The Ghost of Machiavelli: An approach to operation Gladio and terrorism in cold war Italy

INHALT: In order to keep the power, one has to use terror sometimes”, the Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli suggested 500 years ago. Today, the ghost of Machiavelli haunts the planet as acts of terrorism and warfare dominate the daily news. Historians now have access to a document that was made public in Italy in 1990 and shed new light on the secret aspects of the Cold War in Western Europe. The document, dated 1 June 1959, had been compiled by the Italian military secret service SIFAR and is entitled “The special forces of SIFAR and Operation Gladio”. It explained that a secret stay-behind army linked to NATO and the US secret service CIA had been set up in Italy for the purpose of unconventional warfare. Ever since, there have been allegations in Italy that the Gladio stay-behind army was linked to acts of state sponsored terrorism during the Cold War. Despite their importance for historical, criminal, legal and social investigations into the secret history of the Cold War, these questions have received next to no attention among the English-speaking research community since the documents’ discovery, partly due to language barriers. The paper analyses and contextualises the Italian data and investigates whether the CIA and the SIFAR have sponsored false flag terrorism in Cold War Italy in order to discredit the Italian Communists and “keep the power”, as Machiavelli suggested.