|This article appears in the August 14, 2015 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
RETIRED NATO GENERAL FABIO MINI
'Inevitable Nuclear Confrontation,
Q: General, in your book La Guerra spiegata a... (War Explained...),  you state that there are no limited wars, or better, that a power engaging in a limited war, in reality is preparing a total war. In the current situation of spreading conflict, which seems to follow a sort of fault line going from Ukraine to Yemen, through Syria and Iraq, should we then expect the breakout of a total conflict?
Mini: The category of limited wars, discussed by Clausewitz himself, was meant to include conflicts with limited objectives and thus, limited instruments and resources to be employed. War should be the minimal [effort] for achieving political aims. War was a continuation of politics. However, the risks that the conflict could degenerate and enlarge, both in response to the enemy's reaction and to the appetites for warwhich increase by eatingwere evident. With a careful management of alliances and neutralities, a conflict could be limited in operation, and still have a broader political significance.
Today, a limited war is no longer possible, not even in theory; the political and economic interests involved in each conflict, including the most remote and insignificant one, involve all major powers as well as everyone's pockets and consciences. War has become a violation of international law and is no longer the continuation of politics, but its denial, its failure. Despite that (or maybe even because of that), the aim of a war is not enough to justify it, and those who start a war demonstrate political incompetence and assume responsibility for a conflict whose aims and outcome they do not know.
With the introduction of global control of conflicts and global management of security (including through the United Nations), all states and all rulers are responsible for conflicts. And all conflicts are global, if not under the aspect of military intervention, definitely in their economic, social, and moral consequences.
Thus, starting with the Cold War launched by the Baltic countries against Russia, to the American 'covert' war against Russia itself, to the Russian claims against Ukraine, to Syria, to Yemen, and all other so-called minor or ''low-intensity" conflicts, everything indicates that we don't have to wait for another total conflict: We are already up to our neck in it.
What is occurring in Asia with the Pacific strategic pivot is perhaps the clearest sign that the prospect of a World War II-like explosion is more probable in that theater. Not so much because aircraft carriers and missiles are being transferred there (which is indeed taking place), but because the preparation for a world war of that kind, including the inevitable nuclear confrontation, is what is being prepared. That is not to say that it will happen immediately, but the longer the preparation goes on, the more resources will go into weapons, and the more Asian and Western minds will orient to that direction. ...
Q: Another interesting reflection of yours, concerns the fact that war always leads to a different policy than the one that preceded and prepared the war. Should we therefore be prepared for a different world from the one which is generating current conflicts? And if yes, do you have an idea in which direction we are moving?
Mini: I would say yes, but I do not think we can have many illusions about the outcome. We are living in a very important period of historical transition: the global system established by the winners of WWII is cracking; blocs have disappeared; many political regimes created by colonial powers are in a crisis; Africa wakes up one day and regresses the next day; economic issues overwhelm political, social, and military issues; the peripheries of big powers and their satraps are seeking indifferently either greater autonomy or stricter serfdom. Current conflicts are the most evident signs of this process, which will lead to a new formulation of international relationships and balances.
However, it is not self-evident that this transition will lead to a so-called "new world order." Pushes for change and stability are still weak, and risk-making conflicts and post-conflict situations chronic; the latter are as dangerous as conflicts. There are signs of strong resistance to change in a multipolar sense by some rich as well as some poor countries. The richer countries are again orienting towards a power-policy, especially through military means; the poorer countries are orienting towards resignation to slavery.
The so-called "new order" might be the old order of the colonial model, and armed forces are orienting more and more towards the system of "police armies" (constabulary forces). In many African countries there is nostalgia for the colonial period, or colonial countries are accused of abandoning them. Power and slavery are complementary. A Chinese philosopher said about his people: ''There have been centuries when the desire to be a slave has been satisfied, and others when it was not. ..."
Q: In your book, you explain how war has evolved through the centuries. Now a fifth-generation war, or limitless war, has been theorized, i.e. a war that must not be perceived as such, and which includes financial means. Can we say that we are in the middle of such a war?
Mini: No question about it. But even this fifth-generation war is transforming itself into the sixth-generation war: gang war. The aims of such wars are not merely security, and nations are no longer the sole players; we are in the hands of "gangs" with their own aims and without any scruples except for their own prosperity at the expense of others. Gangs move without the constraints of borders and means, without respect, only pursuing profit. They tend to elude international law and legality, they tend to bend states themselves to their interests, and to control states' policies and weapons. Today, the concern of armies and police apparatuses is not to understand why they work, but for whom. If the state, by definition, must (or should) care for the common good, the gang cares only for the private, non-state, and often anti-state, good.
In 2004, I asked an American colonel what war he was fighting in Iraq, and he replied, "This is a gang war, and we are the biggest gang." He too, had understood that he was not working for a nation or for the common good, but for something that went beyond his role of defending the public: he was a mercenary, like many others, serving someone who paid. For that reason, he considered himself to be a war "professional."
Finance is the only really global and instantaneous system and it uses both legal and illegal means: exactly like any modern gang of criminals. The command structure of gangs has two reference models: the paternalist-vertical model and the committee-horizontal model. The latter is prevailing over the former even if, at certain hierarchical levels, there is always someone stronger than the others. The horizontal model is also the one that best succeeds in covering internal and external wars. There are contingent interests that often bring adversaries onto the same side.
Q: The concept of war as "instrument of domination" also emerges from your book, i.e., an instrument to force a certain party to act against its own will. In the recent case of Greece, in which the popular will had to concede to contrary requests from Europe, can we call this an act of war?
Mini: In this case too, we must refer to limitless war and, unfortunately, to gang war. Greece has suffered from a diktat which, by bending the will of the government and of the population itself, is certainly an act of war. However, the real scandal with Greece is not in the diktat imposed, but in the apparent laxness on the side of the very international institutions which should have overseen its financial state.
The financial war against Greece is almost a perfect gang war. Only some fool could really think that Greece doctored its figures without the knowledge of the EU, the ECB, the IMF, the Federal Reserve, the World Bank, or the prosperous and omniscient rating agencies. It is much more realistic to think that, at the moment of the changeover to the euro, political interests in Europe prevailed over the financial, and that it was the financial interests that loaded the most fragile members with the maximum possible debt.
We have a short memory, but well before 2001, the debate on the euro assumed that many countries on the European periphery and next in line to become members (northern and eastern Europe), could not possibly comply with the parameters imposed. It is no accident that only the countries on the periphery were the first induced to go into debt and then into default, or to be "saved" from the frying pan by going into the fire. Ireland, Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece have been the most evident examples of a maneuver which was neither carried out nor favored by nations, but run by institutions which call themselves supranational, and are in any case modeled on the private interests of the so-called "market" system.
 Fabio Mini, La Guerra spiegata a..., Einaudi, Turin, January 2013.
 In other words, the political decision to eliminate national sovereignty took precedence over financial common sense. As no lesser an authority than former French Presidential adviser Jacques Attali admitted years later, it was known from the beginning that the imposition of the euro would lead to national crises, but this was seen as a necessary step toward forcing total political integration/consolidation in Europe.
View full size