You are herecontent / Anti-U.S. Uproar Sweeps Italy

Anti-U.S. Uproar Sweeps Italy

The U.S. Has Turned Vicenza, Italy, into a Military Camp

50 Italians Chain Themselves to Cranes to Stop US Base Construction

US Embassy in Italy, As Usual, Tells (Civilian) Americans to Stay Away from Vicenza

Rally against Dal Molin expansion set for Saturday

Italy Declares Independence from U.S. on July 4

Jogging US Soldiers Swarm Italian Town, Which Asks Them to Go Home

We Don't Need Another Military Base in Vicenza, Italy

Italians Break Into Construction Site of Massive New US Base, Plant Flags and Banners in Opposition

Rep Sanchez Tells Italians They Must Accept New US Military Base, and That Convenience for Attacking Africa Is Key

New photo album from Vicenza.

New video from Vicenza.

New video on War Pollution.

New color flyers with maps (PDF).

New flyer with timeline of No Dal Molin movement against proposed new base (PDF).

New flyer (PDF).

No Dal Molin's submission to conference at American University in Washington, D.C., February 2009, here.

Base Given Final Approval.

The site is now occupied.

Referendum: 95% Oppose Base.

LINK to: Vicenza dossier.

Report on 12/15/2007 march.

David Swanson's speech at 12/15/2007 rally in Vicenza.

David Swanson's remarks at Presidio Permanente 12/16/2007.

By David Swanson

The U.S. government has proposed to make Vicenza, Italy, the largest US military site in Europe, but the people of Vicenza, and all of Italy, have sworn it will never happen. As with the story of the Downing Street Minutes two years ago this week, a major news story and huge controversy in Europe right now is unknown to Americans, despite the fact that it is all about the policies of the American government.

In February of this year, 200,000 people descended on the Northeastern Italian town of Vicenza (population 100,000) to march in protest. Largely as a result, the Prime Minister of Italy was (temporarily) driven out of power. Meanwhile, just outside Vicenza, large tents now hold newly minted citizen activists keeping a 24-hour-per-day vigil and training hundreds of senior citizens, children, and families every day in how to nonviolently stop bulldozers. The bulldozers they are waiting for are American. The conflict, should it come about, will be as surprising to American television viewers as were the attacks of 9-11, unless someone tells them ahead of time what is going on.

This week a group of Italians is in Washington, D.C., attempting to do just that. A group of Italian Members of Parliament also visited Washington last month in opposition to the base. To understand this story it is necessary to be aware of a few basic facts that Americans are not supposed to be aware of, including that our military maintains several hundred bases in other people's countries, and that many of the residents of these countries resent the U.S. military presence. (Of course, the alleged planner of the murderous 9-11 attacks said he was reacting to U.S. bases on foreign soil, in that case in Saudi Arabia. The Bush Administration closed the offending bases.)

In addition, it is helpful to understand that Vicenza is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a beautiful treasure of a town showcasing the renaissance architecture of Andrea Palladio. Reflecting on this makes it easier to put into context the proposal for Vicenza from the U.S. military and the reaction of the people who live there. If you google "No Dal Molin" you'll find 83,300 results.

Dal Molin is the name of the proposed new military base. This compares with 9,290 for such an important news story as "John Edwards' hair." But the only U.S. media link you'll find is Democracy Now, which interviewed one of the Italian activists in Washington this week. In Italy, the women leading the opposition to the base, women who were housewives and had never been activists until news of this proposal leaked, have appeared frequently in the media. Here's a television news show video in Italian (click on "Puntate," scroll down to "Vicenza," and click). And here is an activist's video in English.

Since this story broke last year, Vicenza has become a focus for peace activists in Europe, including Americans living abroad, and has been the site of numerous protests and acts of civil disobedience. There is another protest march planned for this coming Sunday. (Flyer). I spent all day Thursday with U.S. peace activists Stephanie Westbrook and Medea Benjamin accompanying a delegation of four Italians to meetings with Congress Members, Senators, and their staffers. The Italians were led by two women, Cinzia Bottene and Thea Valentina Garbellin. They had arrived Tuesday and began their lobbying efforts on Wednesday. Stephanie and Thea appeared on Democracy Now that morning. And Code Pink launched a petition website where we are collecting Americans' signatures in support of the people of Vicenza.

