By Giancarlo Elia Valori*
Everyone should or could carry out influence actions and operations or, if the situation is favourable, each country could even interfere with or intrude into the political process of an opponent or an ally.
Francesco Cossiga, who really knew everything about intelligence services, used to say that the agent of influence “attacks the country of interest by influencing its decision-making process.” If we made a list of the agents of influence currently operating in Italy, we could almost smile and wonder at this refined, complex and subtle intelligence field. On the other hand, as many Italian and foreign journalists and scholars have documented, the United States made several influence actions and operations vis-à-vis Italy. They included the “demagnetize” project designed to eradicate, both in Italy and in France, the cultural and political influence of the Communist Party and its allies. Not to mention the Embassy briefings given to Indro Montanelli and many other great Italian journalists. This is exactly the “influence” which has always materialized in Italy. Obviously, also the Soviet Union did so, through networks not identifiable with Moscow and apparently apolitical – or even notoriously right-oriented – news agencies .
If there had not been a colonel of the Defence Intelligence System (SID), who distributed bribes to the participants of the Italian Republican Party Congress in Ravenna, so as to ensure the victory of Ugo La Malfa – and hence of the Party line in favour of the “centre-left project” – currently Italy would have been very different. Finally, if a great foreign correspondent of the newspaper “L’Unità” had not had personal and direct contacts with the Palestinian leadership, he visited at night by crossing the lines – and who was later discovered to be a KGB colonel – much of the Middle East policy of the Italian Left would have not been implemented.
Intrusion is a technique of offensive and covert penetration into friends’ or foes’ intelligence systems to draw confidential information and, once again, change the decision-making process of the “victim.” These are crimes which, if discovered – as is probably now happening in Italy – affect the agents, but usually keep the source that used data intact. It is not necessary for these operations to be always in the cyber area – they can also be carried out with the old paper documents. As an Italian Navy Officer did during World War II, by taking away important documents during a party held in an enemy embassy and later returning to the ball- room with a dazzling smile.
To be clear and technically accurate, with Donald Trump the US intelligence services have decided to do what they do in countries swinging between two influences: a delegitimizing bloodless coup. Why? Because the US intelligence community has many and varied interests, including companies, foreign politicians and geostrategic projects already underway. Everybody has mobilized against Trump since the very beginning so as to make him a “lameduck”: lavishly funded demonstrations against him were staged throughout the country, such as those of the Ukrainian Euromaidan, as well as of the usual Hollywood actors – who are progressive and liberal only when their money is not called into question – and of the gay or LGBT communities that have long become reference groups for election or advertising campaigns or for campaigns designed to change social perceptions. One issue regards also Israel: 20% of Hillary Clinton’s campaign was funded by Saudi Arabia, not to mention the Sunni lobby which has been domineering the State Department since George W. Bush’s administration. With Donald Trump, also this mechanism will go up in smoke. The President-elect knows all too well that, without Israel, there is no room for the United States in the Middle East. And even this rankles in the now modest mind of our American friends.
If Trump’s line for an appeasement with the Russian Federation had real effect, the whole new cold war apparatus arranged by Barack Husseyn Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would go to waste. Obviously, it is very likely that Putin ordered his networks in the United States to favour the Republican candidate hated by his own party. However, we will never know and the reconstructions of facts made by the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), who is usually the Head of CIA, are very weak and sometimes naive.
In his official document, summarizing a longer and very confidential text, the DCI speaks about public and well-known attempts made by Vladimir Putin to influence “the US decision-making process”. Cannot a sovereign State say what it thinks? How can we prevent it to do so? On April 7, 2016 the DCI also publicly spoke of Panama Papers dismissing them as defamation means used by the United States against Russia, by even adding the issue of the Russian athletes’ doping at the Olympics. Is there anything more evident than this? Would this be a secret mechanism to “demolish the American liberal society and its institutions”? I do not think so. Furthermore the document notes that Putin, although appreciating the efforts made by Trump during the election campaign, “avoided praising him so as not to create problems to his reference candidate”. What else could he do – as the DCI document maintains – if not developing “a clear preference for the candidate Trump”? Is it a crime or – and here the issue gets comic – an “intelligence operation”?
However, what our US friends currently mean by intelligence?
