The case of Tunisia and the costly European inertia- Corriere.it

The case of Tunisia and the costly European inertia- Corriere.it
The case of Tunisia and the costly European inertia- Corriere.it
from Angelo Panebianco

The ongoing crisis in the North African country, which risks civil war, should make us open our eyes: we have a serious security problem but we seem not to realize it

Che what should the current crisis in Tunisia, a country which, at any moment, could plunge into the chaos of civil war, suggest to us? The Tunisian crisis should force us to open our eyes. Europe has a serious security problem but does not seem to realize it. The professionals who in European countries, in various capacities, deal with it know this, but public opinions have not yet understood it. Europe’s security problem can be summarized as follows: Mother America seems willing to abandon the puppies to their fate, she no longer seems willing to protect them from looming threats. America has changed and the threats have changed.

Let’s consider Italy, the most exposed European country compared to what happens on the southern flank of the Old Continent. The visit to Libya by Foreign Minister Di Maio, which follows that of Prime Minister Draghi some time ago, shows the attention and concern of our government. We are at the mercy of possible massive migratory waves (if the civil war really explodes in Tunisia we will notice it immediately) and the Mediterranean is increasingly a sea controlled by hostile powers: Russia, Turkey. In the next few years they will be the ones to supervise / administer the trafficking of human beings between Africa and Europe. Then there is the risk of terrorism: in the Maghreb, Tunisia and Libya in the lead, as in other parts of Africa, there are countless jihadists who are waiting for an opportunity to lead their hands.

Lproof that Italy, with the exception, of course, for the government, does not have the slightest knowledge of the looming risks that can be easily verified: do you find that even one of the parties has deployed, with the blessing of the leader, an authoritative and expert politician, capable of speaking to the country about international and security problems without resorting to low-priced slogans and propaganda? You won’t find one. If public opinion were alerted, if the awareness of the risks were widespread, the parties would be forced to gear up to dialogue intelligently with the voters.

The rest of Europe is no better off. For years people have toyed with meaningless slogans. Does anyone remember the refrain about Europe as a civil power? The idea was that we Europeans, in our relations with the rest of the world, were an example of virtue: civil, and that is, peaceful, the opposite of those rough and violent American cowboys. It was a self-comforting image. Europe could afford to replace the sword with diplomacy and trade, because it enjoyed American protection. A protection that did not consist only in the atomic umbrella. America also protected us because it guarded all strategic and potentially dangerous places for Europe, eastwards towards Russia and in the Middle East. The European unawareness of how the facts really stood was such that while we benefited from their protection, many of us blamed the Americans for not creating a strong welfare State European type. Apart from different cultural traditions, there was the small detail that Europe, after the Second World War, had been able to afford the luxury of developing expensive welfare systems because thanks to American protection it had resources that would otherwise have had to invest in armaments. and defense.

Is there still something we can reasonably call the West? Meaning the West in a political sense, of course. I suggest you read onTheSheetLeon Wieseltier’s excellent and painful essay, inspired by Wilsonian internationalism, on the new America.

Trump’s harsh polemics against Europe have been replaced by Biden’s smiles, handshakes and pats on the back. If then? At the moment there is no signal that suggests (except for a possible resumption of US / Iran nuclear negotiations) a change in policy with respect to the times of the Trump administration regarding the Middle and Near East. The power vacuum left by the Americans – and which Biden does not seem willing to remedy – filled by other great powers (Russia, China) who strengthen their positions every day and leave maximum freedom of action to regional neo-imperialisms (Turkey , Iran). If we were to find that the answer to the question still exists in the West? is negative, if it becomes clear that not even Biden is able to bring the United States and Europe together (at least, in terms of security), if we ascertain the impossibility of obtaining a renewed and decisive American commitment to our Southern flank in exchange for support European in the competition between the Americans and the Chinese, then all that remains is to hope for Europe. The governments of the countries that matter most, Germany, France but also Italy, should take note of the changed international conditions, wake up their respective public opinions and take coordinated decisions to face the new dangers.

But there is one but, indeed many buts. Not only that Germany, France, and sooner or later also Italy, have electoral campaigns to face, which tends to paralyze the initiatives of governments. Not only that Germany, still a prisoner of the ghosts of the past, is unwilling to assume the leadership position it deserves in matters of security.

There is also another factor that favors European inertia, which is that Europeans perceive threats differently. With some rare exceptions: the Italian intervention in the Sahel alongside France stems from the convergent desire to stop, before it poses a threat to us all, the rooting of Islamic extremism. Macron’s sudden decision to withdraw the French military contingent from Mali raises doubts about the future of that mission. Usually, there is no common risk assessment: it is easier than today, in other European capitals, to whisper: Could a civil war in Tunisia threaten Italy? Let the Italians hurry up. Be them. Since there is no identical perception of threats, the tendency, for the most part, is: each for himself. Of course, if, in the medium term, an important European country gets into trouble, the rest of Europe will also suffer the consequences. But democracies are not interested in what could happen in the medium term. only the short that matters. Perhaps we must hope that, despite appearances to the contrary, the answer to the question does the West exist? It is still positive.

August 2, 2021 (change August 2, 2021 | 21:03)

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