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.