Luttwak on Italy and the Euro

From the LRB‘s “Opportunity Costs” by Edward Luttwak, Vol. 35 No. 22 · 21 November 2013

[…] Overy’s account of the ignominious defeat of Italian airpower is utterly fascinating, especially in current circumstances, because – permit me a brief diversion – it was a result of the same pathologies that today condemn the Italian economy to relentless decline under the euro, that most un-Italian of currencies, which Italy’s ruling élite is obliged to hang onto whatever the cost, in order ‘to be able to look Germans in the eye’, as one of that élite recently confessed to me. In other words, Italy should accept impoverishment because the ruling élite has to pretend that it is far more efficient industrially than it is or could be. In the process, the peculiar but very real talents that continued to raise real standards of living for decades after 1945 must be nullified in the hopeless attempt to compete with the Germans exclusively on German terms. The nation of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati must compete only with Volkswagen. […]

Instead of accepting Italian aviation talents for what they were – artisanal rather than mass-produced, with individualist ace-pilots rather than mass-trained war pilots – Mussolini just had to compete with the Germans. The disasters started as soon as German-style air fighting started, with the arrival of the Corpo Aereo Italiano at Ursel in occupied Belgium in late September 1940, to participate in the bombing of Britain. […]

because of consistently unrealistic plans, utterly irresponsible command decisions and absurd priorities, 2293 Italian pilots were dead, invalided out or prisoners of war by the autumn of 1942, while only 1920 new pilots qualified in 1940-43 – and all for naught, since Italy could neither attack by air nor defend itself from air attack.

Radar, searchlights, anti-aircraft guns and night fighters: all were in short supply and incompetently used. Civil defence preparations relentlessly favoured form over substance as is still the Italian habit. In spite of very strict blackout regulations and years of theatrical drills, when RAF bombers arrived over Turin on the night of 10 June 1940, the city was entirely illuminated […]

4 Replies to “Luttwak on Italy and the Euro”

  1. The RAF’s ratio of losses to newly trained pilots was not much better I believe at the height of the Battle of Britain. We were saved by the influx of Poles (pilots, not plumbers) Belgians etc.
    One positive result of Italy chaining itself to a strong currency has been the influx of Italian tourists in London. I’ve learned a lot following their guided tours round the National Gallery 😉
    Can we have a thread on current events in Italy? I’ve been following as well as I can at RAI2, Repubblica, Corriere, il Fatto ecc. My impression is that democracy is alive and well in Italy. Is having a head of state in his / her eighties an advantage? Or does the fact that there are only two heads of state in the world who served their countries against fascism have something to do with it?

  2. There is only one country that understands the Germans and we are cousins, the Latins should not be part of a federal superstate which includes the North and Britain needs to go back to being a sovereign state: as an island with sea links to the world and to put a stop to being the cash cow of Brussels.

    Spain, Italy, Portugal and I include the Greeks – should form their own trading bloc with the French.
    The east is bust – I don’t know what they can do – maybe to form their own trading bloc but away from German political [and French] interference.

    Italy, should free itself of the yoke of the euro before it is too late, I do genuinely fear for Southern Europe – because despite Draghi weasel words the Italians and the rest are in deep trouble, capital flight, migration, industrial decline and industrial re location are all factors and this will not end well at all.

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