Giorgia Meloni flies to Washington and the next American ambassador in Rome, Jack Markell, is preparing to land in Italy.
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Markell, former US representative to the OECD in Paris, was in Washington in recent weeks for the last technical steps and should arrive in our country, privately, at the end of August to then formally assume his position at the embassy in via Veneto in September.
The clearance for his new role is expected shortly, before the US senators go on vacation. Until then, Chargé d’Affaires Shawn Crowley will run the embassy, as he has done so far. Crowley will remain in Rome for a few more years.
Compared to other names, the green light for Markell is in theory simpler: he is already ambassador to the OECD in Paris and therefore has already received the yes from the Senate which at this point should only confirm a consensus already given in the past. “There are still a couple of steps but no one has raised any problems so far - confirms from Washington a source who has known Markell for years - After all, why set up obstacles and offend Italy precisely on the days when Giorgia Meloni arrives in Washington?”
The visit to the White House of Italy’s first female prime minister is being observed by the Washington media with interest and curiosity. “When she became prime minister here in the USA, there was initial perplexity - observes Cristina Maza, foreign policy and defense correspondent for the National Journal - First time for a right-wing Prime Minister, with allies suspected of relations with Russia...The big question was: “Is she also linked to Putin?”. Then Giorgia Meloni took very clear positions on Ukraine and then the doubts dissolved. Obviously, topics such as rights, gender equality and values dear to Democrats remain important for the Biden administration. But Ukraine and relations with China are the dossiers that weigh the most and which Biden and Meloni will talk about behind closed doors ”.
In Washington there is a lot of focus on the fact that Italy will not renew the agreement with China called “The Silk Road”. He worried and worries that, behind the appearance of purely economic relations, in reality Beijing with that agreement would get its hands on Italian ports (always connected to national security issues) and attempt propaganda operations disguised as cultural exchanges.
Situations over which the ambassador will monitor from next autumn
Jack Markell, one of President Biden’s closest friends, one of the few to have a direct line with the president. “It will be an advantage for Italy to be able to count on an ambassador who can pick up the phone and speak to the tenant of the White House without too many filters” adds the correspondent of the National Journal Cristina Maza.
A highly experienced politician, coordinator of Operation Allies Refugee when Afghan refugees were helped to settle in the United States in 2021, Markell, 63, a past consultant at McKinsey and manager at Comcast, was a respected governor of Delaware, the same state in which Joe Biden has always lived and where Biden himself returned home by train every weekend when he was just a congressman.
The president of the United States has spent most of his life in Washington but has never been a frequent visitor to the salons that make and unmake political careers in the capital. He has always preferred his home in Wilmington, and Jack Markell was one of the few admitted to the Biden family evenings. The new American ambassador in Rome and his wife Carla have known each other since they were teenagers and worked side by side when he was governor and she was the First Lady of Delaware. Carla Markell, born into a modest and disfunctional family, had her own office in the government headquarters in Dover and has always been involved in relations with young people and families in difficulty. Many predict that she too will play an active role at Villa Taverna.
Biden’s choice, which fell on an old friend, is considered in Washington a gesture of attention towards Italy and denies those who argue that, when the war in Ukraine is over, relations between the White House and Giorgia Meloni will also change . Meanwhile, every forecast, from the duration of the war to the result of
American elections, it is premature and in any case, Washington observes, it would be unusual for the United States to turn its back on an ally which, like Italy, has played a crucial role in the most critical months.