In Taranto, they’re not missing a beat. It’s not just the ILVA company that is not interrupting its output of deadly labor and deadly pollution. In the early hours of last Thursday, the mammoth aircraft carrier Cavour repositioned itself with skillful maneuvers at its berth at the Nuova Stazione Mar Grande, in preparation to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States where it will load F-35 model B fighter bombers.
It was an occasion of great pride for Fincantieri, the Maritime Military Arsenal and the Ministry of Defense, because it came after two years of work to readjust the flight deck, hangars, technical spaces, aircraft fuel storage capacity and electronic instrumentation. There was also great pride because at this point, the Italian Navy, together with the US Navy and the British Royal Navy, will be one of the only three navies in the world able to deploy aircraft carriers on which the deadly F-35 aircraft can take off and land.
At this point, therefore, it is clear that as regards “Italian excellence” in the production of weapons of war—the traffickers in death that Pope Francis is ceaselessly denouncing, to little if any notice—and the “innovation of the F-35s,” so dear to the new director of La Repubblica, Maurizio Molinari, not only is nothing changing, but everything is continuing just like before—indeed, worse than before.
Not to mention that the aircraft carrier is not really a defense system according to constitutional norms, since it will carry offensive weapons around the world’s seas, far beyond national borders.
Above all, the F-35 fighter-bombers are an offensive weapon, designed for a first strike, with the ability to carry nuclear warheads. But weren’t we now supposed to be in the age of common and public interests derived from the disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which, far from being eradicated, is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives around the world? The question that spontaneously presents itself is: how much is this adventure costing us?
Here is the answer: each F-35 costs a little more than €100 million (€156 million for the initial prototypes). That’s the price we are being forced to pay for the new model B, the most expensive one, because it allows short take-off and vertical landing; but that is only an initial approximate cost, because this “bargain” turns out to be a bottomless pit. Once it is bought, the plane must be continuously updated with new weapons systems and electronic systems, which need to be bought from the US. It is a very heavy burden for a NATO country like Italy, whose total military expenditure has now exceeded €70 million per day.
One can only wonder: how many intensive care units, how many ventilators, how many video-integrated learning systems for schools could we buy with the amount allocated by the present government, just like previous governments, to the ill-conceived “deal” of the F-35Bs? Could the Civil Defense, which has been forced to run collection campaigns among generous citizens, please calculate the numbers?
Now that the mad rush of Phase 2 is beginning with implausible statements about security guarantees, perhaps a leftist voice—whether inside, outside or against the government—should be raised against this national shame. We need to protest together.
In the meantime, it is likely that we are only preparing for the waving of Italian flags by a festive crowd, perhaps furnished with masks from the Ministry of Defense bearing the effigy of that symbol of “Italian excellence,” the F-35.
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