First published January 19, 2016

On 25 January we must commemorate an important anniversary: the first Gulf War. This is the first war in which the Italian Republic participates, violating the principle declared in Art 11 of its Constitution, that «Italy repudiates war as a means of attacking the freedom of other people and as a means of international dispute resolution».

In September 1990, on the decision of the sixth Andreotti government, Italy sends to the Al Dhafra base in the United Arab Emirates an air component of Tornado bomber fighter planes. In the night spanning 17 and 18 January 1991, 8 Italian Tornados take off to bomb Iraqi bases that have been specified by the US Commander. This the Air Force officially recalls as «the first mission of war carried out by the Italian Air Force, 46 years after the end of the Second World War». After this mission (during which a Tornado is demolished and two pilots are made prisoners) other bombing missions still under US command follow, setting a total of 226 departures, all «crowned by complete success». If we add to these, 244 Italian missions for airplanes for transport and 384 patrol airplanes, «operating in Turkey in the context of the Ace Nato Mobile Force» (confirming that while Nato is not intervening officially, it is de facto participating in the war, with its forces and bases).

This «first mission of war» is critical for launching the «new model for defense» immediately after the Gulf War, in the wake of USA/NATO strategic reorientation. In October 1991, the Minister for Public Defense publishes a report «Model for Defense/Guidelines for Developing the Armed Forces in the 1990s». The document recasts the place of Italy, defining it as «a central element in the geostrategic area that as a unit extends from the Gibraltar Strait to the Black Sea, connecting, through Suez, with the Red Sea, the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf». It therefore establishes that «the permanent policy objectives of Italian security amount to protecting national interests, in the wider acceptance of this term, wherever necessary», in particular, those interests that “have an impact on the economic system and developing a productive system».

Accordingly, this «new defense model» passes from one government to another, without parliament ever discussing it as such. In 1993 – while Italy participates in military operations launched by the USA in Somalia, and the Amato government succeeds the Ciampi government, the Defense General Major declares that «it is necessary to be ready to project ourselves to the long range» to defend our «vital interests» wherever they may be. In 1995, during the Dini government, he declares that «the function of armed forces transcends the strict military context to be elevated to a measure of the status of a country in the international context». In 1996, during the Prodi government, it is confirmed that «the defense policy is an instrument of foreign policy». In 2005, during the Berlusconi government, it is specified that the armed forces have to safeguard the country’s interests in areas of strategic interest», which include, in addition to the Nato areas and the EU, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Northern Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Through these and ensuing steps, a fundamental pillar of the Italian Republic is demolished, by the hand of governments of all shades and with the complicity of a parliament that, with its overwhelming majority, consents or fails to act. In the meantime Italy, still under US command whether directly or in the context of Nato, passes from war to war.

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)