Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert E. Barbour
BARBOUR: Fred Reinhardt was the Ambassador, a superb Ambassador; a man of great of presence, knew the Italians, commanded wide respect. Frank Malloy was the DCM, obviously how I happened to go there, and Sam Gammon was the counselor for political affairs. Very strong.
Q: One has a pretty good shot at what French foreign policy is, even though it is at odds with the United States, but Italian policy seems hard to grasp. How would you describe the basics of Italian foreign policy and our role in it at that time?
BARBOUR: In the context of France, it was the mirror image. Dean Acheson said that de Gaulle created an image of a France that gave an impression of strength that did not exist. Italians had the wherewithal for an active and strong foreign policy but they chose not to exercise it. Their interests were Europe and the United States, and to some degree former Italian parts of Africa. They maintained relations with everybody, had Embassies all over the world, had commercial and economic interests, but foreign political interests of a world scale they did not have. I remember during my time in Washington when we created in NATO the nuclear planning group that was to have been of five countries; Italy was not included in the original group because it was a non-nuclear power. The Italians were terribly upset at being left out, and by dint of stirring up great commotion they managed to get themselves included. The reason that they were so concerned is very typical of their foreign policy interests—it would have looked bad for Italy to be left out. Impressions, appearance; appearances are very important. Appearances would have been bad to have been left out so they got themselves in and didn't play much of a role, of course.
Their Ambassador then was ..?.. who was somewhat the Italian counterpart of Alphand; he cut a wide swath in Washington society. Very active, lived in that residence up on Sixteenth Street where he was mugged once as I recall, and a rock was thrown through the window. It was not a happy neighborhood but they hung on there for a long time. He played a role in Washington that was disproportionate to their interests and disproportionately large to what they had to contribute, but disproportionately large in those areas that really mattered, relations with the United States and NATO. EC at that time was just in the developing stage.
Q: Did you find your political section working with your desk to make sure that the Italians were included in things?