The war in Ukraine has sparked an intense public debate in Italy over NATO’s objectives and activities. A significant minority of the Italian public considers the alliance at least partially responsible for the conflict. Early analyses of the public debate over the conflict focused on the influence projected by the Russian state and state-adjacent actors in Italian media and politics. This study shifts the focus towards the interests and agency of Italian actors critical of NATO. It frames criticism of the alliance in mass media and social media as the result of deeply rooted resentment against an organisation perceived—both on the left and on the right of the political spectrum—as a sinew of a network of ‘foreign’ institutions considered responsible for Italy’s socio-economic decline. From these premises it examines how pacifist and ‘geopolitical’ critiques of NATO have affected the alliance’s capability to perform strategic communications in the country. These findings, in turn, suggest the need for renewed attention to how NATO strategic communications could engage domestic audiences of member states.

Keywords - strategic communications, strategic communication, war in Ukraine, Italy, NATO, disinformation, misinformation

About the Author: Dr Aurelio Insisa is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Hong Kong.