212. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Italy (Martin) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

1494. 1. These observations may be of some use to the President in determining what he might wish to stress in his conversation with Foreign Minister Moro on Monday.2

2. Aided by a skillful use of innuendo and rumor, a thorough knowledge of the peculiar psychology of the Italian “classe politica” in Rome, and an assiduous wooing of the press by his followers, Moro emerged from the national Christian Democratic Council last week with an enhanced image as a political tactician. The reality is somewhat different. Much more than he would have liked, his personal identification with the left is much greater now than it was two weeks ago. His chances in the Presidential sweepstakes have been diminished, although he cannot be wholly counted out. The fact remains that many more of those who will vote will now oppose him to the bitter end. At the same time, he can take comfort from the fact that the results of the Council were, and have been made to appear even more so, a partial defeat for Fanfani, whose chances in the Presidential race are also now somewhat less than they were two weeks ago. Increasingly, one hears [Page 711]talk of turning to Rumor or Leoni as candidates more or less acceptable to the majority of the Christian Democrats and who will have a broader appeal throughout the whole political spectrum than either Moro or Fanfani. Saragat is waiting in the wings ready, if an impasse develops, to be the candidate to whom all may rally. Andreotti is a rather dark horse possibility as is La Malfa of the Republicans. I do not consider De Martino a serious possibility, although Pertini, the Socialist President of the Chamber of Deputies, is an outside possibility.

3. Moro has accepted some obligations to the Socialists, among them to oppose us on the Chirep issue. Moro made a tactical error in his conversation with the Secretary3 by strongly inferring that Italian intransigence on this issue is wholly due to the Socialists and, in particular, to the adamant opposition of Nenni. Neither De Martino, the Socialist Vice Premier nor Nenni, still the nominal leader of the Autonomists, will wish to accept such total responsibility, certainly not publicly. Only this morning Nenni publicly disassociated himself from Socialist Party Secretary Mancini’s call for “new and advanced equilibriums”.

4. In an election which will be decided by the slightly more than 1000 votes of the members of both Houses of the Assembly, plus 50 odd votes from the regions, where the ballotting is secret, no one can be sure that any commitment will be kept, even those bought and paid for. We will get a clear idea of the relative strengths only after several ballots have been taken. For this reason, I have determined that no United States interests would be served by permitting us to appear to favor any particular candidate at this stage, particularly so since we have concluded that we can reasonably work well with any of those who seem to have any real chance.

5. In my conversation with Moro on 2 October4 I reiterated the American position that while I had made it crystal clear to all that we considered the Christian Democratic Party to be the core of our interests in Italy, and would continue to do what we could to help the party prepare to enter the vital 1973 elections as a unified and hard-hitting party, we did not, as of now, intend to support him or any other candidate as a preferred choice in the December Presidential elections.

6. Moro fully intends to use the appointment with the President in every possible way to further his own candidacy. The agreement not to announce the appointment until Friday was, of course, broken. Stories appeared in the Italian press twenty-four hours before the release date.

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7. Consequently, I have quietly informed President Saragat, Prime Minister Colombo, and most of the CD faction leaders that the appointment was at Moro’s request; that I had recommended the appointment because I was certain that the President would wish to reemphasize his high regard for Italy by receiving Italy’s Foreign Minister as he had the Foreign Ministers of other important nations; that I am sure the President thought it appropriate, on the very first celebration of Columbus Day as a newly enacted official holiday, to receive the highest ranking member of the Italian Government then in the United States; and I thought the President might wish to reiterate the representations made by me in Rome and by Secretary Rogers in New York regarding the complete seriousness of the efforts of the United States to insure the continuing representation of the Republic of China in the UN and the full expectation that we would receive complete Italian support on the procedural motion and on the IQ resolution.

8. I hope, therefore, that the President may point out to Moro that we do, indeed, expect full Italian support on both votes, and that, under the changed circumstances now prevailing, we simply would not understand the lack of such support.

9. If Moro again alludes to “difficulties within the coalition” the President might wish to observe that it seemed to him that these difficulties had been rather easily surmounted by Moro last year, that he believes that Moro would have a even easier time this year, and that he has instructed Ambassador Martin in Rome to give him every assistance in this task.

10. Moro’s version of what was said will be quickly circulated in Rome. There would appear to be an obvious advantage in informing me promptly of what did actually transpire, so that I may quietly and informally set the record straight in certain restricted but highly important circles in Rome. Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 65, Country Files—Europe, Italy Talenti File. Secret; Exclusive; Eyes Only.
  2. October 11; see Document 213.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 206.
  4. Reported in telegram 6276 from Rome, October 3. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 695, Country Files—Europe, Italy, Vol. III)