Not only are we not getting out of the war, but its agenda is becoming more and more all-consuming and expansive, just like on the battlefield. Thursday’s vote in the European Parliament approving the European Commission’s report called ASAP (Act to Support Ammunition Production) was intended to give national governments approval to divert funds already earmarked for the NRPRs (National Recovery and Resilience Plans) for the implementation of Next Generation EU and funnel them directly towards rearmament instead.
One can say that this outrageous decision was expected, given that nobody among the European leadership is addressing the problem of how to stop the disaster of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and given that the only prospect – which also emerged on Thursday from the international summit in Moldova – is Ukraine’s entry into NATO, as if this wouldn’t precipitate the Ukrainian crisis even further into the abyss: Putin’s criminal war will be answered by Atlantic war. There is no one to warn that the solution cannot be found in more weapons and more war, a guarantee of further death and destruction.
But Thursday’s vote was a particularly grave matter, which ignored these issues and at the same time made the prospect of a cease-fire and negotiations even more distant. Because what was on the agenda wasn’t even whether to send arms or not – a question which is becoming more and more controversial after a year and three months of war. At the beginning of the Russian invasion, being divided on this was understandable – but now that the arsenals have been emptied due to the many weapons already sent, it is clear that this simply means accepting the policy of rearmament that governments are imposing on their countries. Wasn’t there also within the PD a significant wing that demanded that the weapons to be sent should be defensive only, while now the war is being fought on the territory of Russia itself? This is how things are now: nuclear deterrence is over and the constantly looming threat of nuclear war is apparently nothing anybody is scared about. On Thursday, the European Parliament voted to authorize a forced commandeering, a diversion of funds that comes into conflict with the European Treaties.
The treaties ban the financing of national military industries with EU money. Because Europe, at least up to now – but how long will this last? – is still defined by the foundations of its construction, which rejects the case for waging war, recalling the tragedy of the two world wars. This time, the decision taken was to divert towards the production of weapons funds that had been allocated to the regional authorities to support social policies, labor and the right to study, the environmentalist ambition of the ecological transition and, after three years of pandemic, the new and inescapable reorganization of health care, plus resources to handle the drama of epochal migrations and the right to asylum. That’s why the newly appointed PD secretary Elly Schlein is now stressing that “this war will not end according to who has the last gun.” On Thursday, Schlein and the entire PD group voted for amendments against the report, but in the end the vote was 10 in favor of ASAP, four abstentions and one opposed. A split: the PD remains in conflict on the war.
Thursday’s decision by the European Parliament puts everything up for grabs: both the fact that new armament can be produced using funds that were intended to improve people’s lives after the constraints of the pandemic, and the very foundations of the European Union.
The direction is clear: since the assumed outlook is that of a war that will take many years, if not an endless one, the overriding goal is to move from welfare to warfare. It’s not only Europe that is taking up such a direction – it’s a global phenomenon. This is confirmed by the trend of global spending in 2022, as Massimiliano Smeriglio, the S&D MEP who is a protagonist of this clash among the European institutions, recalled in il manifesto: global military spending has reached the record figure of $2.2 trillion, with the United States, Russia, France, China and Germany (which has decided on rearmament worth as much as €100 billion) in the top five spots; at the same time, Crosetto’s Italy is sixth in the world ranking of arms exporters.
This will be a godsend for the front of authoritarian countries – more pro-Atlanticist than pro-European – from the Visegrad group and others, which are becoming the new driving force of the European Union, as we wait for the ill-omened confirmation of the trend that will come with the next elections across the continent (see the results of the Spanish and Greek votes). And it will be a boon for the right-and-far-right Italian government, for which the war and its continuation represents an insurance policy for life. Now, Minister Fitto, who is proving incapable of spending the NRRP money on civil and social projects, is claiming the Italian government won’t engage in such diversion of funds – perhaps he could try asking Crosetto first? It will certainly be a boon to Giorgia Meloni’s front in the European Parliament: she voted “yes” with the rest of the Conservatives, along with Weber’s Populars, the European Socialists and the whole center and right.
But the game is not over. And that’s not because the final vote will only take place in July – but because, for the first time, the area of dissent against these outrageous choices is growing: beside the 446 “yes” votes, there were as many as 116 abstentions – including the vote from the PD – and 67 “no” votes, including the Italian Greens, M5S and the GUE European Left group.
Given that public sentiment – as attested by polls again and again – is opposed to such measures in Italy and doubtful about them across Europe, it will be necessary to raise our voices even louder against the war, so that the massacre of civilian victims, now happening on both sides (as on Thursday, with so many children and defenseless among the victims), and the carnage of soldiers sent away to slaughter would all be stopped. And we must raise our voices so that there won’t be a rearmament of 27 European armies on the backs of the poorest and the new generations.