Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Italian Republic Causes Chaos

For markets around the world at least. In the United States (on another continent an ocean away) the Dow Jones plunged 216 points just before the closing bell and all because of the election results in the Italian Republic which have all the makings for more deadlock. The chronic instability of the republic continues to be a source of shame as well as trouble for countries far beyond the Italian borders, because of the interdependence pushed on everyone by the globalist crowd. Italy, the third largest economy in Europe, with more debt than any country besides Greece, could upset the economic boat of the European Union and that would upset the boat of the United States and by extension economies across the Americas and even Asia. What is the problem? When will people realize the problem? Will they ever realize it? Italian voters cannot seem to agree on which way the country should go; slightly more socialist or slightly less socialist. They are not alone of course which is why the United Kingdom has the absurd Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition (hardly) governing that country. People have become entrenched in their places in the existing political machine and nothing seems to shake that.

Of course, we could point out that, even with undeniable problems, the Kingdom of Italy was positively a rock of stability compared to the republic. Things were not always calm, but one can still measure the history of the Kingdom of Italy by breaking it up into the eras of the longest-serving prime ministers. Between Depretis, Crispi and Giolitti most of Italian history from Cavour to Mussolini is covered. Yet, if mention is made of this, you will get the usual answer of the brainwashed in their death-grip on republicanism. Restoring the monarchy would not make things better, monarchy is not practical and monarchy is not democratic. They refuse to see the truth that is looking them right in the face. True, restoring the monarchy would not cause instant prosperity but it would, undoubtedly, help. As far as not being practical; look at where the republic has delivered Italy! Is the current situation very practical? Lastly, when it comes to democracy, a constitutional monarchy is usually more democratic than most republics in the world, but one must really question the republican devotion to monarchy when Italy was lately ruled by a President who is not directly elected by the people and a Prime Minister, imposed by the EU who was not only also not elected by the Italian people but who had never been elected to any office in his life! And just to really ramp up the controversy; just how valuable is democracy when the people are given the vote at a time of crisis and respond with their votes that they effectively cannot make up their mind?

Italy is in a terrible economic position, vastly over-indebted with a top-heavy government, an addiction to spending and increasingly more people on the take than are paying into the system. The socialist house of cards is beginning to collapse around the promise-makers in Rome and yet, as the recent vote shows, even if a politician came along who was willing to do the right thing, he would be quickly voted out of office by a public that does not want to endure the pain that past poor decisions have brought down on the country. What can anyone expect to happen? Rome cannot continue to live on borrowed time and the Italian economy is too big for the EU (which means Germany) to bail out. Unless something drastic is done quickly this can only end in disaster and it will be a far reaching one. But it will be extremely difficult because, it is becoming increasingly clear, a very fundamental change in the very values (or lack thereof) and way of thinking on the part of the public will be necessary before most people would even allow themselves to consider taking the steps needed to restore the situation.

Italy, in the past, was home to the most prosperous cities and the greatest centers of wealth and business in the world and it was accomplished, to one degree or another, by rewarding success and punishing failure. Today, however, success is punished and failure is rewarded. The politician-class act as if they can do anything, selling out their own dignity and even that of their country, because they do keep getting away with it. They utterly humiliate themselves and yet are still reelected to office, time and time again because they tell their group of supporters exactly what they want to hear. It would be completely different if there was a King in Rome, someone who was part of no party but saw only Italians and who could make decisions based on what was right instead of simply what was popular. No one can prove it one way or another but I think things would not be this bad if King Umberto II had been given the chance to fulfill his birthright. After all, everything bad that King Vittorio Emanuele III predicted about a potential Italian republic has certainly come to pass. He knew it would not work for Italy and indeed it has not. The election has only proven the point yet again, a point that really should not need to be proven any more. Plain and simple the republic has totally failed Italy. That is the fact and there is no way around it. The House of Savoy should be promptly restored and with the sincere apologies of all those who have prevented it for so long. Then, for myself, I think a return to personal responsibility and a dramatic downsize in government would be in order but whatever the course of action, restoring the monarchy, with a head of state with a vested interest in the long-term success of the country, would be the correct first step. W il Re!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Princess Maria Gabriella

Today HRH Princess Maria Gabriella, second daughter of Their Majesties King Umberto II and Queen Marie Jose of Italy turns 73-years-old. We wish her a very happy birthday and many, many more to come.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

King Carlo Emanuele III, RIP

It was on this day in 1773 that King Carlo Emanuele III, staunch ally of the Empress Maria Theresa, defender of Cuneo and the victor of Assietta passed from this life. A clever statesman and heroic soldier, he is still remembered today.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Italian Libya

