30 March 2020 — The American Herald
Mohsen Abdelmoumen: What is the situation in your country Italy in the context of the Covid19 virus epidemic?
Prof. Mario Caligiuri: At the moment, the Italian situation is the most serious in the world, in terms of the number of people infected and dead, even more than in China. The conditions are extremely difficult and in Lombardy they are even tragic. But the truth about the numbers is not told. For example, in China, from February to December 2019, 21 million mobile phones are turned off. I don’t know if that means anything. In Italy, according to the High Institute of Health, the percentage of deaths due to coronavirus alone is about 2%. In Russia, the number of infected persons is very low and no deaths have been reported so far. In Japan, the country was quarantined immediately after the official news of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to next year. It is only in recent weeks that strict measures have been taken against the pandemic by European countries with the exception of Sweden, and the United States, where the number of infections detected has made it the number one country in the world. While the figures are indicative, they must be interpreted and put into context. And the conclusions will be made at the end, several months from now.
You mention three very disturbing elements, such as the fact that 21 million mobile phones have been switched off in China, that only 2% of Italians have died from the coronavirus and that Russia has very few infected people and no deaths. That’s a lot of things to constitute a coincidence. In your opinion, what is the truth behind this mysterious Covid 19 virus?
In all great tragedies, there are those who suffer them and those who profit from them. The most important form of confrontation we will soon have to deal with is information warfare, which is boundless. Behind the mysterious Covid 19 virus, in my opinion, there is no conspiracy but a manifestation of nature that found us unprepared, especially in a historical phase in which man, through genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, has taken on the appearance of a God who grants life and death. What’s going on brings everyone back down to earth.
Don’t you think that there has been a huge lack of anticipation on the part of European governments with regard to the pandemic we are currently experiencing?
The first meeting of the European Commission to address the issue took place on 6 March 2020. The epidemic has been known with certainty since at least December 2019 and, as early as the end of January 2020, the World Health Organization underlined the very serious risk that this epidemic represented. Nothing more is needed to understand the neglect and unpreparedness of a large part of the European ruling class.
Why has Europe abandoned Italy when China is trying to help it?
This confirms that every nation, beyond purely gratuitous assertions of principle, thinks first of itself. Rather than a Europe of the people, the European Union is based on the economy. China does its policy legitimately, as it does in Africa: propaganda and long-term investment.
Has Europe not shown its limits with the coronavirus crisis?
Irreversibly, if it is not in a position to confront the terrible economic crisis, which predicts a 4.5% reduction in GDP by 2020. But it could be even worse.
We have seen scenes of collective hysteria in supermarkets and superstores. Hasn’t this coronavirus crisis put individualistic consumption patterns to the test?
According to the philosopher Slavoj Žižek, global capitalism could undergo a profound transformation. For him, a radical change is needed and the coronavirus represents “the death of capitalism and an opportunity to reinvent society”. The whole social system, from media education to media literacy, is based on the promotion of consumption. Algorithms are the most powerful agent of political change in this century and are programmed in the capitalist logic of favoring the consumption of goods.
The health sector has been abandoned in the face of shortages of necessary equipment such as masks, respirators and hydro-alcoholic gel, which are sorely lacking, and the depletion and even suffering of health care workers. Don’t you think that the neo-liberal model that places profit above all else is to be questioned? Can we manage health as we manage any economic sector?
There is no doubt that health cannot be managed as an economic sector. In Italy, it is assigned to the regions, 70 % of whose budgets concern health care. In our country, in 1997, there were 575 acute care beds per 100,000 inhabitants. Today there are 275: less than half. Health in southern regions is often problematic, while at the national level, the private sector is very strong. All this confirms a banal truth: for many people, health is just a way to make money. The many exceptions, which we gratefully admire in Italy these days, only confirm the rule.
Are not peoples of Europe paying the price of austerity, deindustrialization, and relocation?
After the Second World War, the idea of Europe ensured 75 years of peace, the longest period in history without conflict on our continent. During this period, however, economic and bureaucratic logics prevailed, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The most aggressive logics of profit prevailed even more, which also explains the planetary spread of mafias. To cope with the pandemic crisis, the United States should see its budget deficit double, in Germany, more than a thousand billion is injected, in France 300 billion and in Italy around 50 billion. When they will start to draw conclusions, there will be people in Europe who will suffer more and people who will suffer less. And the results will be unpredictable.
What do you think of the lack of competence of certain politicians who are managing this crisis on a do-it-yourself basis? Hasn’t the coronavirus exposed entire governments?
Politics is unforgivable for weakening public health. The ruling classes of the Western democracies underestimated what was happening. China used the iron fist, South Korea used technology. The ruling classes in these countries have proven to be more effective. Three years ago, Daniel Bell published the book “The Chinese Model“, in which he theorizes that democracies are inadequate for creating effective public elites. We are living it. It is to be hoped that there will be an awakening soon, otherwise times will be really difficult because each private and public organization works mainly according to who leads and represents it.