On Wednesday, the delegation spoke with various Congress Members, including Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D., Hawaii) and Rep. Walter Jones (R., N.C.). At these and many other meetings, the Italians dropped off materials, told their stories, and answered questions. The Congress Members and staffers made no commitments but promised to look into the matter. "The amazing thing," Cinzia said, "is that nobody in the United States, not even Senators and Congress Members, knows anything about it. But we found a great deal of interest." On Thursday we met with Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D., N.H.) and a staff person. They, too, knew nothing about it, but were very interested. The same goes for aides to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.) and Sen. Jack Reid (D., R.I.). Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) had a little bit different reaction. He said he opposed the base and would write a letter to all of his colleagues asking them to join him. He said he favored closing foreign bases but not opening new ones. Cinzia thanked the Congressman and invited him to come and speak in Vicenza.

Another meeting we had on Thursday was with three Senate staffers, who each worked for the Armed Services Committee or for a member thereof. They had all been to Vicenza. In fact, they flew to the new base location to examine it in 2004, two years before anyone in Italy had even learned about the proposal. In our meeting, they articulated the U.S. government's position, and Thea and Cinzia articulated that of the people of Vicenza. At times, the two world views clashed. One of the staffers, who said he had been to Vicenza many times and had many Italian friends there, but who did not speak a word of Italian, suggested that the base might be necessary to allow the U.S. to airlift aid to starving Africans.

This did not sit well with the Vicentines, who are motivated as much by their opposition to global militarism, arrogance, and lies, as they are by the potential impact on their city's water and traffic. The Senate staffers tried to be helpful, and explained as others had before them, that what they needed to know about were potential impacts on water, traffic, power, pollution, and the environment. They also were very interested in learning about alternative locations for the base and accounts of the Italian government having offered other locations. But the danger brought to the people of Vicenza by making it a major military target was not a concern that had made it onto their radar screen. The damage to historic and artistic treasures was deemed "intangible." And the affront to the dignity of the people of Vicenza was unfortunate but insignificant.

The Italians explained that they have never protested the existing U.S. base in Vicenza, which has been there for 50 years. In fact, there are a number of U.S. military installations in and around Vicenza and throughout Italy, including facilities holding 90 atomic bombs, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, and this video news report in English from Italian television. "The people of Vicenza and the Americans have always been friends," Cinzia said. "But when you invite a friend to your house and give them a room, it changes when they demand to have the whole house."

As in much of the world, Vicenza is already overrun by American soldiers who drink too much, commit too many crimes, return from Iraq in mental anguish, and – since 9-11 – remain ever more isolated from the Italians. It's the Vicentines' city, but they are second-class citizens. If an Italian is waiting in line in a hospital emergency room, and a U.S. soldier comes in, the soldier can go straight to the front. And the economic argument so cynically used all over the United States to keep our economy based on war does not work in Vicenza: Italian tax payers are paying a large portion of the cost of their own occupation. American taxpayers, on the other hand, are completely oblivious to the fact that they are paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the construction of a base that has enraged the nation of Italy and serves no purpose that the people of the United States have ever debated or had any say in.

While the State Department and the Pentagon make our decisions for us, the Congress does have to approve the money. They've already approved half of the money for this base, and the rest is expected to be voted on by October. The people of Vicenza have also had no say in this. They handed in 10,000 signatures and requested a referendum, but were denied. The Italian government has said it will permit the base, but it has not actually issued the construction permits. Leaders of the opposition movement met with the Minister of Defense who said that Italy was capable of saying No to the United States. But the U.S. ambassador gave Italy a deadline of January 19th to accept the base, and the Prime Minister announced his acceptance of it on a trip abroad on January 16th.

