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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ViA at the SISP Annual Conference


Venus in Arms comes back to work after summer break. ViA will be at the SISP (Italian Political Science Association) Annual Conference. As illustrated in a previous post, the SISP Meeting will be held in Perugia at end of the next week (11-13 September).

The conference is organized by the Department of Political Science of the University of Perugia and the Department of Human and Social Sciences of the University for Foreigners of Perugia. The conference venue will be the Department of Political Science, University of Perugia, Via Pascoli, 20 – 06123 Perugia.

Here you’ll find the final programme of the conference. The abstracts of papers, panels and sections are here.

Venus in Arms will be present in four panels, focusing on intelligence, foreign policy analysis and Italian defense.

We will discuss the relationship between intelligence and national interest in a globalized world. We also present a paper on the historical evolution of Italian defense, stressing main innovations and obstacles. Finally, a co-authored work (with Michela Ceccorulli) will assess different interpretations of the Italian military engagement in Libya.

See you there

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Italian Political Science Association – XXVIII Annual Conference (Perugia, 11-13 September 2014)



The Annual conference of the Italian Political Science Association (SISP – Società Italiana di Scienza Politica) will be held in Perugia (11-13 September).

Here you’ll find the link to all sections and panels

This year the IR section provides several panels on the relationship between intelligence and globalisation in the global era. In addition, there is also a roundtable on intelligence and scientific method.

Venus in Arms will be at the conference, focusing on manifold issues, such as intelligence, Italian defense policy and the war in Libya.

See you there

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Conferences, Seminars, Workshops: Venus in Arms on Tour (June 2014)

June has been a very busy month for Venus in Arms. In fact, we have presented our research at several academic conferences/public workshops around Italy and Europe (while watching almost all the matches of the 2014 World Cup)

Here below you’ll find a very brief list of the main issues we faced in our papers.

1) White Paper 2014

Venus has provided its contribution to the current preliminary debate regarding the forthcoming White Paper 2014. After a two-days meeting with practitioners, “experts” and academics, the Ministry of Defense has collected several policy papers full of (general) suggestions and recommendations on the White Paper. Here the link to the document.

2) The Italian Left and Foreign Policy

ViA has presented the paper “The Irrelevance of Radical Parties in Coalition Foreign Policy: Italy and the Extremity Hypothesis”, (with Jason Davidson), at the conference “The Italian Left and Foreign Policy” (Cambridge, 9th June 2014). The next Italian presidency of the EU and the recent political success of Renzi have been the issues at the stake.

In our paper we’vefocused on Italy’s post-Cold War center-left governments and decisions on military operations. Scholarly consensus suggests that coalition governments produce more polarized foreign policies than single party governments. This, the literature argues, is especially likely when coalition governments include radical parties that take extreme positions on foreign policy issues and are “critical” to the government’s survival as the radical parties push the centrist ones toward the extremes. The case of Italy provides an important counterpoint to the polarization hypothesis. In all cases we’ve analysed (Albania 1997, Kosovo 1999, and Afghanistan 2007), the parties took a position against military operations but did not prevent the government from engaging in/extending operations by threatening survival or forcing the government’s fall. What are the possible explanations of the irrelevance of leftist radical parties in Italy?

A) Radical parties are reluctant to threaten/force government collapse as this can lead to a center right coalition coming to office and voters’ blame for the outcome;

B) Relative salience has been critical: foreign policy has been less important to radical parties than domestic issues and it has been more important to center-left parties than radical ones;

C) Radical parties have appealed to their voters through theatrical politics (e.g., attending protests) and have affected the implementation of military operations.

Here you’ll find a link to the presentation.

3) The transformation of Italian Armed Forces

We have been at the conference: “The Crisis in EU and US” (Pisa, 12-14 June 2014). Venus in Arms has presented its ongoing research on Italian and European military transformation.

We have discussed the paper: “The Redesigning of Italian Armed Forces in a Time of Crisis”, focusing on the co-evolution of budget and doctrine in the post-2001 Italian defense policy. We have illustrated the preliminary findings of our research. All the results will be collected in the forthcoming: “Adapt, Improvise, Overcome? The Transformation of Italian Armed Forces in Comparative Perspective”, Ashgate.

