The Grandeur that Is Rome

( Clifford D. May - Italy today has a government that views what is happening in the world not as French President Jacques Chirac does -- but as most Americans do. This was driven home to me during a series of interviews I recently conducted in Rome. "We are committed to fighting the War on Terrorism," Franco Frattini, Italy's foreign minister told me. "And though it is not easy to say in Europe these days, the other main task we have before us is to help spread democracy in the Muslim world." How can that be accomplished? "We have to stimulate, support and reinforce those in the Middle East who believe in democracy and human rights." For his part, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi views Iraq as "the frontline in the War on Terrorism." A top aide to the Prime Minister elaborated: "Iraq today is a melting pot of terrorist tendencies," he said. "Every terrorist faction is represented there. International terrorists are experimenting in Iraq. We simply cannot let them defeat us. If we do, that will not be the last defeat we'll suffer." He added regretfully: "Too many of our allies in Europe do not understand this." Berlusconi's government also disagrees with many of its neighbors on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "The problem is that European policy is unbalanced," Frattini said. "So many Europeans lean to the Palestinian side, ignoring the terrorism inflicted on the Israelis and never seeing the Israeli perspective." "Europe should play a role in the Middle East, in working for a peaceful settlement," he said. "But we can't do that if Israel doesn't trust Europe, and Israel doesn't trust Europe because of this unbalanced policy."

2004-08-23 00:00:00

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