Italy in the late 1960s posed a difficult situation for the United States. Voters were supporting the Communist Party of Italy, or PCI, in increasing numbers. If Communists were even a part of an Italian government, it would represent a massive failure for the prestige of the USA. Moreover, Communists in government could have led to Italy leaking NATO secrets to the Soviet Union or causing Italy to withdraw altogether.
In Italy, NATO had an organization known as Gladio. Gladio existed to engage in long-term guerrilla struggles with a regime imposed in the wake of a Soviet invasion and takeover. But there was another wrinkle: Gladio’s members didn’t have to wait around for a Soviet takeover to get into action. They could engage in resistance to the nascence of Communist and Socialist movements by engaging in what was called “a strategy of tension.”
Strategy of tension was the cool summation of a wave of false-flag terror operations, starting with the Piazza Fontana massacre. In the wake of World War Two, the USA partnered with numerous Fascists and Nazis in order to resist Communism. Those Fascists and Nazis were ready and willing to engage in violence as part of a crusade against Soviet power. Those Fascists and Nazis were the backbones of Gladio-type organizations across Western Europe, from Nazi spymaster Reinhard Gehlen’s “Gehlen Org” in West Germany, on down to Gladio itself in Italy. Fascists and Nazis are the logical conclusions of political movements in which the end justifies the means, where evil done in the name of good is considered acceptable.
And so the Italian Fascists carried out a series of bombings and murders and then blamed them on leftists, in the hopes that such terror would drive people to support centrist and right-of center parties. The strategy did not succeed: as the terror claimed lives, the PCI grew to receive a third of all votes cast in Italy. It had grown so strong that, in 1978, Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro considered inviting them to be part of his government.
15 days later, terrorists killed Aldo Moro’s bodyguards and kidnapped him.
The terrorists demanded an exchange of persons: Moro for some of their members in prison. The Italian government under Moro’s fellow Christian Democrat – and Gladio architect – Giulio Andreotti refused to negotiate, choosing instead to search high and low for Moro’s location.
The kidnappers allowed Moro to release statements to his family and the media. Moro’s statements were highly critical of the government, and there were fears within the Gladio organization that he might reveal their secrets.
55 days after Moro’s kidnapping, the terrorists executed him.
The terrorists claimed to be part of the Red Brigade, but were they really? I don’t want to actually explore the answer to that question. I ask the question, instead, to illustrate the incredible chaos and paranoia that penetrated Italy in that day. The chaos and paranoia arose from over 2000 politically-related murders, with extremists on the left and right ready to murder and frame their opponents for the crimes. Strategy of tension.
Did things actually happen that way? Did the USA act as a prime mover behind a wave of Fascist murders in Italy? Based upon what the USA did in other nations, I’m inclined to believe so. Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Congo in 1961, Vietnam in 1963, and so on and so on: all these and possibly more were places and years in which the USA murdered people in order to topple governments in the hopes that their chosen replacements would follow along with the script from Washington. No nation was immune to the machinations of the USA, unless that nation allowed the Soviet Union or Communist China to be the one that murdered the politicians that did not follow the bidding of a superpower.
Which leads to another question: did the USA engage in a strategy of tension on home soil? Did the USA’s leaders construct or allow through acts of terror that could be laid at the feet of dangerous extremists in order to justify legislation that made the USA more authoritarian and capable of controlling its population? Given what happened in other nations, this is a serious question. The legislation passed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing and the coordinated terrorist actions on 11 September 2001 certainly gave greater authority to the central government. Recent experience in Syria, Libya, and Egypt shows that the USA does not hold itself above toppling governments even to this day, so I must ask that terrible question: did the USA engage in a strategy of tension on home soil?
And if it did, what of it? What can we do about it? If the government itself is one built upon the idea of justified murders, opposing it effectively would seem to be a death sentence. Working to change it from within? Congress today looks like an Italian parliament… no, destruction comes from within. Change only comes from outside pressures. Given that violence and propaganda can both silence outside pressures, we in the USA do not seem destined to have change.
Certainly not from me. If non-violent opposition makes a person look like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Robert Kennedy, then that’s not a path for me: My family needs me to be here for them. Violent opposition would mean becoming part of the very violence that I abhor; and when violent opposition succeeds in revolution, the violence and oppression continue unabated, even if the list of victims changes.
The world is ruled by sociopaths and blind crusaders. When I have a realization like that, I am comforted by my faith. I am comforted by my deep understanding of my beliefs and my personal experiences that confirm to me that there is a better world beyond this brief mortality. I endure to the end. There is that word, “endure.” I do not flash out with a bang. I endure. All around me is tension, pulling, tugging, grasping – but I must endure it, that I might learn from it. I have my family, I have my friends, I have my God: if my government deserts me, at least I have those things that can give me peace in my heart when all about me is a strategy of tension.