Voices from Russia

Monday, 28 May 2018

Interfering in Italy’s Democracy… and It’s Not Russia

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Italy’s political turmoil tends to prove the wry old saying that “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”. The country is facing a mounting constitutional crisis amidst calls for impeaching the president after he blocked the formation of a new government. According to to the Financial Times, the crisis seems to be mainly about a clash over financial policy and a populist challenge to EU economic austerity. However, lurking too is a concern among the EU establishment in Brussels that a new populist Italian government is proposing to restore friendly relations with Russia. No doubt, Washington and NATO share that concern.

After the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and League parties topped the polls in a general election in March, they formed a would-be coalition to govern. It took nearly three months of negotiations to hammer out a governance plan. Nevertheless, there are core policies on which the coalition partners are in strong agreement. Those policies include an end to the EU’s orthodoxy of neoliberal economic austerity; and, perhaps just as significant, to end EU sanctions on Russia in a step towards normalising relations. Both M5S and League praised Russia’s military intervention in Syria to end the seven-year war there. Both parties also blamed the USA and the EU for meddling in the Ukraine’s internal affairs as the cause of the continuing conflict in that country. The latter viewpoint turns upside-down the conventional USA-NATO-EU notion of accusing Russia of interfering in the Ukraine.

For these reasons, that’s why the Italian government-in-waiting wants to abandon the EU position of imposing economic sanctions on Russia for the past four years since the Ukrainian conflict erupted in 2014. The EU’s sanctions require unanimity among its 28 member states for implementation. If Italy were to vote against the sanctions… as M5S and the League firmly propose to do… then, the USA-EU policy of trying to isolate Russia would collapse. After the populist parties won the Italian election in March, a Guardian headline captured the apprehension felt among the Washington and Brussels NATO axis:

Electoral gains or M5S and League may threaten Italy’s strong support for NATO and US.

In fact, this may be the decisive factor in the latest twist of Italy’s political crisis. Over the weekend, long-time President Sergio Mattarella sparked fury after he blocked the key appointment of a finance minister. The nominee for the position, Paolo Savona, is a prominent critic of the EU economic policy of austerity and tight fiscal control. The would-be coalition government nominated Savona because his Eurosceptic views dovetail with the populists’ demands for more public investment and a basic income for poor families. The populists believe that, in this way, Italy can stimulate its economy and grow its way out of high indebtedness, rather than through the orthodox neoliberal position prevailing in Brussels of reducing debt through cutting public spending and imposing austerity.

Italy’s largely figurehead President Mattarella said he refused to mandate the appointment of the populist finance minister out of “fears about Italian and foreign investors” pulling out of the country’s economy. Italy’s economy is the third biggest in the Eurozone, but it remained mired in sluggish growth for years, with a massive debt-to-GDP ratio of over 130 percent and soaring unemployment. The blocking of the new finance minister’s appointment rebounded in a constitutional crisis. Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte resigned in protest. The coalition can’t form a new government, and there are furious calls from M5S and League for President Mattarella to be impeached for impeding the “will of the people”. Luigi Di Maio, the leader of M5S said:

Why don’t we just say that in this country it’s pointless that we vote, as the ratings agencies and financial lobbies decide the governments?

The League’s Matteo Salvini was equally vehement:

In a democracy, if we’re still in a democracy, there’s only one thing to do, let the Italians have their say. Italy isn’t a colony. We aren’t slaves of the Germans or the French or finance.

Incumbent President Mattarella faces accusations of being “pro-Brussels” and compliant with the dominant economic policy of austerity and strict public finances. Italy’s 132 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is more than double what EU rules allow, and second-highest to Greece, as cited by the BBC. Therefore, if a populist government in Rome were to relax debt rules and grow its way out of economic stagnation, the result would be a head-on challenge to Brussels, the EU administration, and the German government in particular, which is a fiscal hawk. However, the point is that a radical challenge to EU economic policy is what the Italian people voted for. Large numbers of them are fed up with “slave-like” obedience to fiscal policies that accommodate the priorities of financial institutions and foreign capital.

