Il “Mediterraneo allargato”: origini e contesto di una visione strategica italiana

No. 70 – February 201670.Spinaci_cover
Author: Giulia Spinaci
Language: Italian
Widened Mediterranean
Italian Navy
History of geopolitics

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This essay aims to thoroughly analyse the origins and history of the “Widened Mediterranean” strategic concept, by delineating the cultural and doctrinal context in which it was first articulated by the Italian Navy in the 1980s. The assumption that the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf constitute an indivisible unicum was endorsed by the French historian Fernand Braudel, who in the 1950s talked about a “Greater Mediterranean”, a sequence of lands and seas united by intense economic, cultural and political bonds. However, the official origin of the “Widened Mediterranean” strategic vision traces back to the 1930s, when Captain Francesco Bertonelli first divided the Mediterranean into three macro-areas, the Red Sea being its southeastern part. In so doing, he thus extended the Royal Navy’s theatre of operations to the whole Near East and the Italian national interest was then the exercise of the maritime power over the Mediterranean choke points. Accordingly, the economic factor seems to be at the core of the “Widened Mediterranean” strategic concept. In particular, the SLOC protection is one of the most important tasks the Italian Navy performs in this theatre of operations. Nevertheless, not only is this concept fundamental for the energy procurement, but at the end of the Cold War it also provided Italy an alternative way to best attain its strategic and military goals independently from the Atlantic Alliance. Today, the “Widened Mediterranean” still preserves its validity. However, if on the one hand the European Union endorsed this strategic vision, on the other the latter completely disappeared from the Italian Defence White Paper, leaving space for questions about the role Italy might play in this theatre of operations.