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How successful was Mussolini in improving the prestige of Italy in the years 1922-43?

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Introduction

How successful was Mussolini in improving the prestige of Italy in the years 1922-43? Despite it being on the winning side of the First World War, Italian prestige internationally in 1922 was low- largely due to their failure to complete the promised Italia Irredenta. Benito Mussolini strived to undo this by presenting a return to the Italian ‘Roman Empire’. Mussolini was able to improve prestige via the acquisition of Fiume and Albania, participation in numerous treaties, including the Locarno Pact in 1925, posing Italy as key in European politics, and the defence of Austria against Germany in 1934 which presented a façade of Italian military might. However, Mussolini essentially failed to improve the prestige of Italy by 1943, as the positive relations that were established in the 1920s unravelled in the 1930s due to military disappointments e.g. the humiliation in Greece, the Abyssinian War and alliance with rising power Germany isolated Italy from its previous powerful allies Britain and France. Mussolini’s foreign policies lead to some successes in improving the prestige of Italy, especially whilst his policies were more cautious in the 1920s, due to his incomplete consolidation of power. ...read more.

Middle

The defence of Austria against German promise of Anschluss in 1934 and establishment of the Stresa Front in 1935 contributed to Italy?s improvement of prestige. The defence at the Brenner Pass presented Italy as a prestigious-peacemaker by calming the threat of German invasion; demonstrating Italian military might against Germany?s growing military and protecting the integrity of the Italian state by enforcing its borders. The agreement at the Stresa Conference between Italy, France and Britain against German rearmament again portrayed Italy as an influential power. However, in actuality; the Stresa Front was merely a propaganda victory- like most of Mussolini?s ventures- and disintegrated shortly after its conception due to Britain?s naval agreements with Germany (1935). Furthermore, the military success in Abyssinia (1935-1936) demonstrated one of Mussolini?s largest foreign policy failures to improve prestige. Despite Italy avenging the defeat at Adowa (1896), the use of poison gas/ slaughtering of the native Abyssinians attracted international negative press, especially in Britain and France where many of their colonies were becoming more independent; Italy was condemned by the League of Nations. ...read more.

Conclusion

The prestige of Italy was further damaged by Mussolini?s implementation of anti-Semitic legislation 1938-39 (in order to appease his German superior) which not only increased distaste for Mussolini domestically, but also distanced the Fascist power from the majority of Europe which opposed anti-Semitism. Overall, Mussolini was successful initially in improving Italian prestige, but this was a trend that did not continue. The prestige of Italy appeared to improve during the 1920s and early 1930s due to Britain and France?s eagerness to retain Italy as an ally to combat the growing threat of Nazi-Germany, but the consistent military failures of the Italian army, and Italy?s dependence on new-ally Germany (Pact of Steel 1939) undermined this and failed to bring Fascist Italy out of the shadows of its more militarily-strong ally. By placing reliance on Germany, Italy isolated itself from the international community, and could never hope to achieve high levels of prestige whilst inferior to the greatest European threat of the time. Mussolini had the mouth of a prestigious European power, but lacked the military and resources to back it up. ...read more.

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