4) Technological innovation and demographic trends

ViA participated at the SGRI VII Annual Conference in Trento (26-28 June 2014). We’ve presented a paper on the growing importance of technology in international politics, focusing on innovation, relevant actors in R&D process, military equipments.

The paper (“Diffusion or concentration? The geography of technological innovation”) was part of a broader research agenda on demography and security. A very interesting panel has hosted several contributions on such topic.

What will be the world’s demographic outlook in 2035? What factors will shape it and with what consequences? The world’s population is expected to reach more than 8.7 billion by 2035, but this growth will be unbalanced with diverse regional trends and impacts. Demographic factors – fertility rates, life expectations, migration, population age and composition – do not develop in isolation, but interact with other trends in the economic, technological, environmental, health, energy and political domains to shape complex evolutionary scenarios. The panel has hosted papers looking at the demographic trends and their relationship with trends in the aforementioned areas, to provide a forecast of how they will interact by 2035.

5) The determinants of the Italian military intervention in Libya

Venus discussed another paper at the SGRI Conference: “A two-level game? The determinants of the Italian military intervention in Libya: strategic culture, international norms and domestic dynamics” (with Michela Ceccorulli). We’ve illustrated the preliminary research on the ways through which Italy adopts military tools in order to face non-military threats (PRIN project: The Italian Foreign Policy in front of the new challenges of the international system: actors, institutions and policies”).

The paper focuses on the 2011 naval operation in Libya, which is a paradigmatic case regarding the growing interaction of new security challenges: region instability, transnational organized crime, and illegal immigration. Why has Italy employed the military instrument to face transnational and non-military threats? The paper looks at the political debate over the decision-making process, assessing three possible determinants for decisions: strategic culture, international norms and domestic dynamics.

So, a very busy month.  After the (deserved) summer break we will be also at the SISP Annual Conference (Perugia 11-13 September). See you there.



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The VII annual Conference of the Italian Standing Group on International Relations (SGRI): Final Programme

The VII annual Conference of the Italian Standing Group on International Relations (SGRI) will be held for the third time in Trento from June 27th to June 28th and will be organized by the Bruno Kessler Foundation‘s Research Center on International Politics and Conflict Resolution (FBK-CERPIC).

This years topic will be: «Security and Cooperation in a Changing International System».

Here you’ll find the final program me of the 2014 Conference


Venus in Arms and Stratgroup will organize the panel: “The winter of our consent? Italian foreign and defense policy and the contemporary security challenges”.

Here below the details of the panel:

Chairs: Francesco Moro (University of Milan ‘Bicocca’) and Fabrizio Coticchia  (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna – Pisa)
Discussants:  Francesco Moro (University of Milan ‘Bicocca’)  and Andrea Locatelli  (Catholic University, Milan)

Friday, 27th June, 2014 – Aula Grande

In the post-Cold War era Italy has been one of the most active contributors to international security, constantly providing troops for military operations around the world.Italywas the only major European country to send forces to all major operations that have been undertaken by Western countries in the post-9/11 era (Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya). Italian public opinion has regularly supported the “peace operations” undertaken by the Italian armed forces, which have been “used” also to face non-military threats, such as migration, piracy or transnational organized crime.

Despite such relevant contribution, Italy has been constantly overlooked by literature. The panel aims to fill this gap, examining how the Italian foreign and defense policy has faced the new challenges posed by the current financial crisis. The severe defense spending review, the huge cuts in diplomacy and development aid, the reduction of troops deployed abroad and the drop of public opinion support towards military operations abroad could represent the first effects of the crisis.

The panel, through different perspectives, provides empirical material to understand how these dynamics are transforming traditional national security practices

Normative power at work. Assessing EU crisis management operations
Eugenio Cusumano, Baltic Defense College
Francesco Giumelli, University of Groningen

Commercialization of security in Italy
Stefano Ruzza, University of Turin

The Italian Defence Policy after the Cold War. Europeanisation, American Influence, or Strategic Adjustment?
Andrea Locatelli, Catholic University, Milan

A two-level game? The determinants of the Italian military intervention in Libya: strategic culture, international norms and domestic dynamics
Michela Ceccorulli, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and University of Bologna at Forlì
Fabrizio Coticchia, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna

The Strategy of a Middle-Power in the Post-Bipolar World
Marco Valigi, University Roma Tre

Transitions in European Security Structures and Doctrine. Towards the Adoption of Cultural Awareness Training for European Battle Group Soldiers
Blaise Nkfunkoh Ndamnsah, University of Ljubljana


See you there!!

