10 Questions For Silvio Berlusconi

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The U.S. has taken a lot of criticism in Europe lately. What are the important things about America that some Europeans do not understand? Some Europeans don't understand that the world changed radically after Sept. 11. On Nov. 10, 2001, in the most beautiful piazza in Rome, we organized a rally in solidarity with an attacked and offended nation and flew the U.S. flag. We were the only ones to do it, and we are proud. I think we are making some headway, though, with the idea that anti-Americanism and anti-globalization are not progressive politics but are pure ideological trash.

You and President Bush are both businessmen who became political leaders. Is there a bond you share? It's a matter of sympathos. That's a Greek word from pathos—to understand and feel together. We share a clarity in the way you say things: yes is yes, no is no. We also share an ideal that whoever is the leader must show the people the right road. We only met two years ago, but I feel I know him like I know my grammar school friends.

They say we live in the age of the American empire. Are there lessons the Roman empire can offer? My name is Silvio, not Caesar or Augustus. But the political tradition of ancient thought, filtered in Italy by Machiavelli, says one thing clearly: every prince needs allies, and the bigger the responsibility, the more allies he needs.

How would you explain your ownership of three television networks, the largest publisher in italy and other media holdings to the American people? My own TV stations are critical of me. I can't blame them. How do you demonstrate your independence? By criticizing your own boss. I believe I was the most hands-off TV owner ever in Italy. Since I entered politics, I haven't made one phone call to my business group.

You created problems at the European Parliament by jokingly referring to a German member as "perfect" for the role of A Nazi prison guard. Have you ever thought to adopt a more cautious approach? I'm not a traditional politician, and I have a sense of humor. I'll try to soften it and become boring, maybe even very boring, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to.

Has your success as a businessman influenced the kind of politician you are? Private television in Italy, which I founded, became an element of liberty, in breaking the monopoly of state TV. The link between my experience as an entrepreneur and that of a politician is all in one word: freedom.

It seems that at least a part of the disputed evidence accusing Saddam Hussein of seeking uranium in Niger originated with the Italian secret service. Was there political pressure to find proof of weapons of mass destruction? There was no political pressure. I had no knowledge of these facts.

You supported the war in iraq. If no weapons are found, will the war be considered justified? First, the war was important to liberate the country from a dictatorship that existed for more than 30 years. Second, I stated in press conferences that weapons of mass destruction would not be found. This is on the basis of logical reasoning. If I was in the position of President Saddam Hussein, I would have made these arms vanish, either by destroying them or sending them out of the country.

Then why do Bush and Blair keep insisting that Weapons will eventually be found? Look, I hope we can find them. It would make things much more clear. But it doesn't seem such an important theme.

What do you really think of German tourists? Ich bin ein Berliner.