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Kaeten Mistry The University of Birmingham
One of the greatest misconceptions for historians analysing the 1948
Italian parliamentary elections is in underestimating the bilateral
relationship between the Unites States and the leading Italian
political party, the Democrazia Cristiana (DC). As the US looked to
foster and sustain anti-communist governments in its reconstruction of
post-war Europe, it is easy to dismiss parties such as the DC as
merely following orders from Washington, who in the hands of an
external force executed rather than made decisions.
This perception masks the fact that despite being the significantly
weaker partner of the Americans, the DC was a partner nonetheless.
However, with a serious imbalance in power inherent to the relationship,
the DC was constrained in all dealings with the US since the
concessions on offer and the terms of the alliance were dictated by
Washington. Behind the official rhetoric both maintained distinctly
independent objectives, and in order to implement their own policies
the DC looked to appease US foreign policy in order to foster economic
and political support from Washington essential to realising their
goals. This tactic was only possible through an interactive
relationship between the two, despite the substantial disparity in
Among the numerous problems facing Italy as of the start of 1947, of the
most pressing were a stern Peace Treaty that showed little sign of
favourable ratification, insufficient economic support for a flagging
economy, diplomatic impotence in international affairs, and suspicious
European neighbours in Great Britain and France. Within this climate
the popular leftwing parties of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) were making inroads into DC domination
of Italian politics. Since Italy changed sides and joined the Allied
war effort against the Nazis, only the US had “shown some goodwill
and understanding toward Italian aspirations and needs,”
and given they were the only source of assistance, the decision of the
DC to court US favour was a simple and obvious choice to make.
For the US, the growth in popularity of the Communist party in Italy was
a serious threat to their designs for a post-war Europe aligned with
Washington. While initial opinion of Italian Prime Minister and DC
leader Alcide De Gasperi was cautious, the spectre of a communist
victory in the upcoming elections was deemed increasingly likely, and
as such the US committed its “prestige and economic resources to the
only available bulwark against a communist-dominated Italian
government- the Christian Democrat Party.”
Far from showing shared principles, the basis upon which the DC-US
relationship was built was a “marriage of convenience”
in offering both sides an opportunity to tackle a common foe and to
advance their respective strategies. While they shared a common goal
of defeating a well organised and strong left-wing PCI-PSI Popular
Front at the polls, both the Americans and Italians were working to
very different agendas.
The alliance was based on a lowest common denominator of anti-Communism,
which the election result of 1948 subsequently contributed to
weakening. For the US the April vote went a long way to achieving
their principle goal of ‘stabilising’ the country and was a
further step in their plans to consolidate Western Europe firmly
within a US domain. Varsori notes that after the election De Gasperi
and Italian Foreign Minister Count Carlo Sforza found Italian attempts
at pressing the US on the Communist issue were increasingly futile, as
it “became largely an ineffective tool.”
This contrasts to the sixteen months prior to April 1948 when the
American Government responded with great urgency and determination to
allegations of Communist activity or ‘subversion.’
The relationship’s reliance on the anti-Communism issue began to show
signs of strain in the lead up to the April vote as an increasingly
over-anxious US policy placed De Gasperi’s election campaign at
risk. The Italian leadership had repeatedly requested arms for
internal security forces to counter what was described as a genuine
threat of a Communist insurrection, but retracted its request a month
before the election. The US Embassy in Rome reported in March 1948
that the DC leader no longer desired a covert shipment of weapons in
case of the negative publicity it would generate if uncovered by
opposition parties. In successive memos to the Embassy, Secretary of
State George Marshall noted his “complete surprise” at this
development in light of the previous grave and urgent calls for arms
by De Gasperi’s government, and he urged reconsideration on the
grounds that if Italy were insecure, it would “adversely affect US
De Gasperi was able to devise a compromise whereby the arms were stored
in Germany until after the elections, but some in the US
Administration subsequently considered the incident as a sign of the
Italian Prime Minister’s reluctance to fight Communism.
While the affair serves to highlight a shrewd degasperiano move in accommodating an anxious US while still gaining
a favourable outcome for Italy,
the episode also demonstrates how the alliance was based on a
different interpretation as to the nature of the ‘communist
menace’ and how best to defeat it.
The alleged threat of the PCI and the possibility of a coup
d’état was frequently emphasised by the Italians and highlights
the only effective method at their disposal in influencing the US to
provide assistance to the party.