While no permits have been issued, fiberoptic cables have been laid on the site, which activists have dug up and ripped out. The activists leading this resistance struggle say they want to be friends with Americans. They have even proposed that the hundreds of millions of dollars for the base be spent instead on aiding the people of New Orleans, and that the cities of Vicenza and New Orleans establish a relationship as "twin cities." But Cinzia Bottene made her case very clearly in the meeting with the staffers. "The citizens," she said, "will never, I repeat, never accept a base at Dal Molin."

The Italians plan to deliver a petition showing American support for their peaceful efforts to Senator Carl Levin and Congressman Ike Skelton, chairs of the Armed Services Committees in both houses. You can add your name to it here. The Commander Guy, George W. Bush, plans to visit Rome on June 9th. He might actually be greeted by some cheers if he cancels the plans for Dal Molin. Otherwise, he can expect a grand unwelcoming party.

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...But they sure do love our money. Why do you think these governments let us stay in their countries? The US Military is one of the largest employers in Germany and we're pulling almost all of our bases out of here leaving alot of people without jobs. The unemployment rate is already in the double digits.

Some things--like dignity--are more important than money. Are you familiar with the noun "prostitution?" Perhaps you need to understand that people DESPISE our money.

The problem with US alien bases is that local government pay for them AND ALSO US government. We pay twice because we are idiots. Not to tell about the fact that nuclear WMD hosted in that bases have a range of 60-80 miles... WHY?

Between tourists, military personnel and diplomats, most foreigners views of Americans is rather skewed. If aid must be flown into the African continent, the Naval Air Station at Sigonella, Sicily is close enough. Another major American military air base is not required. The unemployment rate in the US dropped when the armed forces were added into the mix, and since they only count those drawing a check as unemployed, that makes the number even lower, so when your money runs out and you are still out of work, you are no longer counted. All of this is to protect corporate interests. The rest of the world used to respect our country, but now they are just scared to death of us.

And where would this mystery air base be? Dal Molin? Sorry, but you should know what you're talking about before you speak. No airplanes here in lovely Vicenza. No runway either, come to think of it.

Yes anonymous, little by little they will hate our arrogance for
our take over of their home space for our useless bases. It's about time to close the bases and bring the surplus troops home or send them to Iraq. (De Gaulle kiked US ocupation Troops long time ago, without making France any poored from the loss of Dollars).
I opine, that the frustrated EU anti US bases activists, will be possibly targeted for recrutment by Al-Quaeda's International branch, then US and its poodles will have some major bloody problems on their hands.

The unemployment rate in Germany is under 10%. I'm just back from there and read the newspapers.

Their economy is booming and it has nothing to do with American money. They are now the leading nation in producing and using solar power and solar power technology. They make us look like wimps.

There you go American, showing how ignorant you are again. America closes its military base in Germany, the German economy collapses. You do wish the world was that simple. Pls do a little research on the German economy and quit this American thinking that the world starts and ends in America. You will be surprised at what others do better than America.

Can I just say, this blog is what got me through the day today. Every time I read it, I just get more and more excited about whats next. Very refreshing blog and very refreshing ideas. Im glad that I came across this when I did. I love what youve got to say and the way you say it.
solar lights

I am a former American soldier stationed in Vicenza. Vicenza opened my eyes to a world of beauty and to a civilized way of living that changed my life forever, not to mention eating well. If found then that the Americans' behavior, enlisted and officers, was often an embarrassment. It was sometimes plain disgusting. There were many exceptions and, of course, Vincentini a well practiced snobs with more than a few centuries in training. Do not expand the base. Shrink it but don't be simplistic about our relationship to Italy.

Everyone should read Chalmers Johnsons's amazing and scary books Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis to understand why we are so hated. We have an empire of 700-800 bases and installations around the world. They create tremendous environmental and social damage to hosting nations and inspire justifiable hatred. There's no bargain here for the rest of the world.

I feel badly for the US soldiers and their families being treated badly by other Americans abroad. The Italians have every right to protest about what happens in their country. If Americans abroad are unhappy with what is happening by actions of the US, then maybe they need to go home and focus on issues in their own country.

