Corridors of Power: Italian Elections, the EU Presidency, Culture and War, and More

Corridors of Power: Italian Elections, the EU Presidency, Culture and War, and More

A CHANGING WORLD -- The Trilateral Commission is made up of top leaders in politics, foreign policy, and finance from the United States, Western Europe, and Japan -- hence the "tri" in the name. The group has a reputation for secretiveness and behind-the-scenes power in shaping world affairs. Formed during the Cold War, it is traditionally Western in outlook, influential rather than powerful, and discreet more than secretive. The Trilateral Commission emerged into the limelight when president elect Jimmy Carter, himself a member, lifted his foreign policy team wholesale from its ranks, including the former director Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Corridors has learned that at its last closed-door meeting in Washington, the commission broke with its own anti-Communist past by agreeing to admit China as a permanent member. Paradoxically, China's membership was proposed by Beijing's old adversary Japan. It was all part of Japan's effort to boost China internationally, insiders said, as a counterweight to India's growing influence in the region. The commission agreed to the Japanese proposal, tactfully insisting that Beijing should send to the meetings top-level personalities who had something to contribute, and not party hacks and bureaucrats.

GLOBAL REACH IN ITALIAN ELECTIONS -- Talk about far flung. For the second time, 3.5 million expatriate Italians have elected parliamentarians from four mammoth voting districts around the globe to Italy's senate and lower house. It happened in last month's Italian elections, which restored Silvio Berlusconi to power at the head of a conservative coalition. Voters in the North and Central America district elected two Canadians and an American to the Italian parliament.

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