By:Srdja Trifkovic | July 01, 2013
Almost two months have passed since the death of Giulio Andreotti, arguably the most powerful politician in Italy's post-World War II history. In recent weeks I have struggled with a draft obituary of this complex man who deserves to be better known abroad, but the task proved daunting. There are too many loose ends, strange events, and unexplained mysteries in Andreotti's long life that require detailed expert knowledge of the setting and dramatis personae, harking all the way back to the Fascist era; so I've asked Slobodan Jankovic, a research fellow at Belgrade’s Institute of International Politics and Economy, an alumnus of Rome’s La Sapienza and a leading expert on Italian politics, to help me tell the story.
That story needs to start with Italy’s current predicament. Since April 28 the country has had a new government, headed by “a new Mario Monti,” Enrico Letta (46). This man, oddly charmless for an Italian, is a fanatical Eurocrat, a participant in the deliberations of the Trilateral Commission, an associate of the Bilderberg Group, and vise-president of the Aspen Institute in Italy; in other words, a member of the globalist elite par excellence. As a prominent leader of Italy’s “center-left,” in 2006-2007 he was Secretary to the Council of Ministers in the second Prodi Cabinet. (Interestingly, he was preceded and succeeded in that post by his uncle Gianni Letta, a stalwart Berlusconi loyalist.)
Having started his political career in 1990 in the youth organization of the Italian Christian Democrats, Enrico Letta quickly rose to the presidency of the youth division of the European People’s Party (EPP), a conservative bloc in the European Parliament. By the mid-1990’s, however, he moved to the Partito Popolare Italiano, which marked his decisive turn to the left following the collapse of Christian Democracy (DC). At 31 he became the PPI’s deputy leader. Within years he joined a motley crew of ex-communists and leftists to form the Ulivo (olive tree) party, on whose list he was elected first to the European Parliament and then to the Italian parliament, before rising to the senior government post under Prodi. In 2007, Ulivo joined the former communists to form the Democratic Party (PD). Once again, Letta was in the middle of the action, as Der Spiegel’s commentator has noted; but when he set out to become party leader, he was badly beaten: “When it came time to tally the ballots—which were filled out not only by party members but by all interested citizens—he ended up with just 11 percent, putting him in third and last place. His victorious rival Walter Veltroni received about 75 percent of the vote. By the time he was nominated … for Rome’s top political office, he had more or less put his career in party politics behind him.”
Letta’s career indicates the extent to which Italy is ruled by men who are devoid of popular support, whose sole ideology is power, and who are servile to supranational interest groups in order to enjoy the privileges that come with such servility. As Slobodan Jankovic says, how else can we explain the fact that Emma Bonino was first considered for the post of the President of Italy, and then on April 28 was appointed the country’s foreign minister, in spite of her crushing defeat in the general election of February 24-25, when her list received one-fifth of one percent (0.20%) of the popular vote? How can someone so odious to Italy’s voters be in the race for presidency, and then receive a key cabinet post? “Maybe for that very reason,” according to Jankovic. “Perhaps this was the way to give yet another European nation a slap in the face, to tell that nation that such choices are not made by her people but by someone else.” Bonino’s appointment was suggested by another protégé of the transnational elite, former prime minister Mario Monti.
This was a strange choice, coming from the man who last February headed an electoral list that included the remnant of the Christian Democratic remnant. “Bonino is a prominent hater of life,” Jankovic points out. “She was Italy’s leading advocate of free abortion on demand in the 1970’s, ostentatiously taking part in illegal abortions well before the procedure was made lawful in 1978, and gloating that she’d have a good laugh while throwing fetuses into trash.” Bonino was arrested once, having been caught red handed while performing ‘vacuumization’ with a bicycle pump, but was let off scot free. She went into politics instead of going to jail, making a name for herself as an advocate of “LGBT rights,” euthanasia, and legalization of hard drugs. Far from being “a radical rebel,” Bonino soon became a participant in the Bilderberg Group meetings, a friend of George Soros, and the recipient of his Open Society Foundation’s annual award for 2004. Bonino’s career is but one of countless examples of Italy’s multifaceted decline, Jankovic says:
“If the process of Italy’s transformation from a traditional Roman Catholic country into the current spiritually and materially devastated land is to be linked to a single name, that name is Giulio Andreotti . . . The life-long Senator died last May 6, and took many secrets to the grave. For decades he was the éminence grise of Italian politics, helping make it what it is today. On top of that, there is ample evidence that for much of his political career Andreotti was the true capo di tutti capi.“
The extent of Andreotti's power is incomprehensible without some grasp of the remarkable influence of Freemasonry, first on the Risorgimento, and later on the political, economic and social life of modern Italy. Giuseppe Mazzini, the founder of Young Italy and the prophet of Risorgimento, became a mason as a student and died a 33rd degree master. An early advocate of the United States of Europe, in 1831 Mazzini joined the Carbonari, a secret society dedicated to Italy’s unification, which was strongly anti-Catholic and organized in the fashion of Masonic lodges. His vision of a future united Italy was reflected in the crude mockery of Christian rites he staged at the Vatican on Easter Sunday 1849.
