It is also due to the apt decision to leave the explanation of methodological tools and dataset variables to the appendix. My only criticism relates to chapter 5, which I found disconnected with the rest and also lacking inherent logic. The chapter does not focus on the construction of the Italian debate, as the title suggests, but rather provides three paragraphs whose links are not evident.
A summary of the fist chapter is followed by a debate of peace support operations and counter insurgency operations, which focuses almost entirely on the U. It would have added a great deal to the general analysis had it not limited to provide data and comparison with other countries, but offered explicit causal explanations for the inadequate level of the Italian spending. Despite this slip, Italian Military Operations Abroad remains an excellent piece of research, accessible to a wide audience, which will certainly foster debates and comparative studies on mid-sized democracies.
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But Ledeen angrily denies the charges. In March an Italian commission run by Paolo Guzzanti, a senator in the right-wing Forza Italia Party, reopened the case and concluded that the Bulgarian Connection was real. In the wake of Billygate and the Bulgarian Connection, Ledeen allegedly began to play a role as a behind-the-scenes operative with the ascendant Reagan-Bush team.
And, by the way, he had every opportunity to raise it with me and never did. In , P-2 was outlawed and police raided the home of its leader, Licio Gelli. Authorities found a list of nearly a thousand prominent public figures in Italy who were believed to be members. Among them was a billionaire media mogul who had not yet entered politics—Silvio Berlusconi. In , Berlusconi was elected prime minister. Among those Berlusconi appointed to powerful national-security positions were two men known to Ledeen. A founding member of Forza Italia, Minister of Defense Antonio Martino was a well-known figure in Washington neocon circles and had been close friends with Michael Ledeen since the s.
Enter Rocco Martino. By , however, Martino had fallen on hard times financially. It was then that a longtime colleague named Antonio Nucera offered him a lucrative proposition. Perhaps, Nucera suggested, Martino could use La Signora as Italian intelligence had, paying her to pass on documents she copied or stole from the embassy. Martino denies any participation. There are many conflicting accounts of the episode. According to La Repubblica, a left-of-center daily which has published an investigative series on Nigergate, documents stolen from the embassy ultimately were combined with other papers that were already in SISMI archives.
In addition, the embassy stationery was apparently used to forge records about a phony uranium deal between Niger and Iraq. The Sunday Times of London recently reported that the papers had been forged for profit by two embassy employees: Adam Maiga Zakariaou, the consul, and Montini. But many believe that they, wittingly or not, were merely pawns in a larger game. According to Martino, the documents were not given to him all at once.
I met her and she gave me documents. There was a codebook, then a dossier with a mixture of fake and genuine documents. The last one Martino says he received, and the most important one, was not genuine, however. Dated July 27, , it was a two-page memo purportedly sent to the president of Niger concerning the sale of tons of pure uranium per year by Niger to Iraq. The forged documents were full of errors.
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A letter dated October 10, , was signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Allele Elhadj Habibou—even though he had been out of office for more than a decade. Its September 28 postmark indicated that somehow the letter had been received nearly two weeks before it was sent. The accord signed by him referred to the Niger constitution of May 12, , when a new constitution had been enacted in One of the letters was dated July 30, , but referred to agreements that were not made until a year later. Finally, the agreement called for the tons of uranium to be transferred from one ship to another in international waters—a spectacularly difficult feat.
Martino, however, says he was unaware that they were forgeries. He was merely interested in a payday. But, beyond that, he claims that Italian intelligence played no role in the Niger operation. Whom should we believe? On the other hand, operatives like Martino are highly valued precisely because they can be discredited so easily. Martino, who is the subject of a recently reopened investigation by the public prosecutor in Rome, has declined to talk to the press in recent months. But before going silent, he gave interviews to Italian, British, and American journalists characterizing himself as a pawn who distributed the documents on behalf of SISMI and believed that they were authentic.
Over the next two years, the Niger documents and reports based on them made at least three journeys to the C. They also found their way to the U. Each of these recipients in turn shared the documents or their contents with others, in effect creating an echo chamber that gave the illusion that several independent sources had corroborated an Iraq-Niger uranium deal.
What exactly might those games have been? Berlusconi defined his role on the world stage largely in terms of his relationship with the U. Because the Niger break-in happened before Bush took office, La Repubblica and many others assume that the robbery was initiated as a small-time job.
But it is also possible that from its very inception the Niger operation was aimed at starting an invasion of Iraq. As early as , neoconservative hawks in the administration of George H. Bush, under the aegis of Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, unsuccessfully lobbied for regime change in Iraq as part of a grandiose vision for American supremacy in the next century.
During the Clinton era, the neocons persisted with their policy goals, and in early they twice lobbied President Clinton to bring down Saddam. According to Patrick Lang, the initial Niger Embassy robbery could have been aimed at starting the war even though Bush had yet to be inaugurated. The scenario, he cautions, is merely speculation on his part.
Now, it was possible, 20 years later, that he was doing the same to start the war in Iraq. Brodhead is not alone. But none have found any hard evidence. Early in the summer of , about six months after the break-in, information from the forged documents was given to U. Details about the transfer are extremely sketchy, but it is highly probable that the reports were summaries of the documents. It is standard practice for intelligence services, in the interests of protecting sources, to share reports, rather than original documents, with allies.
To many W. They are qualified to see if these reports make sense. For some reason, perhaps out of cowardice, these reports were judged to be of such potential significance that no one wanted to sit on it. Since Niger was a former French colony, French intelligence was the logical choice to vet the allegations. He recalls that much of the information he received from Langley was vague, with the exception of one striking detail. The agency had heard that in the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican, Wissam al-Zahawie, had made an unusual visit to four African countries, including Niger.
