopping due to the impossibility of accessing the airports close to the places of the disaster.
Fazzini himself, who has always been very cautious in his comments relating to global climate change, clarifies: “A premise must be made: the Mediterranean is a real hotspot, a particular area to be studied. Interactions with other extreme phenomena occurring around the world are difficult to establish. What is important to underline, however, is that in the last 15 years the possibility of a Medicane forming in the late summer-autumn season has tripled. Previously we saw one every 4/5 years, while today the frequency is one every year and a half. In recent years, as many as 5 have occurred. This is a bad sign: in the presence of this type of disturbance, the risks for the population increase, as we saw in Derna”.
The consequences of increasingly intense and violent disturbances, in fact, must warn against possible consequences of increasingly larger dimensions. In the case of Libya, heavy rains caused the failure of the dams, due to a so-called 'siphoning' of the walls of the two sides. In fact, the enormous mass of water would have dug around, making the lateral support disappear. “In this case it should be noted that there were no victims near the dams. The situation is different for the inhabitants of the downstream areas, where the mass of water and mud has found highly populated centers. This must teach us and remind us of one important thing: we must not build near rivers and we, in Italy, should know this given what happened just a few months ago in Emilia Romagna - explains the climatologist - With ongoing climate change, places they may not be risky in themselves, but they become dangerous if you build close to them,” adds the expert.
The flood in Libya is a catastrophic event, but also exceptional, especially for that area. But the facts impose reflections that have no boundaries. “It was undoubtedly an extremely important and abundant rainfall. Suffice it to say that in certain areas of Cyrenaica 420 millimeters of rain fell in 24 hours, compared to an annual average of 350 millimetres. It is, therefore, a quantity that is usually recorded in a year and which, in this case, fell in a single day", explains Fazzini, who adds: "Along the coast, however, winds hit at a speed of 180 km per hour. All this suggests - data in hand - that this Mediterranean cyclone has evolved towards a subtropical cyclone, a so-called 'Medicane', in fact. It is clear, therefore, that this is yet another demonstration of the fact that the Mediterranean basin is experiencing tropical storms in late summer", underlines the climatologist.
Furthermore, the climate was also discussed at the G20 in India, which concluded just before the floods in Libya. “It was discussed at the summit, in fact, but in the end without concrete conclusions, unfortunately. The point, however, is the need to find real solutions, which seem to be of no real interest to anyone", observes the climate scientist. “The proof is that Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, was chosen for COP28 in 2023, the world climate conference. I think it is almost cloying given that it is a country that bases a large part of its wealth on oil – explains Fazzini – Let's also think about the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa): India, China and Brazil alone count 3 billion 600 thousand inhabitants. If places like the Arabian Peninsula now become part of it, they will have half the world's population, but they are also the countries from which 90% of oil production comes. At the moment there is no sign from these realities of wanting to reverse course."
“Nevertheless, we have a moral duty to do something, to make our contribution to having cleaner seas, less polluting environments, and to contribute to – hypothetical – carbon neutrality by 2050. I fear that it is too optimistic an objective, which is unlikely to reach this generation, but the hope is that it can be done with the next one", concludes the climate scientist.