Giuseppe Garibaldi was the best known grand master of the Grand Orient of Italy, receiving the highest, 33rd degree of initiation in 1864. His landing in Messina, and his subsequent conquest of Sicily and the South, would not have been possible without the help of local British masons among the merchant expatriate community, and the support from The Royal Navy. The capture of Rome in 1870 was the moment of triumph of Freemasonry over the Catholic Church. The pope was confined to the walls of the Vatican, and the new Kingdom became part-Masonic El Dorado, part-Tammany Hall.
The Vatican’s reconciliation with the Italian state became possible only after 1925, when Mussolini simultaneously and successfully clamped down on rural banditry in the South and outlawed Freemasonry. The latter paved the way for the Concordat of 1929. As Jankovic points out, at the time of the Concordat for the first time since the fall of the Western Roman Empire Italy had a strong central power—but Italian Freemason émigrés did not give up: “In the 1930’s they regrouped in exile. One of their leaders, Randolfo Pacciardi (a 30th degree initiate) went to Spain in 1937 to lead the Italian battalion Garibaldi, an important unit within the notorious International Brigades which fought Franco’s forces.”
After the Spanish Civil War Pacciardi repeatedly visited the United States. After 1945 he was a prominent member of four successive Italian governments, most of that time as defense minister (1948-1953). In that capacity he arranged Italy’s entry into NATO, campaigned against monarchy, and enthusiastically supported the country’s accession to the European Coal and Steel Community. In these endeavors he worked closely with two fellow Masons who spent the war years in the United States, foreign minister Carlo Sforza and Italy’s first postwar ambassador in Washington Alberto Tarchiani.
“It is widely assumed that the Allied landing in Sicily was carried out in coordination with the Mafia.” Jankovic says, “It defies logic that an organization thoroughly suppressed by Mussolini could play a significant role, yet it did because the Americans wanted it that way.” Had Biaggio Max Corvo had his way, Jankovic adds, this would not have happened. Born in Sicily but raised in the United States since the age of 8, Corvo volunteered for the U.S Army in 1941 and on his own initiative drew up plans for operations against Mussolini. His work impressed senior officers, and he was soon transferred to the Italian Secret Intelligence branch of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA. A devout Catholic and a life-long antifascist, in addition to rejecting contacts with the Mafia, Corvo was also opposed to cooperation with the Masonic Mazziniani—the approach favored by the British—or with the Communist-dominated resistance forces. He established links with the Catholic secret group Pro Deo (founded in Portugal in 1941) instead, and maintained friendly relations with Don Luigi Sturzo, the 1919 founder of the Italian People’s Party (Partito Popolare Italiano, PPI), who spent the war in exile in the U.S. Through his Vatican connections Corvo even managed to contact Japanese diplomats who had realized that their country was doomed and wanted to establish channels of communication with the U.S.; but in early 1945 Washington severed the link. According to Jankovic,
“Young Corvo was rewarded for his work with the papal Lateran Cross, but he had powerful enemies on both sides of the Atlantic. The British preempted his efforts to save Mussolini’s life in April 1945 and to obtain the trove of documents the fallen dictator was carrying on his person during that doomed trip north. Yes, the story of the British-American rivalry in Italy in the final days of the Second World War is yet to be told. In the United States Corvo’s enemies included Allen Dulles, James Jesus Angleton, and the Office of Naval Intelligence, which unabashedly cultivated the Mafia connection. In 1943 the ONI released 850 Mafia members imprisoned by Mussolini in Palermo, and subsequently relied on the advice of Lucky Luciano and Calogero Vizzini in political and personnel matters.”
