Butter or Big Guns

On 22nd June 2004, the Italian government passed a decree extending Italy's international peace missions until 31st December 2004.

The measure conatins two principal elements: the first is dedicated to the humanitarian missions of stabilization and reconstruction under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs, while the second regulates the extension of these missions which are staffed by members of the Armed Forces and police. What emerges clearly is that the area of greatest interest for this country's missions is Iraq, with the allocation of 21m through a special reserve fund, directed at both the humanitarian work and the reconstruction of that Middle-Eastern country, under the direction of the Italian diplomatic representatives in Baghdad.

Under the decree, extensions are ordered for the missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania, Hebron, Ethiopia and Eritrea. It should be remembered that in 2002, defence accounted for 13,665m of public spending, an increase of 8.2% on the previous year. Now, however, defence spending (which includes what is now Italy's fourth armed force, the Carabinieri) has reached 19,025m. Most of the increase is due to expenses for personnel (up by 682m, or 11.6% more than in 2001) and to investment costs, mostly on arms systems (increased by 241m, or 7.7% more than the previous year). The investment costs include the Joint Strike Fighter, 150 of which will be bought by Italy at a cost of between 20 and 30 million euro, and the new "Andrea Doria" unit which will cost around 2bn, despite being considered unnecessary the Defence Minister, Martino. To this will be added another Bill providing incentives for army enrolment, given that obligatory military service will end in December 2004.

We are in a war economy. This is a de-industrialized country with one of the most flexible and insecure workforces, where there is no investment in research or education, where public-sector employment is stagnant. The country's slim resources are ploughed into national security (by a government which says it "intends to promote the defence of the nation"), and the very concept of security is extended to include the safeguarding and "protection of national interests", as mentioned in the preparatory documents of this summer's Budget. Evidently, the Government intends, within 2006, to bring defence to 1.5% of GDP, in other words 6bn. Not bad for a country which no longer invests in anything.

Dada Knorr

data from www.sbilanciamoci.org ; decreto legge 10/07/2003;

Article from "Alternativa Libertaria" 1-15 November 2004, online news-sheet of the FdCA