I fear that it happened to them what is also happening to us, that is a kind of transformation of Agencies and Services into a large “communication company”, in which operations are no longer carried out or, rather, it is believed that “communication” is enough. It is not enough to organise competitions for children to “draw intelligence”. We need to still be harsh and impassive operators of covert actions, which are only rarely real war actions. In short, from the US DCI document we can infer that a foreign Head of State should not even dare to mention the US election campaign. The document also mentions Putin’s “friends”, namely Silvio Berlusconi and Gerhard Schroeder, both kicked out of their own governments because they were thinking of a new relationship between Russia and Europe. Indeed – as happened with the old cold war – Europe is still the bone of contention between the old and new Empires. Currently the issue lies in weakening it economically, but in the past the issue lay in making it strong – though not enough – to face the USSR and its Eastern European allies. Moreover, the DCI document also speaks of Guccifer 2.0 that hacked the US Democratic Committee’s website and is supposed to be an operator of the Russian military service (GRU). In fact, it is good practice for any serious secret service to use e-mails and Internet addresses directly related to its own structure, or possibly state, during the hacking activities, what it is and for what reason it is doing so.
Unbelievable. Conversely, the other charge included in the DCI document regarding the possible Russian intrusion into the US electoral machines, is more realistic. Would it not be better to use the old indelible pencils? Why using – as also happens in India – on-line electoral machines owned by private companies?
The DCI document also states that the Russian media have always commented Trump statements favourably. What did they have to do – always stay quiet? And also other countries, such as Italy or France, have been fans of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, In fact, clumsily as usual, Italy funded Hillary Clinton’s campaign with Matteo Renzi. Hence the charges of manipulating the election process should apply also to Italy, which, however, with Matteo Renzi, knew nothing about the real US political equilibria.
Reference is also made to well-known websites, such as Russian Times, which supposedly “denigrated” the poor wretched Hillary Clinton. Hence, obviously no one can pass judgments on American politicians. Moreover the report drawn up by CIA and disseminated by CNN about the Trump’s alleged sexual activities in Russia was – and is – entirely invented. Indeed, the DCI himself, James Clapper, apologized and has recently pledged allegiance to this Presidential administration. It seems incredible, but it is true that, according to some authoritative American media sources, CIA had asked for help to the Ukrainian services, which I imagine will be gone right through by Russia until after the Summit.
To put it in harsh and clear terms, with these operations against its own country, CIA proved to be an amateurish Agency, now unable to do intelligence, but only capable of doing “communication” – and badly so. We do not even well understand why the ‘Langley Agency has sunk so low. It may be full of poor-quality analysts, but it is not the only one. It does not want Trump to make peace with the Russian Federation, but why? It is true that the new cold war feeds the “industrial military system” that not even Eisenhower liked. However there is a strategic and political alternative option round the corner.
Reaching an agreement with Russia and China (and here Trump harshly criticizes China’s “currency manipulation”) so as to rebuild the new areas of influence in the world. China wants a free hand in the Pacific, without getting in the way and interfering with Japan. It is a smart proposal to be carefully studied in the United States. Obviously the United States will not leave South Korea to its fate, but again an agreement is possible even with the Communist North Korea. Europe should go to rack and ruin, for its irrelevant strategic merits, but it could become a safe area southwards, against the permanent Sunni jihad (fuelled exactly by the United States) and open to Eurasia and its new “Silk Road”, with collective security measures to be studied specifically.
Latin America, that the United States have proved to be unable to hold, could be a reference area also for the European powers, called upon to support – with new development patterns – the economies created by millions of their emigrants. Moreover Africa will increasingly need China and the Russian Federation, which will make their intervention areas safe.
Finally Trump shall turn his intelligence system upside down, considering that McCain himself stated he drafted and then disseminated -. instead of a now amateurish CIA – the 35-page document he himself had received from a British MI6 agent operating in Moscow. Material just sketched out and unverifiable, irrelevant and stupidly defamatory. The American “deep state” has not yet digested Donald J. Trump’s victory. but it shall do so quickly because the new President does not seem to be a man who is content with pretending to rule.
About the author
*Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “La Centrale Finanziaria Generale Spa”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group and member of the Ayan-Holding Board. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title of “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France.
This article was published by Modern Diplomacy