Italy’s populist government that just came to power pledged to make the MigrantCrisis one of its main priorities, so it’s no surprise that it’s poised to take immediate action in delivering tangible results to the voters. Matteo Salvini, the head of the EuroRealist Lega party and Italy’s current Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, said that “I am in favor of NATO, but we are under attack. We will ask NATO to defend us. There are many concerns about terrorist infiltrations. Italy is under attack from the south, not from the east.” His statement importantly reaffirmed his country’s commitment to one of the pillars of Euro-Atlanticism but reinterpreted its purpose from the Establishment’s prevailing anti-Russian one to a more practical use in responding to human trafficking networks.
Proverbially putting his money where his mouth is, he refused to allow a boat full of hundreds of migrants to dock at any of Italy’s ports, writing instead on Facebook that “Malta takes in nobody. France pushes people back at the border, Spain defends its frontier with weapons. From today, Italy will also start to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration.” His developing anti-migrant plan is therefore two-fold, with the first part dealing with external security in preventing the infiltration of more illegal migrants into Italy while the second one is domestically focused and concerns the fate of those who are already in the country. It’s the international aspect of this campaign that Italy is seeking NATO’s help with, which is practical because the country is after all a member of the bloc and pays yearly dues to it.
The issue, however, is that the EU’s EuroLiberal Establishment is against any member state unilaterally taking a tougher stand against illegal migration, though it’s here where the ruling EuroRealists in Rome can take advantage of the developing Trans-Atlantic split between Washington and Brussels. The US’ Sixth Fleet is based in Naples and has responsibility for all of the Mediterranean, and with Trump being on the same ideological wavelength as Salvini, it’s possible that the Pentagon could take the lead in this mission. The US’ interests would be served by this because it would be deepening its relations with Italy vis-à-vis a southern-focused patrolling mission against Africa just like it’s doing the same with Poland per the buildup against Russia, with these Southern and Eastern states replacing the Western ones of the UK, France, and Germany in strategic significance at the same time as their ties with America worsen over trade disputes.
Salvini’s invocation of NATO assistance in breaking up human smuggling rings might therefore actually provide the US with an opportunity to further break European unity as part of its multipronged asymmetrical offensive against the EU.