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The Italian Job: la poco raccontata storia delle basi americane in Italia

In Da altri media on 07/10/2013 at 10:24

Parliamo tanto di immigrazione, di essere invasi, occupati, eppure il dato più clamoroso, che dovrebbe essere sotto gli occhi di tutti, viene convenientemente ignorato. Dalla fine della Guerra Fredda, l’impegno militare americano in Italia è aumentato, lentamente trasformando il paese in una sorta di hub militare. Con al seguito circa 30mila persone, loro si, in sostanza, clandestine, non sottoposte alle leggi italiane. Certo, ragioni strategiche – per gli Americani, quantomeno, per noi, invece, non è proprio detto che sia così – ma non solo. Come detto nel pezzo evidenziato nel testo, gli Americani amano l’Italia: mentre i tedeschi richiedono regolamenti specifici per i comportamenti dei militari e non permettono trasgressioni, gli italiani danno sostanzialmente carta bianca, manco fossimo una colonia. E poi ci soprendiamo che ci trattino come pezze da piedi?

THE ITALIAN JOB: HOW THE PENTAGON IS CREATING A NEW EUROPEAN LAUNCHPAD FOR US WARS

di David Vine

da Mother Jones via TomDispatch

The Pentagon has spent the last two decades plowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars into military bases in Italy, turning the country into an increasingly important center for US military power. Especially since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the military has been shifting its European center of gravity south from Germany, where the overwhelming majority of US forces in the region have been stationed since the end of World War II. In the process, the Pentagon has turned the Italian peninsula into a launching pad for future wars in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.

At bases in Naples, Aviano, Sicily, Pisa, and Vicenza, among others, the military has spent more than $2 billion on construction alone since the end of the Cold War—and that figure doesn’t include billions more on classified construction projects and everyday operating and personnel costs. While the number of troops in Germany has fallen from 250,000 when the Soviet Union collapsed to about 50,000 today, the roughly 13,000 US troops (plus 16,000 family members) stationed in Italy match the numbers at the height of the Cold War. That, in turn, means that the percentage of US forces in Europe based in Italy has tripled since 1991 from around 5% to more than 15%.

Last month, I had a chance to visit the newest US base in Italy, a three-month-old garrison in Vicenza, near Venice. Home to a rapid reaction intervention force, the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), and the Army’s component of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the base extends for a mile, north to south, dwarfing everything else in the small city. In fact, at over 145 acres, the base is almost exactly the size of Washington’s National Mall or the equivalent of around 110 American football fields. The price tag for the base and related construction in a city that already hosted at least six installations: upwards of $600 million since fiscal year 2007.

There are still more bases, and so more US military spending, in Germany than in any other foreign country (save, until recently, Afghanistan). Nonetheless, Italy has grown increasingly important as the Pentagon works to change the make-up of its global collection of 800 or more bases abroad, generally shifting its basing focus south and east from Europe’s center. Base expert Alexander Cooley explains: “US defense officials acknowledge that Italy’s strategic positioning on the Mediterranean and near North Africa, the Italian military’s antiterrorism doctrine, as well as the country’s favorable political disposition toward US forces are important factors in the Pentagon’s decision to retain” a large base and troop presence there. About the only people who have been paying attention to this build-up are the Italians in local opposition movements like those in Vicenza who are concerned that their city will become a platform for future US wars.

Base Building

Most tourists think of Italy as the land of Renaissance art, Roman antiquities, and of course great pizza, pasta, and wine. Few think of it as a land of US bases. But Italy’s 59 Pentagon-identified “base sites” top that of any country except Germany (179), Japan (103), Afghanistan (100 and declining), and South Korea (89).

Publicly, US officials say there are no US military bases in Italy. They insist that our garrisons, with all their infrastructure, equipment, and weaponry, are simply guests on what officially remain “Italian” bases designated for NATO use. Of course, everyone knows that this is largely a legal nicety.

