Fiamma Nirenstein

Trial by fire for the premier: A true pro-Western line

If you don’t deal with foreign policy, foreign policy will deal with you — and never more so than in the coming months. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs passes from the hands of Emma Bonino to the young Federica Mogherini, the future of our children is being decided in Europe, as in India and the Middle East, in the logic of negotiation and likewise the alien logic of conquest, revenge, and honor. Italy must be meek as a dove and shrewd as a serpent. The resurgence of its economy lies not in some new treaty, but in our respectability, our ability to be balanced, to extricate ourselves, to make our word authoritative, indispensable, original, and decisive.

We don’t need to fear India, despite is disconcerting immensity, its politics, its judicial power: we will not tame it with smiles or business relations, and we will not be the training grounds for its future grandeur. To save our marines, we must reiterate the illegitimacy of the trial in India: our soldiers can only be judged in Italy. The clearest path is arbitration, and it must be requested immediately. The Indians want the trial to be carried out in India, we want it in Italy: faced with this dispute between the countries, mandatory arbitration is required. The board of arbiters at the Hamburg International Tribunal for the Maritime Law, where the trial has begun, may move the marines to a third-party country: a real nightmare, despite knowing that they are outside of India, and for us a necessary affirmation of dignity.

The Ukrainian explosion sets in play our attitude toward Europe, the USA, and Russia. In this arena we are witnessing a drama that recalls the Cold War, bringing to view the entrails of an ancient battle. It is a deadly balancing act that alerts us to the vulnerability of Europe, which has been unable to respond for months to a request for aid and protection. The internal divisions, the refusal to see Ukraine as an important test case, are instead measured by Putin’s dogged determination to keep Ukraine within his sphere. In the past few hours, a path has been laid where the principals are set forth, but don’t meet head to head with Putin. The USA and Angela Merkel, along with Holland, have helped to re-establish the role of the old continent. They have gently pointed out Putin’s arrogance, and the offer of a European package accompanied Obama in recommending substantial aid from the International Monetary Fund – all measures designed to silence the guns. If it succeeds, Italy must insist on its principles, both with regard to Putin and the USA, that the solution to the problem must be made according to the same rules that apply to everyone. Putin and the Americans must work with the EU, which knows who Janucovich is and doesn’t like him, but which does not challenge the nationalistic groups that have no compunction about waving the flags of the most pernicious history of Ukraine. In short, to help Ukraine, Europe must say to anyone, including Putin: “We are acting here in partnership, you have to deal with us, too.”

Italy must have the usual privileged relationship with the United States; an important event to demonstrate this is the negotiations currently underway for the TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Investment Agreement, which could lead to a dramatic improvement – 120 billion to Europe, 90 billion to the USA – with more work and hope for everyone in the future. However in the Middle East earthquake, it’s not good policy to follow the wake of Obama, who is not capable of dealing with the ancient conflict between the Shiites and the Sunnis, who failed to pacify Syria, nor to deal with the rebirth of Al Qaeda. The credibility of Iran in our country is now a roulette game, as well, and the western support for the Shiites, where Iran is the armed boss, suppresses the civil rights of Iranians, props up Assad, foments Hezbollah in Libya, and aids in the spread of terror. The military and diplomatic alliance with Putin’s Russia makes winners out of the Ayatollahs. We, moreover, not being part of the P5+1, have no reason to enthusiastically expand the abysmal confusion created in the wider Sunni world, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and the Gulf countries…from the credit granted to Iran. The vertical growth of Al-Qaeda is also intensified by the idea that Europe is now a close friend of its historical enemies.

Italy must not side with one of the two Muslim factions, but must continue to uncompromisingly fight terrorism, ensuring agreements without absurd beliefs in the hostility between religion and rationality. And finally, Israel: the peace process may, as a consequence, fail. Israel fears an excessive retreat for safety reasons, while the Palestinians insist on their refusal to recognize a state for the Jewish people. Each of us must decide which attitude is more pernicious. But for Europe, an anti-Israeli attitude – as in recent months – would be corruptive. Lady Ashton has promoted her “guidelines” for the boycott of the only democratic country in the Middle East, criticizing the idea that the boundaries of the two parties must be established through talks. To help peace, Italy must insist on respecting the decisions reached in the talks. The boycott is a form of hatred against Israel, and Italy will acquire significant historical credit if it succeeds in fighting it.

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (02/26/2014); English copyright, The Gatestone Institute

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.