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President Joe Biden Has No Ambassador in Italy as It Flirts With Fascism


With Italy’s most right-wing government election since the Second World War, diplomats are increasingly concerned about the Biden administration’s decision not to appoint the US ambassador to the country – a move they felt that it did not have the influence necessary to hold the important position. European partner in the first.

The victory of the right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni – who once described the European Union as “rotten at its core” and praised Italy’s fascist leadership under Benito Mussolini – posed a material threat to the alliance has successfully unified the West, four current and former diplomats told The Daily Beast. A former ambassador said without a regular presence in Rome, the Biden administration risks “losing the voice in the room” best equipped to represent President Joe Biden at a pivotal moment in politics. European school.

The former ambassador said: “One of the most dangerous parts of Trump’s legacy is the way he shreds and structures, and otherwise degrades, our reputation and standing abroad, but also our own. de facto diplomatic infrastructure, including embassies and multilateral organisations”. “So there is a need for an extra group of ambassadors that can repair those relationships — especially in places like Italy, like Belarus, which has seen a kind of…democracy retreat.”

Italy is the last major European country, and one of only three on the entire continent, to have no confirmed US ambassador or an officially announced candidate to serve as top US official. States in this country. In February, Axios reported financier Stephen Robert is being considered for the position, but seven months later, none of the nominations have materialized. Many aspiring ambassadorial candidates have been plagued with personal and financial disclosure requirements, especially by wealthy political appointees with complicated finances.

Many diplomats speculate that the post is being held for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), echoing a rumor that has circulated on Capitol Hill for months. Pelosi is still running for re-election to her San Francisco-based congressional seat, but is likely to lose her speech rights after the midterm elections — a potential opportunity for the 82-year-old to enjoy the status ” semi-retirement” in one of the most coveted articles in Europe, as one former career State Department official put it.

“Honestly, she would be a perfect candidate, if she could be confirmed,” they said, in a rare endorsement. so-called “politician” of a career officer. “But waiting two years to name a candidate for a country that is backing fascism is negligence at the border.”

Pelosi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Historically, the position of US ambassador to Rome was considered a good one for rich or influential allies of the president — the mansion served as the ambassador’s residence was an object of particular envy – and the perennially warm relationship between the US and Italy often ensured few diplomatic hiccups. Alumni include investor Lewis Eisenberg under President Donald Trump, litigator John R. Phillips under President Barack Obama, and private equity mogul Ronald Spogli, a roommate of President George W. Bush at Harvard Business School.

But the election of the far-right coalition in Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections could upset the status quo in international relations between Italy and the United States, not to mention the rest of Europe.

Meloni, who began her political career as vice-president of a neo-fascist political party now outlawed, has campaigned to become Italy’s first female prime minister on the platform. populist and traditional is “God, country, family” —a fascist slogan with deep connotations in Italy — with particular hostility towards immigrants and LGBTQ people. Last month, Meloni tweeted a video about a Ukrainian woman who was sexually assaulted by a male asylum seeker, a video she said was meant to emphasize her commitment to “ensure the safety of cities” but ended up being abused. identify rape victims.

The victory of the Meloni coalition is only the most striking success of far-right movements in Europe, but comes at a time when the integrity of the pro-Western, pro-European alliance is of particular strategic importance. for the United States. Although Meloni has vowed to continue Italy’s support for Ukraine as it seeks to drive out invading Russian forces last winter, her coalition partners have expressed support for Putin and the invasion.

“Putin was pushed by the Russian people, his party and ministers to invent war,” said Silvio Berlusconi, a former prime minister and notorious tax fraudster who is now one of Meloni’s coalition partners. this special translation. Berlusconi, one of Putin’s oldest allies in Europe, has blamed Western military support on Ukrainian forces for preventing the Russian military from replacing Volodymyr Zelensky’s government “with dead people.” economy” and ended the invasion “a week later.”

Matteo Salvini, another coalition partner, was photographed wearing a T-shirt with Putin’s image and the slogan “RUSSIA’S MILITARY”, calling for a return to sanctions on the Kremlin and accepting a trip to Moscow by the government. Last time the Russian government funded it, maybe until the “peace mission,” as he called it, was canceled after a public outcry.

With Meloni and these allies set to take the helm soon, a former diplomat told The Daily Beast, the US needs a competent advocate for American and Western interests in Rome “in The first day”.

“When you’re ambassador, you don’t represent yourself, you don’t represent the State Department, you represent the president of the United States of America,” they said. “Your counterparts in the host country, no matter how opposed or hostile they may be to the views of the US government, will not leave the table when the president of the United States — or his chosen representative theirs — sitting across from you.”

When asked, all the diplomats who spoke to The Daily Beast said they were confident that Biden’s eventual nominee would be qualified to navigate the already difficult relationship with the Italian government. Biden, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has stated that qualifications

The former ambassador said: “Any political appointee he chooses is likely to be very carefully considered, which is the case that can be made with existing skills and experience. their. “Every president appoints some of these people who have contributed $50 million, but I don’t think he would put himself in that position, given the challenge this ambassador will face. .”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on what caused the delay in naming a nominee, but has previously emphasized that professional State Department officials who operate the ship between ambassador confirmations is more likely to keep things alive. .

Speaking to reporters on Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she would not “participate in any hypothetical” about Italy’s future cooperation with the United States, but promised that the Biden administration “will work with the new Italian government on the full range of shared global challenges.”

However, the direct relationship between the president and the ambassador can be of great help in navigating high-value diplomatic relationships, a former senior diplomat said, especially when a The message that needs to be conveyed is considered direct from the president.

While professional State Department officers can keep an embassy running for an entire term, they say, “the relationship between the president and the ambassador who is valued above any other official in the government domestic federation except for the president – is an important line of communication. A charge [d’affaires] answer to a deputy minister under the secretary. An ambassador answers to the president. “



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