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It is not all about the money. Strategic Adjustment and the End of Conscription in Italy

Guest Post by Andrea Locatelli*

Defence planning is no easy stuff. The goal is to define short- and long-term needs, match them with available resources (read: budget) and craft force, procurement, manpower and readiness plans consequently. Things were just a little easier if you worked at the Pentagon, where budget constraints were less severe and military superiority could compensate for blunders (but the good old times are gone even in Washington). If you move from the US to Italy, the challenge can be paramount. Broadly speaking, the Italian defence policy since the end of the Cold War was marked by three main features: first, the lack of a clear political guidance over the years. Partially for the high volatility of governments and coalitions, partially for the lack of a strategic culture, defence circles enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy with respect to the executive and legislative bodies. Second, even before the ongoing economic crisis, defence policies have been hindered by severe constraints in the defence budget. Third, like its partners in Europe and overseas, Italy needed to adjust to (and indeed understand) the new security context originating from the demise of the Soviet Union.

Following these considerations, one may be tempted to paint a gloomy picture of the Italian defence policy in the past 25 years. Being planning so difficult, we would expect either an erratic or an overly conservative course. However, just a cursory look at the main features of manpower planning would show that Italy’s action in this issue area, while not entirely successful, was driven by strategic calculations. This is not to say that it is always sunny in Rome. As we will see, a number of problems remains as a legacy of the past, and it is likely to remain unsolved for the foreseeable future. However, contrary to common wisdom, we can argue that the Italian Armed forces embarked on a painstaking reform process aimed at adjusting the country’s military posture to the contemporary security scenario.

The departing point is the 1991 Gulf War. During Desert Storm Italy found itself unprepared and in many respects with an obsolete army. In fact, being based on low-skilled, poorly equipped mass conscripts, the Italian army could serve a purpose in defending national borders from an eventual Soviet invasion, but not in the emerging new scenario. To meet this challenge, the Armed Forces needed to adjust either its missions, military posture and structure.

In terms of manpower, the main initiative was the so called “New Defence Model”. Initially conceived in 1995, it was aimed at replacing the existing system with one based on a mix of conscripts and volunteers. After a series of Legislative Decrees, the implementation phase started on 20 January 1998: at that stage the goal was fixed in a 230.000 strong force, made by 64.000 volunteers and 72.000 conscripts. Two years later, a second phase was implemented aimed at transforming the Armed Forces into an all-professional force. Even if the time horizon for the completion of the reform was planned to 2020, the early 2000s already witnessed unexpected problems in terms of recruiting and force structure. All this led to a new Law (No. 226, 23 August 2004) that provided better career opportunities for volunteers and accelerated the end of conscription to 2005 instead of 2007.

Even before the switch to a professional army was implemented, Italy experienced a significant reduction in the number of personnel. From 1998 to 2004, for instance, the total figure dropped from 384.600 to 207.200, equal to a 53.8% decrease. This was partially due to domestic reasons (shrinking youth population, conscientious objection to military service and other exemption provisions), but strategic considerations also played an important role: since conscripts cannot be deployed on the battlefield, they grew increasingly unnecessary and burdensome. Italian policymakers acknowledged that the cold-war mass army based on conscripts had suddenly become obsolete and useless in the altered strategic context. Apart from strategic adjustment, such reform was also made with an eye on tight defence budgets.

It is in this second respect that the effort proved far from successful: despite cuts in personnel, resource allocation remain inefficient. According to EDA, 71% of the 2008 budget was devoted to personnel spending, while Operation and Maintenance and Investment equalled just 9% and 15% respectively (in 2013 things were just slightly better, as personnel costs weighted for 66%, Maintenance for 9% and Investment for 25%). This made of Italy one of the least efficient European states in military spending. In order to address the issue, in 2012 then Ministry of Defence Giampaolo di Paola launched a reform aimed at slashing in the next ten years the number of civilian and military personnel from 183 to 150 thousands. Most importantly, the whole structure of the Armed forces was remodelled, with a significant reduction of the highest echelons (-25% generals and admirals).