Other trusties, who became uomini d’onore after the war, included personal translator to Col. Charles Poletti, the 46th governor of New York and the U.S. Army civil affairs officer in Italy. This was none other than “don” Vito Genovese, who had fled New York in the 1930s to escape prosecution for murder and subsequently became il capo di tuti capi. Another was Max Mugniano, who was placed in charge of all U.S. Army medical warehouses in Italy at a time when penicillin was worth many times its weight in gold (as per The Third Man), and who subsequently became Luciano’s superintendant of the narcotics trade.
The Mafia was backin action, after two lean decades under Mussolini. In Italy’s 1947 Peace Treaty with the Allies, a short but highly significant provision—Article 16—was inserted almost as an afterthought: “Italy shall not prosecute or molest Italian nationals, including members of the armed forces, solely on the ground that during the period from June 10, 1940, to the coming into force of the present Treaty, they expressed sympathy with or took action in support of the cause of the Allied and Associated Powers.” Of course “including members of the armed forces” was just a smokescreen. The real benefactors were the “sympathizers” and “activists” in the Allied cause, like Genovese, Mugniano, their 850 cohorts from the Palermo jail, and many other persons south of Naples, known and unknown. The Italian authorities were prevented from seeing, let alone vetting, the names of those “Italian nationals” protected by the Treaty.
After Mussolini’s murder, which was carried out by communists but arranged by the British, power was taken by an uneasy alliance of Christian Democrats and Freemasons—the latter group including Pacciardi, the International Brigades commander who duly became a born-again anticommunist. The party's leader was Alcide De Gasperi, one of the founders of what is today the European Union. A veteran leader of the Popular Party after the Great War, persecuted by the fascist regime, De Gasperi recruited a student by the name of Giulio Andreotti into the ranks of the semi-clandestine Italian Catholic Federation of University Students (Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana, FUCI) in 1941. According to Andreotti's account, they met by chance in the Vatican Library, where De Gasperi worked at the time, and Andreotti was looking for some books. The Federation's president was Aldo Moro, a young lecturer in law and devout Catholic from Apulia. When Moro was drafted into the Italian army in 1942, Cardinal Cesare Montini—who was to become pope Paul VI—supported De Gasperi’s suggestion that Andreotti be appointed to the newly vacant post.
In the turbulent months of 1945 De Gasperi appointed Andreotti to the provisional National Advisory Council, the precursor of Italy’s republican parliament. In 1947, at the age of 28, Andreotti became a junior minister in the prime minister’s office. In that position he had more real power and patronage than some cabinet members. “It caused envy in other politicians,” he later remembered, which caused them to wonder about the source of his power. Even as a young man, he struck others as cynical and devoid of passion. His un-Italian disdain of grimaces and gestures helped cultivate the image of focused power. His sardonic quips could be viciously funny, mostly at other people’s expense. Aloof and secretive, he was disliked by his peers but respected by the senior party leaders as a hard worker. He was elected to the Constitutional Assembly in 1947 and remained a member of parliament for 66 years; he died as a senator-for-life. Andreotti stayed as De Gasperi’s undersecretary in several successive governments (1947-1954), when at the age of 34 he became minister of the interior. In the ensuing decades he occupied one ministerial post or another 27 times, eight times as minister of defense. He was Italy’s prime minister an unprecedented seven times, known as divo Giulio to friends and enemies alike—not because he was touched by divine grace, but because he was inordinately powerful. As Andreotti acquired reputation for sinister dealings, his foes dubbed him Beelzebub. “Giulio is so capable in everything,” De Gasperi said in the late 1940’s, “that he could become capable of anything.” Many decades later Margaret Thatcher wrote in her memoirs that Andreotti “seemed to have a positive aversion to principle.”
Aldo Moro was a different type of person: deeply but unostentatiously pious, witty, scholarly. He survived the war and returned to politics, while initially maintaining a teaching position at the University of Bari. (Andreotti, by contrast, had no fall-back professional option: all his life he was a full-time politician.) Moro also was destined to occupy influential posts in the years to come. He, too, was a deputy of the constituent assembly and a lawmaker until his early death. He became head of the Christian Democrat parliamentary group in 1953, DC party secretary (1959-1964), and president from July 1976 until his murder in 1978. He was Italy’s prime minister five times. “The two men came to embody two faces of Italy’s Christian Democracy,” Jankovic says, “as well as Italy’s two divergent post-war paths”:
“Moro was a statesman and a patriot. In the 1950’s he put together a team of men focused on Italy’s development, on her industrialization and technological advance, and who were committed to enhancing her weight and reputation in international affairs. Moro was also a Catholic traditionalist—a political moderate and economic reformer, but culturally a conservative. Andreotti was opposed to Moro’s strategy of state-guided economic recovery, favoring foreign private investors instead. He was an economic ‘neoliberal’ in the 1950’s-60’s meaning of the term. He also opposed the 1962 Christian Democratic-Socialist (DC-PSI) coalition, which gave Italy over a decade of relative stability and unprecedented prosperity.”
Moro’s policy of creating large public enterprises, especially in the energy sector, was the foundation of Italy’s economic miracle. The banks were encouraged to provide easy credit to domestic investors, with the central bank (Banca d’Italia) playing an active role. Between 1951 and 1972 Italy's average growth rate was 5.3 percent, slightly below that in Germany (5.7 percent) but well above that in Britain and the United States. The DC-PSI coalition reformed the dysfunctional taxation system, secured years of industrial peace through long-term agreements with the unions, and put Italy on the map as a global economic player.
By the early 1960's Andreotti emerged as the informal leader of opposition to Moro’s strategy on the Christian Democratic “right.” Heavily Masonic in composition, Andreotti’s wing of the party included individuals connected with large multinational corporations, especially in the energy sector. There is strong evidence that some of these people were involved in the murder of Enrico Mattei in 1962. A Catholic resistance veteran, in 1945 Mattei was put in charge of dismantling the state petroleum company Agip (Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli), founded by the Fascist regime in 1926. He changed his mind about the project, however, when he realized that several U.S. oil companies were eagerly waiting to grab Agip’s assets for a song. Mattei reorganized the company into the National Fuel Trust (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi, ENI) instead. Under his direction ENI negotiated key oil concessions in the Middle East and a drilling agreement with the Soviet Union, all of which helped break the previous stranglehold of the “Seven Sisters” (a term he coined to refer to the dominant oil companies) on the oil industry. To the multinationals’ horror, Mattei also inaugurated the ENI rule that any country in which it operated would receive 75 percent of the profits. This secured important concessions in Iran and North Africa. By the late 1950’s ENI was competing with giants like Esso and Shell. In 1960, after concluding the agreement with the Soviet Union and while negotiating with China, Mattei publicly declared that the American oil monopoly was over.
On October 27, 1962 on a flight from Catania to Milan, Mattei’s executive jet crashed and all three men on board were killed: Mattei, his pilot, and an American journalist. The official inquiry—personally overseen by Giulio Andreotti, Italy’s defense minister at the time—declared it “an accident.” It is now known that crucial evidence was immediately destroyed at the crash site, and all flight instruments were dissolved in acid. In October 1995, the exhumation of Mattei’s remains resulted in the discovery of metal debris fragments—indicative of an explosion—embedded deep in his bones. In 2005 the incident was reclassified as homicide, with perpetrator(s) unknown.
(An additional mystery connected with this case remains unresolved. While working on the documentary The Mattei Affair in 1970, Francesco Rosi asked Mauro De Mauro, a prominent investigative journalist, to join the project. De Mauro soon obtained what he termed important evidence about Mattei’s final days, but disappeared eight days later without a trace. His body has never been found. Several investigators involved in the search for De Mauro were later killed, including the Carabinieri general Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa.)
