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Italy–United States relations

Italy – United States relations
Map indicating locations of Italy and USA


United States
Diplomatic Mission
Italian Embassy, Washington, D.C. United States Embassy, Rome
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus (left) and U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne, meet before the Memorial Day commemoration ceremony in Nettuno, Italy.
US President Barack Obama meets with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The Rome.

Italy–United States relations are the bilateral relations between the Italian Republic and the United States of America.

The United States has warm and friendly relations with Italy. The United States has had diplomatic representation in the nation of Italy and its predecessor nation, the Kingdom of Sardinia since 1840. However, in the 1890s the Italian government severed diplomatic relations and briefly contemplated war against the US as a response to the unresolved case of the lynching of six Sicilians in Tallulah, Louisiana, and there was a break in relations from 1941 to 1943, while Italy and the United States were at war.

Italy remains a strong and active transatlantic partner which, along with the United States, has sought to foster democratic ideals and international cooperation in areas of strife and civil conflict. Toward this end, the Italian Government has cooperated with the United States in the formulation of defense, security, and peacekeeping policies. Under longstanding bilateral agreements flowing from NATO membership, Italy hosts important U.S. military forces at Vicenza and Livorno (army); Aviano (air force); and Sigonella, Gaeta, and Naples—home port for the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet. The United States has about 11,500 military personnel stationed in Italy. Italy hosts the NATO Defense College in Rome.

Italy is a leading partner in counterterrorism efforts, being a founding member of both the EU and NATO, and the U.S. and Italy cooperate in the United Nations, in various regional organizations, and bilaterally for peace, prosperity, and security.

In addition to close governmental, economic and cultural ties, according to Pew Research global opinion polls, Italy is amongst one of the most pro-American nations in the world, with 70% of Italians viewing the U.S. favorably in 2002, increasing to 78% in 2014.[1] According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 51% of Italians approve of U.S. leadership under the Obama Administration, with 16% disapproving and 33% uncertain.[2]


  • Country comparison 1
  • The Rise of Fascism and World War II 2
  • 1946-1989 3
  • Post 1989 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Country comparison

 Italy  United States
Population 60,418,711 321,347,000
Area 301,338 km² (116,346 sq mi) 9,826,630 km² (3,794,066 sq mi )
Population Density 200/km² (519 /sq mi) 31/km² (80/sq mi)
Capital Rome Washington, D.C.
Largest City Rome - 2,743,796 (4,300,000 Metro) New York City - 8,363,710 (19,006,798 Metro)
Government Unitary Parliamentary republic Federal presidential constitutional republic
First Leader Prime Minister Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour President George Washington
Current Leader Prime Minister Matteo Renzi President Barack Obama
Official languages Italian English (de facto national language only)
Main Religions 92% Christianity (88% Roman Catholicism), 6% non-religious,
2% Islam
75% Christianity, 20% non-Religious, 2% Judaism, 1% Buddhism, 1% Islam
Ethnic groups 93.5% Italian, 1.5% Romanians, 1% North African, 4% Other 74% White American, 20.8% Hispanic and Latino Americans (of any race), 13.4% African American,
6.5% Other, 4.4% Asian American, 2.0% Multiracial, 0.68% Native Americans or Alaska Native, 0.14% Pacific Islander
Italian Americans 15,324 American born people living in Italy 17,815,289 people of Italian ancestry living in the U.S.A.
GDP (nominal) $2.118 trillion ($35,435 per capita) $14.441 trillion ($47,440 per capita)
Military expenditures $35.8 billion (FY 2008-09) [3] $663.7 billion (FY 2010) [4]

The Rise of Fascism and World War II

Mussolini with several other government officials.

Since Mussolini's rise to power the United States applauded him on his early achievements, including helping with relations between the two countries. Relations deteriorated after Italy invaded Ethiopia. This was about the time the United States started practicing isolationism.

From 1941 to 1943 Italy as a whole was at war with the United States, although the United States never saw Italy as an enemy but its leader Benito Mussolini. From 1943 till the end of the war the only part of Italy at war with the United States was the German puppet state the Italian Social Republic. Italian Partisans and Victor Emmanuel III and his loyalists from 1943 and onward helped the United States and other Allies during the Italian Campaign of World War II. When the War ended the United States occupied Italy until its plebiscite on the institutional form of the State. The United States helped with the transfer from monarchy to republic in 1946 and, since then, Italy has become an ally the United States and buffer against the spread of communism in Europe.


Clare Boothe Luce, Ambassador to Italy, with husband Henry Luce (1954).

From 1946 to 1953, Italy became a Republic (1946), signed a Peace Treaty with the Allies (1947), a member of the Marshall Plan. In the same years, Italy also became a member of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which eventually transformed into the European Union (EU).