The relationship between Libya and Italy has known equal extremes of good and bad. Since the arrival, or more accurately the return, of Italian power to north Africa there was a period of small-scale but continuous guerilla warfare which was ended only by some fairly harsh measures (though certainly not unprecedented ones). Following that, however, Libya became a model colony with generally good relations between the Italian and non-Italian populations. Modern port facilities, infrastructure and cities were built up and advanced methods of agriculture introduced by Italian settlers improved the local economy. Libyan natives were recruited into the Italian military and even formed some very effective and elite units. After World War II, there would be another round of extreme hostility (though without actual bloodshed) followed by another period of reconciliation, albeit of a tense and often false variety. Although it is not a subject that is that well known, a great deal of what people think they know about it is not entirely accurate. Many have heard only one side of the story of Italian Libya or have seen simply the “Hollywood” version without knowing any of the actual facts. Few people, for instance, probably know that Libya itself was an Italian invention. Prior to the Italian colonial period there was no such country on any map.

Italian sailors landing in Tripoli
The area of northern Africa today known as Libya, which consisted of simply a few coastal cities, had been a part of the Roman Republic after the fall of Carthage and later the Roman Empire, which they joined by request. There is documentation of Christians living in Libia (as the Romans called it) as early as the reign of Emperor Claudius. In time though, the Roman Empire fell, the Arab Muslims swept out of the Arabian peninsula and across North Africa and the area eventually became part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire as the three provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. The Kingdom of Italy, for reasons of both history and geography, had long looked to the region as the national “fourth shore” of Italy and the French and British agreed that Italy should have a legitimate claim to the area in return for Italy voicing no objection to their gains in other parts of northern Africa. Yet, in the race for colonies Italy seemed to be left behind by the other European powers despite previous agreements and Italians were particularly outraged by the French seizure of Tunisia which had a very old Italian community and which Italy (and Piedmont-Sardinia before that) long had an interest in. Under the government of Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti the Kingdom of Italy decided to take action to secure the region before it could be taken by another power.

Italian troops entrenched near Tripoli
An ultimatum was delivered to the Ottoman Empire, which was refused of course, and the result was the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12. The result was that the Ottoman Sultan ceded Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, Fezzan in North Africa and the Dodecanese Islands off the Turkish coast to the Kingdom of Italy. The “Fourth Shore” had been secured, at least in legal terms. Italy did not have time to do much in the few years before the outbreak of World War I in which the Italian presence in north Africa was drastically reduced. In fact, after initially declaring war only on Austria-Hungary, the Kingdom of Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire because of their arming and support of Islamic rebels in north Africa (and east Africa for that matter) in an effort to regain their dominance in the region. This campaign included attacks on the French and British as well, mostly carried out by the Senussi Islamic sect but, though the Italian presence was reduced to a few coastal footholds, they were ultimately defeated and full Italian rule was restored across the colony.

Arms of Italian Libya, EF
However, trouble would arise again, mostly from the Senussi, with guerilla attacks on Italian forces and (more often) the killing of Italian settlers. This was the long small-scale war led by the now famous Omar Mukhtar, a figure who has since become probably the most iconic Libyan patriotic symbol. This was an irregular war and undoubtedly brutal but there are a few facts that should be kept in mind, but sadly seldom are. The first is that Libya was not a country that Italian forces just invaded and conquered, robbing the locals of their independence. There was no such country as Libya at all at the time and it had never been independent. There were three provinces which were ruled by the Turks until, after the war of 1911-12, they were legally signed over to Italy. It was not until 1934 (long after the war was over) that the three provinces were grouped together as one colony and named Libya which was the old Roman name for the region. The local people never had political independence for the Italians (or anyone else) to take away and, in fact, they even gained a great deal more personal freedom and civil rights than they had had previously under Italian rule (after the war was over of course). They had the same rights as the Italians at the time, though this was during the Fascist era. However, even the Fascist Party was open to Arabs, Muslims, Black Africans and all others, with even a special branch specifically for Muslim Fascists.

General Graziani inspecting Libyan troops
The war was never a major problem for Italy but it was a nuisance and ultimately harsh measures were taken by General Badoglio and General Graziani in ultimately breaking the resistance and ending the war successfully for Italy. This included the construction of a barbed wire frontier along the Egyptian border (which is still in use today) and, most controversially, the movement of local populations supporting guerilla activity into concentration camps where many died of disease. An unfortunate event to be sure but no different than what the British had done in South Africa to end a similar insurgency by the Boers. It is also often ignored that this was not done simply out of cruelty but in reaction to attacks on Italian farms and the murder of Italian settlers. It is also often ignored, particularly today, that many Libyans welcomed the Italians and the progress and modernization that came with Italian government. In fact, when the rebel leader Omar Mukhtar was finally taken into custody it was a unit of Libyan cavalry working with the Italians that did the job. The harsh measures employed may be frowned on today but they were taken as a last resort and they got the job done, ending the war and pacifying the colony by 1934.

