Russian crisis for Rome? Sisci’s version

A possible collapse of Russia could make Italy slip unprepared. After too many foreign oversights, it is time to reflect on the international situation and its internal effects. Francesco Sisci’s analysis

Italy finds itself at a risky crossroads between upcoming internal and international challenges, and without adequate preparation it could slip.

This year the war in Ukraine should end, and at that point a very serious internal political crisis could unleash in Russia which puts the balance of the country at risk. A recent article on the authoritative Foreign Policy warns that “it is time to prepare for the collapse of Russia … What is surprising, after almost a year of war, is the almost total absence of discussions between politicians, policy makers, analysts and journalists on the consequences of the defeat for Russia. That’s a dangerous lack of imagination, considering Russia’s potential for collapse and disintegration. Indeed, the combination of a failed war abroad and a fragile and tense system at home increases the likelihood of some sort of implosion with each passing day. Regardless of whether this is good or bad for the West, it is an outcome that policy makers should prepare for.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Iran continues and tensions with China worsen. In Italy in 2021, after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the consensus in foreign policy seemed to be that America was ready to expire. This is why the then prime minister encouraged himself Mario Draghi first to convene an extraordinary G20 on Afghanistan and then to pursue summits (which did not materialize) with the Russian and Chinese presidents, Vladimir Putin And Xi Jinping.
Subsequently, and perhaps consequently, it was believed that Russia would never attack the Ukraine and if it did, it would quickly get the better of it.

When Russia attacked Ukraine and failed to invade, the government’s consensus on foreign affairs shifted to Atlantic positions. But there has never been an analysis of the reasons for the errors, nor has there been a step forward on future analyses, now that Russia’s military defeat is emerging more and more clearly and gravely.

Indeed, the consequences of Russia’s collapse would be gigantic, especially in a context of great global instability, but not thinking about them and not considering them does not exorcise the problem, it aggravates it. It’s just putting your head in the sand.

In fact, in this scenario, at the end of the war, the European and American interest in maintaining some stability in Italy greatly diminishes because other much more serious and urgent priorities emerge.

For example, the problem of realigning Germany begins. It had bet on China and Russia and these two cards are proving to be weak. Instead Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic countries, Romania could be the new political reference points of Europe.

Thus Germany could become the new glue between East and West of a new Europe. Here Russia counts for less or even ceases to exist as we have known it.

Of course these are assumptions, but the course of war, and of all wars, shows that the worst-case scenarios are often superseded by reality.

Here we come to the internal politics of Italy today. Among major reforms, the government has announced a constitutional one on presidentialism, the other on the differentiated autonomy of the regions and the third on justice. On January 7th Paolo Mieli on Corriere della Sera advised the Meloni government to focus on one, because, in essence, “those who want too much squeeze”.

Indeed Mieli is right, not only in general but because the international context could give Italy less time than it thinks it has today and instead impose other, new priorities tomorrow.

The reforms announced by the government, all three technically very complicated, each of the three which could undermine the balance of the country, rightly or unjustly, become extremely difficult to carry out.

Furthermore, Italy’s objections, right or wrong, to the ECB, to interest rates, to the payment of its debts, each become destabilizing elements for Italy in its relations abroad and at home.

So the dispassionate advice for the government would be to prepare for this near eventuality, of the end of the war and the beginning of a chain of destabilization and restabilization of Europe that could crush Italy for what it is. It may not happen, in which case the preparation is not wasted. But if it happens and Italy is not prepared, everything could become dramatic. How to prepare for all this is another problem, but that’s another matter.

Furthermore, among the three reforms in the pipeline, perhaps the most urgent and the one on which transversal consensus can be gathered more easily, is on justice. There is an urgent need to simplify the relationship between citizen and public. In the end, the cost of anti-corruption and anti-abuse controls creates absurdities that multiply the costs of any public enterprise.

According to the Bank of Italy, one kilometer of motorway in Italy costs five times more than in France. Net of the different orography, it is the bureaucratic and “anti-corruption” costs before and after and the contract that multiply the bills.
So today almost only the corrupt or large companies can bear the prices, risks and times of public tenders. Furthermore, exaggerated times and costs make mafia corruption more and more economically convenient, even if it remains dangerous due to criminal consequences, and because the mafia is more unreliable than the state and, unlike the state, it is unappealable and ruthless.

But this is a crazy system that’s breaking out, and it really needs to be streamlined, otherwise it’s kind of a de facto Mafialand. Especially if the country ceases to be a priority internationally.

Russian crisis for Rome? Sisci’s version –