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Mussolini's Early Diplomacy

Mussolini's Early Diplomacy

Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 444
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    Mussolini's Early Diplomacy
    Book Description:

    In October 1922 Mussolini became the constitutional head of the Italian government; by late 1926 he had imposed a Fascist dictatorship on Italy. Professor Cassels, who argues that Mussolini's policies in the 1930s, the era of the Rome- Berlin axis, were foreshadowed by those of the 1920s, traces the stages by which Mussolini took control of Italy's foreign relations.

    Within the period 1922-1927, Mussolini, biased against democratic states, moved away from Italy's wartime alliance with Britain and France to a policy in favor of authoritarian force. France became the "moral rival"; and the Anglo-Italian entente, calculated to insure British good will, soon cooled as Mussolini sought to realize an Italian empire in the Mediterranean basin. Italy's career diplomats, who at first had tried to restrain Mussolini's adventurism, by 1927 were totally in the background. Mussolini emerges, therefore, as a more radical and far less conventional Italian statesman than he is usually depicted in other historical studies.

    Originally published in 1970.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7234-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Alan Cassels
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-xv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvi-xvii)
  5. Map
    (pp. xviii-2)
  6. Introduction The Reception of Fascism
    (pp. 3-18)

    The Italian ministry which took office on October 31, 1922, in the midst of the March on Rome was dominated by Benito Mussolini. The Fascist leader not only became president of the Council of Ministers and minister of the interior but in pooh-bah fashion also assumed, pro tem, direction of the foreign ministry. Yet the government was not completely Fascist; only 4 of 14 ministers in the council belonged to the Fascist party. The coalition indicated that to achieve power Mussolini had relied on non-Fascist support, open and covert, and that he might continue to seek non-Fascist cooperation at the...

  7. Phase One: October 1922 to June 1923

    • 1. The Lausanne Conference
      (pp. 21-45)

      Coincidentally Mussolini entered office at the moment that a climax was approaching in each of two outstanding international problems left over from World War I. One was the question of negotiating a definitive Near Eastern peace treaty; the other concerned the implementation of the postwar reparations settlement. Together they provided a convenient and early test of Fascist Italy’s diplomatic mettle.

      At the end of the First World War the Allied victors considered it both politic and practicable to subject Germany’s Turkish ally to the same fate as Germany’s Austro-Hungarian partner—partition of her empire. This was achieved on paper in...

    • 2. Reparations
      (pp. 46-79)

      The other large international issue to confront Mussolini soon after taking office involved Germany’s payment of reparations. The London schedule of payments imposed in May 1921 was proving unworkable. It had been deemed necessary to waive payments in currency during 1922. But the German economy had continued downhill and German reluctance to pay had grown. As 1922 and the partial moratorium drew to a close, the Allies were faced with a clear choice between a substantial relaxation of the London schedule and its application by force. The British preferred the former; German economic recovery was essential to that of Europe...

    • 3. Italian Irredentism on a Leash
      (pp. 80-88)

      Among the many Italians who held that Italy’s victory in World War I had been “mutilated” by the peace settlement, the consensus was that the greatest injustice had been dealt them in the Adriatic. Blame was apportioned between selfish allies and weak Italian statesmen. Criticism of the Italianrinunciataricame to center on the work of Carlo Sforza who, during his tenure of the foreign ministry, arranged the Treaty of Rapallo with Yugoslavia on November 12, 1920. By this Italy, in return for a favorable settlement of the frontier between Istria and Yugoslavia, renounced her territorial claims on Dalmatia under...

  8. Phase Two: July 1923 tο May 1924

    • 4. The League of Nations and Corfu
      (pp. 91-126)

      The most spectacular indication of Mussolini’s new, independent course was his altercation with the League of Nations over Corfu. The crisis reached its height in September 1923, but for some weeks beforehand, by way of prelude, Mussolini had been engaged in another League of Nations matter. This concerned the admission of Ethiopia to the League, and it gave an insight into Fascist Italy’s general attitude toward the Geneva organization and its role vis-à-vis small nations.

      Ethiopia was of particular interest to Italy. It could almost be said that the Italian sense of national grievance, which Mussolini had been put in...

    • 5. The Acquisition of Fiume
      (pp. 127-145)

      The Treaty of Rapallo predicated an autonomous Fiume state, but by the middle of 1923 the Italo-Yugoslav commission convened at Abbazia to implement an independent Fiume was a dismal failure. Mussolini anticipated this; all along he had in mind an alternative solution to Rapallo, and confidently awaited the day when he could propose it. The stalemate at Abbazia provided the opportunity. As with Corfu, July saw the beginning of a decided shift toward a forcible Fiume policy calculated to please the Italian nationalists. Early in the month Mussolini suggested to Belgrade that the idea of a Fiume free state be...

