[Posted earlier @EuroTrib]

US and diplomacy from the barrel of a gun with Trump in the White House. Blaming Russia again? Filling the void left by American disinterest, Trump bullying and threats, destroying trade agreements, what does one expect? It was candidate Trump who had no knowledge or interest maintaining the NATO alliance. Europe got the message and is working on its own defence cooperation, based on the EU of the 27. No more expansion into corrupt states like Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Poland. That’s causing the failure of the EU to advance an united front.

With Italy no longer in US focus, Russia swoops to fill the void | Irish Times – May 30, 2017 |

President Donald Trump made the most of his short time in Italy. He was treated to a private audience with the pope, met both the country’s president and its prime minister in Rome, flew to Sicily for a summit of world leaders and visited US troops at a nearby naval air station.

But as the sudden burst of diplomatic activity subsided with his departure, European and US officials fear a return to the new normal of American inattention as the administration struggles with political turmoil and Russia-related scandals back home.

    In Rome Trump left behind an embassy without an
    ambassador and forfeited a geopolitical playing field
    that Moscow’s ambassador in Rome is exploiting

More below the fold …

All the while Russia is assiduously courting Italy, a country that once had the largest communist party outside the Soviet bloc and that many analysts consider the soft underbelly of the European Union. In Rome Trump left behind an embassy without an ambassador and forfeited a geopolitical playing field that Moscow’s ambassador in Rome, Sergei Razov, is exploiting.

A deliberate, gray-haired career diplomat, Razov has been plugging away at building relationships with Italian politicians, organising concerts for Italy’s earthquake survivors and visiting Italian regional officials who lament the “unfair” sanctions on Russia – which Moscow dearly wants lifted.

What G-7 Leaders Will Argue About in Sicily | – March 2017 |

U.S. President Donald Trump has shown a disdain for the kind of multilateral trade deals that have been championed by several G-7 members in the past, including the U.S. Blaming such deals for the growing trade deficits in the U.S., the Trump administration has sought to push back against the forces of globalization in favor of a nationalist trade policy out of sync with other G-7 nations.

World leaders braced for tough talks with Trump on climate and trade at G20 summit

Remember Trump holding hands with Brexiteer Theresa May, his unflattering remarks over the EU and his affront [NYT] to Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel just succeeded to form a new administration and will lead Europe in close cooperation with France president Macron.

This diary is my reaction to BooMan’s fp story today …

The Left Needs to Focus on Russia

After the election, these same folks argued that the Russia investigation was just a way for Clintonite Democrats to avoid introspection and responsibility for losing to the most ridiculous major party candidate in our country’s history. They wanted a reckoning on what went wrong, and some nefarious foreign interference wasn’t something they wanted interfering in the conversation.

If we really want to have some introspection and responsibility, it’s time for the left as a whole to look at what happened in Italy yesterday and get real. It’s true that Italians are feeling overwhelmed with migrants and that the economy is stagnant, which means that there are actual causes for the right-wing populist revival of fascism. But the Five Star Movement, which got the most votes, is a completely Putin-aligned political phenomenon . Putin has been pushing these fascist forces in elections throughout Europe as a way of weakening the European Union and NATO. Helping Trump and  hurting Clinton were part of the same overall plan.

It’s working strikingly well, at least in part because the left in the West is so slow to recognize the threat. Part of the needed correction is to identify the people who are pushing the Kremlin line either because they’re misguided or have some other higher order agenda, or because they actually want to divide and weaken the left. It’s easy to identify Roger Stone or Sean Hannity or Alex Jones. It’s harder to identify people or sources that we may trust, but shouldn’t.

Further comments and recent history of politics in Italy about PM Renzi and his failed referendum of 2016. Setting the stage for crushing vote for the establishment and win for populism and right-wing parties.

From extensive discussion to Frank Schnittger’s diary @EuroTrib – BMW = Brexit Made Wonderful with 70+ comments.

* [new] “critical to dismissive”  (none / 0)

This is the Anglo position first noted ahead of the election 13 Feb. From the Local Campaign 2018 Spot Check , “Is Italy’s Five Star Movement still an ‘anti-establishment’ party?”

Euractiv went into overdrive 2 Mar “Italian election campaign plagued by fake news“. The author defers to BuzzFeed News “investigations.” The reader then has to inspect circular references to Italian cryptologists, Facebook, Twitter, NYT, and Google relays to discover the “fake news” allegations do not “echo” but originate with Ben Cardin’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee report said to detail “Russian Election Interference In Europe”.

Simon’s casually concludes

    The two parties [M5 and Norde] are broadly in favour of lifting the European sanctions
    against Russia, adopted in response to the annexation of Crimea by Moscow.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 02:11:41 PM PDT

Comment to EuroActiv article quoted above:

Facebook is full of fake news. But they do not sway elections. People believe those fake news they want to believe. [Maria Elena] Boschi is disliked in Italy, and people who dislike her, and would therefore never vote PD, take these news for true. Not the other way around.

Insofar as interference by Russia, the head of Italian intelligence has denied that there has been one.

I am not surprised USA senators see Russia’s hand everywhere. After all, 50% of the Americans believe in angels, and deny evolutionism. But there is no proof, absolutely no proof that that has occurred. This article, by hiding this evidence, is in itself a fake news.

Italy voted ‘no’ to constitutional reform. This is why, and what will happen next | WaPo – Dec. 5, 2016 |

On Sunday, Italians voted against constitutional reforms proposed by the government led by Matteo Renzi.

The No campaign had been expected to win, but the scale of its victory was greater than anticipated: 59.1 percent of Italians voted to reject the reforms. The scale of the defeat was such that within 90 minutes of the polls closing, Renzi had announced his resignation as prime minister.

This doesn’t mean that Italy will form a new government as quickly. Indeed, the referendum might mean several months under a caretaker government, as I explain here.

Each of these measures polled well individually, but the reform was less popular than the sum of its parts. During the campaign, Renzi promised that he would resign as prime minister if the reforms were rejected. This gave voters who were disappointed with his government a reason to vote against the proposals.

According to one poll, almost 60 percent of voters said that they would base their vote on their evaluation of the government rather than their evaluation of the reform.

Relatively high turnout [68.5%] didn’t help the government.