It is too early to say whether this move is in the right direction or not. The point worth stressing however is that, regardless of the many hurdles and constraints that come from the political and economic environment, the Italian Armed Forces steadily embarked in this reform process. They faced the challenge and quickly shunned the temptation to follow a conservative course of action. It may seem a little accomplishment, but for defence planners this is the first step for a successful strategy.


*Andrea Locatelli is Assisant Professor at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan), where he teaches Strategic Studies and Introduction to Political Science.

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Conference: “The Crisis in EU and US”, Pisa 12-14 June 2014

Venus in Arms will participate at the conference: “The Crisis in EU and US” (Pisa, 12-14 June 2014). The conference aims to establish a space for international and interdisciplinary dialogue on how the crisis effected – and changed – the European and the American society

Here the link to the Conference

The Conference investigates the impact of the crisis on the different political, economical and social systems, but also how it changed people’s everyday life in EU and US, and how it was represented by the media and the cultural industry (movies, literature, art).

The analysis will be from the broad interdisciplinary perspective of social and political sciences, focusing on topics like:

  • the impact of crisis on individual psychology
  • the impact of crisis on different welfare systems and the different measures to fight poverty
  • how the crisis impact the different political systems
  • how the crisis shaped individual and collective identities
  • how social and political theories interpret the crisis
  • how the crisis was represented by the media and the cultural industry (movies, literature, art)

Confirmed keynote speakers include Luciano Gallino (University of Torino) and Nadia Urbinati (Columbia University). The Conference has the endorsement of: University of Pisa, Regione Toscana, Comune di Pisa, and AIS (Associazione Italiana di Sociologia)


Venus in Arms will present its ongoing research on Italian and European military transformation.

We will illustrate our preliminary outputs in the following session: Session 8. Political or Economic Crisis: Quid Prius? Coordinator and discussant: Eugenio Pizzimenti (University of Pisa)

  • Crisis of The Representative Democracy and Its Alternatives. A Policy-Oriented Inquiry -Stefania Profeti (Università di Bologna)
  • Before and After…Mass Parties. Meaning of Party Membership in Italy Between The Golden Age And The Contemporary Politics – Gianluca Passarelli (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”)
  • Crisis and Political Cultures – Mattia Diletti (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”)
  • The Redesigning of Italian Armed Forces in a Time of Crisis – Fabrizio Coticchia (SSSUP) e Francesco Niccolò Moro (Università di Milano Bicocca)

Here the whole Preliminary Programme

See you there…


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Rising Dragon, Crawling Donkey: China’s and Italy’s Role in Contemporary Peacekeeping

Guest Post by Emanuele Sommario*


Warning: what follows is an exercise in shameless self promotion. Many thanks to the editors of this blog for having allowed me to indulge in it.

A few days back, another post on this blog reminded us of the swift rise of China as the world’s prime economy.  China’s astonishing economic growth and its diplomatic activism are already reshaping  the international system, and the coming decades will witness an even greater increase in its power and influence. Yet, as pointed out by G. John Ikenberry, China’s ascendance is taking place within an international order that is able to accommodate the rise of new powers, as it characterized by strong rules and institutions. Beijing appears to be working within, rather than outside of, the existing order and one of the most glaring manifestations of this trend is its increasing participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations (UN PKOs).

Chinese peacekeeping has undergone a significant evolution. From a firm opposition to join peace operations (in line with Maoist China’s philosophy of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations) since the end of the Cold War Beijing has become the major contributor of troops to UN PKOs among the permanent members of the Security Council.

Italy, on its part, has always been a strong advocate of the multilateral approach, in particular in the realm of conflict prevention and crisis resolution were it played a important role by joining and supporting stabilisation interventions and post-conflict rehabilitation efforts. Rome has offered its steady engagement from the very beginning of the history of UN PKOs. However, more recently, it has partially shifted its commitment towards operations organized by regional organizations or by ad hoc “coalitions of the willing”. Through the decades, Italy developed such a wealth of expertise and authority that, nowadays, an “Italian way of peacekeeping” is said to exist.