Space and Geopolitics

Space and Geopolitics - ATLANTIS

Private initiative and the take-off of the aerospace sector
Domenico Letizia
The first international event in the aerospace sector took place in San Marino. On October 25-26 on Titan there was a great opportunity for discussion for economic operators, companies, startups and investors in the "sky" industry. A very important event for the aerospace sector and for private companies linked to the sector. A territorial and industrial marketing operation for the economic and geopolitical growth of the small state. La Guaita, also known as the Fortress or simply the First Tower, the largest and oldest of the three fortresses that dominate the City of San Marino, attempts to rise into space. On 25 and 26 October 2023 there was the first international event linked to the world of aerospace in the Republic of San Marino. A biennial where for two days, the famous Ancient Land of Freedom, hosted B2B, matching, demonstrations, laboratories, conferences and insights on the aerospace theme: research, experience, innovation, cutting-edge technologies, for the supply chain and for the entire induced. It was a great opportunity for economic operators, companies and startups, where the knowledge of the main representatives and investors of the aerospace industry, as well as of the production and technological realities, in this context, can find new opportunities for growth. San Marino was an important event to help understand the opportunities in the sector also for Italian companies. The Italian aerospace sector is made up of organizations active in the design of components, systems, apparatus and equipment, companies involved in addictive manufacturing processes and others that produce components in composite materials, as well as organizations involved in control and communication systems , in specialized shipping and logistics systems, with approximately 70% of their production destined for foreign markets. In this world it becomes undeniable not to evaluate, with due attention, the high geopolitical value, defining not only the trajectories of technological and economic development, but above all the trend lines relating to the foreign policy strategy that Italy will pursue.
In a historical phase in which the balance between the great powers is defined mainly on the ground of technological advancement, industrial and economic collaboration, Italy can take on a central role at a European level in strengthening the partnership with the United States. Space is something extremely vertical, which needs to be understood in different industrial policy trajectories, which should be systemic and perhaps the time has come to consolidate and promote the galaxy of our small and medium-sized enterprises. In some cases, Space Venture Capital mania has infected some SMEs which, already lacking a few trajectories and a weak organizational and strategic system, try their hand at wanting to acquire start-ups and similar. Space Economy seems to have become a passepartout term to demonstrate how investments in the space sector have certain commercial and social repercussions, to the benefit of our country. But in the current global competition, this will only happen through an industrial policy with clear geopolitical, strategic and economic objectives. With the gradual recovery of the A&D sector and the need to preserve our country's technological advantage, Italian companies are redirecting their efforts on innovation, aimed at the development of new technologies, on the research and creation of new markets and, in general, on expanding growth opportunities. The Italian government has decided to allocate approximately 2.3 billion from the Recovery Fund to support the digital transition of the sector with a particular focus on improving satellite Earth observation technologies and the space economy. Given the nature of aerospace technologies (dual-use), indirect but positive impacts are also expected on the defense sector first and then on society as a whole. In order to generate all the aforementioned benefits and increase the multiplier effect of the industry on our GDP, it becomes crucial to coordinate the actions with those planned for technical-scientific training. With respect to the use of PNRR resources, some critical elements remain: the choice to implement part of the PNRR projects using the technical-administrative support of the European Space Agency (ESA), with regards to programs relating to the earth observation and access to space, for a total amount of approximately 1.3 billion euros.