A sense that their votes are being overturned propels the fury felt in Italy over the latest crisis. That is, “if your vote changed anything, they’d make it illegal”. This perceived blatant interference in democratic rights on behalf of neoliberal economic interests and financial investors is bound to further rile up the populist backlash against the EU establishment… not just in Italy, but also increasingly across the bloc, from Britain to the Netherlands, from France to Germany, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, and elsewhere. However, another factor may be equally important, if not quite as openly stated. That is Russia and the geopolitics of the US-led NATO axis.

Perhaps, it’s significant that President Mattarella, like many of the traditional EU ruling elite, is very pro-USA and pro-NATO. For instance, when he was previously Italy’s defence minister, Mattarella strongly supported the USA-led NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia in the late 1990s. Already, as noted above, the incoming M5S/League government coalition proposes to end the EU policy of economic sanctions on Russia. Both parties said that we shouldn’t treat Moscow as a military threat, but rather as a partner and ally. As Italy is a founding member of the EU, its position on the matter of relations with Russia would be crucial. If the new government overturned the EU’s sanctions policy and restored friendly ties with Moscow that’d scuttle the pro-Atlanticist axis between Washington and Brussels. Arguably, for Europeans, that’d be a beneficial release from Washington’s irrational hostility towards Russia in recent years, a move that EU leaders lamentably followed.

In other words, huge geopolitical interests are at stake if the Italians exercise their democratic freedom to form a populist government. No doubt, Washington and its allies in Brussels stepped in to “brief” the Italian president on what’s deemed acceptable limits of democracy. Yet, laughably, the USA-NATO-EU Atlanticist axis has the brass to berate Russia continually for “interfering in Western democracies”.

28 May 2018

Finian Cunningham

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201805281064884502-italy-democracy-political-turmoil/

28 May 2018. No Comment Necessary Department… Women Are NOT Objects

Filed under: moral issues — 01varvara @ 00.00
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Does that mean that we have to give in to every male demand and urge? I’d say not…

BMD

Trump Now Sez Sitdown With Kim Still On… Is He On the Up and Square Or Not?

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Editor:

Trump is saying the exact opposite of what he said on Wednesday. This means that his word is utterly unreliable and worthless. I wouldn’t trust him one little bit, and Kim would be wise to watch his back, as the Americans are known killers (literally… nobody is more amoral than an Anglo American). This smells to high heaven. What’s also fishy is that this announcement is coming out during an American holiday weekend, which means that most Americans are going to miss it. That is, Trump may be “testing the waters”, and if it’s too “hot”, he’ll withdraw again. I’d advise Comrade Kim not to trust this conniving SOB, no way, no how.

BMD

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On Saturday, US President Donald Trump stated that the USA is still set to hold the first USA-DPRK meeting on 12 June and preparation for the summit is going in a positive way. He said:

I think there’s a lot of goodwill. I think people want to see if we can get the meeting and get something done. We got that done and we can be successful in the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, that’d be a great thing for [the DPRK], it’d be a great thing for [the ROK}, it’d be great for Japan, it’d be great for the world, it’d be great for the USA, it’d be great for China. A lot of people are working on it. It’s moving along very nicely. We’re looking at 12 June in Singapore. That hasn’t changed. And it’s moving along pretty well, so we’ll see what happens.

On 24 May, the White House released Trump’s letter to Kim Jong-un, which said that the US president was terminating a highly anticipated summit scheduled for 12 June in Singapore. Nevertheless, on Friday, Trump told reporters that the USA was still in talks with the DPRK and the summit might still take place on that day. On Saturday, the White House said that a US governmental delegation would go to Singapore for summit preparation under the earlier approved schedule.

28 May 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1006728

28 May 2018. A Point to Ponder From Bishop Lazar Puhalo

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Morality is a condition of the heart, not conformity with the law. To become moral, one must undergo a transformation of the inner person into the realisation of Christ’s moral imperatives. Moralism is to demand obedience to laws which may themselves be arbitrary and ideological, often without comprehension or knowledge of reality. Moralism is often subversive and practised with feigned compassion, but with an underlying absolutism which can’t yield when proved wrong or contrary to reality.

You can’t share the faith politically, but only through living examples of compassion and love, and even a willingness to endure persecution and to suffer with no desire for vengeance or earthly recompense. We need to seek to live the faith, not to coerce others to obey its doctrines.

24 May 2018

Vladika Lazar Puhalo

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