To Obama on Berlusconi (2009)

Hands Up. Silvio Berlusconi, 2008.

Hands Up. Silvio Berlusconi, 2008.

To: The President

From: The Charge D’Affaires, U.S. Embassy, Rome

Subject:  Scenesetter for Italian PM Berlusconi’s June 15 visit to Washington


Mr. President, your meeting with Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi comes at a time when his closest advisors fear Italy is losing Berlusconi the politician.

Berlusconi is  frequently unhelpful for himself.  Berlusconi has made a few missteps, such as his awkward attempt at a joke, in referring to President Obama as “suntanned.”

Our relationship with Berlusconi is complex. Berlusconi’s shoot-from-the-hip style and frequent gaffes frequently create bumps in the relationship with the United States.

His shortcomings notwithstanding, marginalizing Berlusconi would limit important cooperation with a key ally. He is vocally pro-American and has helped address our interests on many levels.

Dealing with Berlusconi, therefore, requires a careful balance of close coordination with him.

Italy held elections for the European Parliament on June 6 and 7, which reaffirmed Berlusconi’s People of Liberty (PDL) party as its economic crisis.

Prudent (some would say stodgy) banking practices allowed Italy to avoid the global financial sector meltdown. Italy’s banks simply die.

Berlusconi’s stewardship of his G8 presidency has been marked by a proliferation of ministerial and sub-ministerial meetings coupled (with) Guantanamo detainees.

While the junior partner in Berlusconi’s coalition Russia, dependence on Russian energy, lucrative and frequently nontransparent business dealings between Italy and Russia, and a close, personal ties with Putin, the Berlusconi government is pursuing plans to bring back nuclear power to Italy.

As a result of his short-sighted obsession with Russia, Berlusconi has thrown his support behind Medvedev’s calls for muddying the waters on Iran  (But) U.S. -based companies Westinghouse and GE face a stiff Iran. Berlusconi came into power with a tough public stance on Iran.

With Italy frustrated by its exclusion from the P5-plus-l negotiating circle, Berlusconi will highlight Italy’s would-be role as  Libya. Your visit will provide an opportunity to highlight our cooperation on Africa through Italy’s hosting of portions of AFRICOM.

Berlusconi has maintained a significant military commitment in Afghanistan (2,600 troops, mostly in Italy’s Regional-Command West). Italy is the sixth-largest contributor to ISAF.

Our shared security interests with Italy go beyond Afghanistan. U.S. facilities in Italy provide unmatched freedom of action.

The robust U.S.-Italian relationship provides us with major national security benefits in our military missions overseas.

WikiLeaks adaptation courtesy of Photograph courtesy of  Global Panorama. Published under a Creative Commons license.