Omar Mukhtar (left) and General Badoglio (center)
The camps were in operation only from 1931 to 1933 and the cash-strapped Italian government did the best it could for the people there, providing food and medical care as available. After they were closed and peace was restored, Libyans had freedom of religion, freedom of education, freedom to pursue any vocation including working for the government or military. When Air Marshal Italo Balbo was appointed Governor-General, Libya progressed rapidly with the new farming communities established, model villages, for both the Muslim natives and Italian settlers, new port facilities and vast infrastructure improvements in the way of roads, bridges and the first railroads and airports. Many of the buildings, bridges and highways still in use in Libya today were first built by the Italians. Tourism also became a major industry (probably the only time in Libyan history before or since that such has been the case) with people coming to see the archeological digs on the old Roman settlements and the new Tripoli Grand Prix which drew racing fans from all over the world.

The Marble Arch, later destroyed by Gaddafi
Immediately before and during World War II several divisions of Libyan volunteers were organized and put in the field for the first invasion of Egypt. Air Marshal Balbo even formed a special elite corps of Libyan paratroopers before his untimely death. The outbreak of war meant the end for the greatest period of progress and prosperity that Libya had known since, well, the last time it was governed from Rome in ancient times. In the aftermath of the Italo-German defeat in North Africa, Libya was mostly ruled by the British under whose sponsorship a new Kingdom of Libya was established under Idris as-Senussi, Emir of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in 1951. He rule lasted until 1969 when he was overthrown in a military coup by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who ruled Libya as a dictator until 2011 when he was overthrown and murdered in a popular uprising. Gaddafi had first been extremely hateful toward all Italians, expelling the thousands of Italians who still lived there and even threatening to destroy the bodies of the dead who had been killed fighting for Libya if Italy did not remove them. Later, however, the Italian government made a reconciliation, of sorts, with Gaddafi but it was a shameful affair, a total selling-out of national dignity and slavish pandering in exchange for Libyan oil and Libyan cooperation in stopping illegal immigration. This included servile apologies for past misdeeds and billions in “compensation” for the years of Italian rule, all of which is utterly disgraceful considering that Italian rule had been perfectly legal, agreed to by all the major powers and the former Turkish rulers of the region. In any event, despite the wealth generated by oil reserves discovered after the war, Libya has, as a matter of fact, never known such stability and beneficial development since independence as existed during the years of Italian rule.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Popes and the Savoy

King Vittorio Emanuele III and family with Pope Pius XII 

Prince Vittorio Emanuele and Prince Emanuele Filiberto with Pope John Paul II

King Umberto II with Pope Paul VI

King Umberto II and Prince Vittorio Emanuele with Pope Paul VI

King Umberto II and Pope John Paul II

Monday, February 11, 2013

Papa Benedetto XVI to Abdicate

It was announced today that Benedetto XVI, Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff will abdicate the Petrine throne at the end of this month. Such a thing has not be done for many hundreds of years and even then it was the cause of great controversy. Already the preparations are being made for the next conclave to elect a new pontiff. The news took everyone by surprise as, despite the weakening that comes naturally to a man of his age, the Pope is still able to get around and still has a very sharp mind. He has done invaluable work in reminding people what is important, nudging the Church back in a more traditional direction and yet has broken with tradition in a big way with this announcement. It remains to be seen how Benedetto XVI will be remembered. Will he be known to history as the Pope who upheld traditional teaching or the Pope who quit? The speculation has also already begun about who will be elected next. Everyone seems concerned with "firsts". Will we see the first "Black" pope? The first Canadian pope? Perhaps even the first American pope? Are the days of Italian pontiffs being the norm gone forever? As the Pope is first the Bishop of Rome it does not seem out of order to me that Italians have historically been chosen but, as the news of today shows, my views are certainly not those of the majority.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Disaster of the 49 Roman Republic

It was on this day in 1849 that the "New Roman Republic" was established by the radical party of Giuseppe Mazzini with the help of some "muscle" provided by Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Pope, Blessed Pius IX, who had previously ruled Rome and central Italy was driven from his palace, forced to escape disguised as a simple priest, to the safety of Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The Pope had previously encouraged liberalism and Italian solidarity but was horrified by the assassination of his Justice Minister in the more progressive government he had set up at the instigation of the republicans. People also demanded a declaration of war from the Pope against the Austrian Empire, which he was not about to do and so he finally escaped as there is little doubt that his life may have been in danger. In his absence a totally secular government was established under the leadership of Mazzini who enacted total freedom of religion (which usually ends in a muddled lack of respect for all religions as we see today) but which also tried to placate the Pontiff with promises that his rule of the Catholic Church would not be interfered with. Of course, the Pope was not about to believe that and after all that had happened to him, with his own throne being effectively taken from him, Blessed Pius IX immediately did a complete political turnaround -going from being known as a "liberal Pope" to the strictest reactionary, which he is probably best known as still today.

