Why Trump wants to strengthen the alliance with Italy

“I am not here to make judgments about what other countries are doing, but to say what the position of my country is,” states President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, during the bilateral meeting in mid-October with President Donald Trump and journalists at the White House referring to the aggression of the Kurds in Syria, condemned by Italy.

As usual, few words, but ones of substance without being intimidated: President Mattarella has not visited Washington since 2016 when Barack Obama was the White House’ First Citizen.

But the most important role is undoubtedly that of Donald Trump, in the Oval Office, as well as in the East Room and during the evening reception to honor the relations between the two countries. “Our deep friendship is strengthened.  It is a friendship fostered by the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, and very much after World War Two. The United States contribution to the liberation of Europe from Nazi fascism is priceless, and Italy and Europe’s gratitude towards your American people is everlasting. We are part of a community of values and principles.” Mattarella goes back in history by recalling the historical, cultural and political heritage that has been going on for centuries in the wake of President Trump.

But leaving the long-standing events aside, in front of journalists, Mattarella relies on Latinisms to point fingers: “Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas,” which means, “Something more important than my friendship is the truth,” speaking once again to condemn Turkish attack on Syria, considering it a “serious mistake.”

And then, the topic of mutual imposition of duties, considered by Mattarella counter-productive and detrimental to both economies. However, it is Trump who leads the talks, despite the fact that both countries can benefit from a peaceful alliance, not only the US. It may be due to the strategic geographical position of Italy in the Mediterranean, or the meekness that distinguishes Italy in foreign policy, sometimes too focused on solving internal problems.

One year before the American elections, despite the instability of Italian national politics, Mattarella seems to be an important ally for the United States and for Trump, confident to remain in office for another term.

In addition to be NATO’s fifth contributor, Italy is still the second country for the military in the missions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with expenses that amount to a billion dollars. Although Italy currently pay only 1.15 percent of its GDP to defense expenditure, after the United States, it is in fact the country that most supplies its military for NATO missions.

However, the US spends $ 663 billion, twice as many of all the European Union countries together, a difference that Trump has often pointed out as anything but fair, urging the main NATO allies at the beginning of the summer to comply with the spending standard and lighten the burden on the US budget. Even before 2024, the deadline to reach the 2 percent standard established by the Alliance countries in 2014 – for now, only Greece, Estonia and Great Britain have hit the target.

“We’re in 90 countries all over the world, policing and – frankly, many of those countries, they don’t respect what we’re doing, they don’t even like what we’re doing, and they don’t like us,” comments Trump on why he decided to withdraw the US army from Syria. Clear agreements and long friendship, reads a saying in Italian, and that is what Trump wishes for his relations with the Italian government too.

The two presidents shared common views also on the migration issue, “Italy does not want to open borders and the US either,” stressed Trump, urging Europe to collaborate more with Rome on the issue of landings in the Mediterranean. “The ongoing Libyan conflict has led to a migration crisis, placing significant and unfair burdens on Italy, in particular. I’ve asked that the European Union get much more involved because they’re not involved enough,” said Trump, stressing that it is a problem for the European Union. Although the EU trade surplus with the United States, “they have to get more involved and help Italy”, concluded the American President. 

Last but not least, the F35s and the operation of about 14 billion euro: Trump’s congratulations on the purchase of 90 new planes from Italy, confirming the importance of the alliance. The satisfaction of the Americans for the plan on warplanes, accelerated in the last period, will give the Italian industry, that produces the wings of the aircraft, a partial return.