Culture, interests, multidimensional threats, and Italian defence policy

We are pleased to talk about a paper that has been just published on the Italian Review of Political Science. The article, which is part of an interesting Special Issue on Italian foreign policy, focuses on the Italian military post-Cold War dynamism, aiming at assessing the role played  by interests and culture in addressing multidimensional threats to national security.

The paper (Stick to the plan? Culture, interests, multidimensional threats, and Italian defence policy“) is co-authored by (our) Fabrizio Coticchia and Michela Ceccorulli.

Here the link to the paper (gated)

Here below you can find the abstract:

The international context seems to be increasingly exposed to multidimensional and transnational challenges, ranging from irregular migration and piracy to the violation of basic human rights. Rather than excluding a potential role for the military, many European states rely on it to face a complex security scenario. What are the reasons behind this activism? Taking Italy as a case study, this article works out two main arguments (ideational factors and interests relating to the so-called military–industrial complex) and tries to intercept their weight in the national debate leading to the decision to intervene militarily (or not) in Sri Lanka (2004–05), Haiti (2010), and in the Central Mediterranean (2015–). Ultimately, this effort contributes to understanding the role of the military instrument in Italy, a state particularly exposed to the new challenges ahead, and offers tools for research to be potentially applied in other countries that make similar use of armed forces to deal with non-conventional security threats.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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Italy’s military interventions and new security threats

The end of the Cold War represented a turning point for Italian defense. The bipolar constraints vanished and Italy was “allowed” to adopted a more dynamic military approach, sending troops in several operations abroad. The military missions  addressed also multidimensional threats: illegal migration, humanitarian crises, piracy, organized crime, etc..

But what has pushed Italy to intervene specifically through armed forces (instead of using other tools, such as Civil Protection or diplomacy)? Michela Ceccorulli and (our) Fabrizio Coticchia answer the above-mentioned  question through their latest paper, which examines the missions in Somalia, Darfur and Haiti, assessing three different hypotheses.

Here below the abstract:

Recently, Italy has employed the military instrument abroad to deal with new, multidimensional and transnational challenges, ranging from irregular migration and piracy to the violation of basic human rights. What has pushed the country to intervene specifically through armed forces? Through three main arguments (strategic culture, domestic interests and international norms) emerging from the interplay between internal and external dynamics, the paper analyses the national debate in the run-up to the decision to intervene militarily in Darfur (2007–2010), Somalia (2009) and Haiti (2010). In so doing the work hopes to contribute to understanding the role of the military tool in Italy, a country particularly exposed to new challenges ahead.

Here you’ll find additional info on the paper.

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Learning From Others? Emulation and Change in the Italian Armed Forces Since 2001

As illustrated in previous posts, military transformation represents our main current research issue. We’ve just published a book on this topic and we are still working on Italian (and European) military transformation.

Here you’ll find our latest paper, which has been published (in early view ) on “Armed Forces&Society“. The title is: “Learning From Others? Emulation and Change in the Italian Armed Forces Since 2001” (F. Coticchia and F.N. Moro, 2016).

Here below the abstract:

How does military change take place in states that are not able to develop autonomous solutions? How does transformation occur when limited resources are available? What are the “sources of military change” for armed forces that do not possess the (cognitive and material) resources that are essential for autonomous development? In articulating an answer to these questions, this article draws from the theoretical debate on interorganizational learning and looks at the mechanisms that drive “learning from others.” We argue that adaptation and organizational learning often had to look for, and then try and adapt, off-the-shelf solutions that required relatively more limited resources. Empirically, the article focuses on the Italian Armed Forces, which have rarely attracted scholarly attention, although it emerged from almost total lack of activity in the Cold War to extended deployments in the 2000s.

Stay tuned for additional results of our analysis (we are now working also with surveys..)

 

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Renew or Reload? Continuity and Change in Italian Defence Policy

We have already examined the 2015 Italian White Paper in a previous post. Now, together with Andrea Locatelli, we have published a more detailed analysis of the latest Italian strategic documents (White Paper 2002 and White Paper 2015).

Here you’ll find the paper, which is a EUI – RCSAS (The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies) Working Paper. Here below the abstract:

How do countries adapt their overall defence policy to deal with mutating scenarios? In this paper, as part of a broader research agenda, we try to address these questions focusing specifically on the evolution of Italian defence policy as it evolved since 2001. The focus of the paper is on the evolution of national doctrine as it emerges from the analysis of strategic doctrine. What we look at here is the “process of translation” from the political to the military level, as embodied by key political strategic documents, and its evolution over time. To do so, the paper examines the Italian White Papers on Defence of 2002 and 2015 through qualitative and quantitative (content) analysis.

Here you’ll find additional info on the paper.