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Analysts feared that the trip may have been a prelude to a uranium deal. Chouet soon found that the al-Zahawie visit was no secret. It had been covered by the local press in Niger at the time, and reports had surfaced in French, British, and American intelligence.
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Chouet had a man unit at his command, and he ordered an extensive on-the-ground investigation in Niger. But the Niger affair had just begun. The neocons had long said that they needed another Pearl Harbor in order to realize their dreams of regime change in Iraq. Now it had taken place. But by midday Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had already raised the question of attacking Saddam. This was the perfect opportunity to go after Saddam, except for one thing: the available intelligence did not support the action. Ten days after the attacks, Bush was told in a classified briefing that there was no credible evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.
Now the Niger operation went into overdrive. The details of how this happened are murky. Accounts from usually reputable newspapers, the United States Senate Intelligence Committee, and other sources are wildly at variance with one another. The delivery might have been made, Italian reports say, by Rocco Martino.
Embassy in Niger check out the alleged uranium deal. On November 20, , the U. It was done, shot down. Michael Ledeen waves an unlit cigar as he welcomes me into his 11th-floor office at the American Enterprise Institute, in Washington. It has sent more than two dozen of its alumni to the Bush administration. After 17 years at the A. Having served as a consultant at the Pentagon and the State Department and on the National Security Council, Ledeen relishes playing the role of the intriguer.
Ledeen has made his share of enemies along the way, especially at the C. Apprised of such views, Ledeen, no fan of the C. Ghorbanifar over the years has been one of the most accurate sources of understanding what is going on in Iran. Bearded and balding, the year-old Ledeen makes for an unlikely Ledeen props his feet up on his desk next to an icon of villainy—a mask of Darth Vader. However, there is considerable evidence that Ledeen has had far more access than he lets on to the highest levels of the Bush administration. But to Ledeen, Iraq was just one part of a larger war. Rhapsodizing about war week after week, Ledeen became chief rhetorician for neoconservative visionaries who wanted to remake the Middle East.
The U. As drew to a close, such positions seemed decidedly outside the mainstream. Career military and intelligence professionals saw the relatively moderate Colin Powell and George Tenet, a Clinton appointee, reassuringly ensconced as secretary of state and director of central intelligence, respectively. He was a professional.
What did he have to do with Douglas Feith? As for Ledeen, how much clout he carried with the administration is a matter of debate. In a separate matter, Franklin has since pleaded guilty to passing secrets to Israel and been sentenced to 12 years in prison. But other accounts suggest that Ledeen may have used his time in Italy to reactivate old friendships that played a role in the Niger affair.
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Soon afterward, according to La Repubblica, Pollari allegedly took up the Niger matter with Ledeen when he was in Rome. Ledeen denies having had any such conversations. Pollari declined to be interviewed by Vanity Fair, and has denied playing any role in the Niger affair. Martino has declined to comment. By early , career military and intelligence professionals had seen the Niger reports repeatedly discredited, and assumed that the issue was dead.
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But that was not the case. Not everybody in the C. As the Senate Intelligence Committee report points out, some analysts at the C. Nevertheless, the C. On February 5, , however, for reasons that remain unclear, the C. In the State Department, analysts were still suspicious of the reports.
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But in the Pentagon, the Vulcans pounced on the new material. On February 12, the D. Cheney gave the Niger claims new life. The C. Her husband, as the world now knows, was Joseph Wilson, who had served as deputy chief of mission at the U. Embassy in Baghdad and as ambassador to Gabon under George H. Wilson approached the task with a healthy skepticism. He arrived in Niger on February 26, The French were managing partners of the international consortium.
The French mining company actually had its hands on the product. Nobody else in the consortium had operators on the ground. In addition, Wilson personally knew Wissam al-Zahawie, the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican, whose visit to Niger had raised suspicions. The idea that he would be entrusted with this super-secret mission to buy tons of uranium from Niger is out of the question. A few days later, Wilson returned from Niger and told C.
By now the Niger reports had been discredited more than half a dozen times—by the French in , by the C. But the top brass at the C. They went back to French intelligence again—twice. Alain Chouet reportedly sent five or six men to Niger and again found the charges to be false. Then his staff noticed that the allegations matched those brought to him by Rocco Martino. The plan was to open a full-fledged marketing campaign after Labor Day, featuring images of nuclear devastation and threats of biological and chemical weapons.
A key piece of the evidence was the Niger dossier. But the real push was delayed until the second week of September. The smoking-gun-mushroom-cloud catchphrase was such a hit that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld all picked it up in one form or another, sending it out repeatedly to the entire country. Meanwhile, the C. Tenet delivered the news personally to Bush, Cheney, and other top officials in September Initially, the White House was ecstatic about this coup.
But, according to Tyler Drumheller, the C. This is about regime change. As it happens, the Italians used the same tubes Iraq was seeking in their Medusa air-to-ground missile systems, so Pollari presumably knew that Iraq was not trying to enrich uranium but merely attempting to reproduce weaponry dating back to an era of military trade between Rome and Baghdad. As La Repubblica pointed out, however, he did not set the record straight. Pollari met with Stephen Hadley, an understated but resolute hawk who has since replaced Condoleezza Rice as national-security adviser.
Hadley has confirmed that he met Pollari, but declined to say what was discussed. But there was no need to pass documents. In spite of lots of people having seen these documents, and having said they were not right, they went around them. Stephen Hadley knew it. Condi Rice knew it. Everyone at the highest level knew. But the Niger documents had been resurrected once again.
It takes about 10 tons to produce enough enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon. In addition, in a new paper that month, the D. Now it was time for the international media to chime in with independent corroboration. Burba and Martino had worked together in the past, but there may have been other reasons he went to her again.
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