Translated from Italian, "L' Europa identitaria vista dagli USA: 'Giusto fermare l'immigrazione'."
Did the "Arab spring" destabilize the whole Mediterranean area and create the crisis of illegal migrants for Europe?
The Arab revolts that began in late 2010 exacerbated existing problems in the Mediterranean area – poverty, repression, instability, and violence.
The deeper problem concerns the difficulty Muslims have coping with modernity as created in Europe.
What steps should be taken to stabilize the Mediterranean?
Stabilizing the Mediterranean region requires Muslims fully to come to terms with modernity.
This is, obviously, a vast undertaking that will take many years. Westerners standing up for their values would be a good start.
To end the illegal mass migration?
The Spanish enclave of Ceuta borders Morocco.
That is much easier.
It merely requires a determined European effort to stop all illegal immigration, whether crossing the Evros River into Tychero, the Mediterranean Sea to Pantelleria, or barbed-wire fences to Ceuta (respectively, Greece, Italy, and Spain).
It is mind-bogglingly bizarre that European governments, with all their wealth, have not taken this step.
Eastern European states are forming new alliances. Please assess the Visegrád Group (of 4 countries), the Visegrád Plus Group (of 5 countries), and the Three Seas Initiative (of 12 countries). What importance do these groupings have?
Eastern European countries are smaller, poorer, and newer to democracy, so they tend to get overlooked in comparison to Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy.
Therefore, their uniting into regional blocs magnifies their voice and influence, which I see as a positive development because the easterners tend to be more sensible than the westerners.
Austria's new government has been very negatively viewed in Europe and Israel, despite the leader of the Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ), Hans-Christian Strache, declaring himself a friend of Israel and even calling for moving the Austrian embassy to Jerusalem. Please assess.
Hans-Christian Strache (M) visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, in 2016.
I am optimistic about most anti-immigration parties such as the FPÖ, seeing them moderating over time, shedding their cranky and eccentric elements, and gaining experience.
The FPÖ is in the vanguard of this evolution, being the first anti-immigration party to partner in a coalition focused on controlling immigration and integrating immigrants. How it fares has potentially great implications for other such parties.
What do you think about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's reforming efforts?
I am a fan. In the spirit of Japan's Meiji era and Turkey's Atatürk reforms, MbS hopes to effect a top-down, wholesale reform of Saudi life, including its religious, social, economic, and foreign policy. It's a hugely ambitious undertaking that could very well fail but for the sake of Saudis and non-Saudis alike, I wish him a long and successful rule.
The European press does not appreciate those efforts but speaks negatively of them as "authoritarian." Your response?
Of course, he's authoritarian. How else does a crown prince get things done? The key is whether his efforts are constructive or destructive – and MbS' appear to be the former.
Erdoğan has criticized MbS calling for "moderate Islam," he took the lead in condemning Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and he seems to aspire to become the leader of an alliance with Qatar and Sudan. Where do you expect this will lead?
The Turkish and Iranian states have been perpetual rivals for over four hundred years. These days, this means Erdoğan emulating Khamene'i's Islamist threat to the region, and specifically versus the Arabs and Israel.
Turkey has a stronger economic base and Erdoğan enjoys greater popularity than Khamene'i, so this is a very serious challenge to the region.
Will Erdogan and Khamene'i be able to lead the Arab world?
Turkey's Erdoğan (L) and Iran's Khamene'i keep meeting and keep competing.
It is striking how the Arab trouble-makers of yesteryear – Egypt, Syria, Iraq – have gone almost quiet, while the once-solid Western allies Turkey and Iran have become the disruptive and revolutionary agents. (Note the responses to Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital for an example of this.)
At this point, Khamene'i dominates in four Arabic-speaking capitals (Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa) and Erdoğan in none. But I can imagine the Turkish state catching up, though its successes will come more easily in the Balkans than in the Arab states.
You argued against involving Turkey in the development of eastern Mediterranean gas projects; accordingly, how do you assess the recent agreement between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece to construct a submarine pipeline to take the gas to Europe?
I endorsed this agreement when the news first broke, calling it "great" because the pipeline will avoid Turkey, it reduces European dependence on Russia, and it builds the Cypriot and Israeli economies.
We read that Trump is doing everything wrong both in foreign policy and in domestic politics and that the Americans cannot wait to return to a Democratic president. Is that correct?
Partially correct. Trump is not doing everything wrong but his character and mistakes combine to make him very unpopular; current polls show him supported by only 40 percent of the American public.
This will likely lead to a crushing Democratic victory in November 2018. I can't imagine that Trump will be re-elected in 2020.
But then, I could not imagine him elected in 2016, so my record of predictions about him is not the best.