Italian Politics
May 15, 2009, 05:23 PM
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A reader who enjoyed my review in The American Conservative of "Il Divo," the complex Italian movie about Giulio Andreotti, seven times prime minister of Italy in 1972-1992, writes:
I had a number of encounters with Andreotti when he was Prime Minister, and also met frequently with some of the Democristiani conservatives who despised him. They used to refer to him as "Il Gobbo" the hunchback due to his peculiar posture, which you describe in the review. A gobbo in vernacular Italian also implies treacherous and sly. Andreotti ignored the US Ambassador in Rome and insisted on regular meetings with the CIA Chief of Station whenever he had questions or something to convey. I would go along to carry the Chief hat's. The Chief was old school and the conversations in Italian were elliptical to say the least, making it possible to leave the room without any idea of what had just taken place. As the Agency had the prime minister's office bugged anyway, I frequently had this vision of my boss returning to the station to review the tape to try to figure out what Andreotti had been talking about.
Andreotti was always playing multiple games. He milked the U.S. desire to keep the Communists out of power in Italy, but he also cozied up to Libya. When he was foreign minister in 1986, the Italian government tipped off Col. Gadaffi that of the U.S. airstrike the day before it happened.