The US responded to such warnings by reinforcing the DC economically,
politically, and even militarily in order to secure their ‘national
interests,’ as the Americans looked to promote anti-Communist
Italian forces prior to the elections.
However, American intelligence and policy-makers consistently viewed
the situation solely from their own agenda and never gave serious
consideration to DC motives and the domestic situation within Italy in
which they working. The consequences of a policy that failed to
acknowledge internal forces within sovereign nation-states were never
considered in early cases such as Italy where ruling elite’s
remained predominantly pro-Western. This shortcoming in US
interventionist foreign policy, eventually recognised in regions
outside of Europe, would raise its head with disastrous effect in
later Cold War cases.
To obtain more assistance, the DC established its position in accordance
to the US from De Gasperi’s trip to America in January 1947, as “a
stable, close relationship with Washington became the simultaneous
objective and instrument of Italian foreign policy.”
The need for US support was crucial to Italian foreign policy in
addition to consolidating the DC’s own domestic position, as De
Gasperi and his party were always at the helm of coalition governments
and never in sole command.
By welding their interests to that of the US the DC positioned itself
as the natural ally for the American anti-Communist crusade, whilst
guaranteeing that De Gasperi and Sforza, the key figures in Italian
foreign policy, retained their hegemony of Italian politics.
The January trip was equally significant for the Americans as they waited
to see De Gasperi in person and listen to how he intended to tackle
Communism before committing any support for him.
The communist issue was quickly established as the hot topic that
aroused interest in Washington for the Italian question as De Gasperi
noted in his dealings with influential Republican Congressional
The trip helped clarify to both the US and DC that a mutual alliance
offered a solution to both their predicaments, with De Gasperi
returning to Rome in the knowledge that US support would be
forthcoming if Italians played to US concerns over Communism in the
From the very beginning the US declared what they regarded as the key
issue and thus implicitly dictated the position the Italians would
need to take if they wished to receive US aid. Thus, a vicious cycle
was established whereby support would only be afforded to
anti-Communist governments, but only anti-Communist governments would
qualify for such assistance.
After speaking to President Truman and Assistant Secretary of State
Dean Acheson, Italian Ambassador to Washington Alberto Tarchiani
clarified the US position to De Gasperi in April stating the US
favoured a “homogenous government,” indicating American assistance
was only likely if the DC expelled the left wing parties from the
There is validity in Leffler’s claim that the removal of Communist
groups from both the French and Italian governments in mid-1947
undoubtedly had their own domestic reasons, “but it is questionable
whether they would have taken such risks without American
encouragement and blandishments.”
De Gasperi had assumed fronting a government without the Communists
was impossible prior to US sponsorship of the DC. His fears were
allayed, particularly with the announcements of the Truman Doctrine
and Marshall Plan, as it became apparent that with US support De
Gasperi could safely rule without the left in his coalition.
This served to cement De Gasperi’s conviction in the alliance being
the right choice for Italy,
however, this should not be confused as peddling to US demands for
this was very much in Italian, and specifically DC, interests.
The American preoccupation with countering the PCI took precedent above
and beyond all other concerns, thus allowing the DC an opportunity to
solidify their conservative influence on Italian political life. At
the end of June 1947, DC Minister of Labour Amintore Fanfani
highlighted how the DC leader was able to dominate Italian politics to
US officials in Rome, noting De Gasperi “is in a class by himself as
a manipulator of purely political techniques.” On the same day Ugo
La Malfa and Enrico Martino, two Republican Deputies of the
Constituent Assembly, suggested De Gasperi was making “no serious
attempt” to enlarge his government to admit more democratic parties
as he had pledged, and as the US had been pressing him to do. These
sentiments were reinforced by the outgoing secretary of the Action
Party, Riccardo Lombardi, who reiterated De Gasperi’s reluctance to
accommodate smaller moderate parties into his government and the
nature of his party’s conservative policies.
A memo from influential American Ambassador James Dunn in Rome confirms
the US government had been made well aware there was a great amount of
discord within the Italian political system toward tactics employed by
the DC. In a meeting with Dunn, the leader of the Republican Party,
Randolfo Pacciardi emphasised how the “time is ripe to unhinge De
Gasperi from ‘right wing conservatives and monarchists,’” in
order to give the Italian government a more democratic and
In an authoritative study of US-Italian relations based largely on US
documents, Miller notes “Italy’s conservatives, after surviving
the debacle of fascism and the upheaval of the war, re-imposed their
control over their society with American aid.”