Together with Andrea de Guttry and Zhu Lijiang we thought it would be interesting to study and contrast the role and approach of these two countries to peacekeeping, and to asses the legitimacy of their aspirations to become (and remain) credible global security actors. To do so, we sought to bring together academics from different disciplines (international relations, history, sociology, gender studies, law) and other experts who could contribute in drawing an accurate picture of the drivers that underpin China’s and Italy’s engagement in UN PKOs and other international military endeavors.

The first outcome of the research was an international conference organized in Pisa in June 2012, featuring not only academics and practitioners but also high-ranking representatives from the political, diplomatic and military milieus of both countries. The speakers greatly benefited of the comments and feedback received, and went on to draft the chapters of what has become an edited collection of essays that was recently published with the title “China’s and Italy’s Participation in Peacekeeping Operations – Existing Models, Emerging Challenges” (Lexington Books, 2014).

The book is divided into three parts, which are preceded by a foreword by Romano Prodi, Chairman of the UN-AU Panel for Peacekeeping in Africa and former UN Special Envoy for the Sahel. Part I sets the scene for comparing Italy’s and China’s contributions to PKOs by providing a picture of the facts, figures, drivers and motivations behind their engagement. In the first two chapters, an account is offered of the trends, priorities and main features of Italian and Chinese participation in peace operations. The next chapter examines from an historical perspective the factors that might explain Italy’s wide involvement in PKOs, and the political consensus that has always surrounded these missions, tracing them back to some of the main features of Italian the culture and political tradition. A similar analysis is performed with respect to China in chapter 4, where the author maintains that the Confucian concept of He (harmony), the open social mentality and the sense of responsibility that inform Chinese culture are among the socio-cultural factors explaining the country’s participation in PKOs. The book then looks at the personal motivations underpinning the choice to serve in peace operations. The author shows that value-driven as well as materialistic and self-oriented motivations do all play a decisive role in prompting individual soldiers to deploy. The last two chapters of this part explain the procedures followed by Chinese and Italian authorities in deciding whether national contingents should be dispatched to a specific mission, highlighting the differences between the parliamentary dynamics prevailing in Italy and the central role played by the government and by the Communist Party in China’s decision-making processes.

Part II addresses recent developments in PKOs – with a special focus on the training of the military and civilian component – as well as certain specific challenges and changes in PKOs to which China and Italy are trying to react. Chapter 8 presents the different attitudes of Rome and Beijing towards regional PKOs. While divergent views exist on the expediency of such missions, the author concludes that disagreement is more apparent than real and that it might completely fade away in the near future.  The book then explores the extent of the two countries’ support to the African Union Peace and Security System, and attempts to highlight their respective strategies and objectives. Italy and China both have relevant interests in the African continent and are playing an important role in the reshaping of Africa’s security landscape. Chapter 10 discusses Italy’s and China’s efforts in mainstreaming gender and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in their operations. To do so, several indicators are taken into account, such as gender balance in staffing, the extent to which prevention of SEA is reflected in the two countries’ military codes of conduct. Their analysis reveals that both Italy and China are lagging behind in this area.

Turning to the issue of training, a chapter by Umberto Rocca – former Director of the Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units – describes the origins and development of the training centre he was in charge of, which is tasked with instructing and preparing Italian and foreign police forces for deployment in international crisis management missions. In the same vein, a senior officer of the European Union’s Crisis Management and Planning Directorate then illustrates what strategies and programmes the EU has developed to train the civilian component of its crisis management operations. Chapter 14 focuses one specific type of military mission which has seen Italy and China join forces over recent years, namely the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa. The author reminds us of the efforts the two countries have devoted to tackling this phenomenon, while also explaining the legal and political constraints they faced in carrying out counter-piracy operations.

