“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” We don’t know who to attribute this maxim to, but there’s a disconcerting reality to it. I’m talking about the deafening and increasingly affluent silence on the condition of global crises that through war shows its true face, internationally and domestically.
Before our eyes, beyond the wavering announcements, as theatrical as they are derogatory, ultimately the choice of the new right-wing U.S. President Donald Trump is to consider the Atlantic alliance as an “unshakable” bulwark.
On Sunday he sent Vice President Mike Pence to Europe where he reassured the American commitment to NATO, the alliance that incorporates all the countries of the former Warsaw Pact and has drawn them for decades into all the devastating wars that the West has waged not only in the Middle East, but which extends to the border with Russia in troops, weapon systems, and missile shields that block nuclear warheads.
And before that the new head of the Pentagon, James Mattis, not only reaffirmed America’s “unwavering friendship” but asked — well received by the Allies — for an increase in defense spending by 2 percent of GDP on the part of the European members of NATO.
So Italy, which at the moment spends “only 1.1 percent of GDP on defense spending, the equivalent of €55 million per day, can happily bump that up to around €100 million per day. Because the European Union, from Merkel to Mogherini, respond that yes, “NATO is to be strengthened” and also “the E.U. and the U.N.”
NATO remains institutionally under the military command of U.S. generals, and Mike Pence has no appointment to the E.U. So, given the dramatic crisis of the European Union, which lost its Atlantic connection via Brexit, maybe it’s better to pause and reflect. Because it’s becoming increasingly clear at this point that more Atlanticism can only mean less Europeanism.
The fact is that NATO remains “unshakable,” which increases its budget, extends it east and south, and fills the bases of the old continent. Meanwhile, perhaps, the existence of the European Union is at stake.
In the background certainly is the Ukrainian crisis. But how can we forget that in 2013 a different solution to that crisis might have been possible, first economic and then political, if the Brussels Commission had arrived on Maidan Square to negotiate the conditions of the economic crisis as it did for Greece. Instead, CIA Director John Brennan, Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and anti-Trump Republican John McCain made speeches to harangue crowds led by the most extreme, xenophobic aspect of Ukraine. A precipice opened up, from the massacre of Odessa to the annexation of Crimea to the civil war in Donbass.
NATO has enthusiastically fanned the flames, both to the east and the south. In Libya, where after a peace memorandum with Italy and in the face of a nation splintering with General Haftar, “our” Prime Minister Sarrag, who doesn’t even control Tripoli, is drawing aid from NATO itself — the same military establishment that destroyed the country with airstrikes in March 2011.
War is destruction of human lives and resources. It’s the sowing of hatred, a domain-empire of the economic and financial areas with military violence. It is the activation of an asymmetric (and instrumental) terrorist spiral.
The desperate flight of millions of human beings that we call migrants is momentous because it corresponds with the time of the Western wars in the Middle East, which destroyed three states: Iraq, Libya and Syria, which are fundamental for the world balance. And it is momentous because it corresponds to the epochal robbery, by multinationals, of the immense wealth of interior Africa.
Now, in the face of those who flee from wars and the theft of resources to Europe, despite the obvious obligations, Europe erect walls and militarizes its borders. It’s gone so far as a naval blockade and the outsourcing of refugee reception to countries with expertise in torture and concentration camps.
This is the new global governance: war and concentration camps.
In Italy, in recent days the nation swore in by political coup the Gentiloni government, a photocophy of Renzi’s, which approved a bill to implement the “White Paper on International Security.”
In fact it institutionalizes war with the missions assigned to the armed forces that distort the Constitution: the “vital interests” of the country (instead of the homeland, as ART.52 of the Constitution); the contribution to the collective defense of NATO and the maintenance of stability in the incident areas of the Mediterranean Sea; crisis management outside of the priority areas; and, last but not least, it relies on the armed forces for “the safeguarding of free institutions … with specific tasks in cases of extraordinary need and urgency.”
It’s not about shoveling snow. We have institutionalized the ‘humanitarian war’ that from the Balkans to Afghanistan — where the Italian troops in the NATO contingent have been in a useless and bloody war for 16 years — through Iraq and Libya have not only not solved the international crisis, but have aggravated it.
How can we forget that war has become over the last 25 years a strong part of the DNA of left-wing governments? Has this become bipartisan? And is it a surprise that the social disasters that war and the exploitation of resources and the environment have produced a national-populist New Right?
The left is normalizing war. It is assuming the language of partial peace.
The rejection of war and the defense of Article 11 of the Italian Constitution should not be in the appendix of the individual and collective consciousness, but front and center. There is no alternative if you do not mobilize a new humanity against the present state of war.
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