The US were far from oblivious as to what the DC was doing, but being
that they were so focused on defeating communism at the elections, any
doubts took a backseat and were suppressed. While De Gasperi
eventually did incorporate other moderate centre-parties into his
coalition, this was done at a time of his choosing and in accordance
with his terms, as the American Ambassador himself acknowledged at the
end of the year.
The DC cannily worked to appease potential American reservations by
presenting anti-communism as a mutual goal they both shared. This
originated from a perilous Italian assessment that a “lack of
experience on the part of the Americans” offered “experienced and
Machiavellian European politicians some good chances to exploit
American naive enthusiasm.”
However, concessions were more forthcoming when the Italian situation
was intricately tied to general US Cold War objectives, as can be seen
by De Gasperi’s request for arms to counter a communist
insurrection. This task was far from easy to accomplish, and as
Galante notes, “the process of welding the national interests of the
DC and the strategic interests of the United States was an arduous
process in view of the need to overcome, elude or ingest numerous
national and international obstacles.”
Nevertheless, this approach was fundamental to bridging the
substantial asymmetry of power between the partners and was the only
means through which the DC was able to gain American attention for
their ‘mutual interests.’
The Italian leaders pressed for a firm commitment to the DC but was
presented as principally serving American Cold War interests. In a
meeting with Acting Secretary of State Robert Lovett, Tarchiani stated
his government’s belief that a broad Soviet strategy to dominate
Europe threatened the independence of Italy. He pointed out how the US
commitment to Greece and Turkey had deterred Russian intentions since
the Marshall Plan had brought the fellow Mediterranean states under
“direct US protection.” Tarchiani asserted the PCI could count on
the support of the Soviet
Union and Tito in Yugoslavia, and indirectly suggested the US adopt a
similar stance in regards to Italy.
The DC adopted an approach whereby “any request for support was
presented as mutually desirable, as a manifestation of the matching
interests of the United States and the Christian Democrat domestic
Toward the end of 1947, Dunn reported to Washington that De Gasperi,
“wishes to speak to me about an idea that he has of the US making a
statement recalling the treaty of peace with Italy and the Charter of
the UN and reminding the public of the proper right and duty of
intervening whenever the territorial integrity of Italy might be in
danger or the democratic anti-totalitarian form of the government of
the country might be threatened.”
Although the US would make no such comment, the memo demonstrates how
the DC aimed to appease US concerns, while looking to safeguard their
own position of power within Italy, to the extent of compromising its
territorial sovereignty by issuing an open invitation for US
intervention. With firm US support, the DC looked to implement their
own foreign policy goal of bringing Italy’s European status up to a
par with Britain and France, since De Gasperi and Sforza always looked
to their fellow European nations as the more ‘natural’ partners to
US support for DC hegemony was fundamental to allowing the ruling
Italian elite the space and freedom in which to pursue their own
Although the US proposed a model of democratic European nations, their
desire for an anti-Communist government in Italy took precedence, thus
leaving the stamp of the DC’s conservative policies further
impressed on Italian politics. Italy was drawn further from the
reformist objectives that could have addressed the serious imbalance
in wealth between the middle and working classes, which Fortune
magazine reported in September 1947 as being principally due to
the laissez-faire economic policies of the Minister of Finance, Luigi
Einaudi. While able to control the rate of inflation of the lira,
Einaudi was largely responsible for the injustices of the economic
climate, which benefited wealthy industrialists but punished the
poorest members of society, namely the majority of Italians. The
subsequent mass redundancies and strikes were construed as evidence of
the start of a Communist insurrection, but many studies suggest the
blame can be traced back to the DC’s own policies which created “a
wider and more bitter breach between the state and the
US hopes for reform in Italy faced a binary conflict alongside their
desire for a staunch anti-Communist ruling party. The inconsistency
and contradiction in US foreign policy allowed actors like the DC the
freedom to operate in their relations with the US,
so that despite the skewed balance of power, the Italians were able to
benefit despite having little to offer in return aside from vocal
reassurances and sentiments of compliance. “Italy was no stranger to
crisis,” writes Di Nolfo, and “throughout the centuries of the
modern era, experienced many of them, both before and after its
unification, and the lesson they had taught was the traditional one of
pendularity, of exploitation of contradictions among the victors.”