No one visiting the new base in Vicenza could doubt that it’s a US installation all the way. The garrison occupies a former Italian air force base called Dal Molin. (In late 2011, Italian officials rebranded it “Caserma Del Din,” evidently to try to shed memories of the massive opposition the base has generated.) From the outside, it might be mistaken for a giant hospital complex or a university campus. Thirty one box-like peach-and-cream-colored buildings with light red rooftops dominate the horizon with only the foothills of the Southern Alps as a backdrop. A chain link fence topped by razor wire surrounds the perimeter, with green mesh screens obscuring views into the base.

If you manage to get inside, however, you find two barracks for up to 600 soldiers each. (Off base, the Army is contracting to lease up to 240 newly built homes in surrounding communities.) Two six-floor parking garages that can hold 850 vehicles, and a series of large office complexes, some small training areas, including an indoor shooting range still under construction, as well as a gym with a heated swimming pool, a “Warrior Zone” entertainment center, a small PX, an Italian-style café, and a large dining facility. These amenities are actually rather modest for a large US base. Most of the newly built or upgraded housing, schools, medical facilities, shopping, and other amenities for soldiers and their families are across town on Viale della Pace (Peace Boulevard) at the Caserma Ederle base and at the nearby Villaggio della Pace (Peace Village).

A Pentagon Spending Spree

Beyond Vicenza, the military has been spending mightily to upgrade its Italian bases. Until the early 1990s, the US air base at Aviano, northeast of Vicenza, was a small site known as “Sleepy Hollow.” Beginning with the transfer of F-16s from Spain in 1992, the Air Force turned it into a major staging area for every significant wartime operation since the first Gulf War. In the process, it has spent at least $610 million on more than 300 construction projects (Washington convinced NATO to provide more than half these funds, and Italy ceded 210 acres of land for free.) Beyond these “Aviano 2000” projects, the Air Force has spent an additional $115 million on construction since fiscal year 2004.

Not to be outdone, the Navy laid out more than $300 million beginning in 1996 to construct a major new operations base at the Naples airport. Nearby, it has a 30-year lease on an estimated $400 million “support site” that looks like a big-box shopping mall surrounded by expansive, well-manicured lawns. (The base is located in the Neapolitan mafia’s heartland and was built by a company that has been linked to the Camorra.) In 2005, the Navy moved its European headquarters from London to Naples as it shifted its attention from the North Atlantic to Africa, the Middle East, and the Black Sea. With the creation of AFRICOM, whose main headquarters remain in Germany, Naples is now home to a combined US Naval Forces Europe-US Naval Forces Africa. Tellingly, its website prominently displays the time in Naples, Djibouti, Liberia, and Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, Sicily has become increasingly significant in the Global War on Terror era, as the Pentagon has been turning it into a major node of US military operations for Africa, which is less than 100 miles away across the Mediterranean. Since fiscal year 2001, the Pentagon has spent more on construction at the Sigonella Naval Air Station—almost $300 million—than at any Italian base other than Vicenza. Now the second busiest naval air station in Europe, Sigonella was first used to launch Global Hawk surveillance drones in 2002. In 2008, US and Italian officials signed a secret agreement formally permitting the basing of drones there. Since then, the Pentagon has put out at least $31 million to build a Global Hawk maintenance and operations complex. The drones provide the foundation for NATO’s $1.7 billion Alliance Ground Surveillance system, which gives NATO surveillance capabilities as far as 10,000 miles from Sigonella.

Beginning in 2003, “Joint Task Force Aztec Silence” has used P-3 surveillance planes based at Sigonella to monitor insurgent groups in North and West Africa. And since 2011, AFRICOM has deployed a task force of around 180 marines and two aircraft to the base to provide counterterrorism training to African military personnel in Botswana, Liberia, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Tunisia, and Senegal.

