Parlare di pace e guerra in Italia (parte terza)

Prima di una breve pausa per le vacanze estive Venus voleva ricordarvi alcune novità per il prossimo anno.

Come abbiamo già scritto in precedenti post (qui e qui) non è facile parlare di pace e guerra in Italia, dai media al Parlamento, dal dibattito pubblico alle università. Pertanto, anche nel prossimo anno accademico, confermiamo il  ciclo di seminari “Guerra, Pace e Sicurezza alle porte del Mediterraneo” (promosso dal Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche dell’Università di Genova e organizzato da Andrea Catanzaro e dal nostro Fabrizio Coticchia).

Molte le iniziative realizzate quest’anno (si veda per esempio qui) ehe confermeremo anche nei prossimi semestri, invitando a Genova esperti italiani e stranieri, politici, giornalisti, militari, pacifisti.

La novità del prossimo anno è la creazione di un Osservatorio sui conflitti (il nome ed il relativo acronimo sono ancora da decidere..) legato proprio ad iniziative analoghe. Anche Venus parteciperà direttamente.

Quindi, stay tuned e buone vacanze

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22nd International conference on Intelligence in the Knowledge Society 2016

Guest Post by Davide Barbieri*


New terrorist organizations, rogue states, almost unpredictable migration flows and new cyber security threats are the issues which will be addressed at the 22nd International Conference on Intelligence in the Knowledge Society which will take place in Bucharest this year, on the 13th-14th October.

Here you’ll find additional info on the conference

The Romanian Intelligence Academy “Mihai Viteazul” is taking care of the organization. Several panels – chaired by international academics and intelligence experts – will cover the different topics.

The main framework of the conference will be – as always – extremely interdisciplinary, with scholars coming from different backgrounds like political and social sciences, behavioral sciences, medicine, mathematics and information technology. In particular, since this is my field, I think that the intelligence community should evaluate how and if IT will be able to empower them and help analysts to overcome their cognitive limits, in order to make the most out of the available data, in an efficient way. Terrorist and criminal organizations will certainly do.

*Davide Barbieri, PhD, is a data mining and intelligence analysis expert at Link Campus University, Rome (Italy) where he currently teaches at the Master in Intelligence and Security.


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“La NATO tra Varsavia e il Mediterraneo”

In vista del prossimo summit NATO che si terrà a Varsavia entro la fine di questa settimana, l’ISPI ha appena pubblicato online una serie di contributi relativi al futuro dell’Alleanza Atlantica.

Qui il link al report

Segnaliamo, tra gli altri, il pezzo del “nostro” Fabrizio Coticchia sul rapporto tra NATO e Mediterraneo, con un focus particolare sul ruolo dell’Italia.


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“Narratives and counter-narratives: security issues and peace movements in Italy”

The programme of the 2016 SISP (Italian Political Science Association) annual convention has been published. The conference will be held in Milan (15-17 September 2016).

Here you’ll find all panels and papers.

Our Fabrizio Coticchia (University of Genoa) and Andrea Catanzaro (University of Genoa) will present a paper on strategic narratives, security issues and peace movements.

Here more details on the panel “Social Movements and Practices of Resistance in Times of Crisis”.

Here below the abstract of the paper:

Existing studies on strategic narratives have persuasively illustrated the features that make a plot compelling to shape public attitudes regarding military operations. A growing body of the literature has started to pay attention to the concept of “narrative dominance”, stressing the role played by counter-narratives in hindering a wider acceptance of a specific message. However, a limited consideration has been devoted to security issues other than military missions, while the key- features and the effectiveness of counter-narratives have seldom been assessed in a systematic way, especially for non-institutional actors such as “peace movements”. The paper aims at filling this gap, focusing on Italy. How and to what extent have counter-narratives successfully contested the official strategic narratives? What ideologies underlie them? To answer these questions, the research investigates the main contents, the theoretical backgrounds and the effectiveness of counter-narratives developed by national “peace movements” to contrast the “plot” designed by Italian governments to gain the support of public opinion towards selected post-2001 security issues: defense acquisitions, political reforms and missions abroad. The manuscript, which is based on interviews, discourse and content analysis, adopts a multidisciplinary approach, combining IR, political thought, communication and social movement studies.


See you soon in Milan.

