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from issue no. 03 - 2003

The speech to the Senate

After the “storm”, there is never the calm

Below we print the speech to the Senate given by Giulio Andreotti, Wednesday 19 February 2003

Giulio Andreotti

The abbey of Montecassino after the heavy allied bombing 
in 1944

The abbey of Montecassino after the heavy allied bombing in 1944

Mister President of the Senate, Honorable President of the Council, colleagues, I believe that the fact that foreign policy debate should start up again after an interval of some days from its beginning makes it possible, because of what has happened in the meantime, to express ourselves with greater calmness.
What was happening is that even before seeing the conclusion, at UN headquarters or elsewhere, of the Iraqi crisis, the unhappy result was to throw the European Union into crisis and the same with the Atlantic Alliance.
That has now been set right and the tone that you, President of the Council, have used is also useful, in my view, in counterbalancing the anxiety that, every evening now for months, has been descending on every Italian family because of a war considered inevitable, that would break out at times only weeks away, at others was linked to seasonal factors. All this is truly in danger of poisoning public opinion, but it’s also in danger of creating a certain reaction.
I believe it’s hard to interpret last Saturday’s demonstration by labeling it as if it were a repetition of other demonstrations of the kind. To begin with Rome, a city I know, many people took part in that demonstration almost out of a feeling of escaping from a nightmare, out of the hope that something might change in this situation of tension. Woe if we confuse that with the daily confrontation that was bound to result, as I see it, from a system that many like: the two-headed system of government by the majority (I don’t want to go into that aspect, because I’d have to go very much further).
I believe the starting point is this. We can’t ignore the fact that 11 September 2001 represented an enormous shift, to which the United States has reacted in a very much more responsible way than one might have feared. The President of the United States, in certain statements he made immediately, avoiding the trap of a Manichaeism between Islam and non-Islam, stated that Bin Laden was a traitor to his own faith, thus giving, in my view, a direction to propaganda that was otherwise in danger of falling back, perhaps, on the worst forms of McCarthyism, of hate or hostility towards immigrants. That can’t help but be taken into consideration.
I would now like to dwell rapidly on three points.
First of all, already on the occasion of the mission to Kosovo, in disagreement with the then Minister of Defense Mattarella, I permitted myself to advise being careful when quoting the NATO Treaty. Indeed, the Treaty of the Atlantic Alliance is extremely precise and, like all international treaties, it is no accident that it is ratified by Parliament. We then, out of a certain sense of opportunism and amateurism, and exploiting the chance of getting the opposition to go along with the government, passed over that aspect; however, Mr. President of the Council, it needs to be gone into. In the Foreign Affairs Committee we did indeed state the need to go into it and we therefore planned a series of hearings; that administration came to an end and the hearings continue under the current one.
We mustn’t go on in a misunderstanding. In fact, at the Washington meeting that took place shortly after, the so-called new strategy of the Alliance was created: a bureaucratic issue, since it was new strategy when the move was made from total response to flexible response; even more was done recently in Prague, where the “new Alliance” was created, with the express prevision of the possibility of engaging in operations even outside the area of jurisdiction.
All this – I neither exclude nor admit it – can come about through bureaucrats or meetings: responsibilities must be settled in Parliament. I am in no doubt that 11 September was a case covered by the Alliance treaty, because it was an attack. It’s true that in 1949 nobody was thinking of an attack of that sort, but it was still an attack on one of the member countries. Hence, the solidarity of the Alliance was requisite; discussion was not and is not required.
Now we face the following problem: a European front has been restored and we must absolutely maintain it; it would be absurd if, while the Convention, the European Charter, is being debated, we presented a split front in what is precisely an essential case of common policy. It is a misunderstanding the dimensions of which I believe no one could absolutely grasp.
I come to the second point: we must put a stop to counting those with the Americans and those against the Americans. It’s a widespread cultural phenomenon– think of Revel’s recent book on anti-Americanism – that we’re acquainted with. We have a tradition: that of having sought - thereby also bringing about a long period of misunderstanding - the consent of an ever larger number of Italians to the Atlantic Alliance, to a position of clarity in terms of the problem of relations with the Americans.
It took less time with the Socialist, a little more with the Communist (up to 1987), but that was the line on which we built. The other arguments are undoubtedly important, such as the contribution the Americans made in the First and Second World War.
Allow me a parenthesis. My colleague Contestabile mentioned Montecassino. Good, that February of sixty years ago, faced with the shock of the destruction of Montecassino, I remember that those who were in contact with the Allied forces – and who were then living in hiding in the Vatican, because of the war – said: we’ll immediately provide the evidence that there was a large German apparatus. We’re still waiting for the evidence, because the report wasn’t true: they’d received false information. Sometimes, therefore, the counter evidence is necessary.
As for Saddam Hussein, I believe I’m the only one to have known him in person. I was his guest two days in 1978, when we had to convince, in groups, the Arab countries to give up the block rejection of the agreement Egypt had made with Israel. On that occasion I was able to get to know the man, in so far as that is possible. I wouldn’t willingly spend my holidays with him, nor am I persuaded that his fundamentalism is acceptable, however he is not the only sinner in a world of Children of Mary. Hence, certainly with all the needful precautions, there must be some consistency.
We speak today of Korea: let’s go and look at the documents. Who helped North Korea when it was certainly on the wicked list? Who helped it set up the nuclear power plants? It certainly wasn’t us. I need to mention it in Parliament because we must remember (today, fortunately, is one of those days in which a bit of politics is getting done here) that friendships and enmities aren’t to be distinguished by the convenience of the moment.
the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan which is once again in full fledged resumption

