U.S. officials think Berlusconi is ‘feckless, vain, and ineffective’

Another unsparing assessment of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from the WikiLeaks trove, this one from a June 2009 report to President Barack Obama from an embassy official in Rome: [Berlusconi] displays an overweening self-confidence born of stable and strong political popularity that has made him deaf to dissenting opinion. The strict control he exercises ...

ROBERTO SALOMONE/AFP/Getty Images
ROBERTO SALOMONE/AFP/Getty Images
ROBERTO SALOMONE/AFP/Getty Images

Another unsparing assessment of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from the WikiLeaks trove, this one from a June 2009 report to President Barack Obama from an embassy official in Rome:

[Berlusconi] displays an overweening self-confidence born of stable and strong political popularity that has made him deaf to dissenting opinion. The strict control he exercises over his government and party inhibits his staff from giving him unpleasant messages. His unorthodox governing style, coupled with his frequent verbal gaffes and high-profile scandals (including public bickering with his wife about his alleged philandering), have caused many, including some inside the U.S. government, to dismiss him as feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader.

Another unsparing assessment of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from the WikiLeaks trove, this one from a June 2009 report to President Barack Obama from an embassy official in Rome:

[Berlusconi] displays an overweening self-confidence born of stable and strong political popularity that has made him deaf to dissenting opinion. The strict control he exercises over his government and party inhibits his staff from giving him unpleasant messages. His unorthodox governing style, coupled with his frequent verbal gaffes and high-profile scandals (including public bickering with his wife about his alleged philandering), have caused many, including some inside the U.S. government, to dismiss him as feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader.

(Granted, this isn’t exactly news.)

Even Berlusconi’s “closest advisors,” the cable observes, “fear Italy is losing the credibility and influence that it enjoyed in Washington under the previous U.S. administration.” But Berlusconi “respects and admires the U.S., and is eager to build a strong and successful relationship with you.” Even if the feeling isn’t mutual.

Charles Homans is a special correspondent for the New Republic and the former features editor of Foreign Policy.

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