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Viva Italia! A Strong Ally
The American Enterprise Online ^ | 7/15/03 | Brandon Bosworth

Posted on 07/15/2003 7:23:27 AM PDT by Valin

It's the Bastille Day--so expect a lot of talk about the Franco-American relations. But did anyone mention the Italian-American bond on June 2, Italy's Republic Day?

The regrettable feature of international relations is that friends get ignored--while, well, not-exactly-friends get all the attention. Italy had backed the war in Iraq despite the hostile feeling among other EU members. Its 800 soldiers and police are already patrolling Iraqi streets - and this without the "precise mandate" from the United Nations that France is demanding.
Yet when its Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, got into some hot water recently over a quip he had made, the European press savaged him--while the U.S. media, and hence the public, barely noticed. In this moving Hot Flash a year ago, Brandon Bosworth expressed his appreciation to Italy--"probably the most pro-American nation in Western Europe:

Much is written about America’s rocky relationship with the accursed nation of France (justifiably) as well as our supposed “special relationship” with the United Kingdom (perhaps optimistically). But little is said about our good friends along the Mediterranean, the Italians.

Italy is probably the most pro-American nation in Western Europe. More Italians support President Bush than do French or Germans (big surprise) or even Britons (legitimate surprise). Two months after the terror attacks in New York and Virginia, Premier Silvio Berlusconi led a pro-U.S. rally in Rome that attracted nearly 100,000 people.
He told the audience, “We’re here today to say we’re citizens of New York.” Most participants waved American flags. According to one vendor, she sold several thousand flags in just two hours. One man and his son traveled for two hours to be there, saying, “We’re here to show solidarity with the United States and condemn terrorism.”

Of course, the anti-American Left held their own counter-demonstration, which also attracted a few thousand participants. Interestingly, as in the case of a similar Washington, D.C. rally, the Leftists had originally planned to demonstrate against globalization but post-9/11 decided to hold an “anti-war” march instead. This further confirms suspicions that the Left just likes to march a lot, no matter what the cause. At one point during the Rome march, some radicals began stomping on an American flag.
An elderly woman managed to pick the flag up and kiss it before the demonstrators took it from her and threw it to the ground. I suppose the old Commie saying “always Red, never yellow” wouldn’t apply to folks who’s idea of courage is intimidating old women and manhandling inanimate objects.

More recently, Italy hosted several large celebrations to coincide with America’s Independence Day. On July Fourth, some national television and radio channels dedicated twenty-four hours of programming to celebrating American art, films, food, entertainment, history, and culture. At a celebration in Rome, U.S. ambassador Mel Sembler commented, “America has no finer ally than Italy.”
Also on July Fourth, the Palazzo Reale museum in Milan began a summer film and concert series in homage to New York. The music of the Big Apple—from the jazz of Harlem’s Cotton Club and Charlie Parker to the (often Italian-inspired) disco of the notorious Studio 54—will be a key part of the series.
“It’s no coincidence that this series is beginning on the Fourth of July,” according to Milanese cultural commissioner Salvatore Carruba. “In fact, it’s a sign of our city’s aim to strengthen ties with expressions of American culture.” No doubt good marketing sense is involved as well.
After all, the museum’s “New York Renaissance” exhibit, which opened in March, has received more visitors then any other contemporary art exhibit in Italy.

The warm feelings Italians have toward the United States start from the top. Premier Berlusconi has been strongly pro-American, as have some members of his cabinet, who are refreshingly free of most typical European biases against the “American way” of business, politics, and culture.
For example, defense minister Antonio Martino was educated in the U.S. at the University of Chicago, where he studied with Milton Friedman. Like Friedman (and F.A. Hayek and James Buchanan) he served as president for the free-market Mont Pelerin Society.
Martino shocked Italy’s chattering-classes this past May when he expressed his fondness for America’s Second Amendment, noting that it was something Italians should consider adopting. After all, as Martino has said, “Gun control disarms law-abiding citizens, not criminals.”

Those in the Italy’s business world have reasons to love America, too. According to our State Department, the U.S. is the fifth-largest supplier of goods to the Italian market, and the largest supplier outside the European Union. Trade between the two nations in 2001 totaled $34 billion, with the United States importing about $23 billion worth of Italian goods.
The large presence of U.S. military forces in Italy surely pumps up the local economy as well. There are six American bases and 16,000 military personnel in the country.
The U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet is headquartered in Naples. As is often the case with military installations, several businesses surrounding the bases owe their livelihood to the patronage of servicemen.

America and Italy are also tragically linked by the threat of Islamic terrorism. The Vatican was also on the al-Qaeda list of sites to target on 9/11. In the months since, Italy has foiled numerous terror plots. These plots have included schemes to poison Rome’s drinking water, bomb an ancient church in Bologna, and destroy the new courthouse in Agrigento.
American intelligence forces have uncovered possible al-Queda plans to attack Jewish targets throughout Italy. The U.S. Treasury Department believes “the most important base of al-Qaeda in Europe” is in Milan. Clearly, Italy has a very large stake in the War on Terror.

