The spread of information: Looking beneath appearances
by Come Carpentier de Gourdon on 27 Nov 2011 2 Comments

One of the stories that was widely circulated outside Italy at the beginning of the NATO attack on Libya involved US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton pressing Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to cancel forthwith the peace treaty his country had recently signed with Libya, and participate in the bombing campaign, and possibly in covert land operations with Italian special forces against the Libyan army.

An embarrassed Frattini is supposed to have told Mrs. Clinton that his country felt hampered by its colonial past in Libya which made any such neo-colonial military intervention unwelcome. The US Secretary of State was seemingly as ignorant of that chapter of Italy’s past as she was unsympathetic to her host’s predicament. She felt probably that both history and treaties were immaterial when they conflicted with her government’s wishes.

One of the features of the Internet Age is that information, a commodity which used to be carefully and often parsimoniously dispensed by the religious, political, cultural and media authorities, is now flowing in torrents where data, opinions and theories are indiscriminately mixed, and where often deliberate deception is combined with facts, whether pristine or unaccountably distorted. However, amidst all the confusion, many realities have become apparent to people all over the world who would otherwise have great trouble understanding situations intellectually, historically and geographically remote from their own environments.

In the specific context of this article, it may be argued that many in India now have a more precise appreciation of the condition of a country like Italy and its NATO fellow members than they did even a decade ago.

For instance, the existence of the clandestine para-military network Gladio, set up by the US Government and its allies in order to keep Europe in tune with its ideological and economic interests, through a variety of generally illegal methods, including the occasional use of terrorist violence as part of the well known “strategy of tension” implemented through the CIA and its European counterparts including the Italian secret service (SIFAR, SID, SISMI), is now known to more than a few intellectuals and policy makers as a result of the release of Pellegrino Report of the Italian Senate of 1995, and other official documents, following the Casson investigation approved in 1990 by then Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who submitted his own report to Parliament on the matter. On this, readers may be referred to the book by Daniele Ganser, Secret Armies, Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, London, Frank Cass, 2005.

In the same vein, there is greater awareness that, like Germany and Japan, also vanquished in the Second World War, Italy is in many ways still a tributary country which cannot really follow an independent foreign policy, in spite of superficial appearances, and much less a sovereign defence policy. A glaring and lurid demonstration of that fact of life was provided by the recent NATO assault on Libya, mounted on a convenient pretext and justified by a defective and deliberately ambiguous UN Resolution (1973) of March 17, 2011 which was twisted, spun and abused to allow for the destruction of the government and armed forces of an independent state which had not attacked any other and was not a threat to any other country.

Italy once again, as in the Yugoslavian, Iraqi, and Afghan conflicts, had to follow suit and join in the coalition’s action, breaching in the process its own long-desired, “Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation between the Italian Republic and the Great Arab Libyan Popular Socialist Jamahiriya” signed and ratified in 2008 and 2009 by both states. It is indisputable that the breach of that treaty under NATO’s ultimatum to Italy in February 2011 was juridically “unilateral, unjustified and dishonourable” in the words of political scientist Alberto Mariantoni (Eurasia, 2011, 2, p. 118) and that it will remain a blot on the country’s reputation. Italy compounded insult with injury by breaking its own word that it would not participate in the bombing campaign by doing so indeed.

The conclusion is inescapable, Italy, - since it unconditionally surrendered to the US-led Allied troops on September 3rd, 1943 at Cassibile in Sicily and subsequently firmed a peace treaty with the same powers in 1947 in Paris (both documents are alleged to include a number of secret additional clauses that the public has never been made aware of) - is a protectorate of the USA, like Japan and several other nations, including Taiwan, South Korea, Pakistan, Australia, all NATO members and several countries of Latin America and Africa. That subservient and ancillary status is sought to be extended to ever more countries across the world, including those like India, which the USA is insistently pressuring to sign strategic partnership agreements with its Pentagon. Such agreements enshrine terms and conditions that give the USA a veto power over any major decision related to national defence in the other signatory state.

In this perspective it is worth noting that, in contradiction with its constitutional restrictions and caveats about the resort to war and the use of force, Italy since 1945 entered into an indefinite number of secret accords with the USA to the effect of enabling the latter to set up and operate over 100 military bases and facilities on Italian soil. Those agreements, as noted by Mariantoni (Ibid. pp. 117-119), were never ratified by the Italian National Assembly or vetted by the President of the Republic, and are therefore constitutionally illegal as they violate articles 80 and 87 of the Constitution. Yet they cannot be challenged in practice as they express Italy’s de facto status as an occupied state.

