It was a splendid American week. The Americans are truly “running the show,” as they say, with Afghanistan, Venezuela and the inescapable return of the Cold War. It goes to show that, whenever you’re out of ideas, you can always go back to that old classic, Dr. Strangelove, whipping up as much fear as possible in a new arms race to justify the increasingly outlandish defense budgets.
As is well known, politics in the US is little more than the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex. On Saturday, Putin matched the US’s move with the suspension of Russia’s participation in the anti-missile INF Treaty, all the while dismissing the possibility of a nuclear escalation. First had come the announcement early last week of a possible truce with the Taliban and a future withdrawal from Afghanistan, then the pressure came down on Europe to recognize Guaidó as interim president in Caracas, and finally the US withdrew from the INF Treaty against intermediate-range nuclear missiles. The US has served us all a three-course dinner of the greatest hits of world history—all while we await the next episode of the reality show: the anti-Iran summit in Poland.
In Afghanistan, the United States is ending the war against terror, which began on Sept. 11, 2001, after the al-Qaeda attacks in New York and Washington. The longest war in American history started over 17 years ago, followed in 2003 by the invasion of Iraq, the attack on Gaddhafi’s Libya in 2011 (together with France and Britain) and finally the direct involvement in Syria, from which Trump wants to leave. In a genius-level bait-and-switch, the war on Islamist terrorism has been replaced with the war on Maduro, who, according to national security adviser John Bolton, might end up in Guantanamo together with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the godfathers of al-Qaeda.
In short, the United States is basically admitting that it pretty much got everything wrong, but we still have to shut up and follow their lead in the new cold war against Russia. The latter, by keeping Bashar al-Assad in power (as well as by annexing Crimea), has blown up the plan to destabilize the Middle East, a strategy pursued by the former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as well as by Turkey, Israel and the Gulf monarchies, with the active support of France and Britain. Had Assad fallen, that would have been a blow to Moscow’s military presence in the region and to Iran’s prestige, which has extended its influence from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. Instead, the opposite happened: now, even Assad will be welcomed back into the Arab world that used to hate him.
Indeed, Assad, despite his strong alliance with Tehran, is on the right side in the struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood, together with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Libyan general Khalifa Haftar is playing the same game, backed by Russia, Egypt, France and the UAE, which opposes the government in Tripoli and is in turn supported by the Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey. Sooner or later, the bell will toll for the useless Sarraj government, which, although recognized by the UN, does not respect any international norms, and which Italy, with a tragic lack of vision, has stooped to appease.
Nevertheless, at the moment one still cannot see any concrete sign of the announced withdrawal of the United States, either from Afghanistan or from Syria. In the latter, Russia has taken the lead in the north of the country, with Putin carving the pie into thin and intricate slices in order to divide the spheres of influence between Turkey, Syria and the Kurds.
In a nutshell, the Taliban—whom the US used to class among the worst terrorists in the world, together with al-Qaeda and ISIS—will be the beneficiaries of a full-blown whitewashing in view of an American withdrawal, setting up Afghanistan as a rear-guard defense in case of a possible attack by the US on Iran.
Meanwhile, the Europeans, and Italy in particular, have been kept in the dark on everything until after the fact. Once again, the Italians have been playing the part of obsequious servants who can’t figure out what more they can do to please their masters with their contingent of 900 troops in Herat—where 54 Italian soldiers have lost their lives.
But that’s not even the issue on which Italy looks the most ridiculous. It’s when Italy tries to take a strong position not only on refugees, but also on Venezuela: not content with having gone along with bombing Gaddhafi, its major ally, it’s now pretending it has a say in a matter halfway across the world, where it well and truly carries no weight. For once, we get a chance to let others be the ones to get embroiled in a state where the military will likely decide the ultimate fate of a starving country with the highest murder rate in Latin America (81 per 100,000 inhabitants).
And long live the king who will come after Maduro, because Guaidó’s pretty face won’t be enough to keep such a country together.
But it is Dr. Strangelove who will come into his own in the upcoming months, with the display of marvelous and utterly destructive military space technology that we will witness. With the collapse of the INF Treaty, the European Union has given the green light to the possible installation of new American nuclear missiles in Europe, including in Italy.
On this key issue—as highlighted in Sunday’s edition of il manifesto by Manlio Dinucci—nobody in Italian politics, whether in the opposition or in government, has said anything at all.
Trump has announced that he will launch satellites equipped with sensors and missiles, aiming to make a direct nuclear attack on the US impossible. As for the rest of us, we need to hang tight, since we will be the ones left manning the front line. We hope at least that we will be able to tell the new fancy American satellites apart from the UFOs manned by space aliens, who, according to the “ancient aliens” theorists, have been with us for several millennia. Trump’s out-of-this-world hairpiece might already be proof of their presence.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.