As highlighted in the conclusions of the article: “With reference to change, the recognition of terrorism, and its link with the upheavals occurred (and still occurring) in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, has assumed an even more central role. Coherently, the military instrument is conceived overall as an expeditionary, mission-oriented force: to that end, “jointness” and “interoperability” become central features in the design of force structure and posture. One can also find, in the new document, evidence of a revival of some “old” concepts, such as “national interest”. Here, it seems that such a notion entails attention on the defence industry, and the broader security-industrial apparatus, as a key element in the design, and for the effective implementation, of defense policy […]”

Finally, in the paper you’ll find also tables and charts related to our content analysis of the documents. Here below, for example, you’ll find the chart related to the perceived threats in the white papers.

Schermata 2016-01-12 alle 11.52.10

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ViA at ISA 2016: German and Italian defense, Mafia killings, and Renzi’s foreign policy

The International Studies Association has just released the preliminary programme for its (57th) annual convention. This year the conference will be held in Atlanta, from March 16-19 2016.

Here you can find all the info on the (huge) conference.

The title of the annual convention is “Exploring Peace“. As stated in the official website:  “Traditional international studies have put a premium on war, militarized conflict, and other violence as primary phenomena for investigation. In contrast, “peace” is often defined as the absence of militarized and violent conflict, an afterthought or residual category without a distinct theoretical explanation. Yet, such a characterization lumps many disparate kinds of events and relationships together. Economic sanctions are sometimes placed in the same “non-war” category as cultural exchanges […] The focus on mitigating conflict and violence has led scholars to downplay or ignore other values such as human rights, justice, and equity that are part of many conceptions of peace. In addition, such a concentration leads away from interactions that increasingly characterize international affairs, including trade cooperation, integration, and peace building…“.

Also this year Venus in Arms will be at the ISA, presenting three papers on different issues (and surely going to support the Atlanta Hawks at the Philips Arena) . Here below the abstracts of the paper we will present there.

“Divergent paths: Understanding post-Cold War Italian and German defense policy”

F.Coticchia and F.N. Moro

Italian and German defense policy during the Cold War shared several features, from the legacies of WWII defeat, to pacifism as a key in strategic narratives, limited military expenditures and non-use of armed force in international arena. Just after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, however, Italy provided its military contribution to “Desert Storm”, while Germany refused to deploy armed forces in Iraq. Since the end of the bipolar era, the Italian troops have been engaged in operations abroad and several defense reforms (suspension of conscription, jointness of the Chiefs of staff, etc.) have been approved. On the contrary, the first German combat operation occurred in 1999, and “military restraint” has been never abandoned. Moreover, territorial defense remained at the core of the strategic approach until the mid of the 2000s while the professional model was only recently adopted. Therefore, despite similar historical, institutional, and social premises post-bipolar outcomes have been divergent. What are the explaining factors of such different pace and timing of military transformation in the cases of Italian and German defense? Through primary and secondary sources, the paper focuses on prestige and parliamentary control that together with timing/sequencing played a crucial role in shaping the two outcomes.

“Transferring violence? Mafia killings in non-traditional areas: Evidence from Italy”

F.N. Moro and S. Sberna

Violence is a key tool used by organized crime to assert its control over territory and business. Since organized crime grew increasingly mobile and moved away from traditional areas of entrenchment, several popular analyses of mafias argue that violence is bound to spread to new areas of migration. In this paper, we argue that this view overlooks two important elements. First, criminal organizations acting in non-traditional areas face a structure of constraints and opportunities that does not favor the adoption of violence as a successful organizational strategy. Second, even when violent means are adopted they might be the result of conflicts that have their roots in the territories of origin of criminal groups. We provide empirical support to these statements trough quantitative analysis of violence perpetrated by mafia groups in Italy in the period between 1983 and 2008, analyzing the link between violence in the South (where these groups have established for over a century) and areas of recent expansion in the Northern part of the country. Also, we shed light on the mechanisms underpinning violence through micro narratives about specific episodes of violence

“Explaining Renzi’s Foreign Policy: The International Effects of Domestic Reforms”

F.Coticchia and J.W. Davidson

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 attention 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 ISIS in Iraq and has favored accommodation with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.Based on primary (interviews, official documents) and secondary sources, this paper will attempt 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, purchasing new F-35 fighter, 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 lacks foreign policy experience and has chosen low profile ministers who are not political competitors.

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ViA 2015: La trasformazione militare italiana (e molto altro)

Terminata la pausa estiva, Venus in Arms è di nuovo pronto a rituffarsi sui temi della difesa e della sicurezza (e molto altro). In questo breve post di inizio Settembre illustreremo brevemente gli argomenti che saranno al centro della nostra attenzione nei prossimi mesi, nei quali cercheremo sempre di collegare analisi e studi “accademici” a riflessioni legate al dibattito corrente.