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Italian Foreign and Defense Policy at the Time of the ‘Bulldozer’

We are pleased to invite you at the panel we have organized at the next SGRI Conference.

The IX annual Conference of the Italian Standing Group on International Relations is a two-day session that brings together scholars, researchers and PhD students from Italian academia to discuss issues related to global politics, European studies, foreign policy, regional dynamics and international theory. The 2016 Conference will be held for the fifth time in Trento from June 23rd to June 25th and will be organized by the Bruno Kessler Foundation‘s Research Center on International Politics and Conflict Resolution (FBK-CERPIC).

Our panel focuses on “Italian Foreign and Defense Policy at the Time of the ‘Bulldozer’”. Since becoming prime minister in February 2014, Matteo Renzi has promoted a change of pace to the controversial debates over policy reforms in Italy. While the literature has devoted significant attention to the transformation occurred in the domestic context, few analyses have focused on the evolution of Italian foreign and defense policy in historical and comparative perspective. The panel aims at filling this gap, collecting different perspectives on diplomacy, security, foreign policy analysis, international and European politics. Finally, the supposed continuity or discontinuity of the Renzi’s foreign and defense policy will be assessed.

Here below the papers we will discuss:
1. Anna Caffarena and Giuseppe Gabusi (University of Turin), Making sense of a changing world: foreign policy ideas and Italy’s national role conceptions after 9/11

In a rapidly changing world, middle powers with no obvious place on the global scene have the difficult task to read the international environment in order to formulate and implement a coherent and possibly effective foreign policy. In order to do so, decision makers either reproduce old ideas or develop new ones. Considering the ideas put forward in their inaugural speeches by Prime Ministers and Foreign Affairs Ministers in office after 2001, the authors suggest that Italy’s institutional actors appear to be aware of the changes occurred in the international system after 1989, and in particular after 9/11. The National Role Conceptions sustaining Italy’s present foreign policy goals reflect such awareness, being quite different with respect to the picture offered by Holsti in his seminal work published in 1970. Ideas expressing foreign policy goals are also reasonably well grounded either in ideas on how the world works or in operational ideas, yet the country’s foreign policy appears feebly focused, even though focus is explicitly very much sought for. Some explanations for such a lack of focus which makes Italy’s foreign policy design rather ineffective are offered.


2. Antonio Calcara (LUISS School of Government – Rome), Italy’s defence policy in the European context: the case of the European Defence Agency

The European Defence Agency (EDA), thanks to the adoption of a large number of strategic documents and reports, its expertise in the formulation of projects and data collection, has been able to spread an homogeneous discourse on the necessity of a common European defence approach. The EDA is pushing for a progressive “europeanization” of the defence field through pooling and sharing of resources, liberalisation of the defence market, europeanization of military standards and support to dual civilian-military research.
Italy has always had a pro-integration stance on defence matters and it presents the EU as the political and functional framework in which the Italian defence policy will develop – both at the strategic and at the procurement level – in order to rationalise the defence spending. However, going into detail, Italy’s engagement with EDA seems to be more nuanced, especially in the preservation of national sovereignty in some particular technological areas and, in general, has resulted in an ambiguos position between a pro-NATO’s view (and the related “Smart Defence” initiative) and a pro-european “Pooling and Sharing” process, under the EDA’s framework.
While academic literature has devoted significant attention to the transformations occurred in the domestic context, few analyses have focused on the evolution of Italian defence policy in the context of the European institutional framework.
This study is aimed to answer to the following questions: What is the relationship between Italy and the EDA? What is the role of Italy in the EDA? Do the collaborative activities promoted by the Agency have altered the Italian defense policy, especially concerning the new White Paper on International Security and Defence? Can we consider Italy as a “policy entrepreneur” in European defence matters or, beyond declaratory level, it continues to maintain a strong “national” approach?


