Neoliberalism and War in Italy

by TARIQ ALI

 

The states of Western Europe continue to resist harmonisation. On the same day that the chicaneries of every antiquated careerist vying for the New Labour deputy leadership were made public, each justifying his/her grotesque decision to support the war and occupation Iraq, the centre-Left Italian government—not yet a year old— fell after a debate on foreign policy in the Upper Chamber.

It was not Iraq that was at issue here. Unlike New Labour (protected by undemocratic electoral laws), the whole of the Italian Left and 80 percent of the population opposed that war. The dispute this week concerned two issues: Operation Enduring Freedom—the satirical self-description of the NATO/UN occupation of Afghanistan— and the expansion of the US military base in Vicenza in Northern Italy.

Two leftwing Senators voted against the government in the Italian Senate after Prodi and his Foreign Minister D’Alema had made the vote an issue of confidence, arguing that Afghanistan was a legal war because it was supported by the United Nations. He meant, of course, the Security Council with its iron-fisted monopoly of power still firmly under the control of five countries who were victorious in the Second world war. His arguments failed to sway two dissenting Senators from the left.

As a result, a weakened Romano Prodi, the prudent spokesman of an immoderate bourgeoisie, has resigned. His popularity was on the wane (36 percent as against 44 percent who backed the coalition) as was that of his neo-liberal Finance Minister, Tommaso Padoa-Schippo (30 percent) whose attempts at casualisation and short-term contracts for workers have also divided the government, many of whose supporters and a few Ministers participated in the mass protests of last November in defence of universal, publicly-financed social services and against any restriction of social rights.

Could it be that they wanted to be defeated so as to re-jig the coalition by attracting a moderate Centre-Right party to join their ranks and dumping the Refounded Communists? It’s a risky operation, especially as the RC leader, Fausto Bertinotti (drunk with happiness at becoming a dignitary of the State) has kept their principles under heavy wraps, but the next few weeks will tell.

Only a week earlier, Prodi had explicitly forbidden any member of the Cabinet from participation in the mass demonstration (100,000 according to La Repubblica) protesting the extension of the base. Now the crisis within the Left is out in the open. 62 percent of Italians and 73 percent of the government’s supporters want to withdraw all Italian troops from Afghanistan. Like centre politicians elsewhere Berlusconi, Prodi and D’Alema are united in ignoring public opinion.

Were it not for factional divisions on other issues (especially patronage and corrupt commissions) the Opposition would have voted with Prodi. But Italian politics remains volatile and unpredictable while grandees of the centre-Left and their equivalents on the Right exude the stench of putrefaction, the muck of their fatherland. The EU is too weak a political entity to provide any serious assistance and Latin America where new alternatives are being discussed and implemented is geo-politically remote.

TARIQ ALI’s new book, Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, is published by Verso. He can be reached at: tariq.ali3@btinternet.com

 

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire