Italy tottering once again

Vladimir Putin must be rejoicing in the Kremlin after two of his adversaries threw in the towel — Boris Johnson in London due to the malodorous finale of his leadership and Mario Draghi, the super technocrat who had brought some order to the dysfunctional parliamentary governance in Italy. They both resigned, although the issue is still pending in Rome owing to another Italian quirk; Draghi’s decision to call it quits after a large component of his government, the so-called Cinque Stelle (Five Stars), decided not to support a crucial legislative package that included military aid to Ukraine. The astonishing detail is that in fact the proposal had passed and in so doing it had kept Draghi’s coalition alive.
But Super Mario would have none of that as he denounced the anomaly of a government where one of its members calls itself out. This was the reasoning behind his decision to resign, a move that the President of the Republic Mattarella judiciously refused to accept.The ball is now back in the great hall of the House of Deputies and the question is whether Draghi will accept the band aid offered by the president and a majority of the government coalition.Following the exit of Johnson and the likely disappearance of Draghi, the history of Europe is running a strange gamut. The COVID pandemic had forced Europe to search for a new spirit of cooperation and a common belief in its values but then the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine blew everything up. Years of euphoria, that at one point had even fed the hope for partnership democratic processes that would include Russia, were summarily destroyed by Putin’s design for the reconstruction of imperial Russia.The war in Ukraine has produced a few heroes sworn to defending that unfortunate country and stopping Putin in his tracks.
Among such heroes are President Biden, Prime Minister Johnson and Italian premier Draghi. In particular, they were the architects of sanctions against Russia. But now the anti-Russian front is weakening and the leadership of the major European countries is facing growing frustration among the people over the aftermath of the war, namely inflation and the daunting prospect of cold homes in the winter owing to Putin’s taking Europe hostage by withholding the precious gas.The bad news encompasses other allies, from French President Macron, who has lost the majority in parliament, to German Chancellor Scholz who has promised a great deal to Ukraine but delivered far less.
All throughout Europe, the peace movements are pushing a farcical alternative for the war in Ukraine — the immediate start of negotiations. It matters little or not at all to them that Putin has no intention of negotiating at this time but will wait until the allied front collapses. Even former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is bringing water to the prospect of dismembering Ukraine, urging the West not to seek a defeat of Russia that would compromise Europe’s “long term stability.” Kissinger’s deference to Russia’s importance to Europe is obviously a reflection of his belief in the balance of power. The reality is that a return to the status quo ante is a victory for Putin, something that Biden and European leaders of the caliber of Draghi cannot lightly countenance. With Johnson and Draghi out of the limelight (no matter how hard Biden is trying to keep Draghi in power), the American president’s burden is becoming heavier by the day. It does not bode well for his improbable reelection.

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