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This transcript appears in the June 3, 2022 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this transcript]

Gen. Leonardo Tricarico (ret.)

‘We Must Terminate This Escalation’

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Schiller Institute
Gen. Leonardo Tricarico (ret.)

General Tricarico is the former Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force. He made this presentation to the Schiller Institute’s May 26 forum, “U.S. and European Military and Security Experts Warn: The Insanity of Politicians Threatens Nuclear War.” He spoke in Italian, and this is an edited transcript of the simultaneous interpretation into English. EIR has added subheads.

Good evening everybody! Allow me to express several doubts on what I heard by the founder of the Schiller Institute, especially concerning the part regarding a nuclear confrontation and the various doctrines to be used in these cases. I wouldn’t go so far, but I would stick to facts as we have seen them, as we are living every day, to try to understand what we can do to stop this senseless, meaningless war.

Therefore, among the things the President [Zepp-LaRouche] said, I would pick one: The rules. She spoke about some rules which she says are pillars of a new security, maybe a world security system. I would like to remind you that one characteristic of this war is the break of any rules, starting with Rule Number 1, the use of force. All military men, especially Western military men like myself, know that there are some rules in wars. These are rules used by NATO and used by any Western military instrument. These are the rules that Russia has broken in these three months, and which we had warned about already in Syria, by using strength in an uncontrolled way or without conditions. This is the first rule, which in my view must be remembered and re-established. And I don’t know what kind of pragmatism is needed to re-establish rules that safeguard human lives, especially innocents. This must be the first line in planning a bombing mission.

The second rule—and these are rules everybody should keep in mind, these are consolidated rules in all countries that in 1949 came together around laws, and they are still together. The first Article in NATO says that member countries commit to solve in a peaceful way any controversy that could involve them. I repeat, member countries commit to solve in a peaceful manner any controversy that involves them.

So, I would ask all of you, if there was one NATO country that has raised its voice asking for respecting this fundamental rule? But we have seen exactly the opposite, we have seen a push to solve with strong manners this controversy, and at all costs. This was the first rule which was broken, which we should one day take up again, when everything is over. This is Article No. 1 of NATO.

Let’s go to Article No. 4. Article No. 4 says, each time a member country thinks that there can be a danger for its security or the alliance’s security, it can ask for a consultation among allied countries. This Article No. 4 was invoked by nobody, but the contrary was invoked. We have seen the American Secretary of Defense pull together 40 countries in Ramstein, not to advise about an attack by an enemy country like Russia, but to plan strong defense to the last drop of blood. This U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin said, he spoke about weakening Russia until Russia represents no danger for anybody. This is what he said; this is the interpretation of Article 4 of the NATO treaty by the United States.

Let’s go to Article 10: Article 10 says that member-countries can invite, but by a unanimous vote, other countries to join NATO. If this produces an increase of security of the North Atlantic area, good. Two countries have asked to join, and naturally, everybody sees that this is not bringing an increase of security, but exactly the opposite: That it is a greater destabilization of a situation which is already greatly compromised. And despite this, they run to accelerate this entrance into NATO.

And this, just to mention the main rules.

‘Find Wisdom To Promote Negotiations’

Then I will conclude. I will not use more than the time I was allotted. It was a break of the rule of behavior. In this circumstance the United States threw the mask off, and they abused, recklessly, their position of majority inside NATO by giving orders to everybody, and using for this a megaphone called Jens Stoltenberg. And contrary to the direction of what the NATO principles are, which they, being the main shareholders, should respect.

I will conclude by saying that common sense should prevail again. It’s not possible that the United States speaks for the first time about a ceasefire only after [Italian Prime Minister] Mario Draghi’s visit a few weeks ago. It’s not possible that they would not commit to produce a negotiation, but only some countries are promoting it, some countries that have a weak voice, like Turkey, Italy, France, even Israel.

We need a serious commitment, serious engagement, finding wisdom and pragmatism again, because finally, instead of pouring gasoline on the fire, like everybody’s doing, in a warmongering hype, we should find wisdom again to promote negotiations which is the only way out of this situation.

And certainly, I don’t even want to think about the nuclear danger.

Dennis Speed (moderator): Thank you very much, General Tricarico…. Before we go to our next speaker, we have a couple of questions for General Tricarico, because his schedule is limited. We got a question in, which was in Italian, and luckily, I’m not going to have to translate it. This is a question from Italy, and here’s what it says. The question was:

I read in an interview with you about your criticism [of] the way of conducting the military operation in Ukraine by the Russian army, in particular with regard to an alleged poor performance by the navy and air force. However, I’ve also read independent analysts such as Scott Ritter who, while not sparing any criticism of the initial phase of operations due to intelligence failures, argued that while we have been accustomed for 30 years to seeing the U.S. military levelling everything and then going to see who died and the damage caused, here we are faced with very different objectives, and therefore, both the strategy and the tactics used are necessarily different and sometimes appearing fallacious to a Western observer. Indeed, Moscow is getting what it claimed from the start, so what is the truth?

General Tricarico: There is an assumption which is wrong in the listener’s question.

I would say—because I speak, of course, not because I read some books, or because I heard somebody say something, but I speak on my direct experience—I will say something that is not elegant. I was deputy commander of the multinational coalition in the Balkan conflicts in 1999. We led 30,000 bombing missions with the number of casualties estimated in 370-430 deaths, in 78 days of bombing, moreover with 30,000 bombing missions. So this means that the criteria of using force is to not to destroy everything, and we did not destroy everything. This has been invented by somebody, I don’t know who. The listener mentioned another person whom I don’t know, but with my experience I can say that this was not the case.

Therefore, we must take the current players, the current enemies—I don’t know how, but we must invent something—they must use force according to the criteria which everybody knows well, in which safeguarding human life is the first concept of planning war missions. This is the message which on the basis of my experience, of what I have seen and what I am believing, I feel I can formulate with strength toward those who have the power to make decisions.

I confirm that the Russians are fighting an old-style battle from a conceptual standpoint, and it is from this standpoint, from the technical profile as if 30 years have not passed by since military technology made a big leap forward.

Speed: OK, we have a second question for the General and then we’ll resume the speakers. This is someone who served with the U.S. Air Force. His question pertains to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and the question is:

What is your opinion of the role of the United States deployment of Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey, in triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis?

General Tricarico: We are talking about an era in which we had balances. We had certainly the danger of destabilizing those balances, but we had a mechanism of compensation which has worked very well—so well, that there was only that circumstance in which we were on the verge of the abyss. But later on, this balance of terror has become instead an instrument of destabilization, as is occurring today.

Therefore, what should we do? We must terminate this escalation. There is no other way than negotiation. And it’s natural that we must strengthen our defenses, this is beyond question. From this standpoint, we in the West have an imperative duty, a commitment we must take because the balance of the missile threat—we must achieve this balance, like other countries have done, maybe better than us. And also because the Schiller Institute President evoked that family of missile carriers which we saw exhibited by Putin, which we hope will never be used, especially with lethal warheads.

Speed: Thank you very much, General Tricarico.

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