Having recently finished reading Daniele Ganser's book about Gladio , my appetite for additional knowledge and information on this and related subjects was aroused. I came across Philip Willan's book, Puppetmasters, subtitled "The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy".
This is a riveting but at times chilling exploration of Italian terrorism from the late 1960s through to the early 80s, the period generally referred to as "the years of lead", and how this was directed, influenced and manipulated by sinister conspiratorial forces.
The book features a particularly thorough and intensive look at the kidnapping and murder in 1978 of the former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, who at the time was on the verge of securing an agreement for Communists to enter the government in Rome. These enquiries bring together many of the strands associated with the Gladio phenomenon, and the "strategy of tension". Many of the deceptions, ambiguities and irregularities arising from the case are probed. The author does not just pose the banal question "who benefited from Moro's demise?". Instead he puts forward evidence that the affair was much more complicated than was portayed at the time, mostly pointing to the behaviour of the Italian security services and police, and the fate of some of those people who may have had knowledge of what went on.
Studying this particular subject requires the reader to take each quote, assertion and allegation with a pinch of salt, as the whole structure seems to have been founded on a game of multiple, mutual blackmail. Everybody seems to have possessed knowledge of where some of the bodies were buried. It may be possible to construct an organic mental picture of what the true story was, the bricks being those fragments of the tale which appear most plausible, and which make sense in the big picture.
The most pertinent conclusion which I drew from this book was how acutely the boundaries between "goodies" and "baddies" were blurred. It is strongly alleged and suspected that the so-called "guardians of democracy", and their associates in other organizations, infiltrated left-wing groups and orchestrated some of their blood-soaked actions, as part of their campaign to induce the public to retreat to the secure bosom of the "security" provided by the Right. The thorough and methodical way in which the author sifts through the evidence and the labyrinthine grid of connecting players makes the case compelling and disconcerting. Who in the final analysis had the more honest, noble and selfless aims and values?
A well-structured and unvarnished telling of one of the more sordid and cruel chapters in post-war European history....