Ten years ago, with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, an era was drawing to a close: the era ofItaly as the center of gravity of the so-called enlarged Mediterranean. Why the Our sea, from that moment on, it would become the Sea of all, that is of all. Everyone, absolutely everyone – Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Qatar, Russia, Turkey and even non-state realities, such as warlords, terrorists and human traffickers – except us.
Return to the status quo ante bellum it is not and will not be possible, because the Middle Ocean of Eurafrasia had long been destined to reacquire its ancient role as a crossroads of trade and civilization, as well as to become one of the major points of stress relief of that historical process which is the multipolar transition. This is the reason why the Mediterranean, in the course of these ten years, has become one of the key theaters of competition between great powers. Competition that, as antagonistically competitive, Italy is not equipped to face, because it lacks in primis of the will, in seconds of means and resources e in the third of an adequate mental disposition.
If one day Italy were to find itself willing, ready for action and endowed with the form of mind suitable, however, it would lack a fourth element, equally important to the previous ones: one weltanschauung, that is, a vision of the world. Because having a vision, however dreamlike, is equivalent to having a compass to orient yourself in the infinity of the sea, even when high and stormy.
Working on the conception of a weltanschauung to guide Italy in the 21st century is therefore essential, because our future and our destiny are at stake. The task is not easy, and the fact that the work on the construction site is stopped does not help, but it is important that you find a point from which to start. A point that, due to our geographical position, should be the Mediterranean, the enlarged sea that we could continue to navigate only by accepting to shrink significantly our range.
Strategic retreat, not a white flag
Ten years ago, not understanding how to manage the Libyan dossier, Italy lost the unique opportunity to oversee one of the most epochal events of the contemporary world: the globalization of the Mediterranean. By closing in on itself, thanks to the concomitant transition to the Third Republic that arose from the end of the Berlusconi era, the City would have lost sight of the Orbe and unwittingly favored the foreign agendas of all those actors guided by hegemonic ambitions over our neighboring countries.
What happened, in short, is that the enlarged Mediterranean – a concept that made the fortune and shaped the identity of early republican Italy – ceased to exist, to be viable and sustainable, in the years of “lost decade“Of the Bel Paese. Lacking the will to operate in theaters pertinent to the italosphere with assertiveness and foresight, from Libya to Somalia, the local ruling class has allowed others, realistic, resolute and historians, to fill the gaps left by us.
Recovering the land given to the competition in a decade is more than unrealistic – it is impossible – therefore the Italian strategic environments, instead of perpetuating the myth of the enlarged Mediterranean, should work towards a new goal, more in keeping with the paradigmatic changes that have occurred at home and in the ecumene: the formulation of a plan for Restricted Mediterranean.
The pros of the restricted Mediterranean
In practical terms, that is, explained by way of example, preferring the narrow Mediterranean to the enlarged Mediterranean would be equivalent to withdrawing strategically in that geopolitical micro-area between the central Mediterranean and the western Balkans – grouping Libya, Tunisia, former Yugoslavia and albanosphere -, agreeing with the France the terms of a possible joint administration of the Afro-frontiers of Europe – that is Maghreb e Sahel – and rebalancing, as far as possible, the currently asymmetrical marriage of convenience with Turkey in the former Italian colonial space.
Strategically retreating, at this moment, means conserving resources and strength in view of a hypothetical return to the distant future in the enlarged Mediterranean – which will be possible if and when the competition between great powers leads to the exhaustion by attrition of our competitors – and a reorientation of our range of action in two key theaters for our future: the Western Balkans and the world in Turkish.
While the maintenance of the Western Balkans under the custody of Italy is an indispensable imperative – given that their “geographical immediacy”Makes them a perennial opportunity-threat to our national security -, the transmigration in the feverish Turkish world can be considered a supplement to the narrow Mediterranean strategy, that is, a useful stratagem to reduce the physiological significant losses from the strategic retreat. A safe supplement – as long as not to annoy the guardians of this reality -, profitable – because they are developing markets and complementary to ours – and at no cost – because already bound by the power plants of the Italian system, i.e. SMEs, national champions and regions , whose magnetization work has been particularly notable in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
The Western Balkans sealed by means of a policy that is assertive, present and transversal – inclusive of memory diplomacy functional to reduce the spread ofottomania from Sarajevo to Tirana – and minimized the dispersion of attention in the enlarged Mediterranean through the co-management pacts with France and Turkey, Italy could realistically aspire, at that point, to maintaining the title of regional power.
When retreat is salvation
Strategic retreat from the enlarged Mediterranean, again, would not amount to an escape short and should not be read in mourning terms. Italy, in fact, would save resources on the one hand – appeasing the hegemonic appetites of Turkey and France through the acceptance of a minority role in the co-management of the enlarged Mediterranean – and would (re) gain ground on the other – by directing a multi-channeled attention in tangibly adjacent, less conflictual and less costly theaters.
Given that the reshaping of the diplomatic and geopolitical range of action oriented to the short distance could induce the competition to misinterpret the strategic retreat, that is, to increase the pressures on the entire Italosphere in the hope-expectation of our complete satelliteization, Italy should prepare a contingency plan in advance. Plan that would offer greater chances of success if inspired by the Israeli model of peripheral alliances, therefore excluding strategic outposts such as Bahrain, Lebanon and Niger from the retreat from the enlarged Mediterranean.
Once the restricted Mediterranean is sealed, within which all foreign interference likely to change the status quo to our detriment should be prevented, Italy could participatively observe developments in the enlarged Mediterranean, experiencing them with a certain serenity – given the fair distribution of expenditure, income and risks with France and Turkey -, and devote himself with alacrity to apeaceful expansion between Southern Caucasus and Central Asia (and, perhaps, Mongolia) that it does not disturb Russia and China, that it makes us the fixers of the West on the spot and that, above all, it brings us benefits.
Political fiction? It’s not for sure. National champions and diplomats have already laid the foundations for the transmigration of Italy into the Turkish civilization cosmos, and they did so in the years of the great darkness, during the lost decade, repairing as and where possible the damage caused by the catatonia of the post ruling class -berlusconiana. Contemporaries have only one burden-honor: to value the inheritance received. How to do it? By sending powerful signals to the Turkish World, as could be the opening of a consulate in Samarkand and the request for membership of the Turkish Council.
Italy, similar to the small but far-sighted one Hungary – ferried to the East by Viktor Orban –, could discover that geography is not a limit and that a future is possible beyond the continent, between the southern Caucasus and Turkestan, provided that the post-Gaddafi state of comatose dormancy is exited and that the exterminated state is concretely and visibly protected. constellation of merchants-diplomats who work hard for the protection of our national interest. Libya has fallen, the Mediterranean is lost, yet the world has never been so close at hand.