Likewise, despite it being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Italy has, like other members of the US-led bloc, without popular consent, been forced to host a part of the American strategic and nuclear arsenal, consisting of over 90 warheads, for the Air Force and the entire stockpile deployed by the US 6th Task Fleet docked in Italian ports though the Cold War ended more than twenty years ago with the breakup of the USSR.

Unconditional Surrender and Secret Treaties

The American Government required unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, as we have already seen, even though it prolonged the Second World War and increased the destruction and suffering for all contending parties, in line with its resolve to break those states down and reconstruct them as vassal or client nations perpetually bound to the new hegemon. As sociologist M.D. Nazemroaya pithily puts it (Eurasia, Ibid. p 46), US-inspired nation-building must be preceded by US-sponsored nation breaking which, he specifies, involves a threefold process of economic, political and military aggression that often begins in secret through clandestine means (including demonisation in the media, economic sanctions and directly-funded internal subversion) and generally ends with open invasion and takeover.

Germany, Japan and Italy were the first major countries to be thereby reshaped into neo-colonial dependencies with outward trappings of sovereignty like the Philippines, Thailand, Cuba and other Central American states had been in the first half of the 20th century. Since World War II, other occupied nations, including Bosnia, Macedonia, Iraq and Kosovo have been similarly laid on the US bed of Procrustes and turned, more or less successfully, into protectorates.

One commonality among the countries that were militarily vanquished is that they were punished for committing the crime of aggression, or in other words, starting an unprovoked conflict. They were forced to disarm (debellatio, according to Roman law) and constitutionally required to renounce war as an instrument of policy, except in self-defence. Article 11 of the Italian Constitution thus reads: “Italy repudiates war as an offensive tool against the freedom of the other peoples and as a means to resolve international differences”. We have, however, seen that this stringent obligation has been rescinded in recent years when all three countries have been forced to join in wars of aggression (in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya) in which they had no stake but which were decided upon by the United States against other powers at the discretion of the American government.

Italy is currently involved in no less than 33 military operations in 21 countries, supposedly for “stabilization of conflict zones,” but in reality missions intended to protect the geo-strategic and economic interests of the US and its close allies and affirm their supremacy, while preventing a rise in the influence of challenger states, such as China, Russia, India, Iran or any other not part of the western alliance. As the economic and financial strength of the USA wanes, the country is wont to demand always more efforts and contributions in man and treasure from its vassals, in line with the recommendations made by a number of American strategists, including Professor Stephen Walt in an article in The National Interest of October 25th, 2011.

It is quite clear that the NATO strike on Libya was part of the greater US plan, in coordination with
the historic European hegemons in Africa and West Asia, Britain and France, to reaffirm, bolster and expand Western dominance across the continent by pre-empting or reversing Chinese inroads into that resource-rich continent. The recent operations carried out by France in Ivory Coast and the Sahelian countries, and the US Africom buildup in West and East Africa, are complemented by the rising NATO and Israeli presence around the strategic neighbourhood of Yemen, Somalia and the Great Lakes.

States such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Southern Sudan are being garrisoned in order to control both the North-South Axis coveted by Cecil Rhodes, and the West-East perpendicular belt traced by the Portuguese, French and Belgian colonizers. In parallel, the Bush Regime’s plans for a Greater Middle East are still on the table of the Obama Administration and are being pursued in a seemingly implausible but tested coalition with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab monarchical allies committed to expanding their brand of Wahhabi fundamentalist Islam from West Africa to Central and East Asia. Successive regimes in Washington, in keeping with British traditional policies, have grown quite comfortable over more than seven decades with that brand of rigidly puritanical but staunchly anti-socialistic Islam.

A few years ago, British Prime Minister Tony Blair heralded a new Euro-American drive in to Africa under humanitarian pretext. The Libyan campaign is a decisive step in that direction, in that it aimed to nip in the bud Qadhaffi’s grandiose vision of a united, autonomous Africa under his leadership and closely allied with China, Russia and Latin America, by rebuilding a pro-Western Senusi Islamic conservative state associated with NATO and Africom and allied with the Gulf Arab monarchies and Morocco. By opening up Libya, Sarkozy hoped to gain easier access to both the oil and gas deposits of the country for Totalfina and also to the Sahelian former French-colonies abutting the immensely rich Congo basin.

The fig leaves of UN resolutions and European joint decisions were provided whenever possible, but the real decision was made in Washington DC, either in a show of open unilateralism or under a flimsy cover of multi-lateralism with the use of empty words such as “the world community”, the “freedom loving nations” or “a coalition of the willing”.

There is no doubt that if and when the USA decides to launch a new war, whether against Syria, Iran or even against China or Russia, in pursuit of its larger aims or in an attempt at forestalling its further decline, the countries that remain under its yoke such as Italy will be forced to participate in military operations as well as provide financial and logistical support.

