His (Translator’s Note: This is Nico Piro’s book) Maledetti pacifisti (Damned Pacifists), winner of the Ilaria Alpi prize, is an important book of denunciation with a provocative title. But is it really still possible to do journalism in the service of the reader and not of belligerent single-mindedness? Nico Piro is a war correspondent with long experience, and it was with him that we talked about conflict, peace and communication regarding these two central issues, especially in the current era.
Europe and the whole world are chasing peace. Is it possible to achieve it?
There is always a possibility because it depends on us. Teresa Sarti Strada said that each person has to do his or her little piece, but then these little pieces have to be put together and form a mosaic that can change the world. I sincerely believe that each of us is called to make a difference, and that takes determination and strength. I think it has to start with serious, fair, true information, which has to take up Gino Strada’s battle for the abolition of war.
The time is more than ripe, although some will say that it is impossible to abolish war. Yet it also seemed impossible to abolish apartheid until the 1980s, and then we succeeded. It seemed impossible to abolish racial segregationism in America in the 1960s. Then a woman at one point sat in the wrong seat on the bus and changed everything. So we have to believe it. Of course, believing it also means being prepared to pay prices, but I think all in all we can do it.
What do you think of the absolute silence around the TPNW, the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that earned the International Ican Network the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017? A real breakthrough for the pacifist world, but what does it entail that this treaty is not ratified by NATO countries, including our own?
Unfortunately, we are at a stage where the great progress of the 1990s on arms control, particularly nuclear arms control, is undergoing a strong undertow. We are going backwards. I think instead of thinking about the specific episode, it’s a case of thinking about what is happening on an overall level. Unfortunately, what used to be a disvalue – weapons and armaments – are now back to being a value. We are experiencing a global race to trade and transport arms.
Let’s think about the case of the Italian Parliament: in just a few hours, the Parliament managed to agree on raising military spending to 2 percent of GDP, without, on top of that, posing the problem of how many hospitals, how many clinics, how many schools, how many kindergartens we will close in order to raise that voice. So I think the issue today is to stop the arms race because in fact you are feeding the cycle of war, but not only that, you are also taking money away from civilian society, and that is really very worrying.
Are they right, those who say that wars exist because weapons, once produced, have to be sold with proper marketing strategies?
No. I think a broader view is needed: the arms industry does its job. Simple as that. The real problem is the fact that a culture of war that is “normalized war” has now been imposed in the media space. The real issue is this: peace has no sponsors, war does. Not least because war produces monetary and non-monetary profits for a number of power centers. An example? Boris Johnson is one who used the armed conflict in Ukraine to redeem himself, succeeding for a few months only to capitulate at the end. But he deflected attention from the protests sparked by his handling of the pandemic.
Is there therefore a definite political responsibility?
Peace has no voice. Peace has no investors, and this is, in my opinion, the fault of governments. When preparing for war, the predominant voices are often those who support conflict. Single-minded war-mongering casts a stigma on everyone who thinks differently and corrodes democracy. So the question we must ask ourselves is, can we talk about peace today without being treated as enemies of the homeland in the pay of the enemy?
Do you think that after the missed opportunity in Italy, the time is ripe for a Peace Party to stand in all member states in the next European elections?
I honestly don’t believe in party politics. I think having a Peace Party is limiting. Because then in the end what is peace? In recent days I was at the library of San Matteo degli Armeni in Perugia where I presented my book Maledetti pacifisti (damn pacifists). In that library are preserved all the documents of Aldo Capitini, a prophet of peace. I was struck to see and understand this figure according to whom peace is progress, is a creative force.
What does peace mean in Italy today?
Italy – let’s never forget it, although it almost cannot be said – is experiencing the longest period of peace in its history, which coincides with the period of our country’s greatest prosperity. Creative peace yields dividends for all, and war profits for a few. The problem is that peace creates them in the long run. But peace we must take care of and we must spread it in all areas, from justice to rights. I think it all has to be achieved together. I consider it limiting to conduct an active peace campaign that does not take all these aspects into account.