Part III sheds light on certain legal and political aspects connected to the deployment of national contingents in PKOs. The first two chapters look at the Italian and Chinese domestic legal frameworks for the prosecution of crimes committed by peacekeepers while on mission, analyzing their development and shortcomings. Moving from a domestic to a comparative law perspective, the next chapter offers an assessment of the involvement of national parliaments in the decision-making on the deployment of military troops abroad, based on a comparison between five European States. Noting that there is a substantial variety of constitutional rules and practices, the author contends that the growing importance of international military cooperation will fundamentally change the balance between government and parliament to the detriment of the latter.

The last two chapters are devoted to the current international legal framework regulating individual and State responsibility for the unlawful conduct of peacekeepers. Chapter 18 discusses the scope and limits of the immunity that military or civilian members of a PKO may enjoy from the criminal jurisdiction of the host State and offers a review of alternative options that could be pursued in order to bring the perpetrators of serious crimes to justice. The final chapter deals with the allocation of international responsibility for the unlawful conduct of UN peacekeepers.  It contains a perusal of the recent jurisprudence of national and international tribunals to find that the decisive element to impute responsibility to the troop contributing State, the UN or to both is which entity exercised effective control over the unlawful conduct.

In sum, the volume looks at the specific experiences of Italy and China to compare them and to understand how and why foreign powers intervene in the name of peace. At the same time, it tries to provide the reader with an understanding of some of the foremost developments and challenges that international peace missions are currently facing. After all, the behavior of different actors can only be properly appreciated with full knowledge of the processes and dynamics that characterize contemporary peacekeeping scenarios.

*Emanuele Sommario is Assistant Professor of International Law, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa), and co-editor of the book: “China’s and Italy’s Participation in Peacekeeping Operations – Existing Models, Emerging Challenges” (Lexington Books, 2014).

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“The Italian Left and Foreign Policy”: Conference Programme

As already illustrated in a previous post (here), the conference “The Italian Left and Foreign Policy” will be held in Cambridge (UK) on 9th June 2014.

Here you’ll find the (very promising) the conference programme

Venus in Arms will be at the conference, participating at the SESSION III – PANEL VI (The post-Cold War: A Post-ideological Left for a Post- Foreign Policy?) with the paper: ‘The Irrelevance of Radical Parties in Coalition Foreign Policy: Italy and the Polarization Hypothesis’ (Jason Davidson – Mary Washington & Fabrizio Coticchia – Sant’Anna, Pisa).

Here below the abstract

Scholarly consensus increasingly suggests that coalition governments produce more polarized foreign policies than single party governments. This, the literature argues, is especially likely when coalition governments include radical parties that take extreme positions on foreign policy issues and are “critical” to the government’s survival as the radical parties push the centrist ones toward the extremes. A look at Italy’s post-Cold War center-left governments and decisions on military operations provides an important counterpoint to the polarization hypothesis. In three high profile cases of military operations–Albania 1997, Kosovo 1999, and Afghanistan 2007–Italy had a center-left government that depended on radical parties for its survival. In all cases the parties took a position against military operations but did not prevent the government from engaging in/extending operations by threatening survival or forcing the government’s fall. Our paper seeks to explain the irrelevance of leftist radical parties in Italy in the post-Cold War period. We argue first that radical parties are reluctant to threaten/force government collapse as this can lead to a center right coalition coming to office and voters’ blame for the outcome. Second, we argue that relative salience has been critical: foreign policy has been less important to radical parties than domestic issues and it has been more important to center-left parties than radical ones. Finally, we argue that radical parties have appealed to their voters through theatrical politics (e.g., attending protests) and have affected the implementation of military operations.

See you there


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Smart Defence e CIMIC: la nuova sfida per le forze armate

Guest post by Giovambattista Palumbo*

L’Alleanza atlantica è ancora oggi tutt’altro che anacronistica.

Il riarmo della Russia, la sua annessione della Crimea e il perseguimento della cosiddetta dottrina Medvedev (il diritto-dovere di Mosca di intervenire a favore delle minoranze russe minacciate in altri Paesi) hanno mutato necessariamente la geostrategia atlantica. La Nato dunque deve adattarsi alle evoluzioni della politica internazionale.