3. Fabrizio Coticchia (University of Genoa) and Jason W. Davidson (University of Mary Washington), Explaining Renzi’s Foreign Policy: The International Effects of Domestic Reforms
Since becoming Italy’s Prime Minister in February 2014 Matteo Renzi has attracted a lot of attention for his domestic political reforms. Journalists and scholars have focused far less interest on Renzi’s foreign policy, however. This lack of attention is striking given some of the Renzi government’s actions on the international stage. For example, Italy has refused to participate in air strikes against ISIL in Iraq and has favored accommodation with Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Based on primary (interviews, official documents) and secondary sources, this paper attempts to explain the Renzi government’s foreign policy.
First, because Renzi is focused on domestic reform, foreign policy is an afterthought. Renzi’s government has avoided costly policies (e.g., air strikes, peace-enforcement mission in Libya, etc.) because they would undercut his economic plans. Second, because Renzi’s domestic reforms anger many on the left, he has chosen a foreign policy that appeals to–or at least does not create further problems with–the left (e.g., vocally asking for anti-austerity measures in the EU during the semester of Italian presidency). Finally, Renzi, who lacks foreign policy experience, centralized decision-making regarding international relations.


4. Mirco Elena (USPID), Implications of different energy strategies on national security and on international relations

Several factors have to be considered while developing a national energy strategy: amount and cost of resources in the medium and long term, need to import primary energy, number and reliability of suppliers, suitability for the productive sector, vulnerability to uncontrollable external events, resilience of the supply chain in case of conflict, … Many of these elements have important implications from the point of view of a nation’s international relations.
Traditionally, energy production has favoured big, centralized infrastructures. If these are advantageous in terms of, e.g., power plant efficiency, there are also negative consequences which can make a nation much more vulnerable in case of war.
Modern technological developments in the energy field have major implications also with regard to national security and this fact should receive more attention from government authorities.


5. Matteo Faini (University of Venice Ca’ Foscari)
For democratic countries, intelligence agencies are a threat and a necessity. They often provide vital information for national security, but they can also engage in unauthorized activities, like attempting or threatening to remove their own government, i.e. subversion.
I develop and test a typological theory of the relationship between intelligence agencies and policy-makers in democratic countries. I answer two questions: how can intelligence agencies be controlled? When will intelligence agencies engage in subversion?
Intelligence agencies will differ depending on who their main enemies are. An agency will be political if it has a strong domestic subversive movement as one of its main enemies. These agencies will not be politically neutral and the divide between foreign and domestic intelligence will be blurred. Because of these characteristics, it will be harder for policymakers to control them. They will engage in subversion when they perceive their own government as insufficiently dedicated to the anti-subversive fight and when an upcoming close election or divisions among the agency’s principals give them an opportunity to install a stronger government. Ironically, an agency that is designed to fight against subversion will be more inclined to subvert itself. Instead, if an agency does not have a strong subversive movement as one of its main enemies, it can afford to be non-political: politically neutral and with a sharp divide between foreign and domestic intelligence. Non-political agencies will be strongly controlled by policymakers and will not engage in subversion.
I test this theory on two case studies: British intelligence from 1909 to 1924 and Italian military intelligence from 1943 onward. I find that intelligence agencies shift from being non-political to being political when a strong subversive movement is included among their main enemies. Political intelligence agencies have attempted to remove governments even in rich democracies normally considered immune from coups-like phenomena, like the UK in 1920 and 1924.
I then draw implications for policymakers, focusing on the present-day Italian intelligence community. I argue that the current trend towards a non-political intelligence community is at risk of being reversed, under pressure from politically aligned appointments and the rise of political parties that can be construed as subversive.

The discussant will be J.P. Darnis (IAI – University of Nice)

Here additional details on the panel.

Here you’ll find all the panels at the SGRI Conference.

See you soon in Trento.


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Call for papers at SGRI2016: “Italian Foreign and Defense Policy at the Time of the ‘Bulldozer’”

We have organized a panel at the next SGRI (Italian Standing Group on International Relations) Annual Conference (which will be held at the FBK, Trento, June 23-25).

Here you’ll find additional details on the conference, which is “a two-day session that brings together scholars, researchers and PhD students from Italian academia to discuss issues related to global politics, European studies, foreign policy, regional dynamics and international theory”.

Here all the panels on “Exploring Foreign and Security Policy in International Relations

Here below the structure of the panel we have organized:

Italian Foreign and Defense Policy at the Time of the ‘Bulldozer’
Chairs: Fabrizio Coticchia (University of Genoa) and Francesco N Moro (University of Milan – Bicocca)

Discussants: Jean-Pierre Darnis (Istituto Affari Internazionali – Rome and University of Nice)

Date: TBD
Room: TBD


Since becoming prime minister in February 2014, Matteo Renzi has promoted a change of pace to the controversial debates over policy reforms in Italy. While the literature has devoted significant attention to the transformation occurred in the domestic context, few analyses have focused on the evolution of Italian foreign and defense policy in historical and comparative perspective. The panel aims at filling this gap, collecting different perspectives on diplomacy, security, foreign policy analysis, international and European politics. Finally, the supposed continuity or discontinuity of the Renzi’s foreign and defense policy will be assessed.


