Did Mussolinis foreign policies achieve their aims?

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Did Mussolini’s foreign policies achieve their aims?

        In 1921 Benito Mussolini founded the National Fascist Party in the aftermath of World War I and, as their leader, governed Italy from 1922 - 1943. As the father of Fascism, he put forward a return to traditionalism, a rejuvenation of Italy through rebuilding a modern Italian Roman Empire. After World War I, Italy felt a ‘mutilated peace’. This stemmed from the broken 1915 Pact of London she made with the Triple Entente. Italy was not given the land she had been promised if she were to declare war on Germany and the Entente powers came out victorious. This, arguably, formed the basis of his foreign policies, which involved two main ideas: aggressive nationalism and reinvigorated imperialism. With these perceived to be his two main objectives in Italy’s international relations in post-World War I Europe, it is clear that by the end of the Second World War in 1945 Mussolini had failed in achieving them.

        Early into his regime, Mussolini’s displays of aggression showed his long term ambitions in rebuilding an Italian Empire. To achieve this he focused on increasing their sphere of influence into the Balkans and along the Danube as well as finding an empire in Africa. The 1920’s were quite cautious years due to domestic concerns as well as Mussolini’s newness to the position. However, the few international incidents Italy was involved in, specifically the Corfu Incident of 1923, showed his readiness and enthusiasm to use force. The Italians had occupied the Greek island of Corfu after the Italian General Tellini was murdered on the Greek border. Mussolini, bombarded the Greek coastlines and demanded Greece pay a fine, which they eventually did. Intentionalist historians, like Macgregor Knox, believe that there was the premeditated desire for expansion that would be much more prevalent in the 1930’s. The Corfu Incident, as such, was a demonstration of the seriousness that Mussolini had with the violent struggle to be a nation that would remain an international contender for power and prestige. This opinion is perhaps the most traditional and common amongst historians and thus why historians, like Macgregor Knox and Dennis Mack Smith, of traditional educations and backgrounds tend to stress the predetermined goals Mussolini had for Italy. From early on, with expansion on his mind, the failure of Mussolini’s foreign plans at the end of the Second World War to increase their empire or their sphere of influence is evident by the major defeat of them on the Axis side.

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The campaigns in the 1930’s that Mussolini led into Africa further the claim that Mussolini had long term goals for his foreign policies. This so much so that his force and violence mirrored the previous scramble for Africa by the Great Powers during the time of Imperialism, which is the comparison traditional, intentionalist historian R.J.B. Bosworth puts forth about Mussolini’s foreign aims. The Abyssinia Crisis of of 1937 illustrates the confidence Italy felt. A skirmish along the border of Italian Somaliland and Abyssinia, which Mussolini claimed was Abyssinian aggression, in late 1934 led to Italian invasion and occupation of the ...

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