In a world where anyone can express any opinion on social media, a fellow citizen had the unfortunate idea of expressing his thoughts - arguing them extensively - in a book and self-publishing it on Amazon. A storm ensued!
The problem? He is a military man.
Let's make a premise. With a too long and consolidated tradition of headless obedience, the Defense world is today a world in which a simple "like" to an article or to a free thought of others (not appreciated by the Palace) can lead to a recall.
The armed forces are one of the few institutions that are truly at the service of the state, in the sense that politics, no matter how much it is committed to debasing its peculiarities, will never be able to sabotage its merits and relative efficiency to the extreme roots.
With this excuse, the workforce has always been seen as at the service of the power on duty; ministers of all colors indulged in every whim knowing they weren't coming never contradicted.
The military system (art 1472 Legislative Decree 66/2010) establishes that “1. The military can freely publish their writings, hold public conferences and in any case publicly express their thoughts, except in the case of confidential topics of military or service interest for which authorization must be obtained. 2. They may also keep any book, newspaper or other periodical publication with them in their places of employment. 3. In the cases provided for by this article, the prohibition of political propaganda remains unaffected."
In any case, the uniformed staff is made up of citizens of the Italian Republic, an institution that claims democracy and is part of a Union whose article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights is written “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom of opinion and the freedom to receive or communicate information or ideas without interference from public authorities and without frontier limits.
Our constitution in the second part of article 11 also mentions “...allows, on equal terms with other states, the limitations of sovereignty necessary for an order that ensures peace and justice among nations”. Ergo, if you are part of the Union, you have to accept its principles...
Who is Roberto Vannacci? His curriculum is decidedly long, briefly let's say that as an Army raider he operated in missions all over the world, he also commanded Task Force 45 in Afghanistan, the 9th "Col Moschin" and the brigade thunderbolt, just to name a few assignments.
Last year, while he was a military attaché in Moscow, he was sent back to his homeland as a "persona non grata" in retaliation by the Russian authorities for the expulsions decided in parallel by the Italian government. On 21 June of this year he assumed command of the Military Geographical Institute of Florence.
On August 10, 2023 he published the book "The world upside down".
On August 17, following a domino of articles summarily accusing him of homophobia and racism, he was isolated, humiliated and deplored:
1) the general staff of his armed force distances itself - “Regarding the news published today in some press organs, relating to the content of the self-produced book by Division General Roberto Vannacci, the Armed Forces distances itself from the completely personal considerations (as specified in the text) expressed by the Officer.
It should be noted that the Army was not aware of the contents expressed in it and that the same had never been subjected to any authorization and evaluation by the military leaders.
In this sense, the Army reserves the right to take any necessary measures to protect its image."
2) Defense Minister Guido Crosetto announces disciplinary action.
The removal from command of the IGM in Florence follows: from 20 August, General Roberto Vannacci will have to leave office. From 21 August he will be placed on an extra-organic basis at the COMFOTER in Florence.
So far we have briefly described what happened.
What is missing? The merit of the matter.
When the storm broke out I had received the book purchased on Amazon the day before, without even opening the package.
As soon as the lapidary accusations began to circulate, for hours I commented on the person and what was happening with friends and colleagues (albeit at a distance, I had interviewed the general last year): "What a shit he's done!", "Certain issues aren't touched upon" , “then use certain tones…”.
Only belatedly did I start reading the volume of 357 pages...
Albeit with some typos, I discovered a sequence of well-argued and sensible considerations which – even if I don't fully share them - they were light years away from the "ravings of a homophobic fascist" I expected.
It is a book largely made up of thoughts, observations and reasoning like a good family man, enriched and supported by the global experience gained over decades of career, primarily with long stays in the most unfortunate or socially complicated countries on the planet.
The sincerely most surprising part of the book was precisely the one on homosexuality: I thought the "decontextualized sentence" was really Vannacci's excuse for climbing straws in search of an improbable defence, but it was extremely different - acceptable or not - if linked on the premises of the previous pages...
Well, while I don't appreciate many of the opinions and visions of fellow citizen Vannacci, I can't find any concrete reason to be pilloried for having expressed one's thoughts on topics such as: environmentalism, energy, immigration, home, family, homeland, homosexuality, taxes, urbanization and animalism. Issues on which any citizen of the European Union should be free to express their opinion - within the limits of the law - as in the case in question.
So why such fierce reactions?
Vannacci may have made a mistake: in times in which the most articulated thought of politics does not exceed 4 words (in fact we are confronted with slogans, no more ideas!), the incriminated fellow citizen develops the themes with an "analysis", something to which we are no longer cerebrally accustomed !
The general's persecution, beyond the blind and rapid sanctions, is having an effect: it is making the whole country read it (in the last 24h I received at least 10 pirated pdf copies via Whats'App "sent many times") , is opening the eyes and giving courage to many soldiers tired of not being able to think freely, especially when the arguments go beyond the service.
One last thought to Minister Guido Crosetto… don't make my mistake (expressing a priori judgments), or that of a colleague of yours who preceded you years ago (ill-advised by incompetent collaborators): stop and read that book before making any more unfortunate decisions.
The soldiers we have entrusted to you must defend them, not condemn them hastily (to then perhaps tone down the tone from tweet to tweet…).
Was Vannacci abducted by aliens in the last 48h? He is the same person. If he has behaved correctly, often in an exemplary manner, in 37 years of service, he should be honored and not punished for having expressed legitimate opinions, even when not shareable.
It is thererepression (typical of even "democratic" regimes) to create discontent and to make sometimes unhealthy ideas with unhappy endings settle in the shadows. Different points of view must be faced openly and, if they are uncomfortable or disagreeable, they must be overcome dialectically, not disciplinarily.
He is the head of 160.000 capable Italians, it is time to respect his ideas (within the limits of the law, the Constitution and the Treaties).
Roberto Vannacci is our fellow citizen, no longer a "subject".
Dear minister, read that book before half the country does and notices belatedly to be wrong or, worse, of having to definitively sacrifice an innocent soldier to the miserable Italian politics, on the basis of hysteria (o bad faith) others...
Photo: ministry of defense / Online Defense / X (the social network once known as "Twitter") / US Army