    • 6. Mussolini and German Nationalism
      (pp. 146-174)

      One might expect to find that Italo-German relations, like most other features of European diplomacy in the early 1920s, were conditioned by the reparations problem. Yet this did not occur. Although German public opinion was opposed to Fascist Italy’s contribution to the Ruhr occupation, the German government anticipated Italian policy in the crisis of January 1923, and took it, not as voluntary action, but the product of unavoidable circumstances. On January 20 a relieved Italian ambassador in Berlin reported: “In these [official] circles it is generally understood that Italy could not have acted very differently from the way she did,...

    • 7. Eastern Europe
      (pp. 175-193)

      The Little Entente, consisting of Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Yugoslavia, was formed in 1921 to combat revisionism. Had the full extent of Mussolini’s collusion with the German nationalists been known, an angry clamor would undoubtedly have risen from Prague, Bucharest, and Belgrade. On the other hand, the Little Entente was directed primarily at any revisionism in the Danube Valley and the Balkans. The vital determinant of Italy’s relations with the Little Entente was Mussolini’s attitude toward the defeated and irredentist nations, Hungary and Bulgaria. Conceivably Italian discontent with the postwar settlement, subsumed in the Fascist movement, might spill over into alignment...

    • 8. Fascism Outside Italy: The United States and France
      (pp. 194-200)

      It was not only in relations with Soviet Russia that ideology played a part in early Fascist Italian diplomacy. On more than one occasion Mussolini confessed his true métier to be that of a journalist, which was his main career before gaining office. His undeniable successes in political propaganda before and after 1922 were due to his peculiar journalistic talent. Journalism to him was not a means to report and inform dispassionately, but to persuade by sensationalism and by the reduction of issues to simplistic black-and-white terms. Most of his speeches read like a succession of newspaper headlines, full of...

    • 9. The Western Mediterranean, France, and Spain
      (pp. 201-215)

      Fascist ideology and thefuoruscitiwere potential hazards in Franco-Italian relations. Of more immediate concern during the second stage of early Fascist diplomacy were questions related to the Mediterranean Sea. As Mussolini started to formulate his own foreign policy in late 1923 and early 1924 his prime attention was clearly directed—via the Adriatic—to the Mediterranean; Corfu and Fiume pointed the way. Predictably rivalry with other Mediterranean powers began to increase. When Mussolini turned to the western end of the Mediterranean, in particular, he found himself opposing France on a number of points.

      One contentious matter long antedated the...

    • 10. Colonial Aspirations
      (pp. 216-230)

      French predominance in the western Mediterranean, thwarting all of Italy’s designs there, persuaded Mussolini to look eastward. In February 1924 a Council of Ministers communiqué carried the Duce’s significant observation: “Now Italy can only move to the east. In the west there are old-established nation states…. The direction of pacific penetration for Italy therefore lies toward the east.”¹ This naturally put added emphasis on the Dodecanese, whose de facto possession by Italy was confirmed in the Treaty of Lausanne in July 1923. The treaty also left the final and de jure disposition of the islands to future negotiations between Italy...

  9. Phase Three: June 1924 tο April 1925

    • 11. The Matteotti Affair
      (pp. 233-256)

      Giacomo Matteotti was a leading member of the Italian Socialist party and an outspoken critic of Fascism. His denunciations reached their zenith following the elections of April 1924, in which systematic violence was used to gain a substantial majority for Mussolini’s list of candidates. Matteotti’s criticism brought several threats on his life, once openly by Mussolini in the Chamber of Deputies.

      On June 10 Matteotti was attacked by five men on the sidewalk outside his home. They bundled him into a car which sped off. Through the windows a melee of flying arms was seen by at least two witnesses...

  10. Phase Four: May 1925 tο February 1927

    • 12. Grandi and Contarini
      (pp. 259-261)

      On January 3, 1925 Mussolini spoke before the Chamber of Deputies, from which the anti-Fascist opposition had withdrawn as a gesture of protest. For the first time he accepted the onus for Matteotti’s death: “I declare before all Italy that I assume full responsibility for what has happened.” He did not hide the fact that this presaged a dictatorship: “Italy wants peace and quiet, and calm in which to work. This we shall give her, by love if possible, by force if need be.”¹

      The apparatus of a dictatorial regime was established quickly, in little more than a year. When...

    • 13. Settlement of War Debts
      (pp. 262-271)

      The issue of funding Italy’s war debt came to a head in the second half of 1925. Technical economic questions, as the reparations problem had demonstrated, did not lend themselves readily to Mussolini’s assertive style of diplomacy. On the other hand, war-debt negotiations provided a rough test of international feeling toward Fascist Italy now that Mussolini’s regime had become an outright dictatorship.

