Author: Maurizio Vezzosi – 28/09/2020
The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most important sea spaces in the world, due to its routes and to the instability of its seaside countries. The deep changes of global balance are marking the decline of old hegemonies – at least their lessening – and the rising of new ones. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated these trends, renewing the importance of the Mediterranean Sea, and that of the peninsula inside it. The international importance of Italy is emphasised by the fact that no international main power can neglect its role, or omit to influence her somehow (culturally, economically or militarily). This importance has often met the indifference of the Italian ruling class. Italy is lacking a whole vision to interpret her identity, her role and her stance in the current international configuration, with an adequate depth, realism and foresight. By and large, the main powers are not interested in a possible strengthening of our country’s standing and of its independence, rather hoping that Italy will somehow keep a degree of weakness and vulnerability. On the contrary, both the Russian Federation and China, as well as many more key countries of the current global scenario are interested in strengthening Italy and making it more independent, with a consequent growth of international status. This can be seen both in material issues and in Moscow’s and Beijing’s cultural peculiarities, both of them de facto Mediterranean powers. Certainly, neither China nor Russia are trying to de-stabilize Italy, although the opposite is very often repeated. The USA are currently involved in a political and social crisis, while Washington’s international hegemony is dwindling. The probable diminution of its economic power will compel Washington to make substantial cuts to its permanent – and costly – military presence outside its territory. Hence the reduction by a third of its military deployment in Germany: according to the Pentagon, the 12,000 military personnel in question will be sent to Italy, Belgium and Poland, as well as being partly repatriated to the USA. It is difficult to assess the real meaning of this decision: it could be merely economic or geopolitical reasons – i.e. to put pressure on Germany – but this is evidently the historical minimum of US-German relations of the last 75 years. The USA are still concerned by the ideas Halford Mackinder described: an ongoing political and economic integration of the continental area between Lisbon and Shanghai. The US containment strategy, the “permanent destabilization”, is focused on slowing down new hegemonies, up to the point that Washington might support an Italian exit from the EU, or at least its menace. The Memorandum of support to Italy, recently signed by Donald Trump, and confirmed by several statements of US executives (Mike Pompeo among them) seems to support this scenario. The Memorandum, besides mobilizing the US Treasury to support the Italian economy, mentions the presence of about 30,000 US military
personnel on Italian territory. The riots following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and in the USA as a whole clearly showed deep fractures in the US politics, society and apparatus. The latter, which Trump has always attacked, could have decided to make him pay in the incoming autumn elections by impeding his action by all means. Baltimore University confirmed that the USA have the highest number of Covid-19ascertained contagions anywhere in the world, at close to two million. This is another reason of uncertainty of the Autumn scenario. Just like other countries – including ours – a possible Covid-19 second wave could heavily damage health, economy, and social stability. Unprecedented measures have been adopted, such as the curfew in New York. This framework closely resembles the prophetic title of the strategic paper about urban operations – “Urban operations 2020” – issued by NATO in 2003. The presidential control of the country is diminishing, as the current schizophrenia of the US international policy already showed before the pandemic and the riots. Trump’s proposal to Putin for Australia, India, South Korea and the Russian Federation to be included in the G7, turning it in to a G11, only shows the goal to isolate China, breaking its strategic link with Moscow. Trump’s move seems to replicate the old Richard Nixon policy, appeasing Maoist China in an anti-Soviet stance. Trump’s proposal, recently rejected even by Colin Powell and George Bush Jnr., was met by perplexity in Moscow. The EU appears to be very weak, due to its inhomogeneity. Italy is confronting critical problems on several fronts. In the South, an unstable Libya involves the whole of Southern Europe. Moreover, the Turkish action is de-stabilizing both the Mediterranean and the whole Near East, with an invariable US support. Turkey is seen as a valuable tool against both Russia and China, in Central Asia, but also against Iran and against the EU. The renewed US interest towards Greece might balance Turkey’s expansionism. Every US move in the geopolitical area between Gibraltar and the South China Sea seem to produce a de-stabilizing effect. None of these moves seem to be aimed at solving particular problems: all of them are using de-stabilization to tackle emergent hegemonies confronting the USA. The risk of a piecemeal global war involving Europe is far from zero. Hence Italy should tend to neutrality, focusing its policies on national interests and on its natural role of “hinge country” in the international balance. The social – mainly identitary – fragmentation of the USA should be an important lesson to Italy. A country without identity is bound to disintegration and decline. No long-range policy can exist without a vision of the country and its community. Italy must again be a nation, and rediscover the democratic and progressive meaning of it, in both domestic and international issues. It would be the new Risorgimento the country needs.
Originally published in Italian by the online magazine “Quadrante Futuro” – 29th July 2020by
About the Author:
Maurizio Vezzosi is an Italian freelance analyst and reporter based in Rome
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