The strategic community in India is well aware of this and realizes that any agreement which US “allies” decide to enter into with any country can only be upheld insofar and as long as it does not interfere with or contradict its primary obligation to the USA and the global alliance led by it. Constitutional safeguards, if there were even sufficient ones, would not change this state of affairs as they would be ignored or overturned under American pressure. Yet this is a time when, as Walt (ibid) acknowledges: “NATO like all global institutions created after World War II (is) increasingly obsolete and in need of reform”.

A provision for this “force majeure” is contained in Article 11 of the Italian Constitution which states somewhat cryptically: “Italy…agrees, on conditions of parity with (the) other states, to limitations to its national sovereignty necessary to a dispensation that may secure peace and justice among nations…” though there is no mention of the other states that supposedly agree to similar constraints and the USA for one has never consented to any.

Likewise, the Fundamental Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, adopted on May 23rd 1949, states: “The Federation may transfer by law sovereign rights to inter-governmental organizations”, which clearly and prominently includes NATO and other US guided transnational bodies. The Italian geopolitical expert Aldo Braccio in Eurasia (2/2011, p 42) points out: “Obviously….such constitutional norms (are) meant to facilitate the imminent (at the end of the 1940s) internationalization process under American guidance and to limit the rights of labour”.

Is there a way out?

The only resistance that can be opposed to this subjection has to come from the population in general. A widespread and well organized civil disobedience movement can alone lead the country to break free from its shackles as India was able to overthrow British rule, partly because of its national liberation movement which had gained decisive support even in the British Indian army, and partly due to the weakening of the imperial power as a result of the Second World War and the
economic crisis that had begun earlier.

A first step in Europe will be to make the people of Italy and Germany widely aware of the provisions inserted in their respective Constitutions which run against their national sovereignty, and of the secret illegal treaties that subvert the rule of law and prevent the country from pursuing independent policies and even from honouring its foreign and domestic commitments, while compelling it to abide by decisions that may be harmful to its stability and prosperity, as we have documented here. Germany, emboldened by its strong economy and its successful reunification, has already taken several steps in this direction, in consultation with Russia.

The present imperial hegemon is now declining and battered by foreign reverses and domestic dissent. As Walt puts it (ibid.): “The US simply won’t have the resources to devote to international affairs that it has in the past”; he calls for all American troops to be repatriated from Europe.

The time may hence have come for Italy and other NATO members to radically redefine their relationship with the decrepit superpower and abrogate the articles of their accords that run contrary to their national interests. In that perspective, NATO will have to be radically transformed or dissolved. A growing exchange of views and increase in cooperation with BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and the emerging states of Africa) could help Europe to reassert itself as an independent force between Asia and the Americas that would no longer have to blindly follow the American Big Brother in its often unjust, wasteful, counter-productive and illegal military adventures intended to further its global imperial project.

It is time for Europe to part ways with the US inspired drive for world conquest in pursuit of a hypothetical manifest destiny for the white race, often invoked by American presidents from James Monroe to George W Bush, in line with the statements of Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana, one of the great political promoters of US expansionism in 1900: “We are the ruling race of the world. [God] has marked us his chosen people. He has made us adept in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples” (quoted in Addicted to War (3rd edn., 2004) by Joel Andreas). Coincidentally, in his recent book, Great Games, Eric Walberg describes the US sponsored process of rebuilding states in to the American matrix as a “castration”.

This specific form of capitalist neo-colonialism is a “recombinant gene” of the older European mercantilist-religious expansionism, revived by politicians such as Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, who militated for a closer Union of the Atlantic West intended to maintain global strategic and financial preponderance and thereby perpetuate the “rentier” economic system which is increasingly under threat from a systemic crisis aggravated by the rise of new challengers in the East and South. The US can be expected to enlist all its satellite states to keep on fighting as “musclemen for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers” as the repentant General Smedley D. Butler described himself in his later Mea Culpa: War is a Racket (1935).

Yet, many analysts such Zbigniew Brzezinski, Charles Kupchan and Walt have warned of the “strong decline in America’s ability to shape the global order” (Walt, ibid.). Its tributaries can hence be expected to be drafted to fight in losing battles.

Only by reconnecting with Asia and Africa on its own and on an equal and fair footing, similar in spirit to the treaty signed between Italy and Libya, will the “Old World” come into its own again. Italy, the cradle of both the first, Roman united Europe and of the Renaissance and Baroque civilizations, each of which gave it a new lease of life and brought it into the next age, is once again called to play an emancipatory role, both intellectually and in constitutional practice, by breaking free from the fundamentalist tyranny of the market-driven economic paradigm.

The author is Convener, Editorial Board, World Affairs Journal. He has been associated with the Nuclear Disarmament Forum and the Foundation of Global Dialog in Switzerland 
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