I am a US soldier fighting in Iraq. I agree to focus our attention on our country. I also have long wanted to be stationed in Italy. My fiance is Italian and works in Switzerland. But in the end, I am a soldier and can only be a bit selfish when it comes to wanting the best for my family. The soldiers wont care unfortunately. They will just bring their attitude of not wanting to be deployed to another matter what effect it has! That is very sad as I have traveled a lot and respect where I go, but it seems most soldiers just want to not be unemployed and not be deployed. America is now a rubber band that is stretching way to thin...its about to snap, unless it recoils back to its own country. If a person shows his fists to everyone, they will think he always wants to fight. I say just stand vigalantly gaurding the homeland,,,and you wont get as many takers in the ring! Or a pissed off crowd!

All of you are missing some information that the writer conveniently left out. You missed the part that discusses the concerns of the employed italian citizens who will lose their jobs. The part where several italian businesses and real estate owners have pleaded with italian govt to allow the expansion. The part where the site location is not in the immediate city of Vicenza but rather stands as an abandoned runway with unkept weeds growing all around. The part where the US has only one choice in the debate, attempt to obtain the land or close due to the mission's dynamic growth. Maybe when people get the other side of the story, they can form a more sensible opinion. Make no mistake about it, the US asked for, not demanded, the land to expand or they will have to close. The choice belongs to the italian govt and its citizens. Signed// Vicenza resident for over 5 years.

Most of you people, including you, David, know little of what you speak. The Italian government has been offering the use of the base at the Aeroporto Tommaso dal Molin to the Army for years and the Army has, up until now, always declined. The US does not keep nuclear weapons on Italian soil. The closest the we came to that was the nuclear submarine located in Sardegna. It is now gone. Dal Molin will not be an airbase. The Army uses the joint Italian/US Air Force Base at Aviano for that. The runway at dal Molin is neither long enough or sturdy enough to use to airlift an airborne brigade anywhere. Besides, it's about to be demolished at US expense and rebuilt as a smaller general aviation airport at ENAV expense.

Cinzia Bottene is a Communist and, as such, would protest the US on any soil, anywhere, had she the opportunity. The majority of the people protesting dal Molin are not from Vicenza but from Bologna or Ravenna, hotbeds of Communist activity. She obviously did not know enough about her own country to know that the Italian government has been offering the use of dal Molin to the US for years. The United States is not a friend who "demanded to take the whole house". Another room in the house was offered to us. The US pressed for a timely decision by the Italian government on the project, not because they have some desire to control another government but because the Congress would take back the money appropriated for this use if the project was not approved by a certain date.

It is true that there are other things more important than money. If the US does not build dal Molin, then they will be forced to keep other bases in Germany open and close the existing one at Caserma Ederle. Tell the several thousand Italians that work on the post that. Tell the hundreds of Italians that rent houses to Americans that they have to find other renters or sell their property. Tell the shop owners, restauranteurs and gas station attendants that they need to accept less work and less pay.

This base will conform to every Italian, European and U.S. environmental protection requirement from co-generation to protection of the Bacchiglione River from runoff and other forms of pollution. All of the construction will be performed by an Italian contractor, with Italian sub-contractors. No American companies are involved in the construction and only in a minor way in the design.

It's stupid and ingenuous to say that the average American citizen doesn't know that there are US military bases in many countries in the world. Only someone totally out of touch with reality would not know this fact...or say it.

I doubt very seriously that except in the case of an emergency that an American would have priority over an Italian for health care. It's true that Vicenza does not have a large health clinic on post (one is under construction and another $50 million goes into the pockets of the Italian contractors and workers) but Americans pay for medical care and have appointments while Italian medical care is largely tax supported and on a first come first served basis.