Actuality and Geopolitics

Actuality and Geopolitics - ATLANTIS

The America of today and tomorrow: new allies and old rivals
Eleonora Lorusso
In the United States, which is preparing for the 2024 presidential election campaign, nationalism and internal divisions are increasing. “The America of today is no longer the America of September 11, 2001,” say the experts
Twenty-two years is a lifetime and a moment. US President Joe Biden recalled this on the occasion of the last anniversary of the September 11 attacks, sending a message from a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, from where he commemorated the 2,977 people who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks. 2001. He did not directly participate in the traditional ceremonies at the sites of the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, but wanted to underline: "9/11 changed history, but not the character of the USA."
Yet many people think that America today is very different from that of 22 years ago. On a cultural, ethnic, but also national level: a deeply divided America, which is about to experience months of political battles in view of the 2024 presidential elections. «What has changed in these 22 years is that America has paid the consequences of the hyper reaction to the shock of September 11th. Having reacted with a purely military strategy to those terrorist attacks increased the process of squandering America's economic, but also moral, resources. The US empire, which was already in the process of overextension, has expanded further", explains Federico Petroni, Limes analyst and editor of the observatory column on the United States American Flames. «The consequence was twofold: on the one hand, rivals were allowed to prepare to challenge America, while America was busy with something else; on the other hand, the consequence was a disillusionment of the US population, due to a series of endless wars. The result was a very strong decline in the popular willingness to sacrifice themselves for the national interest - explains Petroni - Today Americans are less inclined to use force, because they have used it disproportionately in theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan.”
What distinguishes the United States today is in fact a strong sense of internal opposition and it is no coincidence that President Biden's message appealed for unity. «The specter of terrorism and Islamism is no longer there, but above all there is no longer even the simulacrum of that national unity which at that time was stimulated precisely by terrorism. Today the United States is a country extremely divided from an ideological, ethical and generational point of view, it is a country that can be defined as in transition towards new balances. That unifying element of anger and pain for the most serious attack suffered on one's territory has almost completely vanished. This was seen precisely from the commemoration ceremony for the victims of September 11th which, despite being bipartisan, maintained strong divisions between republicans and democrats in the background", explains Oliviero Bergamini, head of foreign affairs at Tg1, former correspondent from the United States and author of numerous books on American history.
Even on the foreign policy front, however, there have been changes, with new "adversaries" and competitors: «A lot has changed in this case too: China has taken on a totally new proportion: it is an aggressive competitor and an adversary in the battle for hegemony in the world. The scenario is however complicated" observes Bergamini, who underlines how in the aftermath of the G20 in India this country demonstrated its importance: "It is on the rise and will be able to form an axis with other non-aligned countries less subject to Washington's influence than in the aftermath of September 11th. Today the USA has a less strong, authoritative and unconditional position at a global level, even if it maintains a wide-ranging leadership. We are not yet multipolar, but we are approaching bipolar or tripolar, albeit tempered", explains Bergamini.
«The USA has clear ideas about its adversaries – agrees Petroni – First by far China, then to a lesser extent Russia. There are also some regional ancillary rivals such as Iran and North Korea. As regards allies, however, for the USA they are those countries included in a strategic availability, of which they claim to use some of their resources for American purposes and interests. We could call them the 'broader West' or the 'strategic West', i.e. member countries of the European Union and NATO. In the Indo-Pacific area, however, they are Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Finally, they follow countries that the US is actively courting to use to encircle Russia and China, such as India, the Philippines and Vietnam.”
But how have relations with Europe changed specifically and how could they change with the new American elections in 2024 upon us? «Biden is the last iron Atlanticist of a generation that saw a privileged relationship between the USA and Europe, which was considered an important element of American solidity in the world. If a younger president were to arrive, he would not have had the experience of the Cold War, in which there was a community of interests between Europe and the USA. Obviously if a Trump or a Republican were to win, the US-EU relationship would be dramatically affected, because the Republican Party is now a nationalist party", replies Petroni.
Next year's elections could represent a watershed in relations with Europe, but also in the internal balance of the US. «What unites the USA and Europe today is certainly the issue of the war in Ukraine: US President Joe Biden is certainly happy with how EU countries support the war against Putin, but on an economic and geostrategic level Europe is losing ground. Meanwhile, since Obama's time and perhaps even before, the USA has been looking at Asia with new and greater attention. Furthermore, the EU is not compact within itself, so it plays its role, but it is destined to count less. From an economic point of view, however, the ecological conversion plan supported by Biden essentially translates into protectionism with respect to many European products and this creates tension. For now, all this is still tempered by the need to form a common front against Putin's Russia in Ukraine", underlines Bergamini.
In fact, nationalism has increased in the USA, also supported by emerging figures such as Vivek Ramaswamy, candidate in the Republican primaries and considered more "hawkish" than Donald Trump. Entrepreneur and businessman, founder of Roivant Sciences GmbH, already at the head of 10 different companies, he graduated from Yale Law School and Harvard College. Born in Cincinnati (Ohio) to immigrant parents, 38 years old, he represents an example of the new emerging, multi-ethnic social class. «He is an interesting character for his personal history, for his ethnic origin and is very skilled with the media, from which he receives a lot of attention», observes Bergamini. His origins, among other things, confirm the growing presence of citizens of Indian origins on American soil. Suffice it to say that the Indian population represents the second largest group of immigrants in the USA, after Mexicans and Sino-Filipinos. An estimated 2.7 million Indians live in America today, who have contributed to the 6% growth in the share of foreign-born citizens born in the United States and whose number is growing. «Figures like Ramaswami see Europe as a burden, a problem that risks dragging them into war and as countries that inappropriately interfere in the purely national American debate, as well as as commercial competitors», observes Petroni.
As for the possibility that he could reach the White House or the Republican nomination, however, Bergamini is cautious: «It seems to me that he does not have the same strength as Donald Trump, despite his legal troubles and indeed also thanks to these, which strengthen his image as martyr among his supporters. I see it as unlikely that he will get the Republican nomination, however he would be a weaker candidate than Trump against Biden. But it is interesting how new figures emerge, indicative of a transformation underway in the USA, where in a few years non-Hispanic whites will become a minority. America will become even more multi-ethnic and there will be an increase in new young leaders from this background, both Republicans and Democrats", concludes Bergamini.

Geopolitics and University: Sconfinare

Geopolitics and University: Sconfinare - ATLANTIS

BRICS: what lies behind the wall
Marco, d'Orso Aldo and Sitta Francesco

In the last period, following the declarations of the 2023 Summit in South Africa, there has been talk of BRICS again. At this meeting, the candidacy for entry of new countries such as Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina was announced, along with 22 others who have formally requested membership. The news was greeted with fear and concern especially by the West, as this group of countries with emerging economies is often considered a more compact front than it actually is.
The economist Jim O'Neill, president of Goldman Sachs, was the first to coin the term BRIC in 2001, predicting that the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China would grow dramatically in the years to come and that the latter would therefore impacted the global economic structure and invited the Western institutions of the time to give greater weight to the new emerging players. Initially, there was even a proposal to replace some Western members of the G7 with these emerging economies. However, the West did not prove favorable in establishing a real dialogue with these countries, while the BRICs require a substantial change at the top and the recognition of greater representativeness.

