In the end, nothing new happened at all—and that is truly serious. The vote in the Senate on Libya, through which Italy recognized the so-called “Libyan Coast Guard” as an institutional interlocutor, was bipartisan, as has almost always happened since the 1991 Iraq War. As always, the green light came from a patriotic super-coalition which is, now as much as ever, in open contempt of our Constitution, which explicitly “repudiates war,” and of our laws (which prohibit the sale of weapons to countries at war and which are violating human rights).
There were 260 “yes” votes, 142 from the majority supporting the Conte government and 118 from the right-wing opposition. We welcome the dissent from that independent group of 14 senators—which we’d like to be able to call “left-wing”—who said no, and the two senators who abstained.
However, can this be enough to give some clarity on the role of the Conte government? Frankly, not at all, because it seems clear to everyone that former Minister Minniti—who in the midsummer days of 2017 was launching his infamous “model” for Libya—is now back in fashion. Starting with the financing of local Libyan militias, of which there are hundreds after the 2011 NATO war—gangs of armed outlaws who control the cities on the coast, linked to the most problematic types of trafficking, if not to jihadism itself, and who now have free rein, engaged in civil war against General Haftar, the self-proclaimed leader of Cyrenaica. These militias are all too willing to wear the colors of the mythical “Coast Guard” in order to stop the desperate flight of refugees, on our behalf and paid by us.
These refugees, fleeing from deep inland Africa, ravaged by wars and miseries for which we are often the ones responsible, are arriving in Libya and are being stopped and captured there—unable to be rescued, as the Mediterranean has become the mass grave of their attempts—and then inexorably end up prisoners in concentration camps and jails. When it comes to Libya’s human rights violations, there are countless UN documents condemning them, with evidence in hand, and pointing to the role of Italy and the EU, which has had high praise for the Minniti model. This has been the outsourcing of the European borders, assigned in Libya to criminal gangs or paramilitary militias—and it is the same situation with Sultan Erdogan’s Turkey.
As then-Minister Marco Minniti explained—to whom are dedicated an endless number of nostalgic op-eds in the so-called “left-wing” Il Fatto Quotidiano—by doing this, “democracy and the rule of law in Italy were saved,” which were being threatened by the anti-migrant populist right. In short, reducing the condition of thousands of human beings to that of prisoners in concentration camps and prisons was in service to our democracy. As we know, however, Minniti’s actions did quite the opposite: they only worked to open the way to the dangerous racism-sovereignism of the government of the former Interior Minister Matteo “I want full powers” Salvini, who then raged on in the battle against the NGOs that were going to sea to help the migrants.
This concentration-camp-supporting “philosophy” of imperial-colonial style has now returned to topicality in the form of the military missions proposed by the Conte government—which has certainly inherited them from other, previous seasons of bipartisan agreement and warmongering adventures, but is now relaunching them in grand style.
Now, after the Senate, the measure will be approved in the same way in the Chamber of Deputies, perhaps once again eliciting the unlistenable and self-important cant of Di Maio—who has become the mediator in the government coalition—about “Tripoli’s promise to amend the Memorandum to safeguard human rights.”
Meanwhile, there is silence on the rest of the whole awful package of military missions. Because the issue is not “just” Libya, and although we are in the post-COVID period, we are still in an emergency situation.
The phase we are in suggests completely different priorities than spending more than €2 billion for more than 8,500 soldiers engaged in war adventures that end up begetting even more of the same, that don’t defend us from terrorism but are actually fueling it, that are subordinate to the leadership of others and jeopardizing our strategic interests, and that only cause the arms market to grow, a sector that is doing great in terms of production and export. The only positive exception, which should be supported, is the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon, with a buffer role for Italian troops, a well-thought-out product of an actual Italian foreign policy for the Middle East.
However, after 19 years of military occupation of Afghanistan, has Parliament ever discussed the meaning of that endless war, in which we followed in lockstep behind the United States and NATO? Or, taking just the case of Libya, can we be servants of two different masters/customers—as Alberto Negri wrote in il manifesto—by giving weapons both to Egypt lead by coup-installed al-Sisi, bombing the Turkish forces that support “our” al-Sarraj in Tripoli, and, on the other front, selling weapons to our NATO ally Erdogan, who is working on carving up the country, leaving 300 Italian soldiers and a field hospital stuck in the middle in Misrata, now behind the front lines of the ongoing civil war?
Where is our actual foreign policy, now reduced to the budgets of the military-industrial complex, both private and public? And what is the point of embarking on the new mission in the Sahel, following in lockstep behind Macron in the bloody—albeit silent—war in Mali, Niger and Chad? Perhaps the intention is that of containing the desperation of the refugees to the north using the Libyan coastguard, and to the south with fresh troops “watching” a border that is 5,000 kilometers long? This is nonsense. But it is bipartisan nonsense.
Nothing has changed. The late-colonial style remains.
After all, how else can we define a conception of government that, in the midst of globalization, is boasting and striving to guarantee, through the arduous labyrinths of international financial power, the funds to provide some meagre welfare and “great works” within “its own” country, while outside our narrow borders, what is left for the least of the earth consists of nothing but concentration camps, jails, torture and wars renamed as “military missions”?
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