Christian Democrat Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi (1945–1953) enjoyed considerable support in the US, where he was seen as the man who could oppose the rising tide of Communism – in particular the PCI, which was the biggest communist party in a Western European democracy. In January 1947 he visited the US. The chief goals of the trip were to soften the terms of the pending peace treaty with Italy, and to obtain immediate economic assistance. His ten-day tour, engineered by media mogul Henry Luce – the owner of Time Magazine – and his wife Clare Boothe Luce the future ambassador to Rome, was viewed as a media "triumph," prompting positive comments of a wide section of the American press.[5]

During his meetings in the U.S., he managed to secure a financially modest but politically significant US$100 million Eximbank loan to Italy. According to De Gasperi, public opinion would view the loan as a vote of confidence in the Italian Government and strengthen his position versus the Communist Party in the context of the emerging Cold War. The positive results strengthened De Gasperi’s reputation in Italy. He also came back with useful information on the incipient change in American foreign policy that would lead to the Cold War and in Italy the break with the Communists and left-wing Socialists and their removal from the government in the May 1947 crisis.[6]

Prime Minisiter Giulio Andreotti with President Richard Nixon in 1973.

Italy faced political instability in the 1970s, which ended in the 1980s. Known as the Years of Lead, this period was characterized by widespread social conflicts and terrorist acts carried out by extra-parliamentary movements. The assassination of the leader of the Christian Democracy (DC), Aldo Moro, led to the end of a "historic compromise" between the DC and the Communist Party (PCI). In the 1980s, for the first time, two governments were managed by a republican and a socialist (Bettino Craxi) rather than by a member of DC.

Many aspects of the Years of Lead are still shrouded in mystery and debate about them continues. There were many, especially on the left, who spoke of the existence in those years of a Ordine Nuovo or Avanguardia Nazionale; Italian secret service; and the United States. This theory re-emerged in the 1990s, following Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti's recognition of the existence of Gladio before the Parliamentary assembly on 24 October 1990. Juridical investigations into the Piazza Fontana bombing and the Bologna massacre and several parliamentary reports pointed towards such a deliberate strategy of tension. Milan prosecutor Guido Salvini indicted a U.S. Navy officer, David Carrett, for his role in the Piazza Fontana bombing. He also surprised Carlo Rocchi, a CIA operative in Italy, in 1995 while searching for information concerning the case in the mid-1990s. In 2000, a Parliamentary Commission report from the then center-left government, concluded that the strategy of tension had been supported by the United States to "stop the PCI, and to a certain degree also the PSI, from reaching executive power in the country".[7][8][9]

With the end of the social-democratic force.

Post 1989

During the 1990s and 2000s, United States and Italy have always cooperated as NATO partners on issues like the Gulf War, Lebanon, the Middle East peace process, multilateral talks, Somalia and Mozambique peacekeeping, drug trafficking, trafficking in women and children, and terrorism. Under longstanding bilateral agreements flowing from NATO membership, Italy hosts important U.S. military forces at Vicenza and Livorno (army); Aviano (air force); and Sigonella, Gaeta, and Naples–home port for the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet. The United States has about 13,000 military personnel stationed in Italy. Italy hosts the NATO Defence College in Rome. Italy remains a strong and active transatlantic partner which, along with the United States, has sought to foster democratic ideals and international cooperation in areas of strife and civil conflict.

Prime Minister George W. Bush in 2002.

During the 2000s, Berlusconi and his cabinets have had a strong tendency to support American foreign policies,[10] despite the policy divide between the U.S. and many founding members of the

During his short-lived second center-left government of 2006-2008, Prime Minister Romano Prodi laid out some sense of his new foreign policy when he pledged to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq and called the Iraq War a "grave mistake that has not solved but increased the problem of security".[12]

See also


  1. ^ Opinion of the United States Pew Research Center
  2. ^ U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
  3. ^ The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database
  4. ^
  5. ^ De Gasperi through American Eyes: Media and Public Opinion, 1945-53, by Steven F. White, in: Italian Politics and Society, No.61 Fall/Winter 2005
  6. ^ The Italian Stabilization of 1947: Domestic and International Factors, by Juan Carlos Martinez Oliva, Institute of European Studies, 2007
  7. ^
  8. ^ (With links to juridical sentences and Parliamentary Report by the Italian Commission on Terrorism)
  9. ^ (English)/(Italian)/(French)/(German)
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[1]

Further reading

  • Brogi, Alessandro. A question of self-esteem: the United States and the Cold War choices in France and Italy, 1944-1958 (Greenwood, 2002)
  • Cosco, Joseph P. Imagining Italians: The Clash of Romance and Race in American Perceptions, 1880-1910 (SUNY Press, 2012)
  • Hughes, Henry Stuart. The United States and Italy (Harvard University Press, 1965)
  • Miller, James Edward. The United States and Italy, 1940-1950: the politics and diplomacy of stabilization (University of North Carolina Press, 1986) Online
  • Rabel, Roberto Giorgio. Between East and West: Trieste, the United States, and the Cold War, 1941-1954 (Duke University Press, 1988)

External links

  • History of Italy - U.S. relations
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