Festival of Diplomacy: 10 Years After the Twin Towers

Moderator: Larry Gray, John Cabot University


Clara Albani Head, European Parliament Office in Italy

Federigo Argentieri, John Cabot University

Giancarlo Bosetti, Editor, “Reset

Maurizio Caprara, “Corriere della Sera”

Maurizio Massari, Italian Foreign Ministry

Franco Pavoncello, President, John Cabot University

Roberto Toscano, Ambassador (ret.)

On Wednesday October 12th, The Guarini Institute of Public Affairs took part in the Festival of Diplomacy that took place in Rome and Florence between the 8th and the 14th of October. The two cities were specifically chosen considering the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification, in a link that expresses the idea that “the Capital of the Kingdom to the Capital of the Republic is a way to remember Italian history.” Its aim was to “give an original view of Diplomacy and how it has affected human history.” The Festival’s goal was executed by having panels of experts from different fields, discussing the future of Diplomacy and the problems it faces today. This year’s topic was entitled “Diplomacy beyond Wikileaks”.

The panelists at John Cabot University discussed security and freedom in a post- September 11th world and also how technology, such as Wikileaks, has affected it. Professor Larry Gray made the opening remarks and introductions. The discussion began with Mr. Bosetti, who proposed the threatening issue of fighting terrorism by limiting freedom. He stressed that governments should not pass the limits of democracy in order to prevent terrorism.

Mr. Caprara pointed out that the difference between the attacks of WW2 and 9/11 was that the latter, “created waves in ordinary lives.” He elaborates with statistics on the “7.4 billion dollar” increase in security and with examples of increased airport security. Along with the security budget, he also discussed the importance of Wikileaks in demonstrating how many policies are created. It provides a good comparison and understanding, but “we are not using it enough.” Wikileaks could be an essential tool to make this world a safer place than it is now.

Mr. Massari (who was speaking with his own opinions and not representing the Italian Foreign Ministry) expressed his theory that the global war on terror is much less of a threat than we thought, that the effects of 9/11 have faded with time and that today there is much more focus on the economic crisis. In his point of view, Al-Qaeda are much less of a threat today than they were ten years ago, because they have been overshadowed by the Arab Spring. He still insists that, “we should not lower our guard,” but remember the economic constraints because it could be seen as a weakness.

President Pavoncello started his speech by quoting Benjamin Franklin with, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” He expanded his thoughts on this quote by pointing out that obviously security has increased and as a result freedom has suffered. The Global War on Terrorism has had a tremendous negative impact, which has resulted in economic crises and military campaigns. In order to obtain security and avoid the elimination of freedom, “we need to stop looking for objects and start looking at people.” President Pavoncello ended with, “Osama bin Laden’s goal was to change the course of history. He succeeded.”

Ambassador Toscano served as Italy’s ambassador to Iran between 2003 and 2008. The Ambassador commented on the recent plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington DC, and the question of Iran’s involvement. He admitted that he has more questions than answers but does not believe Iran to be above such a plot. At the same time, he also believes that Iran is too sophisticated and knowledgeable to get involved with Mexican drug lords. The Ambassador also commented on Wikileaks, claiming that it makes every diplomat terrified and advocating that diplomacy needs confidentiality. That is in his professional diplomatic opinion, but as a citizen and a scholar he is thrilled to have access to it. He also mentioned that the U.S Policy looks very “positive and professional.”

Clara Albani gave her thoughts on how the European Union has changed since September 11th. In 2002, the European Arrest Warrant was put into effect, allowing for any terrorist or criminal to be extradited if suspected of a crime by another Member State, so as not to allow criminals to conceal themselves in Europe. Ms. Albani explained that, “Prevention, protection, prosecution and response are the 4 cornerstones of the European strategy for combating terrorism, whose approach focuses on respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law.” She also said that the execution of this strategy to combat terrorism must constantly change in order to continually be effective.

Closing remarks were made by Professor Federigo Argentieri, with special thanks to Giorgio Botromucci, who coordinated the Festival of Diplomacy. By the size of the turnout and success of the Festival, it is obvious that the Italian public is very interested in international affairs concerning world peace. A war to impose democracy is terribly costly with many civilians killed. But he also wanted to stress that if a war is waged, it is a lesser evil than the indifference to tyranny.