But there’s more to the relationship between the two nations then politics or business or terrorism. Everyday Italians know they have a special bond with America. After all, many have at least distant relatives in the U.S. According to the Census Bureau, we are home to over 11 million Italian-Americans, about the same number as African-Americans and Asian-Americans combined. And Italian-Americans have managed to do well here, as their compatriots in the Old Country are well aware.
For example, when speaking to the proverbial “man on the street” in Italy, it is astonishing how many know of and respect Rudy Giuliani. They know that one of their own made it big, becoming mayor of one of the greatest cities in the world, and it fills them with pride.
They know about all the great Italian-Americans who became big successes fields such as film, music, literature, and sports. Plus, something about the fact there are “Little Italys” throughout the U.S. (when’s the last time you saw a “Little France?”) just brings us that much closer together.

What really makes me appreciate the bond between Italy and America are the experiences of my friend Mike Tallackson. A sailor in the U.S. Navy, Mike was stationed in Naples around the time of the 9/11 attacks. He would often send me e-mails describing the kindness of everyday Italians, who would bring milkshakes and other drinks to the American servicemen serving guard duty for hours on end in the hot Neapolitan sun. One letter in particular has stuck in my mind. Within days of the attacks, Mike wrote:
The morning after the events, an Italian man carrying flowers approached me. He explained to me that his parents were in New York and he could not for the life of him get in contact with them. He then proceeded to break down in my arms, sobbing, and despite his tears and emotion-filled voice, he was able to muster, “God Bless America," leaving me the flowers as a remembrance.

That sums up the relationship between our two nations better than any trade figures or political speeches ever could.

Brandon Bosworth is a TAE associate editor.
The American Enterprise Online:

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs

1 posted on 07/15/2003 7:23:27 AM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin
I am an American of Italian in-laws came here from Italy almost 50-years ago, my great grand-parents nearly a century. (Fortunately, unlike some here in NY, my in-laws immediately became American citizens and fly not one, but two American flags on their property).

Its' always irked some that have asked me through the years', "Are you Italian?" that I ALWAYS reply, "No, I'm an American!" but I don't care.

I will say this, I am very proud/happy of what Italy has done in backing America and we truly have a friend in them. As far back as October of 2001 after Silvio Berlusconi visited the White House after the tragedy of the month before, you could tell how touched our President was when Berlusconi described America as "the great defender of freedom." Even last November, when the battle lines were being drawn on the Iraqi-war front, I remember seeing on CNN that Berlusconi said, "it is the duty of Rome to stand beside America."

Italy, though not perfect, is one of the few countries that really appreciates what America has done for it.
2 posted on 07/15/2003 7:38:53 AM PDT by God luvs America
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3 posted on 07/15/2003 7:40:27 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: God luvs America
When Berlusconi was at Camp David and spoke of the United States as "the great defender of freedom" he also movingly spoke of how his country owed a great debt of gratitude to the young Americans who saved his country from fascism and totalitarianism.

One of those young Americans was my father. I wish he had lived to hear Silvo Berlusconi's thanks.

God bless Berlusconi and Italy, our loyal friends.

4 posted on 07/15/2003 7:45:45 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: Valin
Italy sounds like a great place to unload some green next year - great food, great people. And I've always wanted to see Tuscany.
5 posted on 07/15/2003 8:17:45 AM PDT by skeeter (Fac ut vivas)
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To: Valin
According to the Census Bureau, we are home to over 11 million Italian-Americans, about the same number as African-Americans and Asian-Americans combined.

This can't be right...11 million Italian Americans, the same as African and Asian combined? There's way more than 11 million Italian Americans than that, as well way more than 11 million African Americans. That's gotta be a misprint.

6 posted on 07/15/2003 8:20:28 AM PDT by egarvue (Martin Sheen is not my president...)
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To: egarvue
Next time I take a European trip it'll be ITALY !
7 posted on 07/15/2003 8:29:21 AM PDT by sushiman
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To: skeeter
If you are into photography or not for that matter. I'd recomend
Florence & Tuscany
A Photographic & Cultural Tour

Good guy..And a great photographer/teacher.

Note: Like many in the "arts world" he is a lefty. (We can't all be perfect)
8 posted on 07/15/2003 8:50:42 AM PDT by Valin (America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.)
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To: Valin
In addition to Florence, must visits are Lucca and Siena. Pisa is close to Lucca, but not worth much time because of a multitude of seedy characters who probably admire obl. And don't forget the wineries in the country and small towns such as Sarteano and Chiusi. What a great place to vacation.
9 posted on 07/15/2003 9:31:17 AM PDT by Ben Chad
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To: God luvs America
I really love my ITALIAN hubby!
10 posted on 07/15/2003 9:44:40 AM PDT by Arpege92
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To: Arpege92
So does my wife!! (American of Italian heritage that is!!)
11 posted on 07/15/2003 9:46:44 AM PDT by God luvs America
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To: God luvs America
Well, we are two lucky ladies! :-}
12 posted on 07/15/2003 9:49:55 AM PDT by Arpege92
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To: Arpege92
Yes you both are...and I constantly remind her of that!! (:
13 posted on 07/15/2003 9:51:45 AM PDT by God luvs America
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To: Arpege92
Yes you both are...and I constantly remind her of that!! (:
14 posted on 07/15/2003 9:51:45 AM PDT by God luvs America
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To: God luvs America
Well, you have reminded me and I thank you!
15 posted on 07/15/2003 9:55:15 AM PDT by Arpege92
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To: Arpege92
no problem!!
16 posted on 07/15/2003 10:03:45 AM PDT by God luvs America
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