Italian Foreign Policy and the Obama Administration: Between New Opportunities and Constraints

in Volume 25 (2010): Issue 1 (Sep 2010): Managing Uncertainty. Guest Editors: Marco Giuliani and Erik Jones
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Despite Silvio Berlusconi’s much-publicized friendship with US President

George W. Bush, the election of Barack Obama in November 2008

did not lead to any appreciable deterioration of US-Italy relations. The

clash of personalities and “ideologies” that some had predicted did not

materialize. The two leaders soon established a cordial and pragmatic

relationship. The emphasis on continuity, however, did not deter

change. In fact, the shift in priorities and approach brought about by

the Obama administration during its first year in office altered the context

within which Italian foreign policy was carried out. New opportunities

opened up as Italy’s engagement with Russia and Iran, which

had attracted criticism in the past, also became the stated goal of the

US government. At the same time, Italian foreign policy was faced

with new constraints as Obama’s new course combined US leadership

with coordination, expecting European allies to consult with Washington

on dossiers having both national and transatlantic dimensions.