The limited role of Italy in American foreign policy calculations begs explanation given Italy’s status as a member of the G-8, its economic size, membership in NATO, and its historically critical role in shaping the trajectory of European integra-tion. Three plausible hypotheses frame the range of explanations for Italy’s standing in US foreign security policy calculations: the crowding-out hypothesis, which suggests that the process of globalization and the rising importance of the Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia, particularly, have reduced the policy space available for Italy; the capabilities hypothesis, which suggests that Italy’s secondary role in US calcula-tions is roughly congruent with its material importance for the US and its ability to support US foreign policy objectives; and the buffone di corte hypothesis – Italy isn’t taken seriously because its politicians cannot be taken seriously. An analysis of Italy’s role and the American perception of that role in two NATO operations provide the empirical foundation for testing those hypotheses and answering three questions: What role should we expect Italy to play in American foreign policy calculations? What role does Italy play in aiding or hin-dering American foreign policy objectives within the transatlantic community? Is there a disjunction between the subjective perceptions of Italy held by the American foreign policy elites and Italy’s objective importance for the successful reali-zation of American foreign policy objectives?