the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan which is once again in full fledged resumption

Nor can one dismiss as a heckler someone, like the Pope, who, speaking out of his proper magisterium, speaks of peace loudly and without shallying. The comment from the American National Security Advisor was bestial – allow me the term – saying that the Vatican is behaving as usual: it’s doing what it did with Hitler. That is truly improper. Of course, for heaven’s sake, a person can also have a moment of distraction, of bad temper. I can’t however not remember that when the Pope was visiting Cuba and still hadn’t reached the end of his speech, in which he expressed the hope that the tensions between the United States and Cuba would ease, the White House spokesman, (while, I repeat, the Pope’s speech was still being broadcast) said: but what’s he meddling for? That’s the business of the American Congress.
Then things change. There’s been the war in Afghanistan (it’s the last point I’ll touch on), that certainly has had a positive consequence: the end of the Taleban regime (even if the aftermath will endure a long time, because it’s a matter of a country that has never known peace).
There is an aspect to which I call the attention of the President of the Council: official UN documents show that there has been a step backwards from what was taking place, if only partially, under the Taleban, that is the destruction of opium production, now going ahead again and being marketed. So, in the struggle against terrorism, do we consider drug trafficking to be something determining or, if done by people who in that moment are not giving us trouble, are we to consider it licit instead?
Much more might be said, but I come to the end of my speech with a hope. The resolution proposed by the majority is acceptable, in the sense that, among other things, it corresponds to the formulation that the President of the Council has given. A final addition, however, would be fitting, that could be taken from the last paragraph of the draft resolution whose leading signatory is Senator Angius, which goes: «Finally, let the Government pledge that it will in any case take no decision about the future developments of the Iraqi crisis without the prior authorization of Parliament».
There is an old Italian tradition (also inherent to that Italy in other aspects marvelous, Italy prior to Fascism): that of disallowing Parliament its function in this sphere. The First World War was unleashed against the opposition of the Chamber of Deputies, where the majority thought the solution to our frontier problems should be looked for elsewhere (in the Treaty of London or otherwise). The fact that there are precedents does not authorize you, Mr. President, to repeat the fact of not taking account of Parliament.

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