The skill in exploiting the vulnerabilities of their stronger partner
enabled the DC to shrewdly use the issue of communism to extract
concessions from Washington while furthering their own goals.
However, it is important not to exaggerate the dynamic between the DC and
US government. As willing as the Americans were in supporting
anti-Communist forces, they were always in control of the direction
the relationship took. The US did not look beyond integrating Italy
into a western system favourable to themselves, as they were less
interested in the international dimension to Italian reconstruction
and drew a line between Italian international and domestic concerns.
Given the emphasis Italian leaders such as Sforza placed on Italy’s
international status in Europe and the Mediterranean, it again
highlights how Italian objectives, that were reliant on US backing,
could only be realised if calls for American support were made in
accordance with US Cold War concerns.
De Gasperi’s political astuteness allowed him to prevent the US from
sending a covert shipment of arms but American determination in
securing their interests in Italy meant they were happy to conduct
operations that would not be disclosed to their Italian partners. The
arrival in January 1948 of a US Marine regimental combat team to
bolster US naval forces in the Mediterranean was uncovered and heavily
criticised as an aggressive manoeuvre by both the Communist press and
the New York Times.
Washington’s claims of innocence could not mask a deliberate gesture
of flexing their military might by bolstering their presence in the
region. De Gasperi was not aware of the US move since the Americans
were never obliged to report to their junior partner. Similarly,
Truman’s authorisation of covert operations in response to the
National Security Council’s 1/3 directive was made solely with US
interests in mind, as De Gasperi had previously made it quite clear he
disfavoured any activity that could have a devastating affect on his
election chances through bad publicity.
The American conception of the partnership was very different to the one
interpreted by the Italians, yet the DC’s appeasing approach also
helped to maintain the disparity in power. Italian subservience in
order to gain concessions from the US emphasised ‘shared values’
but led to a miscalculation whereby the US assumed that what they
looked to do in Italy was also in the interest of the DC. The
Americans subsequently failed to note what
the Italians were looking to accomplish from the relationship.
When the truth finally became apparent, it served to diminish the view
of Italian politics in Washington and US faith in the DC.
Italian enthusiasm for the Marshall Plan was immediate from the moment
the Secretary of State made his speech, with Tarchiani announcing the
Italian government’s “full adherence”
to Marshall’s economic aid package. The Italians linked their cause
to that of the US but the Americans failed to consider the DC could be
acting in their own interests. Esposito provides an enlightening study
into how both the Italian and French governments were able to use
Marshall Plan funds for their own economic policies and deflect US
attempts to impose an economic model based on the wishes of
Washington. She states, “on balance, what is most remarkable is that
American and European documents all show that both France and Italy,
each in its own way, managed to maintain an independent position vis-à-vis
the American superpower consistently.”
In a later memo sent to Sforza analysing the problems of Italian
utilisation of Marshall Plan funds, Italian Ambassador to Paris Pietro
Quaroni aptly summarised the difficulties that had developed between
the DC and US:
The American authorities underrated our problems, our
lack of organisation and capacity to benefit from U.S. aid. We
disregarded some American fixed ideas…we provided them with wrong
information, we made promises, which we were unable or did not want to
keep… The Americans have no confidence in our ability and they think
our Government is unable to rule, our Civil Service to carry out any
programme, our people to believe any plan. American confidence in our
promises, in our projects, in our effectiveness is very scanty.
A misconception as to the nature of the relationship was not exclusive to
the US, as the election result led some Italians “to an
over-estimation of the role Italy could have in American strategy.
Some top officials believed that the support the Truman Administration
had shown for De Gasperi’s policy could be regarded as the
achievement of an Italian-American special relationship.”
In fact, this idea had been emphasised by Italian conservative
circles, both inside and outside the DC, after De Gasperi’s return
from America in January 1947. During the announcement of a $100m
Export-Import Bank loan to Italy, strong public statements asserted
its retraction if the government passed into the hands of the left.
The DC presented themselves as the sole party that could gain the
assistance needed for Italian recovery and the only party who enjoyed
a favourable relationship with the US.
As the election date drew closer the US increasingly aligned themselves
with the DC through official statements and gestures along with the
covert campaign it undertook to boost the DC coalition at the voting
booth. This was construed as a ‘privilege’ afforded the DC by the
US, and subsequently misread as exclusive treatment for the party.