The Italian government pays NOTHING to the US government to maintain American bases in Italy. They pay a good deal to maintain their responsibilities as part of NATO on NATO bases. Neither Caserma Ederle nor dal Molin are or will be NATO bases. The cost of maintenance, security, salaries, electricity, water, gas, sewer and everything else is paid for by US taxpayers. The fiber optic cable (which they did not tear out) was paid for by US taxpayers and given to AIM. The additional electrical capacity necessary for the base will be paid to ENEL by the US taxpayer in the form of connection fees. If the Italian taxpayer pays anything at all, it is for the Carabinieri stationed there and that is part of their responsibility under the SOFA treaty. The land is rented, although at minimal cost, by the Ministry of Defense to the US Government and remains the property of the Italian Ministry of Defense. It is not owned by the US Government. Nothing outside of an embassy or consulate can be owned by the US outside the US by US law.

Are there some Americans that mis-behave, cause problems, get drunk when they ought not to in Vicenza? Certainly. It would be useless and stupid to deny it. But how about the Italians, Albanians and Roma that target American cars, American homes and American people for theft, mugging, pick-pocketing and harrassment? But both of these are minor in comparison to the camaraderie that exists between most Americans and most Italians.

Dal Molin will be built and indeed a contract has been awarded for the construction. The 'No-Dal Molin-ers' can lay down in front of the Italian (not American) bulldozers if they like. It's their country and they have every right to protest peaceably. Or elect someone not pro-US if they like. And kick us out of their country if they like.

But if that was their desire, perhaps they shouldn't have re-elected Silvio Berlusconi.

its about time someone speaks the truth about this subject.

i live and work on Caserma Ederle (the mother base of Dal Molin). if Dal Molin is a no go then the U.S. has vowed to close our base as well. Along with the small pay wages italians are paid since they switched to the euro, closing Caserma Ederle would destroy Vicenza's economy.

The mayor of Vicenza is also a member of the communist party.
Further proof that you should never believe everything the media pumps out.

always seek truth and remember "history is written by the victor"

Though there is some truth in these last two comments, there are also some misleading misconceptions (former) and lies (latter).

1. Italy's financial contribution in relation to the bases is well documented, I do not have it to hand, however you can easily dig it up online. There is plenty of publicly available official documentation produced by the US military detailing present future funding needs to the appropriate US governmental committee and their replies. In the list of "host nations" contributions you will see ITALY listed and the amount, I do not remember offhand but remember a figure that is in the region of fortysomething percent of the total expenditure.

2. The current mayor is not a member of the communist party, but a member of the PD centre left which is roughly the same grouping that led italy's previous national government.

What is certainly true that the fault and responsability of the project lies not with the US but 90% with the Italian authorities who encouraged and planned it without involving and in fact lying to the local population. The reason for this is that there was for many years until recently in Vicenza a centre-right local council that was undefeatable and at a certain point it became both corrupt and disconnected even from its power base. This is the scenario in which the project was hatched. To please the US (which incidently appears to have held out as a carrot/stick the inclusion/non-inclusion in the missile defense shield) and among other things ,because of the insecurities relating to the fact that Italy's economy no longer justifies its belonging to the G8, Berlusconi, who has ties with the afforementioned ex-mayor of Vicenza, and the ex-mayor agreed to push forward the project secretly. The visits to Rome of relating to this during a period of over 2 years before disclosure are documented.

The whole project and even the concept of building new bases close to densely populated areas is in the times we live so ridiculous that anyone with a brain larger than a pea can understand it, but the Vicenza and national authorities wanted the new base here for the reasons above and convinced the US. In fact new bases near densely-populated areas is contrary to US military current policy because of all the headeaches it has caused them in the past. In the end it is likely to be built, only because, even faced with the evidence that it is a bad idea even for technical and environmental reasons relating to what the city can sustain in terms of water/sewage/energy etc, politicians are unable to do embarrassing U-turns

As far as the loss of jobs is concerned (though not nice if it happens to be yours, we are talking about a few hundred in a city of one hundred thousand), this is not a factor that can be used to hold an entire city and its future to ransom, it is also a non-argument as Vicenza is a prosperous area on its own and can easily absorb the loss. The council also passed a resolution to take care of all workers in the event of losses. Nobody has ever produced a shred of evidence that the base is a pivotal factor in the local economy. Furthermore, unlike someone who makes clothing or food, if you have a job which is in defence-related (the flip side of which is of course attack) then you have to just be quiet and accept when you are no longer considered necessary, otherwise we would still all be producing land mines just to give someone a job.