Mattei’s murder did not interrupt Italy’s longest period of calm and prosperity in modern history. Starting in 1969, however, a wave of terrorist attacks hit the country, allegedly perpetrated by the far left or the far right. Most of them remain unresolved to this day. Two fascists were convicted in 1995 of planting a bomb at the railway station in Bologna which killed 85 people and wounded 200 others in August 1980. We still do not know who ordered the attack and with what motive in mind. We do know that the probe was side-tracked for 15 years by Andreotti’s associate Licio Gelli, who later gained notoriety as the grand master of the secretive Propaganda Due (P2) masonic lodge. In November 23, 1995, Italy’s Court of Cassation convicted Gelli and three other Masons, Francesco Pazienza and SISMI officers Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte, of obstructing investigation into the Bologna Massacre. (“He was a politician highly trained and honest, ready to tackle the tasks that were entrusted to us,” Gelli (93) said upon learning of Andreotti’s death. “He knew how to keep the secrets that were entrusted to him. Andreotti did his duty, using the secrets to promote the well-being of the people. He kept the secrets, and he took them with him. What a man…”)
One of those secrets concerns Andreotti’s role in setting up and developing a clandestine NATO “stay-behind” network in Italy during the Cold War known as Operation Gladio. The role of the CIA in sponsoring Gladio and its involvement in terrorist attacks during Italy’s Years of Lead remains contentious. The origin of the operation itself is not: it was based on confidential “NATO protocols,” committing the secret services of all member states to prevent communist parties from coming to power. A briefing minute of June 1, 1959, reveals that Gladio, “in case of a Soviet military invasion,” would organize resistance by internal subversion. More significantly, it was to play “a determining role... also in the politics of emergency.” Secret arms arsenals were set up and personnel recruited and sworn to secrecy.
Giulio Andreotti, Italy’s defense minister at the time of the 1959 memorandum, denied “unequivocally” Gladio’s existence under oath on two occasions—in 1974 and 1978—to judges investigating the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing. On October 24, 1990, as Prime Minister, Andreotti finally acknowledged Gladio’s existence to the Chamber of Deputies; by that time it had ceased to be a secret. In his admission Andreotti described Gladio as a “structure of information, response and safeguard,” with arms caches and reserve officers. He gave the parliamentary commission in charge of investigations on bombings, a list of 622 civilians who were allegedly part of Gladio; but the list subsequently proved to be incomplete. Andreotti said that 127 arms depots had been dismantled.
Following the revelation, the P2 Lodge treasurer, General Siro Rosetti, launched a spirited defense of Gladio’s concept and importance. Later that year, a decade after the Bologna massacre, Judge Libero Mancuso—who had led the investigation and secured the initial convictions of the bombers—broke his silence to the (London) Guardian: “We [investigators] are isolated, and the objects of a campaign of aggression. This is what has happened to the commission into the P2, and to the magistrates. The personal risks to us are small in comparison to this offensive of denigration, which attempts to discredit the quest for truth. In Italy there has functioned for some years now a sort of conditioning, a control of our national sovereignty by the P2—which was literally the master of the secret services, the army and our most delicate organs of state.”
In the course of his 1990 admission, Andreotti assured the deputies that Gladio had not been involved in any of the terrorist attacks. A decade later, however, in 2000, the Italian Senate published a report which stated that “[t]hose massacres, bombs, and military actions had been organized or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered more recently, by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence.” The report claimed that US intelligence agents were informed in advance about several attacks, including the December 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing in Milan and the Piazza della Loggia bombing in Brescia five years later, but did nothing to alert the Italian authorities or to prevent the attacks from taking place.
General Gianadelio Maletti, commander of the counter-intelligence section of the Italian military intelligence service from 1971 to 1975, told the March 2001 Piazza Fontana bombings trial that the CIA had foreknowledge of the event and approved terrorismas a means of preventing Italy’s leftward slide. “Don't forget that Nixon was in charge. “Maletii added, “and Nixon was a peculiar man, a very intelligent politician but a man of rather unorthodox initiatives.” Slobodan Jankovic does not consider such claims too far fetched:
“The U.S. elite did not look with approval on the Italian economic model. Its financial interests were threatened outside Italy as well, especially by ENI’s expansion. The Americans tried to smear Moro by implicating him in the Lockheed bribes scandal, but he successfully defended himself in the court of law. More dangerous than public slanders were threats, especially when coming from people capable of carrying them out. According to the 1980 testimony by Moro’s widow to the parliamentary commission of investigation, during a visit to Washington in 1974 Moro was openly warned not to pursue his policy of “historic compromise” with the Left, or else he’d ‘pay a price.’ Moro paid that price on March 16, 1978, when he was kidnapped and all five of his bodyguards killed in an attack allegedly carried out by the Red Brigades. His body was found on May 9 in the trunk of a car. The kidnappers, according to the official version, saw Moro as a symbol of ‘imperialism’ who deserved punishment, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Moro was a patriot, a Catholic, a statesman and a family man. On the day of his kidnapping a new government, headed by Giulio Andreotti, was supposed to be formed. This was eventually done, but because of Moro’s kidnapping the historic compromise was abandoned.”