Sigonella also hosts one of three Global Broadcast Service satellite communications facilities and will soon be home to a NATO Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance deployment base and a data analysis and training center. In June, a US Senate subcommittee recommended moving special operations forces and CV-22 Ospreys from Britain to Sicily, since “Sigonella has become a key launch pad for missions related to Libya, and given the ongoing turmoil in that nation as well as the emergence of terrorist training activities in northern Africa.” In nearby Niscemi, the Navy hopes to build an ultra high frequency satellite communications installation, despite growing opposition from Sicilians and other Italians concerned about the effects of the station and its electromagnetic radiation on humans and a surrounding nature reserve.

Amid the build-up, the Pentagon has actually closed some bases in Italy as well, including those in Comiso, Brindisi, and La Maddalena. While the Army has cut some personnel at Camp Darby, a massive underground weapons and equipment storage installation along Tuscany’s coast, the base remains a critical logistics and pre-positioning center enabling the global deployment of troops, weapons, and supplies from Italy by sea. Since fiscal year 2005, it’s seen almost $60 million in new construction.

And what are all these bases doing in Italy? Here’s the way one US military official in Italy (who asked not to be named) explained the matter to me: “I’m sorry, Italy, but this is not the Cold War. They’re not here to defend Vicenza from a [Soviet] attack. They’re here because we agreed they need to be here to do other things, whether that’s the Middle East or the Balkans or Africa.”

Location, Location, Location

Bases in Italy have played an increasingly important role in the Pentagon’s global garrisoning strategy in no small part because of the country’s place on the map. During the Cold War, West Germany was the heart of US and NATO defenses in Europe because of its positioning along the most likely routes of any Soviet attack into Western Europe. Once the Cold War ended, Germany’s geographic significance declined markedly. In fact, US bases and troops at Europe’s heart looked increasingly hemmed in by their geography, with US ground forces there facing longer deployment times outside the continent and the Air Force needing to gain overflight rights from neighboring countries to get almost anywhere.

Troops based in Italy, by contrast, have direct access to the international waters and airspace of the Mediterranean. This allows them to deploy rapidly by sea or air. As Assistant Secretary of the Army Keith Eastin told Congress in 2006, positioning the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Dal Molin “strategically positions the unit south of the Alps with ready access to international airspace for rapid deployment and forced entry/early entry operations.”

And we’ve seen the Pentagon take advantage of Italy’s location since the 1990s, when Aviano Air Base played an important role in the first Gulf War and in US and NATO interventions in the Balkans (a short hop across the Adriatic Sea from Italy). The Bush administration, in turn, made bases in Italy some of its “enduring” European outposts in its global garrisoning shift south and east from Germany. In the Obama years, a growing military involvement in Africa has made Italy an even more attractive basing option. 

“Sufficient Operational Flexibility”

Beyond its location, US officials love Italy because, as the same military official told me, it’s a “country that offers sufficient operational flexibility.” In other words, it provides the freedom to do what you want with minimal restrictions and hassle.

Especially in comparison to Germany, Italy offers this flexibility for reasons that reflect a broader move away from basing in two of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations, Germany and Japan, toward basing in relatively poorer and less powerful ones. In addition to offering lower operating costs, such hosts are generally more susceptible to Washington’s political and economic pressure. They also tend to sign “status of forces agreements”—which govern the presence of US troops and bases abroad—that are less restrictive for the US military. Such agreements often offer more permissive settings when it comes to environmental and labor regulations or give the Pentagon more freedom to pursue unilateral military action with minimal host country consultation.

While hardly one of the world’s weaker nations, Italy is the second most heavily indebted country in Europe, and its economic and political power pales in comparison to Germany’s. Not surprisingly, then, as that Pentagon official in Italy pointed out to me, the status of forces agreement with Germany is long and detailed, while the foundational agreement with Italy remains the short (and still classified) 1954 Bilateral Infrastructure Agreement. Germans also tend to be rather exacting when it comes to following rules, while the Italians, he said, “are more interpretive of guidance.”

