“The threat of the nuclear button is more rhetorical than real,” says Lorenzo Silva

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Lawrence Silva. / EP

“The CNI is not a gang of undocumented immigrants or ‘kill you,’ and if it fulfilled its duty, it should not be penalized,” says the author of ‘No one ahead’

Michael Lorenci

drid. “We have lived at war since the beginning of the 21st century, which began on 9/11 when everything fell to pieces, but we Spaniards have become accustomed to being in the rear, without feeling the threat of bombs, bullets and missiles.” Says Lorenzo Silva (Madrid, 55 years old), who in his new book, ‘No one ahead’ (Destiny), puts himself in the shoes of those who have lived the war on the front line and suffered its claws. With the invasion of Ukraine, the risk of a global war grows, although Silva believes that “the threat of the nuclear button is more rhetorical than real.” He also defends that if the CNI has fulfilled its duty “it should not be penalized.”

“With each new book it is as if I had to invent a format, and these are not chronicles or stories,” says the author of some texts inspired by events experienced in the last two decades by Spanish soldiers “who are in that uncomfortable place where they don’t no one is left ahead; who make and suffer war and record its ravages. A war “with a thousand faces, which today is being waged simultaneously on the front lines of Afghanistan or Syria, on the Ramblas of Barcelona with Islamic attacks, and on the networks, with ‘fake news’, propaganda or espionage”.

To construct a “very real” fiction “crudely”, Silva resorts to testimonies from officers and soldiers of the Special Operations Command (MOE), active in actions such as the invasion of Perejil (2002) or the evacuation of the Kabul airport (2021 ), passing through Najaf, Badghis or Al Anbar. Some military actions “that the majority of the Spaniards lived very backwards and that have been told little.”

Spies on the ground

Silva was on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and saw first-hand the work of the intelligence services that supported the Spanish troops. “The CNI is not a gang of ‘mataos’ or undocumented immigrants,” he says hours after the government claimed Paz Esteban’s head, head of the intelligence services and dismissed to placate the anger of the opposition after the scandal of the espionage with the Pegasus system.

“If those spied on with this software were based on indications of their links with violent actions by groups that sought to seriously destabilize through urban guerrilla warfare, blockade of infrastructures and threats to the integrity of people, allegedly connected with information services of a foreign power hostile to the EU and, therefore, to Spain, such as Russia, the CNI fulfilled its duty”, argues Silva. “And no one should be penalized for doing their duty,” he adds.

He acknowledges that the Pegasus scandal “may be a discredit” but believes that the CNI “will continue to have a good poster.” “We know of recent failures, such as the days before the referendum in Catalonia in 2017, but the CIA or the Mossad also make mistakes,” he points out.

In Iraq, a dozen Spanish soldiers died and in Afghanistan more than a hundred. But the war wheel does not stop turning. The penultimate episode of this incessant war is Ukraine, a “rare” conflict for Silva. “It is an asymmetric war, very advanced on the one hand, with drones that locate Russian generals and strike them down when they phone his wife, along with more rudimentary combat.” “Traditional warfare is only waged by backward armies like Putin’s, which resort almost to the trenches to face much more agile and dynamic troops,” he says. “Putin has screwed up by engaging in conventional warfare, but the Russians are good at manipulation, cyberattacks, lies and propaganda.”

There is the threat of the extension of the conflict, of resorting to the nuclear arsenal and unleashing World War III. “I see a total war as difficult. The use of the red nuclear button is a weapon more rhetorical than real. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but if Russia did it would be suicidal,” says the writer. “It does not interest great powers like China, already regretting its acquiescence with the intervention in Ukraine and the economic crisis it has caused, which is already having an impact on its GDP.”

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