The War That Wasn't There? Italy's "Peace Mission" in Afghanistan, Strategic Narratives and Public Opinion
Factors as culture, values, and symbols are crucial to understand the evolution of the Italian foreign and defense policy. However, scholars’ attention to such variables in the study of Italian defense policies still leaves many gaps. Since the end of the Cold War, Italian troops have been constantly engaged in military operations abroad spreading a “peacekeeper image” of Italy in the international arena. The goal of this work is to investigate the features and the evolution of the main strategic narratives adopted by political leaders to interpret the Italian military involvement in Afghanistan. How have politicians crafted strategic narratives on the Afghan mission? How have these story lines influenced public opinion during the conflict? Has the disproportionate gap between the storyline, based on the traditional values of peace and multilateralism, and the war-torn reality on the ground, affected the level of public approval? Or have the ways in which narratives were built in 2009 played a more significant role? In order to answer these questions, this paper relies on polls, content analysis of parliamentary debates, and public discourse analysis (2001-2011).