War + Bases = $ 

The freedom with which the US military used its Italian bases in the Iraq War is a case in point. As a start, the Italian government allowed US forces to employ them even though their use for a war pursued outside the context of NATO may violate the terms of the 1954 basing agreement. A classified May 2003 cable sent by US Ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler and released by WikiLeaks shows that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government gave the Pentagon “virtually everything” it wanted. “We got what we asked for,” wrote Sembler, “on base access, transit, and overflights, ensuring that forces… could flow smoothly through Italy to get to the fight.”

For its part, Italy appears to have benefited directly from this cooperation. (Some say that shifting bases from Germany to Italy was also meant as a way to punish Germany for its lack of support for the Iraq War.) According to a 2010 report from Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment, “Italy’s role in the war in Iraq, providing 3,000 troops to the US-led effort, opened up Iraqi reconstruction contracts to Italian firms, as well as cementing relations between the two allies.” Its role in the Afghan War surely offered similar benefits. Such opportunities came amid deepening economic troubles, and at a moment when the Italian government was turning to arms production as a major way to revive its economy. According to Jane’s, Italian weapons manufacturers like Finmeccanica have aggressively tried to enter the US and other markets. In 2009, Italian arms exports were up more than 60%.

In October 2008, the two countries renewed a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding (a “most favored nation” agreement for military sales). It has been suggested that the Italian government may have turned Dal Molin over to the US military—for free—in part to ensure itself a prominent role in the production of “the most expensive weapon ever built,” the F-35 fighter jet, among other military deals. Another glowing 2009 cable, this time from the Rome embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Dibble, called the countries’ military cooperation “an enduring partnership.” It noted pointedly how Finmeccanica (which is 30% state-owned) “sold USD 2.3 billion in defense equipment to the US in 2008 [and] has a strong stake in the solidity of the US-Italy relationship.”

Of course, there’s another relevant factor in the Pentagon’s Italian build-up. For the same reasons American tourists flock to the country, US troops have long enjoyed la dolce vita there. In addition to the comfortable living on suburban-style bases, around 40,000 military visitors a year from across Europe and beyond come to Camp Darby’s military resort and “American beach” on the Italian Riviera, making the country even more attractive.

The Costs of the Pentagon’s Pivots

Italy is not about to take Germany’s place as the foundation of US military power in Europe. Germany has long been deeply integrated into the US military system, and military planners have designed it to stay that way. In fact, remember how the Pentagon convinced Congress to hand over $600 million for a new base and related construction in Vicenza? The Pentagon’s justification for the new base was the Army’s need to bring troops from Germany to Vicenza to consolidate the 173rd brigade in one place.

And then, last March, one week after getting access to the first completed building at Dal Molin and with construction nearly finished, the Army announced that it wouldn’t be consolidating the brigade after all. One-third of the brigade would remain in Germany. At a time when budget cuts, unemployment, and economic stagnation for all but the wealthiest have left vast unmet needs in communities around the United States, for our $600 million investment, a mere 1,000 troops will move to Vicenza.

Even with those troops staying in Germany, Italy is fast becoming one of several new pivot points for US warmaking powers globally. While much attention has been focused on President Obama’s “Asia pivot,” the Pentagon is concentrating its forces at bases that represent a series of pivots in places like Djibouti on the horn of Africa and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Bahrain and Qatar in the Persian Gulf, Bulgaria and Romania in Eastern Europe, Australia, Guam, and Hawai’i in the Pacific, and Honduras in Central America.

Our bases in Italy are making it easier to pursue new wars and military interventions in conflicts about which we know little, from Africa to the Middle East. Unless we question why we still have bases in Italy and dozens more countries like it worldwide—as, encouragingly, growing numbers of politicians, journalists, and others are doing—those bases will help lead us, in the name of American “security,” down a path of perpetual violence, perpetual war, and perpetual insecurity.

