Britain, Italy and the early Cold War : aspects of British foreign policy towards Italy, 1946-1949
This thesis examines political and military aspects of British policy towards Italy during 1946-1949. It focuses on five major areas: the punishment of Italian war criminality, the reconstruction of the Italian Armed forces, the role of Italy in British plans for European cooperation, British involvement in the Italian election of April 1948 and Italy's inclusion into NATO. It analyses the factors that influenced the evolution of British policy such as pressures from the emerging Cold War, Britain's diminished power in the region and its desire to remain a major international player in the post WWII world. It evaluates the impact that Italian domestic politics and Italian realities had on the conception and execution of British policy. It reveals that British policy towards Italy was governed not only by British power politics, the desire to frustrate the designs of the Soviet Union and the Italian Communists, and the challenge of growing US influence in Italy but also by moral and ideological underpinnings such as the desire to secure the punishment of some of the worst Italian war criminals and the aspiration, as manifested by British intervention in the Italian election of 1948, to provide Italy with a form of government which was a social democratic anti-Communist alternative to the American form based on an undiluted capitalism. British policy during this period had intended to include Italy in any British plans for European cooperation when the time was right. Its resistance to Italian inclusion into NATO stemmed primarily from pragmatism rather than any persisting punitive attitudes towards a defeated opponent. British foreign policy towards Italy did not achieve all its aims but it cannot, even remotely, be described as a failure. Italy remained firmly anchored in the Western bloc, the seeds of social democracy were nurtured, disengagement was managed in an orderly and successful manner and the British stance over Italo-Yugoslav relations succeeded in neutralising potential dangers to Italy by helping to expose Stalin in the eyes of the Yugoslavs.