Albert Camus in his essay “L’Exil d’Hélène” discusses contemporary disregard for the Greek value of limits. Camus writes that only the artist by his nature recognizes his limits, limits which the historic spirit disregards. The very idea of a super-secret organization like Gladio to remake the world in its own image reflects that same disregard for the Greek values that Camus so cherished.
When in the early 1970s an Italian right-wing journalist told me about a secret army training in Italy’s mountains, I scoffed at first thinking he was repeating a rumor picked up from some scoop-obsessed reporter. But my tune began changing when he gave it a name—“Stay Behind Army”—and explained it was a secret army to fight the Soviet armies which someday soon would invade West Europe. He gave me the name of a member of that secret army who would talk with me.
A few days later on a street corner near Rome’s Sapienza University I met a sleazy-looking Roman in his early twenties accompanied by a friend. Both of them kept looking around us, as if checking for tails. Their behavior was that of men on the run, yet men of destiny. They talked readily. And I, without realizing it, was being shown a speck of a new planet. Speaking softly in a crisp language with their Rome accents, they told me they had just finished a military training course in the nearby Abruzzi Mountains after having done basic training in Sardinia. Several times they used the term “Secret Army”, lowering their voices and glancing around each time they pronounced the words. And no, they answered, the organizers would not allow journalist visits, and that yes, the secret army was well equipped and ready.
Years later, in the late 1980s or early 90s, it happened by chance that I met in a Rome hotel bar an American who knew details about that secret army. I was sitting on a stool at the bar of the luxurious Grand Hotel waiting for an appointment with a well-known writer when the man sat down on the stool next to me. I recognized William Colby from pictures of him in the press announcing the presence in Rome for a conference of the former Director of the CIA.