Regarding Italy's contribution of 40% of the cost of the bases I have only one thing to say:


You can't and neither can anyone else because your statements IGNORE the difference between NATO bases to which Italy does contribute (they are required to as part of their membership in NATO) and U.S. Military installations to which they do not contribute on any major scale.

From (although a few years old now)


Italian real defense spending in 1998 stayed at its 1997 level, as did the ratio of defense spending to GDP (2.0 percent). Italy's host nation support for U.S. forces during 1997 was estimated at nearly $1.1 billion, consisting almost entirely of indirect contributions."

INDIRECT CONTRIBUTIONS means NO CHECKS written by Italy to the US! No money flowing out of the Italian Treasury and into the U.S. Treasury.

There are many more than just a few hundred Italian workers between Caserma Ederle and Camp Darby in Livorno (many more at Caserma Ederle). I mention Livorno since it would go the same way as Ederle since it is part of the same command. I think the local national direct employment figure at Caserma Ederle is more like 1,000+ than 200. That would be 1% or more of the population of Vicenza, not a huge figure, but your statement ignores the economic impacts on bars, restaurants, stores, gas stations, house rental agents, landlords and other similar persons.

Substantial studies performed by Italian engineers as well as AIM (the local utility company) have shown that the capacity for water, sewer and electricity already exists at dal Molin since the population of the finished base will be in the area of 1,500 permanent residents and the base easily supported 3,500 during the Cold War and Kosovo. Additionally, there is a co-generation facility to be constructed at Dal Molin which will feed excess electricity back into the national grid. Also, there are water saving measures that will be included in the design of the base including xeriscaping, low flow faucets, showers, toilets, possible gray water collection systems, possible solar electrical panels and many others. The project is required by U.S. military regulations to meet the requirements of LEED silver at a minimum and it will do that easily.

In a recent non-binding referendum (10/5/2008), 90% of those voting voted against the base. However, only about 24% of the voting population bothered to vote meaning that only about 22% of the population is against the base. 78% either want the base or don't care one way or the other.

No Dal Molin's first major objection to the base is clearly indicated by their logo showing a fighter jet with the international no symbol superimposed on it. There will be no jets. There never were going to be any jets. No airplanes. Perhaps a helicopter from time to time. The men and women at dal Molin jump out of airplanes, they don't fly them. Put on your thinking cap for a bit and think Aviano AFB. That's where the 173d goes to get into planes they can later jump out of.

How do you justify counting the people who didn't vote as no votes? The people who did vote resoundingly said no ,that is what matters. How many countries have bases on US soil, oh that's right we would NEVER stand for that. We don't need all the bases we have around the world but we could sure use that money at home for schools , bridges , health care and any number of just uses.

I didn't count the votes as no votes. What I said was that they either want the base or they didn't care enough to vote. How that constitutes calling a no-show as a no vote, I do not know.

However, I don't necessarily disagree with your statement that we could use the $360,000,000 a heck of a lot better on our own country. And no, we'd never stand for another country having a base on our soil.

My objections to the 'No Dal Molin' group is that their stand is based on lies, half-truths and convenient mis-representation of fact. For instance, they've said that we intend to store nuclear weapons here or that we intend to move the prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Dal Molin. It's stupid and naive to think so. Or that we'll be moving bombers in and out of Dal Molin. We're tearing out the runway and ENAC has downgraded the category for a future one. So how are we going to use a non existent runway for supersonic bombers?

To's their country. They can allow or disallow what they like. But do it honestly.

I worked for NATO Forces in Italy for 12 years, I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that it's too bad President Truman Long ago, instead of giving Italy $100 million, plus the Marshall plan plus tons of food, etc, it's too bad he didn't leave Italy to the Soviet Union. Unbelievable mentality, you save them, you feed them, you protect them over 60 years, you make them apart of NATO, you pay them for their bases, you go to war for them; Bosnia, Kosov etc and they still propagate as Communist. Unbelievable race..

or only when you type horseshit like that?

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