However, this was a continuation of a theme the DC utilised in their
domestic election campaign as they never missed an opportunity to
emphasise their unique partnership with the Truman Administration. At
the second DC National Congress in November 1947, De Gasperi responded
to alleged PCI-inspired violence as an attack on ‘his government and
democracy,’ and promised further co-operation with the Americans.
The DC exaggeration of their relationship with the US was partly due
to their own delusion.
The true nature of the relationship became most evident in the
post-election period when Italian need for US assistance was less
urgent and the bond between the partners became increasingly tenuous.
In their efforts to reconstruct Europe, the US could not overcome
“the fact that the other non-communist states were always to retain
a very different conception of their national interests from the one
that Washington advanced for them.”
Far from cementing the strong alliance that would serve US national
security interests in the Mediterranean, the April elections proved to
be the climax of a perennially uneasy relationship with a DC Italian
government. American policy toward Italy in the 1950’s evidences
there was no longer a mutual anti-Communist consensus between the two
as the US embarked on an aggressive covert campaign to not only
nullify the PCI but to completely eradicate it.
The radical US policy “collided with the intrinsic conservatism of the
centrist and moderate stabilization promoted by the Christian
and saw the final nail hammered into the coffin of the partnership.
Subsequently, not only did the US step up their direct interference in
the country, particularly through the Italian trade unions, but came
to realise the DC use of anti-Communist rhetoric was in a very
different context to their own. In 1953 new US Ambassador to Rome
Clare Booth Luce “rejected the caution to avoid flagrant American
intervention in Italy’s domestic affairs,” and revealed how
anti-Communism was the only way the DC was continually able to receive
money and support from the US government.
As Del Pero succinctly summarises:
Political opportunism certainly helps to explain the
lukewarm reception given by Christian Democratic representatives to
American pressures. (With) guaranteed American economic support and
military protection within the western security system, Christian
Democrats…frequently tailored their ‘Atlanticism’ to the
possibility of obtaining additional aid and concessions from
Washington. This strategy could be implemented only by preserving the
presence of a strong (but not too strong) Communist Party, which
obliged the USA to support the DC (as the only reliable interlocutor
Washington had in Italy), consequently strengthening the DC hold on
political power… Christian Democracy never ceased regarding the PCI
as a justus hostis, a legitimate enemy to be defeated, rather than
eliminated as the United States would have wished.
election brought together the focused efforts of numerous actors,
including the US, DC, Vatican, Italian Socialist Workers Party (PSLI),
Italian Republican Party (PRI), Italian-American lobby group, Great
Britain, and France. Akin to the DC-US relationship, rather than
highlighting similar values, the combined effort of all the parties
merely represented a point at which mutual lines of interests
intersected one another.
DC belief in a ‘special relationship’ with Washington was
testament to their misunderstanding of US motives toward the election
itself. Some Italian officials felt that with this ‘privileged
position’ in hand, Italy could achieve her main goal of
re-establishing herself as a European power on an even keel with Great
Britain and France.
Once more, the consequences of such erroneous sentiments were not seen
in the 1947-1948 period when DC-US relations were at their strongest
but would be felt in the aftermath of the election as the coalition
began to drift apart.
The frequently branded “empire by invitation”
phrase is a useful point of reference in any debate on US involvement
in Italy prior to elections in April 1948, as there is no doubt the DC
wanted the US to come into their country with their money and
political weight. However, the definition clouds the fact that Italy
was only one case among several at the start of 1947, and the US had
no overall plan for Europe when they inherited responsibility for
Greece from the British in February. The US was evidently
‘invited’ into Italy by the DC, but there was also an interactive
relationship, albeit restricted, between the two parties, which played
a significant role in shaping the face of Italy.
While the Italians looked to US support, there were no great aspirations
toward American values or general agreement with their Cold War aims.
De Gasperi originally looked to maintain a neutralist stance for Italy
but it quickly became evident that to accept American aid demanded a
firm commitment to the American camp. There is a certain element of
truth to the accusations made by the PCI-PSI Front in early 1948
against the DC elite of “turning Italy into an American satellite,
sacrificing national independence in exchange for American backing for
their personal political futures.”
These sacrifices are understood in the context of Italy’s position
as of the start of 1947 and taking into consideration the political
aims of the DC.