Proteggiamo i traduttori afgani (da noi stessi)

In Fin de parti(e) on 03/10/2013 at 10:22

Di @MonicaRBedana

Ieri le forze armate spagnole hanno abbandonato definitivamente la base di Qala-e-Naw, in Afghanistan. Il Paese ora è in grado di badare a sé stesso, vogliono farci credere, dopo una lunghissima invasione senza scuse, senza perdono. Alle spalle si lasciano la stessa miseria, la stessa insicurezza feroce di quando vi approdarono e una quarantina di traduttori, prima indispensabili e ora perfettamente prescindibili; l’occidente in questi casi parla una lingua a tutti incomprensibile, lo sappiamo.

Quaranta persone completamente integrate nella base spagnola dopo anni di servizio, abbandonate al loro destino quando si decide di levare le tende. Alcuni traduttori hanno potuto trasferirsi altrove nel Paese, ma la vita di altri è in pericolo perché  considerati collaboratori degli invasori dai talebani e da una parte della popolazione.

Altri Paesi facenti parte della missione in Afghanistan hanno portato con sé i loro traduttori quando han lasciato libero il campo; la Spagna si è opposta in un primo momento alla concessione dell’asilo politico ed ora, dopo le pressioni dell’opinione pubblica sul Governo ed il Ministero della Difesa, dice di avere approntato un programma di accoglienza. Un programma rimasto talmente segreto che perfino ai diretti interessati non ne sapevano nulla. Ora pare che l’ambasciata spagnola a Kabul stia accogliendo le richieste di asilo in un clima di ostruzionismo, di indisponibilità alla collaborazione. E a me sembrano lontani anni luce gli anni dell’Alleanza delle Civiltà voluta da Zapatero, l’idea strampalata di Bambi di impegnarsi con continuità nel dialogo col mondo.

E’ il paradigma dell’Afghanistan che dovremmo tener presente ogni volta che ci sfiora l’idea dell’intervento armato in Siria o in qualsiasi altra parte del mondo. Non siamo nemmeno in grado di prenderci cura di una manciata di vite di cui, in tempo di guerra, ci siamo serviti; come possiamo pensare che la stessa guerra serva per mettere al sicuro milioni di civili.

Il marketing della guerra

In Da altri media, Internazionale on 02/10/2013 at 09:13

Negli ultimi venti anni la guerra è divenuta una componente della nostra quotidianità con il coinvolgimento degli eserciti europei nei principali conflitti degli ultimi due decenni, talvolta apertamente dichiarati ma più spesso sotto la facciata di interventi umanitari. L’opposizione dei cittadini degli stati europei coinvolti è andata crescendo ed ha reso difficile per i rispettivi governi perseguire i propri obiettivi geostrategici con le armi, come visto recentemente nel caso della Siria. Urge, pertanto, una nuova strategia con cui rendere la guerra ed il carico di morte ad essa associata accettabile.
Un rapporto del Ministero della Difesa britannico prodotto nel novembre dello scorso anno fornisce la strategia di marketing con cui vendere al pubblico i prossimi conflitti. Di una copia è entrato in possesso il quotidiano The Guardian che lo a reso pubblico e ne ha fornito un’analisi la scorsa settimana. Elementi portanti della strategia proposta dagli autori del rapporto, anonimi, sono essenzialmente due: convincere i cittadini dell’importanza del conflitto per la sicurezza e l’economia nazionale e occultare il più possibile l’entità dei decessi tra le fila delle forze armate britanniche. In realtà, il primo componente rappresenta una strategia in atto già da decenni e che è risultata efficace nel momento in cui i mezzi di informazione hanno riportato acriticamente le dichiarazioni di chi detiene il potere politico, amplificandone le menzogne senza cercare riscontro. La seconda parte della strategia, invece, risulta più complessa nel momento in cui ad essere coinvolti sono giovani volontari delle truppe regolari mentre, come rileva il rapporto, l’accettazione pubblica dei decessi è maggiore se a perire sono membri delle truppe speciali o dei servizi segreti. Aumenteranno pertanto le presenze di forze speciali e di contrattisti, vedasi mercenari, e saranno rimpatriati in “forma privata” i caduti, onde evitare l’imbarazzo di cortei funebri massicci e la reazione sconveniente dei familiari; già negli ultimi anni le salme hanno seguito percorsi inusuali e defilati per ridurne la visibilità. Parafrasando la dichiarazione di una vedova di guerra il cui marito è morto in Iraq, il governo come ogni famiglia perbene e rispettabile attenta alla propria immagine nasconde la polvere, i morti in questo caso, sotto il tappeto. Da ricordarsene alla prossima occasione in cui un esponente della classe dirigente definirà eroi i giovani uccisi in una delle guerre imperialiste.

