Hot on the heels of the US Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice, telling the people of Europe that we should do what we are told, or else - we have another example of state violence in Italy. Last night, in the Val di Susa, the demonstrations by the local people against the High Speed Train (TAV) project erupted into a bloody clash with the police resulting in at least 6 injuries.
Now, you may already know that the Val di Susa (or Susa Valley in English) is the main area for the Winter Olympics this year. The fear of frightening tourists away from the area might be the major reason for the police being instructed to act in the way that they did. Or it might just simply be an over aggressive response to a direct political instruction – remembering what happened in Genova during the G8 summit. Whatever the cause, there can be no excuse, surely, for police attacking unarmed people in the way that they did though?
The protests in the Val di Susa are certainly legitimate and it would be very hard to try and identify the protesters as “communist troublemakers”, as has been attempted in some political circles. Virtually every regional mayor (Sindaco) is represented in the protesting group, so it is surely a group that represents the majority view of the local inhabitants. By trying to ignore the protest completely despite real concerns regarding safety issues locally, the authorities have shown themselves to be simple bullies. By initiating a violent action against the protesters, they have shown themselves to be much, much worse. They have succeeded by this action in drawing even larger groups of people into the cause of the local inhabitants now, making a much larger problem for themselves which no amount of further violence will resolve.
One would have thought that the problems of the Middle East would support the idea that violence breeds yet more violence. But then again, my daddy is bigger than your daddy. Innit.
In a strange turn of events the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is expected* to issue a warning to Europe today about the illegal US prison camps in Eastern Europe, including Kosova, being run for the interrogation and internment of people the US administration might consider a threat. I wrote a while ago about a US base on the island of Diego Garcia, that was being used as a secret prison facility. She will also defend what is called "Rendition" - or what the rest of us call "Kidnapping" - as practised by the US Secret Services on a seemingly regular basis all around the world.
Of course, the main thrust of the expected attack will be based on the fact that the countries of Europe are condemning the existence of these illicit prison camps. The US secret services were recently exposed, resulting in arrest warrants being issued against CIA operatives in Italy, when they "caught" a suspected terrorist by using the simple expedient of kidnapping him off the street and taking his to a US air base in northern Italy, thence flying him on to a US air base in Germany en route for Egypt.
It brought to mind a quotation recorded at the time of the Nuremberg trials at the end of WW2, when Herman Goering reportedly said to Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking intelligence officer and psychologist working with the allied forces during the trials:
“Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
Obviously a political view that is still firmly held in some government circles.
* The transcript of Condaleeza Rice's speech can be read here. She claimed that: "In some situations a terrorist suspect can be extradited according to traditional judicial procedures. But there have long been many other cases where, for some reason, the local government cannot detain or prosecute a suspect, and traditional extradition is not a good option. In those cases the local government can make the sovereign choice to cooperate in a rendition. Such renditions are permissible under international law and are consistent with the responsibilities of those governments to protect their citizens." Perhaps she has already forgotten that the US operation in Italy was undertaken completely without the "soveriegn choice" of either the Italian people, nor the Italian government. What price for truth now? It is no wonder that she is known as "Conda-liesalot Rice" back in the US of A...