In a recent study, Lundestad suggests the traditionalist, revisionist and
post-revisionist schools of analysis have proved insufficient in
satisfactorily explaining the Cold War. He calls for a new way to
study the topic that pays renewed attention to facts while
acknowledging the different actors involved in the conflict:
We always have to remember that there were other powers
in addition to the United States and the Soviet Union and that, even
in regions where one power had over-all control, circumstances varied
from country to country and local actors influenced the pace, and
sometimes even the basic outcome, of events.
There is a great need to move beyond a US-focused approach to Cold War
history for this inherently diminishes the contribution of other
protagonists. Along with the Vatican, the DC played a more crucial
role in determining the 1948 election outcome than the US, but the
Italians were nevertheless reliant on the Americans for economic and
political assistance. While the DC were able to adapt their
significantly subordinate position to exploit American aid, there is a
danger in overestimating the influence of local actors as not all
enjoyed the limited autonomy granted the Italians. Ultimately they
were restricted by the terms set by the Americans and it was
established that anti-communism was to be the uneasy adhesive holding
their alliance together. Nevertheless, the DC was an important local
actor that did not succumb to every US demand. The partnership was
asymmetric, littered with misconceptions, political opportunism and
confusion, but this was an alliance nonetheless as both sides needed
one another to help pursue their own divergent policy objectives.
A problem as suggested by Severino Galante, “La scelta americana
della Dc,” (“The American Choice of the DC”) in M Isnenghi,
& S Lanaro (eds.) La
Democrazia Cristiana dal fascismo al 18 Aprile (Christian Democracy from Fascism to 18th April) (Venezia:
Marsilio, 1978), p.112.
Antonio Varsori, “Italian Diplomacy and Contrasting Perceptions
of American Policy after World War II,” Storia
Nordamerica (Vol.3, No.2, 1986) p.77.
James Miller, The United States and Italy, 1940-1950: The Politics and Diplomacy of
Stabilization (Chapel Hill & London: The University of
North Carolina Press, 1986) p.5, and for the Vatican’s cool
stance on the DC leader see p.237. For more on initial antipathy
toward De Gasperi, see Antonio Varsori, “De Gasperi, Nenni,
Sforza and their Role in Post-War Italian Foreign Policy,” in
Josef Becker & Franz Knipping (eds.) Power
in Europe? Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany in a Postwar
World, 1945-1950 (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter,
Mario Del Pero. L’alleato Scomodo: gli USA e la DC negli anni del centrissimo, 1948-55
(The Uncomfortable Alliance: The USA and DC in the Centrist Years,
1948-55) (Roma: Carocci, 2001) p.30.
Varsori “De Gasperi, Nenni, Sforza and their Role in Post-War
Italian Foreign Policy,” p107.
Foreign Relations of the
United States, 1947, Vol. III, ‘The British Commonwealth;
Europe’ (United States
Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1972)
pp.784, 784-5, 785-7. Henceforth noted as FRUS,
year and volume.
FRUS 1947, III,
pp.787-8. Varsori “De Gasperi, Nenni, Sforza and their Role in
Post-War Italian Foreign Policy,” p107.
Del Pero, L’alleato
See also FRUS, III,
pp.981-3, 889-91, and FRUS 1948,
Vol. III, ‘Western Europe’ (United States Government Printing
Office, Washington DC, 1974) pp.738-9, 835-6.
The US was also actively looking to fund other non-Communist
parties such as the PSLI. For more see James Miller, “Taking Off
the Gloves: The United States and the Italian Elections of
1948,” Diplomatic History,
7 (Winter 1983) pp.46-7.
Varsori “De Gasperi, Nenni, Sforza and their Role in Post-War
Italian Foreign Policy,” p102.
Furthermore, it must be noted the higher echelons of the DC-led
government was not a homogenous group itself. De Gasperi was a
moderate figure representing the centrist element of the DC, while
Foreign Minister Count Carlo Sforza, although not an inscribed
member of the Republican Party, clearly associated himself with
the PRI as an ‘independent figue.’ This is in addition to
Minister of Finance Luigi Einaudi, a conservative economist from a
classic liberal tradition with ties to the Liberal Party, and
members of the PSLI and PRI, including their respective leaders
Saragat and Pacciardi, holding Cabinet posts from the middle of
December 1947. It is important to stress the diverse personalities
and figures representing a broad spectrum of political inclination
within the Italian government, and acknowledge that the
complexities of the domestic Italian situation were not only along
party lines but also within individual political parties
See Varsori “De Gasperi, Nenni, Sforza and their Role in
Post-War Italian Foreign Policy,” p. 99, Di Nolfo “The Shaping
of Italian Foreign Policy during the Formation of the East-West
blocs,” p.487, and Galante, “The Genesis of Political
Impotence,” pp.192-3. All in Becker & Knipping (eds.), Power
Ennio Di Nolfo, Le paure e le speranze degli italiani: 1943-1953 (The Fear and the Hope
of the Italians: 1943-1953) (Milano: A. Mondadori, 1986)
Miller, The United States
& Italy, p.217.