Riportiamo di seguito l’articolo de The Guardian con il rimando al testo del rapporto del Ministero della Difesa.

MoD study sets out how to sell wars to the public

Exclusive: Families angry at proposal to lower profile of repatriation ceremonies

The Guardian, Thursday 26 September 2013 20.52 BST

An MoD document written in November 2012 discusses how public reaction to casualties can be influenced. Photograph: Reuters

An MoD document written in November 2012 discusses how public reaction to casualties can be influenced. Photograph: Reuters

The armed forces should seek to make British involvement in future wars more palatable to the public by reducing the public profile of repatriation ceremonies for casualties, according to a Ministry of Defence unit that formulates strategy.

Other suggestions made by the MoD thinktank in a discussion paper examining how to assuage “casualty averse” public opinion include the greater use of mercenaries and unmanned vehicles, as well as the SAS and other special forces, because it says losses sustained by the elite soldiers do not have the same impact on the public and press.

The document, written in November 2012 and obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, discusses how public reaction to casualties can be influenced and recommends that the armed forces should have “a clear and constant information campaign in order to influence the major areas of press and public opinion”.

It says that to support such a campaign the MoD should consider a number of steps, one of which would be to “reduce the profile of the repatriation ceremonies” – an apparent reference to the processions of hearses carrying coffins draped in the union flag that were driven through towns near RAF bases where bodies were brought back.

For four years up to 2011, 345 servicemen killed in action were brought back to RAF Lyneham and driven through Royal Wootton Bassett, in Wiltshire, in front of crowds of mourners. Since then, bodies have been repatriated via RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, with hearses driven through nearby Carterton.

The MoD’s suggestion received a scathing reaction from some families of dead military personnel. Deborah Allbutt, whose husband Stephen was killed in a friendly fire incident in Iraq in 2003, described the proposals for repatriation ceremonies as “brushing the deaths under the carpet”.

She said: “They are fighting and giving their lives. Why should they be hidden away? It would be absolutely disgraceful.” Allbutt, with others, gained a landmark ruling this year that relatives of killed or injured soldiers can seek damages under human rights legislation.

The paper, by the MoD’s development, concepts and doctrine centre (DCDC), recommends taking steps to “reduce public sensitivity to the penalties inherent in military operations” and says the ministry should “inculcate an attitude that service may involve sacrifice and that such risks are knowingly and willingly undertaken as a matter of professional judgment”.

The paper amounts to what could be considered a prescient analysis of why the British public and MPs were so reluctant to support an attack on Syria. It also says that in any conflict the MoD should ensure that the reason for going to war is “clearly explained to the public”.

The eight-page paper argues that the military may have come to wrongly believe that the public, and as a result the government, has become more “risk averse” on the basis of recent campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“However, this assertion is based on recent, post-2000 experience and we are in danger of learning false lessons concerning the public’s attitude to military operations,” the paper, which has no named author, adds.

“Historically, once the public are convinced that they have a stake in the conflict they are prepared to endorse military risks and will accept casualties as the necessary consequence of the use of military force.”

To back this up, it cites “robust” public support for earlier conflicts – the Falklands war and operations in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 2007. “In those cases where the public is unconvinced of the relevance of the campaign to their wellbeing they are not prepared to condone military risk and are acutely sensitive to the level of casualties incurred.