Oggi la Nato si trova infatti di fronte a nuove sfide: minacce alla sicurezza informatica, crisi umanitarie, sfide nello spazio, energy security e il perseguimento del principio del “responsability to protect”, già fondamento giuridico per l’intervento in Libia. E la vera sfida è rappresentata senz’altro dalla priorità di arrivare alla realizzazione di quella “smart defence”[1] di cui si parla ormai da anni e di cui si è discusso anche durante tutti gli ultimi e più recenti summit Nato.

Il concetto di smart defence implica del resto una riorganizzazione di tutti gli asset Nato, sulla base delle risorse (effettivamente) disponibili dei singoli Stati e degli interessi condivisi. Le risorse finanziarie, come noto, sono infatti limitate. Ed oggi lo sono ancora di più.  A fronte del 4,8% di PIL riservato dagli USA alla Difesa, abbiamo una media europea dell’1,29% e l’Italia si attesta allo 0,87%.

E’ dunque oggi necessaria una pianificazione delle capacità militari, basata sulla cooperazione tra i paesi membri della Nato e la messa in comune di risorse nazionali per generare più efficaci sinergie (il cosiddetto pooling and sharing) e la specializzazione degli strumenti militari nazionali. In particolare nel campo della Difesa, poi, la spesa pubblica non strettamente necessaria è attualmente alquanto “impopolare”.

Se poi è vero che, storicamente, gli Stati Uniti hanno sempre sostenuto e finanziato la Nato in modo superiore a chiunque altro, è però anche vero che, oggi, gli Usa, sia per motivi economici che politici, non sono più disponibili a sostenere un tale impegno finanziario.

Il problema è dunque essenzialmente europeo ed è per questo giustamente oggetto di attenzione da parte dell’Agenzia europea di difesa (European Defence Agency – EDA), come dimostrato, per esempio, dalla creazione di un battlelab europeo per il contrasto agli IED. La Smart defence quindi, intesa come razionalizzazione ed un più accorto dispendio di energie e risorse individuali e collettive, attraverso la valorizzazione delle eccellenze nazionali, può trasformarsi da problema in occasione.

E per fare ciò deve essere chiaro che, prima della pianificazione del bilancio, è necessaria la condivisione dell’obiettivo politico- strategico. E il 2014 rappresenta senz’altro un anno cruciale per la ridefinizione di assetti e leadership.

In tale contesto, quindi, cosa può offrire il modello italiano? Sicuramente l’esperienza nel peacekeeping e nel Cimic. All’interno della cosiddetta Civil and military cooperation (Cimic) è dimostrata infatti l’efficacia della nostra metodologia. L’approccio italiano al Cimic, dunque, potrebbe rappresentare davvero uno dei contributi italiani fondamentali, peraltro davvero a basso costo, alla smart defence Nato.

A livello operativo, infatti, il CIMIC supporta nelle missioni internazionali (e tanti ancora sono i fronti aperti a cui le Forze Armate italiane stanno partecipando), una vasta gamma d’attività, tra cui: la comunicazione, lo scambio d’informazioni, il coordinamento e la stipula di accordi. La vera difficoltà (e il campo in cui sono possibili margini di miglioramento) consiste nel realizzare un efficace coordinamento tra forze militari, organismi politici, diplomatici e amministrativi, e le agenzie umanitarie.

La base di partenza consiste quindi nel comprendere la diversa natura degli obiettivi perseguiti dalle organizzazioni civili rispetto a quelli delle forze militari. Laddove, peraltro, ogni ONG è a sua volta caratterizzata da una propria cultura organizzativa e da diversità nazionali, professionali e istituzionali[2].

Nonostante queste differenze, ci sono comunque aspetti e caratteristiche che gli attori sia civili che militari devono avere. Principi comuni quali: sensibilità culturale verso usi e costumi e tradizioni locali, condivisione delle responsabilità, trasparenza, consenso e comunicazione efficiente. Anche gli attori umanitari civili, per conto loro, devono del resto superare, a volte, la loro incapacità a capire i meccanismi interni della struttura militare.

Una cosa è certa: entrambe le parti, militari e civili, devono essere equamente integrate nella missione. E in questo contesto la via italiana al peacekeeping mostra che i militari italiani hanno abilità, competenze e specificità che possono e devono essere valorizzate in funzione della smart defence Nato. I militari italiani si sono dimostrati infatti tra i più adatti ad operare nelle crisi complesse, distinguendosi per la capacità di trattativa e di negoziato con le parti coinvolte.