Galante, “La scelta americana della DC,” p.142.
Alberto Tarchiani, Dieci anni tra Roma e Washington (Ten Years Between Rome and Washington)
(Milano: Mondadori, 1955) p.136
Melvyn Leffler, “The American Conception of National Security
and the Beginnings of the Cold War, 1945-48,” The
American Historical Review (Vol.89, No.2, April 1984) p.281.
While De Gasperi was ultimately responsible for making the
decision to remove the left wing parties from his government, it
is important to note that for the PCI and PSI, the time had come
to break away. In standing in opposition to the DC-dominated
government, the Popular Front were thus freer to establish their
own policies. The exit of the Communist-Socialist coalition from
the Italian government was in the interests of all parties
concerned and it is important to respect this local dimension to
the Cold War which many histories ignore.
Di Nolfo, Le paure e le
Rome Embassy to Secretary of State, “Conversation with Ugo La
Malfa and Enrico Martino,” 27 June 1947. 865.00/6-2747. Rome
Embassy to Secretary of State, “Conversation with Amintore
Fanfani, Minister of Labor,” 27 June 1947. 865.00/6-2747. Rome
Embassy to Secretary of State, “Conversation with Riccardo
Lombardi, Outgoing Secretary of Action Party,” 3 July 1947.
865.00/7-347. Record Group 59: General Records from the Department
of State, Central Decimal File. (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.)
Henceforth noted as (NARA,
Dunn to Secretary of State, 28 August 1947. 865.00/8-2847. (NARA,
Miller, The United States
& Italy, p.251.
Dunn to Secretary of State, 6 November 1947. 865.00/11-647. (NARA,
Varsori, “Italian Diplomacy and Contrasting Perceptions of
American Foreign Policy after World War II,” p.79. It is
important to stress that this dangerous assumption was the
perception of certain figures in the DC hierarchy. For more, see
the same article, particularly the role of Count Vittorio Zoppi,
the segretario generale (Secretary-General) of the Ministero degli Affari Esteri (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
at Palazzo Chigi, Rome.
Galante, “The Genesis of Political Impotence,” p.192.
FRUS, 1947, III,
Galante, “The Genesis of Political Impotence,” p.193.
FRUS, 1948, III,
Varsori “De Gasperi, Nenni, Sforza and their Role in Post-War
Italian Foreign Policy,” p102.
Quote from Joyce & Gabriel Kolko. The
Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy,
1945-54 (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1972) p.371.
See also Miller, The United
States & Italy, pp.213, 232, 243, Paul Ginsborg, A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988
(London: Penguin Books, 1990) pp.112-3. For the most
complete study of economic policies see John Lamberton Harper, America
and the Reconstruction of Italy, 1945-1948 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1986) particularly Chapter 9.
Del Pero, L’alleato
Di Nolfo “The Shaping of Italian Foreign Policy during the
Formation of the East-West blocs,” p.488.
Miller, “Taking Off the Gloves,” pp.45, 48. The NSC directives
toward Italy in the FRUS
edition omit key passages relating to covert operations. The fully
declassified version of the NSC 1 series, including NSC 1/3,
“The Position of the US With Respect to Italy in the Light of
the Possibility of Communist Participation in the Government by
Legal Means,” 8 March 1948, can be found at the Harry
S. Truman Presidential Library, Independence, Missouri. Papers
of Harry S. Truman: President’s Secretary’s Files: Subject
File, 1945-1953: National Security Council- Meetings, Box 176.
Memo of conversation between Tarchiani and H. Freeman Matthews, 20
June 1947. FW 840.50 RECOVERY/6-1847. (NARA,
Chiarella Esposito, Americas Feeble Weapon: Funding the Marshall Plan in France and Italy,
1948-1950 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994) p.207.
Quaroni to Sforza, 30 August 1950. Report no. 641/3663 from the Archivio
Storico del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, (Archives of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Rome, noted in Varsori,
“Italian Diplomacy and Contrasting Perceptions of American
Foreign Policy after World War II,” p.89.
