A Conversation with Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Senior Diplomatic Advisor to Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni

On December 7, the Center for the National Interest hosted Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s Senior Diplomatic Advisor, for an off-the-record luncheon discussion. Ambassador Zappia discussed the U.S.-Italian relationship and regional and international issues. Paul Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest, moderated the conversation.

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“Russia is using the Syrian muscle to demonstrate that they have military options…They went to Syria not just because of the local position but to demonstrate that they cannot be pushed around by the US and sanctions.”

-Dimitri K. Simes

“North Korea really is the land of lousy options. Since 1993, when—thanks to their declaration—we first became aware of North Korea’s emerging nuclear capability, we’ve discussed possible military action, we’ve done negotiations in many different formats, we’ve had agreements (e.g. Agreed Framework), North Korea cheated on the agreements, and we’ve applied sanctions repeatedly that are always advertised as “effective this time.” North Korea’s emerging capabilities show how effective we have been.”—

-Wallace C. Gregson

“While we are certainly in for a time of tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, we are not destined for war or a conflict. Now is the time for the Trump administration to get tough when it comes to North Korea. Indeed, the era of strategic patience, thanks to Pyongyang’s rockets, is truly over.”

-Harry J. Kazianis

“…maybe the most important policy decision that he [President Trump] has made is to outsource strategic decisions about Afghanistan to the Defense Department. For now, some additional four thousand troops, the department announced today, are headed to Afghanistan. This is not what Trump supporters voted for. If he heads further into Afghanistan, he may find that it becomes a military and political quagmire in addition to his current troubles.”

-Jacob Heilbrunn

“’Without progress on Ukraine, I don’t see how one [the Trump administration] would ease sanctions…And it’s not like Russia is going to send special forces to Damascus to arrest Assad and deliver him to The Hague or to President Trump.’”

-Paul J. Saunders

“Russia is prepared to help its partner Iran, especially on matters of shared interest. But there is little if any evidence that Moscow is willing to support Iran in areas in which they disagree — particularly if that support carries real costs to Russia’s other interests.”

-Paul J. Saunders


Qatar’s Vision for the Middle East: Remarks and Q & A with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister

On November 20, the Center for the National Interest hosted His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar, where he gave a presentation entitled “Qatar’s Vision for the Middle East.” Dimitri K. Simes, President and CEO of the Center for the National Interest moderated the

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