In 2009, the first BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, which had as its objectives the reform of international political and economic institutions to recognize a role of greater importance for Brazil and India, thus building a more "democratic" international system, no longer limited to few privileged countries. The meeting therefore made public, in a year that put Western economies to the test, the discontent of the BRICs towards a world that no longer reflected the global balance of power. In 2010 the acronym evolved into "BRICS" following South Africa's move closer to the group of countries with emerging economies. Within the path of liberation from the economic institutions of the Western world, the fundamental step taken by the BRICS was to promote mutual economic development without having to refer to the IMF or the World Bank. At the 2013 Durban Summit, the foundations were laid for the creation of the New Development Bank, with the aim of protecting the economies of member countries and supporting their growth. Since 2014, with the occupation of Crimea by Russia, the BRICS have also strengthened themselves politically, intensifying mutual relations.
On the domestic front, however, they are by no means free from problems. Rarely, in fact, are common interests guiding relations between members and much more often, instead, the latter find standard bearers solely for their own national objectives. This is obviously an enormous weakness that works against the organization in the case of a hypothetical but futuristic comparison with Western organizations. An example of one of the numerous contradictions that characterize the BRICS is undoubtedly the divergence between China and India regarding the clashes on the Ladakh border. This area is rich in mineral deposits and represents a fundamental crossroads of trade between Southern, Central and Eastern Asia and during 1960 it underwent a tripartite division between India, Pakistan and China. If it is true that China managed to conclude agreements regarding the area's border with Pakistan, it should be noted that the borders between the two most populous countries in the world are not yet delineated. This led to clashes between India and China, which began in 1962 and following which the LAC, Line of Actual Control, was established, a provisional border delineated at the time of the Chinese "ceasefire" order. It, however, is a de jure but not de facto border, which gave rise to numerous border crossings by both armies and actual knife fights in 2020 which also claimed some victims among the border guards.
Another rather well-known example of the divergences between BRICS countries concerns the set of discordant Russian and Chinese statements and positions regarding the conflict in Ukraine. Since its inception, in fact, the relationship between the two countries has undergone numerous changes and, although the ideological alignment between Russia and China regarding the opposition to the expansion of NATO is now clear, Beijing reserves positions of ambiguity, which, on the one hand they can be understood as evidence of support for Russia, while on the other they can be interpreted as distancing from its actions. Furthermore, it is nothing new that the close Russian-Chinese bond significantly affects Chinese affairs with the West, which from an economic point of view are of decidedly more interest to the "Middle Empire" than those with Russia. In fact, it has taken positions that are decidedly less provocative than the Russian ones and in favor of Ukrainian territorial integrity.

Furthermore, frictions are even present among some of the countries applying for BRICS membership, as in the case of Ethiopia and Egypt. Recently, tensions have arisen between these two regarding the "Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam" project which aims to build a dam on the course of the Blue Nile, one of the two branches that flow into the Nile. Although on the one hand this initiative would allow the construction of the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa, which would help address the energy crisis that has been slowing down Ethiopian economic growth for decades, Egypt would be severely damaged, as the project would drastically reduce the volume of water flowing along the river from which 97% of the country's water resources come.
The construction of the dam, which began in 2011, has seen new controversies emerge in recent years between Ethiopia on the one hand and Egypt and Sudan on the other, especially when the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed threatened any attempt to thwart the project with an army intervention.
On 10 September this year, however, the completion of the dam was announced by the Ethiopian government without the knowledge of Egypt, which following the declaration reinforced its criticism of the Ethiopian action, considered unilateral and in violation of the agreements cooperation achieved in 2015 between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

It can be stated, therefore, that the BRICS and the possible new entries do not yet represent an imminent danger for the current global political-economic balance and in the same way in critical moments the BRICS reveal themselves to be what they are, that is, an apparently cohesive but which hides within it multiple contradictions.