Varsori, “Italian Diplomacy and Contrasting Perceptions of
American Foreign Policy after World War II,” p.80.
Galante, “La scelta americana della DC,” p.124.
Miller, The United States
& Italy, p.251.
Kolko & Kolko. The Limits of Power, p.11.
For more on US operations in Italy in the 1950’s, see Del Pero, L’alleato
scomodo, and Maria Eleonora Gausconi, L’altra
Faccia della Medaglia: Guerra psicologica e diplomazia sindacale
nelle relazioni Italia- Stati Uniti durante la prima fase della
guerra fredda, 1947-1955 (The
Other Side of the Coin: Psychological Warfare and Trade Union
Diplomacy in the Relations Between the United States and Italy
During the First Phase of the Cold War, 1947–1955) (Soveria
Mannelli: Rubbettino, 1999).
Del Pero, Mario. “Containing Containment: Rethinking Italy’s
Experience during the Cold War,” Journal of Modern Italian Studies (Vol.8, No.4, 2003) p.548.
Del Pero, Mario. “The United States and “Psychological
Warfare” in Italy, 1948-1955,” The Journal of American History (Vol.87, No.4, March 2001)
paragraph 47, and Del Pero, L’alleato
Del Pero, “Containing Containment,” p.549. The justus
hostis term comes from Carl Schmitt’s, The
Concept of the Political.
The US, DC, Vatican, Italian Socialist Workers Party (PSLI),
Italian Republican Party (PRI), Italian-American lobby group,
Great Britain and France, all to differing degrees worked to
thwart the PCI-PSI coalition from winning the election. For a
comprehensive analysis of American initiatives see William Blum, Killing
Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II (Montreal:
Black Rose, 1998) Chapter 2 on Italy, Ginsborg, A
History of Contemporary Italy, pp.115-7, Miller, “Taking Off
the Gloves,” Miller, The
United States & Italy, pp.243-9, Miller, “Roughhouse
Diplomacy: The United States Confronts Italian Communism,
1945-1958,” Storia delle
Relazioni Internazionali (Vol.5, No.2, 1989) pp.292-4, and for
details of the CIA’s role see Christopher Simpson, Blowback:
America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War
(London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988) pp.90-2. For an analysis
of the DC and Vatican’s propaganda use see David Ellwood, “The
1948 Elections in Italy: A Cold War Propaganda Battle,” Historical
Journal of Film, Radio and Television (Vol.13, No.1, 1993).
The role of Great Britain is detailed in Antonio Varsori, “La
Gran Bretagna e le elezioni politiche
italiene del 18 Aprile 1948,” (“Great Britain and the Italian
Political Elections of 18 April 1947”) Storia
contemporanea (Vol.13, No.1, 1982) and Effie Pedaliu, Britain,
Italy and the Origins of the Cold War (New York: Palgrave,
2003) Chapter 3. For an overview of British and French efforts in
the period see John Young, Britain,
France, and the unity of Europe, 1945-51 (Leicester: Leicester
University Press, 1984) and relations between France and Italy are
covered in Jean Baptiste Duroselle & Enrico Serra (eds.), Italia
e Francia: 1946-1954 (Italy and France: 1946-1954) (Milano:
Varsori, “Italian Diplomacy and Contrasting Perceptions of
American Foreign Policy after World War II,” pp.80-2. See also
Antonio Varsori, “Italy’s Position towards European
Integration, 1947-58,” in Christopher Duggan & Christopher
Wagstaff (eds.) Italy in the Cold War: Politics, Culture & Society, 1948-1958 (Oxford:
Geir Lundestad, “Empire by Invitation? The United States and
Western Europe, 1945-1952,” in Charles Maier (ed.) The
Cold War in Europe: Era of a Divide Continent (New York:
Markus Wiener, 1991).
Del Pero, L’alleato
scomodo, p.30. See also the memo from Quaroni to Sforza on 7
October 1947 in Varsori, “Italian Diplomacy and Contrasting
Perceptions of American Foreign Policy after World War II,”
Miller, The United States
& Italy, p.243.
Geir Lundestad, “How (Not) to Study the Origins of the Cold
War,” in Odd Arne Westad (ed.) Rewriting the Cold War: Approaches, Interpretations, Theory (London,
Portland: Cass Series, Cold War History 1, 2000) p72.