During his seven-week captivity, Aldo Moro wrote several letters to various political figures, including Andreotti. In October 1990, a cache of previously unknown letters was discovered in a Milan apartment which had once been used as a Red Brigade hideout. One of those letters made reference to the involvement of both NATO and the CIA in an Italian-based secret “parallel army.” That safe house had been searched at the time of Moro’s death by Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, the head of counter-terrorism division who was put in charge of investigating the kidnapping. Dalla Chiesa was murdered in 1982.
Moro’s kidnapping and murder were also investigated by a government committee under the guidance of then-prime minister Giulio Andreotti. It included the heads of two security agencies (General Santovito of SISMI and General Grassini of SISDE) and the commander of the Financial Police (Guardia della Finanza), General Raffaele Giudice. All three of them were members of P2. The only service chief who was not a Mason, Prefect Gaetano Napoletano of CESIS, was removed by Andreotti in the early stages of investigation and replaced by yet another P2 member, General Walter Pelosi. The committee proceeded to make several spectacular lapses. One of them was the fact that telephone lines suddenly went down in the area where Moro and his escort were passing—five minutes before the attack—and came back to normal half an hour later. This caused a delay in alerting the authorities to the attack. Director-General of SIP (the telephone company) was Michele Principe, yet another P2 member. The police commissar in charge of liaison with SIP was Antonio Esposito—yes, you’ve guessed it, also a P2 member. Furthermore, years later it became known that someone at the SIP switchboard prevented the monitoring of phone calls which the kidnapers were making to Moro’s family.
Immediately following Moro’s death, investigative journalist Mino Pecorelli wrote that Dalla Chiesa was in danger and would be assassinated. He drew a connection between Gladio and Moro’s death. Pecorelli, who was on Licio Gelli’s list of P2 members discovered in 1980 but had fallen out with Gelli before Moro’s death, was assassinated on March 20, 1979. It was immediately suspected that Pecorelli’s murder was related to the Prime Minister, but there was no proof. Almost two decades later, when a former Mafia member testified that Andreotti had ordered the hit, the aging senator-for-life was charged and brought to trial. In 2002 Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the murder. That sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals, however; he never went to jail.
Two days after Moro’s kidnapping and the formation of a new government, Licio Gelli (b. 1919) gathered in Rome the representatives of all 496 Grant Orient Loges of Italy. Gelli was confirmed as Italy’s grand master and as leader of the more secretive and influential P2. Gelli, known under the nickname Belfagor, was a fascist in his youth, a double (German-communist) agent during the war, a U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) asset after the war, and a key man in setting up Operation Gladio. In his diaries (Diari 1976-1979) Andreotti mentions meeting Gelli in the aftermath of Moro’s murder—but only to discuss Latin America! The security services appear to have had no active files on Gelli, which seems unbelievable in view of his prominence and activities. Some of his files were likely burned in 1974, when Andreotti ordered the destruction of 157,000 personal dossiers. Only the Financial Police kept three reports on active file, concerning Gelli’s illegal arms deals in the Middle East and South America and his contacts with Junio Valerio Borghese’s banned far-right group, prior to the latter’s mysterious death in Spain in 1974. Of the four investigators who composed those reports, one was murdered, one committed suicide, one went into early retirement... and one joined Gelli’s P2 Lodge.
When asked in 2009, about his links with the P2, Andreotti replied. “Ah, yes… That strange lodge—Gelli’s one.” The Guardian’s reporter was stunned: “He said it distractedly, with the air of a man recalling the bridge circle he had once heard was run by the wife of the friend of a very distant cousin. You would never have thought the revelation of the P2’s activities infused Italian politics with scandal for years—years in which Andreotti was a leading player, if not the leading player, on the political scene.” He denied being a mason, although the wife of Roberto Calvi, the banker found mysteriously hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in 1982, testified that he was. More than just a member, in fact: “he was accused of being the hidden string puller behind the lodge [P2] to which Calvi belonged.”