“Neither the action in Iraq nor the operations in Afghanistan have enjoyed public support and we are in danger of learning a false lesson from the experience of the last 10 years.”

The report adds: “The public have become better informed and our opponents more sophisticated in the exploitation of the sources of information with the net result that convincing the nation of the need to run military risks has become more difficult but no less essential.”

Among other suggestions that could contend with worries about casualty numbers, the DCDC recommends a major investment in “autonomous systems for unmanned vehicles”, cyber-operations and the increased use of mercenaries, referred to as “contractors”.

Noting that the growth of private security companies has proceeded at a spectacular rate during the past 10 years, it adds: “Neither the media nor the public in the west appear to identify with contractors in the way that they do with their military personnel. Thus casualties from within the contractorised force are more acceptable in pursuit of military ends than those from among our own forces.”

Investing in greater numbers of special forces is also recommended. The paper suggests: “The public appear to have a more robust attitude to SF [special forces] losses.” In a reference to a May 1982 helicopter crash, it says: “The loss of 19 SAS soldiers in a single aircraft accident during the Falklands campaign did not arouse any significant comment.”

An MoD spokesman said: “It is entirely right that we publicly honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and there are no plans to change the way in which repatriation ceremonies are conducted. A key purpose of the development, concepts and doctrine centre is to produce research which tests and challenges established doctrine and its papers are designed to stimulate internal debate, not outline government policy or positions. To represent this paper as policy or a potential shift of policy is misleading.”

Joe Glenton, an anti-war activist and former soldier who spent five months in a military prison after refusing to serve a second tour in Afghanistan, said that lowering the profile of repatriations amounted to “hiding the bodies”.

It had also, effectively, already been underway from several years ago.

“We should recall they switched the route of repatriations from the very high profile Wootton Bassett and started again bringing bodies through RAF Brize Norton. In short, hiding the bodies,” he said.

“The public rightly is averse to young soldiers being maimed or wounded, and averse to dusty foreign adventures.”

Christopher Dandeker, a professor of military sociology at King’s College London, said that the issues raised in the paper were timely as the public had recently shown that they were unconvinced by what political elites wanted to do in relation to the use of force in Syria. It also made sense that the military would pay greater attention to the role of military families, who were becoming “a more politically active, questioning independent stakeholder in the military community”.

Autunno arabo: l’America va alla guerra tra bugie e propaganda

In Internazionale on 26/08/2013 at 08:03

Il premio Nobel per la pace è pronto a scatenare l’ennesima guerra a stelle e striscie. Una tradizione per ogni Presidente che si rispetti, dai tempi della Seconda Guerra Mondiale in avanti, con la sola eccezione di Carter. Dalla Guerra di Corea, al Vietnam che impelagò tutti i presidenti fino a Nixon, per poi proseguire con Panama e Grenada (Reagan), Iraq (Bush I), Kosovo (Clinton), Iraq e Afghanistan (Bush II). Insomma, parliamo del paese che da oltre 60 anni rappresenta una costante minaccia alla pace mondiale.

Ovviamente, tutti i conflitti erano più che giustificati, ci mancherebbe. Per esempio la guerra in Vietnam iniziò dopo che le navi americane furono attaccate nel Golfo del Tonchino. In Kosovo l’Alleanza Atlantica intervenne dopo il ritrovamento di una fossa comune con 41 cadaveri. E come tutti sanno, l’intervento contro Saddam nel 2003 fu provocato dalla costruzione di armi di distruzione di massa da parte del dittatore iracheno. Peccato che, in realtà, si sia sempre trattato di motivi prefabbricati a Washington e dintorni per giustificare la guerra: navi affondate da fuoco amico, cadaveri raccolti, cambiati d’abito e risepolti insieme per mostrare le bestialità dei serbi (e solo le loro), fialette piene d’acqua mostrate con sprezzo del ridicolo all’Assemblea Generale delle Nazioni Unite.