The New Roman Republic was a disaster for everyone involved and pleased no one except for the radical anti-clerical revolutionary republicans. It was certainly no great step forward for those legitimate Italian nationalists who wanted unity and independence for Italy. For the Pope, it should go without saying, it was a huge disaster and forced him to put himself totally at the mercy of forces that were not the most reliable. There was little the Kingdom of the Two-Sicilies could do but the Spanish sent over an army but under the command of a general not known for being a staunch conservative. The real push came from France and President Louis Napoleon Bonaparte who would soon declare himself Emperor of the French like his famous great-uncle. Given the history associated with the Bonaparte name, the Pope could not have felt entirely secure being given help from such a quarter and in fact his general, Charles Oudinot, was such a staunch republican himself that he later broke with Napoleon III when he restored the French Empire. France, initially, was also willing to make a deal with Mazzini to arrive at some accommodation that would allow him and the Pope to share power but, as we know, the republican government would not hear of it and demanded war with France.

Mazzini didn't want this, as he hoped to befriend republican France, and he held Garibaldi back when his army actually gave the French a sound drubbing and sent them retreating back to the coast. However, it was only a temporary calm before a greater storm. More French troops were rushed to Italy and the result was a march on Rome that Garibaldi and his volunteers could not stop (Garibaldi himself eventually took refuge in San Marino). The New Roman Republic was destroyed, the French took control of the area and declared papal rule restored. The Pope did not immediately return however because of Napoleon urging him to institute a secular government and adopt the 'Code Napoleon' as the basis for law. The Pope was worried that he might have just exchanged Mazzini for Bonaparte in being master over him. He did, of course, finally return but he would have to depend on the presence of French troops from then on to maintain his rule over Rome and the surrounding area.

The entire episode of the New Roman Republic was a terrible waste. It clearly demonstrates the short-sighted nature of the revolutionary republicans. They accomplished nothing other than creating a religious divide in the country and inviting more invasions by more foreign troops who remain on Italian soil for several decades to come. The better plan would have been what was proposed later by King Vittorio Emanuele II; an Italian army to guarantee the security of the Pope and a coalition of all Italian states to create a stronger union. The New Roman Republic accomplished nothing, it fell and only made things worse for the ordinary Romans, it increased tensions with the Catholic Church and the national movement and it prompted a French intervention that would keep Rome cut off from the rest of Italy for the next thirty years. The lip-service given to the role of the Church made a mockery of Catholic tradition as well for we can clearly see today that a truly Christian republic is a contradiction in terms.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

An Italian Queen for Britain

On this day in 1685 HM King James II came to the British throne (upon the death of his brother Charles II who had no legitimate heirs) and alongside him was his Italian consort Queen Mary of Modena, who was a devout Catholic woman and a strong and caring wife, despite being very young when she was first married to the (then) Duke of York. In fact, she was really a better wife than James II deserved. When she gave birth to an heir to the throne, the Protestants of Britain rose up in revolt and invited a Dutch invasion led by the royal son-in-law William of Orange to overthrow King James and Queen Mary and take the throne for himself and his wife; avoiding Britain going back to being a Catholic monarchy again. The Royal Family was forced to flee to France in the face of this so-called "Glorious Revolution" which really marked the beginning of the British constitutional monarchy as we know it today. King James II tried to restore himself in Ireland but was not successful and Queen Mary supported him all the time, both for his sake and for the future of their son. She always tried to use all the influence she had in France and Italy to support the "Jacobite" cause and the restoration of the old royal line to the British throne. Even during so many long years of exile, loyal Jacobites always recognized Mary of Modena as the true Queen consort and (later) Queen mother of Great Britain and Ireland. When King James II died, Queen Mary of Modena acted as regent at the court in exile on behalf of her son and published the official Jacobite manifesto, detailing the political plan of what a Stuart restoration would mean for the three kingdoms. She was devoted to the cause for her entire life, never relenting until her death by cancer in 1718.