The most damaging, and most extensively proven accusations against Andreotti concerned his links to organized crime. An early connection concerned Salvatore “Salvo” Lima, described in the final report of the first Antimafia Commission (1963–1976) as one of the pillars of mafia power in Palermo. Developing his political career in the DC that began in the 1950s, Lima became close to Andreotti in 1964. He was often referred to as Andreotti’s “proconsul” in Sicily and once held a junior cabinet post, which resulted in the ministry’s most senior civil servant resigning in protest. In 1992 Lima was shot dead by a Mafia assassin, presumably for failing to deliver on some pledges. Years later the Guardian’s John Hooper put it to Andreotti that he must have known he was dealing indirectly with the mafia. “But Lima never spoke to me about these things” Andreotti replied. “A lot of people in Sicily have links with the mafia. That isn’t just true of the Christian Democrats, but of others.” “Lima never spoke to me about these things” did not sound like an overly spirited denial, especially for a man of Andreotti’s experience and acumen.
In the mid-1990s a string of mafia informers emerged to testify that Andreotti had been Cosa Nostra’s protector in Rome, known as “uncle Giulio.” Andreotti was charged and the judges ruled that, prior to 1980, there had been “concrete collaboration” between Andreotti and the mafia, which “induced its members to feel protected at the highest level.” He was not convicted or sentenced because his crimes were covered by a statute of limitations. “The only thing they haven’t said about me,” Andreotti quipped years later, “is that I’m a freemason.” It would be funny, but for the trail of bodies and corruption which il Divo had left in his wake.
Following the Tangentopoli scandal and the Mani Pulite (“Clean Hands”) investigation, Italy’s affairs passed into the “capable” hands of Giuliano Amato—now retired on a $40,000 monthly pension—and Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank. Eurofanatics and blind followers of the Washington Consensus, in the 1990’s they carried out a privatization plan as catastrophic for Italy’s economy as anything seen east of the Iron Curtain following the collapse of communism. A century and a half after Italy shook off first Austrian rule and French tutelage, it still proved vulnerable to the vincolo esterno, the external constraint—this time to the international bankers, Brussels bureaucrats, and the IMF.
Berlusconi’s three terms as prime minister did not change much. He had failed to create, enact and apply a bold vision of Italy for the 21st century. As I wrote in 2011, his private peccadilloes and dubious business practices could have been overlooked had he not left Italy, after almost ten years in office, in no better state than he found her in 1994:
“The economy is grotesquely over-regulated, yet the old system of corrupt government contracts and phony jobs for the well-connected is alive and well. The central bureaucratic machine is as bloated and inefficient as ever. An estimated third of potential tax revenues remain uncollected. Italy is, in terms of growth, the sick man of Europe: only Zimbabwe and Haiti had lower GDP growth than Italy in 2000-2010. The public debt, at $2.6 trillion, is 120% of GDP. A quarter of Italy’s under-30s are unemployed and another quarter is subsisting on dead-end, 1,000 euros-per-month jobs in mamma’s care, thus contributing to a demographic collapse far worse than that in Central and Northern Europe. There was no improvement in productivity under Berlusconi: Italy’s international competitiveness has actually declined over the past decade. Public spending has been outstripping growth for years; since 2009, it has accounted for more than one-half of the GDP.”
Slobodan Jankovic’s assessment is also grim: “Between 1945 and 1992 there were many ranking Italians of professional and personal integrity at all levels of the state and society who were prepared to risk much, even their lives, in the struggle against organized crime, secret societies, and power centers connected to foreign political and financial interests. In the present era of Monti, Letta and Bonino, however, the patriots and traditional Catholics have no power and no voice.”
Berlusconi’s seven-year prison sentence for abusing power and having sex with an underage prostitute changes nothing. He will appeal, the sentence will be overturned, and the current unnatural coalition will continue on its long road to nowhere in particular. The economy will continue to stagnate, and the process of moral and spiritual decay will continue to turn one of the most civilized countries in the world into a shadow of its former self.
Alas, poor Italy…