“Italy is part of me” said Barack Obama as he welcomed me to the Oval Office. The president of the United States looked comfortable and relaxed at the start of this exclusive interview with the Corriere della Sera. Obama tackled big issues, like the war in Afghanistan, calling Italy’s contribution to the alliance effort “outstanding”. He pointed out that summer 2011 will not be the start of a hurried American withdrawal. It will be the moment when “we begin to see Afghan troops and police taking over from us”. He discussed the risk of losing Turkey, noting that Europe’s reluctance to include Ankara as a full member could push the Turkish people to “look elsewhere”. He praised Berlusconi and Napolitano, saying Italy was “lucky to have an excellent premier and an excellent president”. But he also talked about less serious matters, admitting to a passion for Dante, the films of Fellini, Antonioni and De Sica, and the light of Tuscany.Don't tell me--he also craves gelato, canoli, Chianti and a highly-garlicked pasta e fagioli.
Talk about wanting to be all things to all people. (Do you have the sense that he's what Oprah would call a "people pleaser"?) As for the notion of "losing Turkey"--Madon'! As if incorporating a humungous Muslim nation that's in the process of repudiating Ataturkian secularism in favour of Islamism and sharia is a winning strategy for the West.