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Biden has yet to even nominate an ambassador to Italy, a decision that has frustrated and puzzled many in the diplomatic community.
With the election of Italy’s most right-wing government since World War II, diplomats are increasingly concerned by the Biden administration’s decision not to fill the U.S. ambassador post in the country—a move that they feel leaves it without the influence necessary to keep a vital European partner in the fold.
The victory of a right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni—who once described the European Union as “rotten to its core” and has praised Italy’s fascist leadership under Benito Mussolini—poses a material threat to the alliance that has successfully united the West, four current and former diplomats told The Daily Beast. Without a permanent presence in Rome, one former ambassador said, the Biden administration risks “losing the voice in the room” best equipped to represent President Joe Biden during a critical moment in European politics.
“One of the most dangerous parts of Trump’s legacy is the way he shredded and deconstructed, and otherwise impaired, not only our reputation and standing abroad, but actual diplomatic infrastructure, including in embassies and multilateral organizations,” the former ambassador said. “So there is added need for a crop of ambassadors who can repair those relationships—particularly in places like Italy, like Belarus, which have seen a sort of… democratic backsliding.”
Italy is the last major European country, and one of only three on the entire continent, without a confirmed U.S. ambassador or a formally announced nominee to serve as the top American official in the country. In February, Axios reported that financier Stephen Robert was under consideration for the post, but seven months later, no nomination has materialized. Many aspiring ambassadorial nominees have been entangled in difficulties over personal and financial disclosure requirements, particularly wealthy political appointees with complex financial holdings.
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