Statewatch article: RefNo# 25657
Berlusconi's brave new world
Statewatch Bulletin; vol 13 no 5 August-October 2003
In an extraordinary interview given to the Spectator magazine, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi spoke of his world-view and tackled some of the criticisms that have been levelled at him.

He dismissed his reference to the German SPD politician Martin Schultz MEP as a kapó (Nazi concentration camp prisoner turned collaborator) as a "joke"; he denied that he controls a sizeable portion of the Italian media; he claimed that his trouble with the law is the result of a conspiracy by Italian magistrates (which he believes is strongly infiltrated by Communists), said that criticism by journalists is motivated by "jealousy"; he argued that the Italian left should have been put on trial for "their moral complicity with the crimes of the Communist regimes from Stalin to Pol Pot to Milosevic".

On his support for the US-led war on Iraq, he explained that, "if a brother goes into a certain business and for three months I say, "I beg you not to do it", and when he does it, well he is my brother, and I support him, even if not to the point of supporting all his losses!". The "brotherly" relationship results from the fact that "we are alive today because of the US...who liberated us from nazism and communism". He does not believe that Blair and Bush lied on the question of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction because "I believe Blair and Bush because I look into their eyes and I believe them". In fact he feels that before focusing on the need to "give the poor of the world food, water, education, sanitation", the priority should be to give them "liberty".

He even argues for a more interventionist approach to international relations, because after the fall of the Berlin Wall, "we are now able, with Russia and America together, to look at all the States in the world, and assess the dignity of all the people in the world, and we can give them democracy and liberty. Yes! By force if necessary."

The two claims made by Berlusconi which drew the greatest criticism in Italy concerned judges and Italy´s fascist past. Judges are "mad twice over", because of their political beliefs, and because "to do that job you need to be mentally disturbed, you need psychic disturbances", as well as being "anthropologically different". After these suggestions that left-wingers are in fact mad, and that judges also have intrinsic mental health problems, he explained that "That is why I am in the process of changing everything", possibly in reference to reforms that are underway to prevent judges from talking to the press and to increase political control over judges, as part of the re-structuring of the judiciary. With regards to Italian fascism, in the context of the Iraq War, Berlusconi said that it was "a much more benign dictatorship", flippantly arguing that "Mussolini did not murder anyone", but rather he "sent people on holiday to confine them" on islands that are now exclusive resorts, in reference to people who were banished and/or interned in places like Capri.

The reaction by the leaders of the opposition parties in the Italian parliament was immediate: "Mussolini was a murderer and Berlusconi shows that he is unfit to represent a democracy that was born from the fight against nazi-fascism". Mussolini was responsible for the murder of his political opponents; the most famous cases being the murders of socialist MP Giacomo Matteotti, Antonio Gramsci, Amedola, don Minzoni and the Gobbetti brothers. Fascist gangs also killed a dozen people considered to be dissidents. The Associazione Nazionale Partigiani dItalia (ANPI, Italian National Partisans Association, born from the Resistance to fascism) claims that Mussolini subjected Italy to a "regime of terror", with the special tribunal for the defence of the State (a political-judicial body) passing 5,319 judgements, including thirty-one death sentences, placing 15,000 Italians under house arrest, interning 8,000, and 160,000 under special surveillance. Imperial wars were also con

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