Altri elementi salienti, già tipici della “via italiana” al peacekeeping e comunque da valorizzare in funzione di smart defence sono:

  •  l’impiego di risorse umane e materiali commisurate alle necessità;
  •  la flessibilità ed adattabilità del meccanismo decisionale;
  •  la capacità di trattativa e di negoziato per promuovere il dialogo tra le parti in conflitto;
  •  l’importanza crescente del CIMIC e del ruolo dei civili.

Ed è proprio questo ultimo aspetto su cui è interessante appuntare l’attenzione.

La dottrina della NATO prevede infatti il coordinamento dei rapporti civili e militari lungo tutte le fasi di un conflitto. La NATO mette in atto il CIMIC come supporto ad un’azione militare, in modo che il Comandante possa interfacciarsi con tutti gli elementi civili presenti sul campo e questi vengano compresi nella pianificazione.

I comandanti ai diversi livelli sono del resto responsabili dell’implementazione del CIMIC, perseguendo la unity of efforts, anche al fine di avere una chiara comprensione di come l’ambiente civile influisca sulle operazioni militari e viceversa. Le risorse militari, sia umane che finanziarie, del resto, non dovrebbero essere utilizzate per lo svolgimento di compiti che non sono militari. Le parole chiave sono dunque selezione e concentrazione. Ed essendo le risorse per il CIMIC limitate, queste devono essere utilizzate per i compiti di priorità maggiore.

I Comandanti non possono (e non debbono) essere onniscienti. Per questo il Cimic si potrà avvalere degli Ufficiali della Riserva selezionata, giusto equilibrio tra competenze civili e modus agendi militare. E quindi, avvocati per la valutazione degli obblighi legali e delle questioni di diritto internazionale. Architetti ed ingegneri per la costruzione di infrastrutture (necessarie alla missione). Ed ogni altra professionalità di cui ci sia bisogno.

E dunque: selezione degli obiettivi, concentrazione delle risorse nel perseguimento degli effetti a maggiore impatto, competenza specialistica al servizio della missione. E ancora non basta. Sensibilità culturale verso i costumi, tradizioni e modi di vita locali. Capacità di stabilire, mantenere e rafforzare i rapporti tra civili e militari. Condivisione di obiettivi comuni al fine di condividere le responsabilità, assicurandosi la cooperazione volontaria delle organizzazioni civili con cui interagiscono le forze alleate. I compiti e le attività del CIMIC devono essere infine trasparenti, in modo da guadagnare la fiducia e la stima dell’ambiente civile. Il tutto con un sistema di comunicazione efficace con le autorità, le agenzie, le organizzazioni e la popolazione civile, al fine di mantenere il consenso e la collaborazione.

Insomma, obiettivi non da poco, in cui però le Forze Armate italiane sono già “maestre”.

[1] Il concetto di “smart defence” potrebbe essere tradotto in “difesa razionalizzata”.

[2] Tra gli aspetti distintivi che caratterizzano le ONG anche il fatto di lavorare attraverso un sistema di relazioni e di rete, coordinato a livello mondiale, continentale, nazionale e locale.

*Giovambattista Palumbo, è Capo team legale di un ufficio operativo dell’Agenzia delle Entrate e abilitato all’esercizio della professione di Avvocato. Nel 2008 e nel 2012 ha partecipato a Missioni della Commissione Europea, per la ricostruzione del sistema fiscale processuale in Kosovo e per l’armonizzazione comunitaria della legge Iva in Serbia. Nel 2011 è stato nominato consulente della Commissione bicamerale sull’Anagrafe Tributaria. A partire dal 2003 svolge un’intensa attività pubblicistica, sia attraverso la pubblicazione di articoli su Riviste specializzate, sia attraverso la pubblicazione di diversi libri con varie Case Editrici. Ufficiale della Riserva Selezionata dell’Esercito ha partecipato alla predisposizione di progetti di riforma dei Codici penali militari e della procedura di dismissione del patrimonio immobiliare della Difesa.

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