Communication and Geopolitics and Books

Communication and Geopolitics and Books - ATLANTIS

Watch out for the pen!
Cristina Pappalardo
Photography is a tool of geopolitics. It was fundamental in the geographical documentation of the territory, in its description and in its graphic creation. Geography and cartography became objects of interest in cultural circles from the mid-twentieth century, which considered photos to be realistic representations, social documents useful for outlining landscape transformations, such as urbanization or ruralization, or socio-cultural mutations.
In the Renaissance, cartography was a useful tool for Western colonizers to discover new worlds and testify to their taking possession. Visual art therefore began to transmit knowledge full of socio-political meanings. Photography has often been a means of cultural and artistic communication aimed at underlining the power of Westerners.
The invention of cinematographic film dates back to 1885 by the Italian George Eastman, while the first cinematographic shot is believed to be Man Walking Around a Corner, a 3-second short film, made on 18 August 1887 by the Frenchman Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince. On December 28, 1895, the Lumière brothers organized the first cinema screening in Paris. We therefore remain within the European context.
The same photo or a sequence of a film seen from different perspectives can arouse reactions of various kinds because they are highly oriented sources of non-verbal communication. Just think of the political propaganda in the magazines of totalitarian regimes in Italy, Germany, Spain or the magazines in Russia which described the five-year plans and the affirmation of socialism in that country. Writing has the same conditioning and persuasive capabilities of photography now as it did then. She who is however deeply linked to the visual sphere. Photographers and writers are basically alike. Both are united by a passion for what they describe ontologically and deontologically. They are linked to the moment of inspiration, to the random shot, to an instant sensation. Vivid examples are Steve Mc Curry, in "Young Afghan refugee girl with green eyes" and Robert Doisneau in "Kiss at the Hotel de Ville", symbol of rebirth after the Second World War, or even the photo of the rebel face to face with tank in Tiananmen Square. These are political photos of social denunciation and elicit a strong response from viewers.
Photography and writing immortalize a time and a place, making them special, almost crystallizing them and embellishing them with ideas that are sometimes subjective and sometimes objective. Some writers have taken the camera in hand to immortalize the most significant traits of their lives and then transformed them into a fictional plot; others have made their novels a pretext for social denunciation.
Lewis Carroll, writer of Alice in Wonderland, would not exist without considering his skill as a photographer. The Victorian writer sought beauty and purity in the subjects he photographed and aimed to underline the hypocrisies and constraints that the society of his time imposed on the upper classes.
The novel "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf, with its accurate landscape descriptions almost as if they were a travel report, would not be explained if mention was not made of the artistic talents of the writer's great-aunt, the very famous photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron.
Yet visual art is not just a frame for novels, but rather a protagonist. It becomes a metacognitive subject as for example in the texts of Italo Calvino. Writing is a way of shedding light with the pen. An inexperienced reader who perhaps rarely travels will imagine Manzoni's "that branch of Lake Como" just by reading the pages of The Betrothed. In literature there have always been many novels in which photography is themed in the portrait genre, such as the family album: photograph of the wife, of the husband, of some loved one. Many novels revolve around the relationship that the protagonist has with the portrait of him, Dorian Gray by Wilde docet. However, there are other contemporary novels that talk about the portraits of important families, for example the autobiographies of British royalty.
Jack London, Giovanni Verga, Émile Zola, Allen Ginsberg, August Strindberg, Silvio Perrella and Alessandro Baricco have made their research into the truth, their psychological portraits, their human reportage sources of inexhaustible literary production.
Objective gaze, dual point of view, subjective experience of the real mirror but of emotions: all this is something else suggested by the union given by the word and the image. After all, it was H. C. Bresson who explained to us that: “Photography comes by itself […]. It can be compared to the difference between a propaganda pamphlet and a novel. The novel must pass through all the nervous channels, through the imagination. It has much more force than a pamphlet that you glance at and then throw away. And poetry is the essence of everything […]. I love shooting. Be present. It's like saying: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”, like the last three words of Joyce's Ulysses”.

Books and Geopolitics

Books and Geopolitics - ATLANTIS

Geopolitics of the Mind, intelligence on the battlefield

Mario Caligiuri, communication and intelligence expert, returns to bookstores with this essay dated 2023. So fresh off the press.
“Technologies represent a formidable instrument of domination whose definitive objective is the conquest of the mind, beyond which there is nothing else”. This is his main message: “To understand what is happening, we must grasp the weak signals and connect the dots. Consequently, the Intelligence method becomes decisive. In this way, we will be able to look at the war in Ukraine and the Qatargate scandal in the European Parliament with different eyes, the anarchic tensions in our country and the real dynamics of the reconfirmation of the President of the Republic, the evident limits of Italian information and the necessary aspects of national intelligence reform”.
These and other events are illuminated with a new light, going beyond appearances to avoid ending up in the gear of single thinking and misinformation. Caligiuri structures the work in six chapters which have a premise: the contextualisation of the intelligence weapon.

Mario Caligiuri is full professor of pedagogy at the University of Calabria, where in 2007 he founded with Francesco Cossiga the first Master's in Intelligence in our country. He is president of the Italian Intelligence Society and director of the Eurispes Observatory on educational policies. Author of the entry "Intelligence" in Treccani's "Italian Encyclopedia", for Mazzanti he published Intelligence Mission 2022. A year of analysis from Capitol Hill to Kabul.
The book:  Geopolitics of the Mind, intelligence in the battlefield, Mario Caligiuri, Venice, 2023.


Contents - ATLANTIS