Primo aspetto al centro del nostro lavoro sarà la trasformazione militare italiana, ovvero l’argomento del nostro ultimo libro. Il volume analizza il processo di cambiamento delle forze armate italiane nel nuovo secolo, attraverso una prospettiva comparata (Francia e Gran Bretagna). L’analisi illustra l’interazione tra alcune dimensioni della trasformazione (budget, impiego sul campo, dottrina) e la loro influenza sul percorso di cambiamento e adattamento avvenuto negli ultimi anni nella Difesa italiana. Attraverso interviste, documenti ufficiali e fonti secondarie sono state esaminate in dettaglio le operazioni in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libano e Libia.

Una particolare attenzione è stata dedicata alla dimensione istituzionale del cambiamento. In linea con quest’ultimo aspetto, in futuro ci focalizzeremo sulla dimensione dell’apprendimento, attraverso survey e questionari.

Nelle prossime settimane organizzeremo alcuni seminari di presentazione del libro, che riporteremo per tempo sul blog. Un po’ di pubblicità non fa mai male, naturalmente.

Un altro aspetto che continuerà ad occupare costantemente le pagine di Venus sarà la Difesa italiana, soprattutto alla luce della pubblicazione dell’ultimo Libro Bianco e della riforme ad esso collegate. Stiamo lavorando proprio sull’ultimo documento strategico e a breve saranno qui riportati i risultati delle nostre analisi.

In chiave comparata ci dedicheremo poi al rapporto tra l’evoluzione della Difesa italiana e quella tedesca avvenuta nell’era post-bipolare. Abbiamo già passato un po’ di tempo di Germania per interviste e analisi. Quindi aspettatevi un bel po’ di materiale da leggere e discutere (non in tedesco, tranquilli).

Una parte consistente del nostro lavoro sarà poi dedicata ai temi della political violence, del ruolo della criminalità organizzata (nazionale e transnazionale), dei conflitti contemporanei.

Al tema dei foreign fighters saranno dedicati alcuni post, i quali riporteranno i risultati di alcuni analisi che abbiamo condotto di recente in merito al caso dell’ISIL.

Non ci dimenticheremo del controverso tema degli F-35, cercando però di spostare la discussione da una prospettiva budget-driven a qualcosa di più articolato, come fatto in passato.

La sicurezza europea, scossa dalle crisi interne e regionali e dal dramma immane dei profughi, non potrà che essere esaminata in dettaglio, così come la trasformazione della NATO.

Infine, i guest-post cercheranno di ampliare l’orizzonte interdisciplinare di ViA, da analisi tradizionali di Relazioni Internazionali agli studi di intelligence fino ai “nuovi” metodi di insegnamento in materia di IR, sicurezza e scienza politica. Ogni contributo alla discussione è ben accetto ovviamente.

Sarete sempre tenuti al corrente dei principali appuntamenti con conferenze e seminari (in più qualche dettaglio sulle trasferte che faremo in Europa League).

Insomma, molta carne al fuoco. Senza dimenticarci l’appuntamento settimanale con la nostra Top-5, che raccoglie i migliori “5 pezzi facili” che provengono da blog, riviste, giornali di tutto il mondo. La dimensione “pop” del sito non verrà trascurata, soprattutto nella spasmodica attesa del nuovo capitolo di Star Wars.

Stay tuned

 

 

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The State of the Union 2015

Venus in Arms is pleased to present “The State of the Union conference”, which is organized by the European University Institute (EUI).

The conference  (May 6-9is an annual event for high-level reflection on the European Union.

Here the official website.

Here the programme.

The fifth edition will bring together leading academics, policy-makers, civil society representatives, business and opinion leaders to discuss several topics confronting the future of Europe. 

Here the speakers.

As stated in the official presentation: “The idea to organise the conference stems from the will to contribute to the European and international debate on governance, integration and global challenges, through a special event with qualified and plural participation and a wide resonance. Through The State of the Union, the EUI can share its scientific and organisational assets with partners and stakeholders, making Florence, once each year, the capital of Europe“.

Among the key-themes addressed by the conference, we will devote a specific attention to “The interface of Europe with the World“.

We hope to see you in Florence

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Learning from others? Emulation and adjustment in Italian military transformation

Venus in Arms will be at the 73rd annual MPSA (Midwest Political Science Association) conference.

The event will be held April 16-19, 2015 at the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago.

As stated by the website: “Conference presentations are organized by topic in more than 80 sections based on different subfields or areas of study. Many of these are interdisciplinary and draw scholars from different fields, providing a variety of perspectives“.

Here you’ll find the link to the sections.

ViA will present the paper “Learning from others? Emulation and adjustment in Italian military transformation” at the panel 17-8: Role of Military Learning and Technology in International Security

The paper focuses on recent transformations in Italian armed forces to discuss mechanisms of learning and adaptation of NATO countries experiencing intense deployment in the last decades.

 

See you in Chicago

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