Italy's politics without policy : balancing atlanticism and Europeanism in the Middle East
Title: Italy's politics without policy : balancing atlanticism and Europeanism in the Middle East
Citation: Modern Italy, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 135-153
ISSN: 1353-2944; 1469-9877
Focusing on Italy's Middle East policies under the second Berlusconi (2001–2006) and the second Prodi (2006–2008) governments, this article assesses the manner and extent to which the observed foreign policy shifts between the two governments can be explained in terms of the rebalancing between a ‘Europeanist’ and a transatlantic orientation. Arguing that Rome's policy towards the Middle East hinges less on Italy's specific interests and objectives in the region and more on whether the preference of the government in power is to foster closer ties to the United States or concentrate on the European Union, the analysis highlights how these swings of the pendulum along the EU–US axis are inextricably linked to a number of underlying structural weaknesses of Rome's foreign policy. In particular, the oscillations can be explained by the prevalence of short-term political (and domestic) considerations and the absence of long-term, substantive political strategies, or, in short, by the phenomenon of ‘politics without policy’ that often characterises Italy's foreign policy.
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