So, we are waiting for your papers (please send the abstract to

For further information about the 2016 SGRI Conference:

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 94 (ISA2016)

This week out Top5 is entirely related to the next ISA 57th Annual convention, which will be held at Atlanta (March 16-19).

We’ve already talked (here) about the paper we present there, from Renzi to Italian Defense, from Mafia killings to the evolution of German armed forces.

Here below the Top5 of the panel we are interested in…


1 – Reconciliation and the Meaning of Peace in Afghanistan (Tuesday 17, 8.15AM)

Chair: Theo Farrell (King’s College London), Disc. Antonio Giustozzi (King’s College London)

  • The sources of Taliban resilience and the implications for reconciliation – Theo Farrell (King’s College London) and Antonio Giustozzi (King’s College London)
  • Outcome of the Afghan War – Carter Malkasian (CNA)
  • How jail formed the Taliban and what it did for reconciliation  – Michael Semple (Queens University Belfast)
  • Reconciliation as an Experiment: 2000 to 2015 – Rudra Chaudhuri (Department of War Studies, King’s College London ) and Christopher Kolenda (Department of War Studies, King’s College London)

2- Strategic Narratives and Ukraine (Tuesday 17, 8.15AM)

Chair Ben O’Loughlin (Royal Holloway, University of London), Disc. Michael McFaul (Stanford University)

  • Kyiv’s Public Diplomacy: Strategic Narratives of and for Ukraine- Valentina Feklyunina (Newcastle University)
  • News media choice and views of the West in Russia: a study of narrative reception on among university students – Joanna Szostek (Royal Holloway, University of London)
  • Russia’s New War of the Words: How the Invasion of Ukraine Redefines Strategic Narratives – Sarah Oates (University of Maryland)
  • Strategic Narratives and Alliances: NATO Responses to Ukraine – Laura Roselle (Elon University)
  • Weaponising information: Putin, the West and Competing Strategic Narratives of Ukraine – Alister Miskimmon (Royal Holloway, University of London) Ben O’Loughlin (Royal Holloway, University of London)

3 – Transnational Insurgents: Understanding Concepts and Dynamics (Friday 18, 4pm)

Chair Idean Salehyan (University of Texas at Dallas); Disc. Idean Salehyan (University of Texas at Dallas) Disc. Kris n Bakke (University College London)

  • Wars of Others: Ethnic/Religious Cleavages and Support for Foreign Fighters – Seden Akcinaroglu (Binghamton University), Ihsan Efe Tokdemir (Binghamton University), and Ekrem Karakoc (Binghamton University (SUNY))
  • Why do Jihadi Groups Recruit Foreign Fighters? – Barak Mendelsohn (Haverford College)
  • Foreign Fighters and Civil Conflict Outcomes – Alex Braithwaite (University of Arizona, School of Government and Public Policy) and Tiffany Chu (University of Arizona)
  • No Zeal Like a Convert? Western Converts as Foreign Fighters – David Malet (The University of Melbourne)
  • Enter the Neighborhood Bully: The Impact of Foreign Fighters on Rebel Group Structures and Civilian Networks – Pauline Moore (University of Denver)

4-Innovation and Adaptation of Military Organizations (Saturday, 1.45PM)

Chair and Disc. Theo Farrell (King’s College London) 

  • Inorganic Adaptation for Irregular Warfare Missions – Nathan White (King’s College London)
  • The U.S. Military and (No) Change: Examining U.S. Military Rigidity in Peace time – Andrew Gallo (Columbia University)
  • A Muddled Revolution? Understanding U.S. Naval Transformation Post 9/11 – Alexander Salt (University of Calgary)
  • Military Innovation and Conceptual Change: The Israel Defense Forces Prior to the 2006 Lebanon War – Raphael David Marcus (King’s College London)
  • Innovation in the Shadow of Vietnam: Making US Army Doctrine in 1968 – Peter Campbell (Baylor University)

