The world is now divided into two, or perhaps even three or four, contending sides, and the remote province of Italy, sought out only by refugees and migrants, is trying to understand its place—and is particularly terrified of becoming the new Cuba of the Mediterranean.
The only thing missing from the recent Italian media coverage of the G7, Putin and NATO is Tony Montana (Al Pacino)’s quote from Scarface: “I kill a communist for fun.” From reading the fearful accounts in our newspapers—where quite a few former communists are the ones writing them—one could get the impression we were in danger of leaving the Alliance, closing the military bases and seizing the 120 nuclear warheads from the Americans: the ghost of Ghino di Tacco, Italy’s own Robin Hood figure, is supposedly haunting the military base at Sigonella.
However, Trump seems to like Prime Minister Conte—a devotee of Padre Pio—so much that he has invited him straight away to the White House. Our newcomer on the world stage was the only one to endorse The Donald’s tweet proposing to invite Russia back to the G7 summit, from which it was expelled after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. This invitation has irritated the other European partners, and has been curtly rebuffed by Moscow: “We are interested in other formats.”
Meanwhile, China and Russia have held another summit—one to which the world economy truly looks to, and one that Washington fears. In Qingdao, a Chinese coastal city, the summit of the “anti-G7,” the Shanghai Organization for Cooperation (SCO), with China and Russia as the star players, took place over two days, where the leaders of its members states from the Russian-Chinese orbit have proposed projects of increasing integration for the “new Silk Road” (One Belt, One Road), while the G7 is struggling with tensions and divisions. On top of it all, the Chinese Bank of Development will provide a line of credit worth 65 billion yuan ($10 billion) to the Russian VEB Bank. The summit was also attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, not trusting the European anti-sanctions front, is looking decidedly toward the East.
Meanwhile, in Canada, The Donald has thrown in all the bait he could in order to divide the European camp as much as possible: he is describing the tariffs as if they were a pittance compared to the trade surplus of the Germans (while one job out of two in Germany depends on exports), trying to peel away some of the “small fries” of the European Union, who resemble a school of anchovies. It is all about the balance of power, and, in the rarefied air of Canada’s Charlevoix, one can make jokes, but only up to a point.
What we can expect from the G7 summit in Canada is shown strikingly well on the latest cover of The Economist. Donald Trump is shown riding atop a wrecking ball: his goal is to shatter the international institutions, multilateralism and the old rules already in place in order to build a new geopolitical setup where America would be winning. The idea of the American president is to drag each partner into bilateral negotiations, increasingly to the advantage of the United States.
This strategy might intentionally divide the European Union even more, which for years has been less and less inclined to obey American dictates. The US likes the Baltic countries, as well as the Eastern European ones, who, caught in their proto-fascist drift, are now the new border with Putin. The revolution in Ukraine served the Americans’ purposes, and now Eastern Europe is proving even more useful. Russia has a presence in Syria and is pursuing its own agenda with Iran and Turkey—a historic but increasingly disobedient NATO member—and America wants to make Moscow pay for its intrusion by establishing a presence in the backyard of the Russians. That is why the White House strategists are finding Western Europeans so irritating—Macron for meeting with Putin in St. Petersburg, and Merkel for signing off on the doubling the capacity Nordstream pipeline.
How can the US get them understand that they must stay in their place?
The theory of managed disorder is what the United States—after other Republican administrations have applied it, particularly in the Middle East, with disastrous results—now hopes to use to create a new global hierarchy.
This is not really a demonstration of imperial power by the American superpower—as demonstrated by the contemptuous Russian refusal of Trump’s proposal for them to return to the G8. Washington’s attempts to break down the multilateral structures created after the Second World War—including the European Union—is in fact an admission that they are no longer ruling over them as they would like.
Perhaps, after its initial successes, this strategy by The Donald could result in a dangerous illusion, as both allies and opponents will be less inclined to acknowledge the leadership of the US in the medium and long term, and will defy it economically and militarily whenever they are able.
We are heading for a new world disorder, and this is something that Russia and China have understood very well.
It is this last phase of destabilization that Europe and Italy will have to face in the future—this is, in the end, the message coming from the G7 summit in Canada. Perhaps the next one will turn out to be a G4: the US, Russia, China and the EU—if there is still a European Union by then.