307. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to Vice President Johnson0
Sir: Further on Italy’s new left-center cabinet. I believe it fair to say that we in the White House, including the President and Mac Bundy, are more enthusiastic about this new reformist government than the cautious types in State and the Embassy.
We see in it the best opportunity, after over a decade of weak center governments, to translate Italy’s economic miracle into more for the people through social and economic reform. We also see in it the best way to isolate the extreme left (which got 37–39% of the vote in the last national election) by consolidating the split between the Communists and the left Socialists (who now back the government). The Embassy is more concerned than we are lest the left Socialists under Nenni drag Italy in a neutralist direction. We think attractive pull of European unity far outweighs this tendency.
Many Italians still wonder whether the US looks with approval on a government supported by Socialists. So, if at luncheon or dinner, you can inquire about this government, and perhaps indicate our general approval of social and economic reform, it could do much to encourage the most desirable political trend in Italy in years.1
- Source: Johnson Library, Vice Presidential Security File, VP Johnson’s Trip to Middle East. Secret; Eyes Only. Vice President Johnson visited Italy on September 5 at the conclusion of a trip to Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and Iran. Komer accompanied him.↩
- Telegram 541 from Rome, September 6, reported that during a conversation with Fanfani, Johnson told him that the U.S. Government was watching with interest the reform programs he was trying to establish. Fanfani responded that although it was too soon to expect concrete results, the fundamental “objective of his government was to develop a democratic form of economic planning which would not be compulsive but would seek to orient resources of the nation in most productive and progressive direction.” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2149)↩