5- No Match For A Good Blaster At Your Side: Star Wars and International Security (Saturday, 4PM)

Chair Stephen M. Saideman (Carleton University) Disc. Alexander Montgomery (Reed College)

  • How to bring balance to the Force? Star Wars in US political discourse – Anette Stimmer (University of Oxford)
  • Going to the “Dark Side”: Star Wars Symbolism and the Acceptance of Torture in the U.S. Security Community -Benjamin C. Carbone (Trinity College), Corinne Tagliarina (University of Connecticut) and Brenna L Bridwell (University of Connecticut)
  • A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Far Away: Myth and Fantasy in US Foreign Policy and in Star Wars- Patrick Thaddeus Jackson (American University)
  • China’s Military Rise and the Death Star Discourse: The Deployment of Star Wars Tropes in the Framing of the ‘China Threat’ – Scott Brown (University of Dundee)
  • Rethinking the Political‐/ Science /‐Fiction Nexus: Global Policy‐Making and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots -Charli Carpenter (University of Massachusetts)




See you in Atlanta

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The Military Impact of Foreign Fighters on the Battlefield: The Case of the ISIL

We are pleased to announce the publication of the book: “Foreign Fighters under International Law and Beyond“, F. Capone, A. de Guttry, C. Paulussen (eds), Springer, 2016.

Here you’ll find all the details related to the edited volume that offers a broad and multidisciplinary perspective on the underexplored phenomenon of foreign fighters.

Here the “Table of contents”

The book “provides an overview of challenges, pays considerable attention to the status of foreign fighters, and addresses numerous approaches, both at the supranational and national level, on how to tackle this problem. Outstanding experts in the field – lawyers, historians and political scientists – contributed to the present volume, providing the reader with a multitude of views concerning this multifaceted phenomenon. Particular attention is paid to its implications in light of the armed conflicts currently taking place in Syria and Iraq“.

We have provided a contribution with the chapter: “The Military Impact of Foreign Fighters on the Battlefield: The Case of the ISIL” (by F.Coticchia).

Here below the abstract:

The so-called ‘foreign fighters’ are the most controversial example of the increasing relevance of transnational actors in global politics and contemporary warfare. The border between domestic and international security is becoming blurred due to the potential adverse impacts of these fighters, mainly in terms of consequences related to their experience on the ground (blowback effects, terrorist attacks, radical propaganda, etc.). Despite a mounting interest in this issue, scarce attention has been devoted to the mechanisms through which these foreign fighters are trained and, above all, the ways in which they spread military innovation and adapt across conflicts and crisesLooking at the case study of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), this chapter will investigate the patterns of the military involvement on the battlefield of foreign fighters as well as their role in the process of elaboration and diffusion of approaches, tactics and lessons learnt.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 92

Why was Giulio Regeni killed? As reported by The Guardian in this article, a month after he was last seen alive, speculation as to why he was targeted remains just that.

Are we preparing the war in Libya? Looking at the decision-making process of some European countries, the answer seems positive…

During electoral debate everyone complaints about “polarization“. However, as stressed by Torben Iversen and David Soskice (here), polarization could be interpreted also as the sign of a healthy democracy.

From politics to “realpolitik“. The War on the Rocks provides a “complex history” of realpolitik, offering a comprehensive literature review of the concept.

Finally, the NYT reveals (here) the U.S. Plans to put advisers on front lines of Nigeria’s War on Boko Haram

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 90

This week, our Top5 starts from the open letter of protests (here and here) signed by several academic associations over the death of Giulio Regeni.

On the same dramatic issue, here you’ll find another analysis by other important members of the academic community on Egypt and human rights. Here some interesting perspectives on field research and political instability in Norther Africa (and beyond).

A quite relevant meeting occurred in Rome on Tuesday. The foreign ministers of the six countries — Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (the 6 founding members of the EU) — held a dinner to discuss setting up a very informal group of “core” states prepared to push the EU forward. Here the report by Politico.

What is the appropriate response to terrorist attacks? A very problematic and broad question. Here an excellent symposium that aims at addressing such complicate issue.

Finally, moving through the ISA Annual Convention in Atlanta, a reminder of all the recent updates on the conference.

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