Mussolinis’s Foreign Policy

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María Alejandra Maura


History (S)

Mussolinis’s Foreign Policy

How consistent was Italian foreign policy between 1922 and 1943?

Mussolini’s main aim through foreign policy was to exalt Italy’s pride, which was seen severely deteriorated after the First World War.

By the statement ‘My objective is simple. I want to make Italy great, respected and feared’ Mussolini’s objectives are clearly can be clearly deduced.

However, historians still disagree over Mussolini’s conduct of foreign affairs, in the years between his assumption of the premiership and the conquest of Ethiopia in 1935-6. Some support the view, once he acquired strong dominance on the communists, that the imperialism of 1930s was the unplanned response to domestic problems of a dictator whose main concerns where the internal consolidation of his regime. More recently, however, the balance of opinion has tended towards the belief in the underlying consistency of Mussolini’s foreign policy. Mussolini’s foreign policy operates along fairly well-worn paths, and his main areas of interest remained the Mediterranean, Africa and the Balkans Mussolini’s foreign policy operates along fairly well-worn paths, and his main areas of interest remained the Mediterranean, Africa and the Balkans. As these two aims were, to some extent achieved during the 1920s, Iitalian foreign policy became increasingly expansionist in the 1930s, aiming not only to control the Mediterranean but as well, the African Empire.

In the course of 1922-3 the weakness of Italy’s position became all too clear to Mussolini. He first failed to gain any substantial concessions in Africa or in the middle East from Britain and France when, at the Lausane, the negotiated a new peaceful treaty with Mustapha Kemal after his successful resistance would avoid the Treaty of Sevrés to be applied on Turkey. Secondly, he was also unsuccessful in exploiting in the interests of Italy the international crisis caused by the French occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923. Mussolini changed his role from mediator between France and Britain, who opposed the occupation, to opponent of at one point of a potentially anti-British building bloc, composed of the main Continental States. He was mistrusted by both, London and Paris and was set aside from the European stage.

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The incident in Corfu, in 1923 gave Mussolini the reputation of being a dangerous firebrand. In 1923 Mussolini seized the chance to occupy Corfu, a strategically important island guarding the Southern entrance into the Adriatic, given that the Greek government seemed to refuse to pay the 50 million lira compensation they asked for the assassination of an Italian general and his staff, who were mapping out for an international inter-allied Commission the new Greek- Albanian frontier on Greek territory.  Mussolini not only rejected the League’s intervention but began to build a military base in the island. The incident was ...

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