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Italy, Politics

Renzi in Africa: Arms and Oil

By Guglielmo Ragozzino

Our PM, the tireless Matteo Renzi, was in Africa earlier this month. He brought with him, for example in Mozambique, a delegation which included the number one of Eni, Claudio Descalzi and his counterpart from Finmeccanica, Mauro Moretti, newly appointed in those roles for a precise reason, after long debate and reflection, by the national government.

Eni is a leader among Italian multinationals and deals in hydrocarbons; extracting them, transporting them, selling them in many areas of the world. Finmeccanica on the other hand is primarily a weapons factory, and producer of advanced weapon systems.

It is not hard to imagine the motive for the participation of Moretti and Descalzi in the African expedition. It’s about buying and selling, as our PM explained in words picked up by state broadcaster Rai: “An ambitious country builds medium-term strategies. In ten years time, energy, agrofood, and exports will for the first time be at the heart of the Italian economy. ” So said Renzi from Luanda, the last leg of his tour in Africa, of the objectives of the mission in Mozambique, Congo and Angola.

Growth and jobs are Renzi’s real urgent tasks. And also to revive “made in Italy”. The prime minister is in Africa with the objective to achieve in a thousand days to supporting 22,000 companies produce in exports alone a point of gross domestic product.

A point of GDP. Here’s the result that a great – albeit somewhat diminished of late – European country thinks it can derive selling at high prices advanced goods and services to, and buying merchandise from a group of countries
that are among the poorest in the world. The very idea of ​​such trade puts wind in the sails of enterprises affiliated to the business lobby Confindustria.

There’s this talk about 22,000 enterprises, but it seems rather that the famous Cooperazione Italiana, Italy’s international development department, has returned, back to the glorious days of missing zillions and white elephant projects, those highways of Somalia of Siad Barre and the Tana-Beles water programme in Mengistu’s Ethiopia.

Cooperazione Italiana’s activities in Africa were perhaps the real matrix of Tangentopoli, the corruption scandals that erupted in 1992, bringing down almost an entire political class and in particular Italy’s long-ruling Christian Democrats. Rules and honesty in business dealings were cast aside, contracts were not awarded to those with the right skills or on merit, but through the corruption of officials and ministers who become directly involved in the deals themselves.

Let us return for a moment to Descalzi and Moretti. The first goes to Africa to find oil and probably will, as well as gas and any other wealth under the ground, improving our GDP by half a point. As a secondary effect this will extend for another year or two the fossil fuel model of the world, a beneficial effect, according to Italy’s government; and it will increase by another fraction the level of CO2 pollution, assuming this really exists, which Rome clearly doubts.

Another half a point of GDP will be achieved by Moretti selling weapons and weapon systems that will pay for themselves with oil and gas. Here the debate becomes subtle. No-one likes selling ​​weapons in theory, but in practice, all ministers, all industrialists, all bankers know that there are the good and the bad. The bad guys should not have weapons; its the other bad guys who sell to the bad guys. Instead the good – our good guys – must be able to defend themselves. So we have to sell them the weapons they need, especially as it allows us to improve our beloved GDP.


Translation/edit by Revolting Europe

More on Italy, Tangentopoli and Somalia, a former colony (Italian) here 

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope


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