Don’t you think that after this crisis nothing should ever be the same again?
It doesn’t seem obvious to me. We need to see how the political system will be re-articulated. In Italy, there is no alternative to this homogeneous political class. The new actors are no better than the old ones and have not reduced the inefficiency, social injustices and indefensible privileges of politicians. As an example, I would like to remind the position of the Five Stars movement on vaccines that they felt were doing more harm than good. If we don’t change all the musicians, the music will always be the same. But we don’t see any new musicians on the horizon.
It has been noted that in countries such as France, Belgium, etc. the population does not respect containment. Don’t you think that the issue of individual rights, the lack of discipline, complicates the solutions to eradicate the coronavirus?
Certainly, but we must consider that this is a new situation and that social networks, rather than helping to understand, contribute to anxiety and confusion. Misinformation is the most significant fact of this era. Several years ago, I theorized on the society of disinformation, which is achieved by the excess of information on the one hand and the low level of education on the other. Today, many people understand this: why flood people with information, which is often useless and erroneous, when those who receive it do not have the critical and cultural tools to interpret it? This could be considered a very effective form of censorship. That is the deprivation of the information necessary to understand reality.
How do you explain the lack of international cooperation, with the exception of China, Cuba, Venezuela and Russia, which send doctors and/or equipment and medicines, in the fight against this virus?
International cooperation usually works when there is something to take rather than something to give. Cuba is praiseworthy because, thanks to Fidel Castro, it has created a quality public health system at the service of the people. In the West, private health services are excellent, but they are certainly not for everyone.
Both the political system and the economic system, which some told us were infallible, have shown their vulnerability to a virus. What can we learn from this?
In particular, democratic political systems are in great crisis due to the insufficient selection of elites. Democracy is only a process in the hands of narrow oligarchies supported by the media, which gives credibility to a system that fails even to guarantee the essential rights of citizens, from safety to health, from work to education. The economic system itself has confirmed the limits of a development model based on capitalism that has now imposed itself on the entire planet, including former communist states such as Russia and China.
On a completely different note, Operation Rubicon is a global scandal. How do you explain the CIA aided by the German BND spying on Allied states? Aren’t intelligence assets being misused?
Aldo Moro, the Italian statesman killed by the Red Brigades in 1978 while he was prisoner, had already stated that the German federal secret service was conducting activities in Europe on behalf of the United States. Nothing new or shocking. Years ago, the revelations of Edward Snowden, as well as those of Julian Assange, had already anticipated these events. Our President of the Republic, Francesco Cossiga, who was a great connoisseur of intelligence, maintained that it was normal to spy among allied and friendly countries. There is nothing shocking about that, because these are normal, unconventional foreign policy activities.
You are a great intelligence specialist. How do you read the connivance between drug traffickers as well as serious crime and jihadists? How do you assess the intelligence cooperation between the northern and southern Mediterranean countries?
The convergence of interests between drug traffickers, criminals and jihadists is a very dangerous scenario, especially at this time. Few believe that states rightly focus on the fight against the coronavirus and therefore crime and terrorism are more far-reaching, especially at the IT level. In addition, one of the consequences of the economic crisis in the coming months will be an increase in social distress. With democratic ruling classes designated by election or competition, we will certainly be in even greater difficulty with mafias and terrorism, which choose their leaders on the basis of merit and individual ability. Intelligence is the deep state, the continuity of the state, independently of political majorities. Intelligence has never before had the task of stabilizing democracy and giving continuity to public institutions. It is precisely for this reason that cooperation between the intelligence services of European and African countries is a strategic step forward to transform the Mediterranean from a sea of conflict and social unrest into a sea of meetings and changes, to give new horizons to humanity in the 21st century.
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Who is Prof. Mario Caligiuri?
Mario Caligiuri is a full professor at the University of Calabria, where he founded the first master’s degree in intelligence, the first course in intelligence and the first center for intelligence studies at Italian universities. He is considered one of the leading international scientific experts in intelligence. His writings include intelligence and the humanities: Una disciplina accademica per il XXI secolo (2016), Cyber intelligence; Tra libertà e sicurezza (2016), Intelligence e magistratura; Dalla diffidenza reciproca alla collaborazione necessaria (2017) and, with Giangiuseppe Pili, Intelligence studies; Un’analisi comparata tra l’Italia e il mondo angloamericano” (2019). For the Italian intelligence magazine « Gnosis« , he recently wrote two very important essays: The unsustainable lightness of the democratic elites (2017), On artificial intelligence and the new world order and A priority commitment to intelligence (2018).