Ed ora tocca alla Siria. Prima una campagna martellante sui bambini vittime di guerra, come se i bambini iracheni o afghani avessero avuto una vita migliore sotto le bombe a stelle e strisce. Ed adesso l’uso di armi chimiche. Peccato che non sappiamo chi le abbia usate. Seconda Carla del Ponte è sicuro che i ribelli abbiano armi chimiche. Mentre non c’è alcuna prova che il regime di Assad le abbia usate – i morti trovati pochi giorni orsono potrebbero essere vittime degli stessi ribelli o di bombardamenti che abbiano colpito depositi di armi chimiche.

Ci vorrebbe una inchiesta indipendente, come quella accettata dal governo siriano. Ma a Washington non ci pensano neanche. Nel 2003 l’inchiesta sulle armi di distruzione di massa ridicolizzò la propaganda americana. E quindi ora Obama mette le mani avanti: troppo tardi per un’inchiesta, meglio fidarsi dei dossier della CIA.

E poi, in fondo, le armi chimiche sono solo la goccia che fa traboccare il vaso, i massacri avvengono da ormai due anni e non sono più tollerabili. Naturalmente, il fatto che gli USA ed i loro alleati sauditi abbiano lautamente finanziato i ribelli con armi e aiuti, contribuendo in maniera decisiva a destabilizzare il paese e a prolungare la guerra, non è una variabile importante. Anzi.

L’importante ormai, è agire, ed al più presto. Per far vedere che gli USA esistono ancora. Non sanno cosa fanno – lasciano a Turchi e Sauditi il controllo politico della regione, appoggiano la Primavera Araba ma anche la repressione egiziana – ma almeno ci sono e sono ancora in grado di sganciare bombe. Quel che succederà dopo, con gli estremisti islamici al potere a Damasco, in fondo, non è affar nostro. Forse.

La furba guerra del premio nobel per la pace

In Internazionale on 14/06/2013 at 11:10

Parafrasando Bella Ciao si potrebbe dire che una mattina Obama si è  svegliato e ha trovato l’invasor, travestito da Assad. Quasi un fulmine a ciel sereno, adesso il leader siriano ha sgarrato, ha usato le armi chimiche e gli Stati Uniti interverranno. Che delle accuse di Obama ci siano per ora poche prove, non è rilevante – figuriamoci se le prove possano fermare un paese che con sprezzo del ridicolo ha mandato Colin Powell allo sbaraglio all’ONU ai tempi dell’Iraq . Ancora meno conta che Carla del Ponte abbia portato prove ben più concrete sul fatto che si, le armi chimiche son state usate, ma dai ribelli che ora Obama vuole aiutare.

Eppure in questi anni Obama si era cercato di tenere fuori dalla mischia. Vero, il ritiro dall’Afghanistan non c’era stato. Vero, c’era stata la guerra in Libia, ma gli USA erano più che altro stati trascinati da Cameron e Sarkozy. Ed invece, appunto, una mattina Obama si è svegliato e ha deciso che in fondo un pò di guerra non guasta. E come no! Certo questo repentino cambio di umore non avrà nulla a che fare con il gigantesco scandalo delle intercettazioni, con la scoperta (ma era poi un così grande segreto?) che i democraticissimi Stati Uniti tengono sotto sorveglianza milioni di cittadini – un copione perfetto per portare al cinema il seguito del bellissimo “Le vite degli altri”, anche se questa volta i cattivi non sono più i comunistacci tedeschi.

Ecco allora che bisogna subito trovare un altro cattivo per far dimenticare i peccatucci casalinghi del sistema americano. E quindi Assad capita proprio a fagiolo, un pò di propaganda, un pò di guerra, e magari qualche soldo in più alla NSA che ci difende da tutti questi stati terroristi – che poi era un pò quello che faceva la Stasi o il KGB….