      When discussing reparations in the past, Italy had persistently mentioned her debts to the United States and Britain in order to justify the collection of reparations from the defeated nations. Although these invocations were specious negotiating maneuvers, the...

    • 14. Locarno and the Alto Adige
      (pp. 272-287)

      The indeterminate status of the Palazzo Chigi officials in 1925-26 was sharply illustrated in the matter of the guarantees of western European frontiers, which were proposed as a substitute for the defunct Geneva Protocol. Suggestions for regional security appealed to Italy’s career diplomats who hoped to educate Mussolini in the ways of international cooperation. Also, because London was a prominent sponsor of these regional arrangements, it was believed that Italy’s adhesion would bring Mussolini closely into line with British policy—another Palazzo Chigi ambition. Italy’s participation in the security pacts of 1925, then, would represent a considerable victory for the...

    • 15. The Anglo-Italian Colonial Entente
      (pp. 288-314)

      One of the fixed tenets of Italian foreign policy, according to the Contarini school of thought, was the absolute necessity of a close relationship with Great Britain. Guariglia recognized Italy’s geopolitical situation with the quaint statement that Italy was “historically constrained for intrinsic and obvious reasons … to take refuge on rainy days … under the ample and capacious mantle of England.”¹ A quasi-island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Italy was highly dependent on sea imports, especially of coal and grain; Britain’s Mediterranean fleet almost at will could invade Italy’s long coastline or cut off her supplies at Gibraltar...

    • 16. Decisions in the Balkans
      (pp. 315-337)

      Chamberlain was able to presume on his friendship with Mussolini to curb Fascist Italy in colonial questions. In addition, outside Europe British naval power gave London the whip hand. But it was hardly to be expected that in Continental affairs the Anglo-Italian entente would exercise a similar restraining influence on Mussolini. In other words, if Mussolini felt frustrated in Africa and Asia Minor, he might turn to Europe in search of a diplomatic coup, and do so unhampered by Britain. In fact, in 1925-26 he conceived and tried to execute some far-reaching schemes in the Balkans.

      In the sphere of...

    • 17. Revisionism on the Danube
      (pp. 338-352)

      The capture of Albania was not the only coup in southeastern Europe planned by Mussolini in 1926. What happened in Albania was a logical culmination of the process begun in 1921 when the Conference of Ambassadors entrusted Albania’s protection to Italy. In short, it was not an exclusively Fascist triumph. On the other hand, a wholly Mussolinian and more far-ranging venture would be a radical realignment of forces in the Danube valley. And this Mussolini envisaged, using Rumania as the focal point of his scheme.

      In an earlier chapter we saw that Rumania’s legal title to Bessarabia awaited only Italian...

    • 18. Mussolini’s Quarrel with France
      (pp. 353-376)

      Mussolini’s policies in 1926 in southeastern Europe had a wider, continental dimension. His plan to inveigle Rumania into a quadruple alliance presaged the disintegration of the Little Entente, which by the mid-1920s had become a crucial link in the French security system to contain Germany and the Balkan revisionists. To destroy the Little Entente, then, was to destroy the main agency of French influence in the Danube valley. Mussolini’squadruplicewas nothing less than an attempt to supplant French with Italian influence there. The tactic was self-defeating. The more Italy challenged France’s client states, the more they sought refuge in...

    • 19. Ideology and Foreign Policy
      (pp. 377-389)

      Like most modern dictators, Mussolini claimed, truthfully or not, to base his rule on mass support. By analogy, to spread Fascism abroad presupposed a measure of public support, or at least tolerance, beyond Italy’s frontiers. In Mussolini’s eyes the foreign reputation of Fascist Italy was closely linked to the propagation of Fascist ideas, which his approach to thefuoruscitiwell demonstrated.

      Mussolini’s concern for opinion outside Italy was sharpened by the Matteotti affair. Even after the crisis was over and the need to solicit support was no longer urgent, he kept up a lively interest in any incident which reflected...

    • 20. The Napoleonic Year, and Stocktaking
      (pp. 390-398)

      In his annual report at the end of 1925 Sir Ronald Graham, the British ambassador in Rome, wrote: “The Fascist party is now so strong at home that, in the search for fresh fields to conquer, it is tempted to turn its attention to the domain of foreign policy.”¹ In the new year 1926 Mussolini announced in the P.N.F. journal,Gerarchia, that the Fascist revolution was embarking on its “Napoleonic year.”² By this he referred primarily to the consolidation of the Fascist dictatorship within Italy. But domestic and foreign politics were conjoined in Mussolini’s mind, and the phrase is certainly...

  11. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 399-408)
  12. Index
    (pp. 409-425)