I much enjoyed coffee this morning with Edward Chaplin, former British Ambassador to Iraq (2004-2005) and Italy (2006-2011). An expert on Middle Eastern affairs, he also had very interesting insights to share on the likely outcome of the Italian elections later this month. Here are few nuggets from our conversation:
IRAN: Though Israel and the US are right to be concerned over Iran’s nuclear programme, the deadlock can only be broken if the West is prepared to discuss Iran’s legitimate security concerns. This is the key to starting a sustained constructive dialogue. Economic sanctions have had a short term impact, but they will not be enough, and indeed may end up being counter productive . Ordinary people, not the governing elite, are suffering most, and the sanctions have led them to turn their anger away from the regime and towards the West.
ITALIAN ELECTIONS: the most likely coalition to emerge will be between Bersani’s democratic party and Monti’s centrist alliance, and they will probably control the lower house. However, they are unlikely to take the Senate, and Berlusconi will continue to have popular support and will do plenty of anti-austerity sniping from the sidelines. This will lead to an unstable politics, unlikely to provide a platform conducive to the reforms necessary to increase Italy’s competitiveness.
LEADERSHIP: Having been Ambassador in Baghdad, Edward is often asked to discuss what his experiences taught him about leadership. His point is that effecting change is easier in an environment of flux than stability. He found it was easier to drive policy in the fluid environment of Iraq than it was in Rome, where stability had led to entrenched habits and processes that made it much more difficult.
To enquire further about Ambassador Edward Chaplin, please email Leo at email@example.com, or phone 020 7792 8000.