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How Italy Was Involved In The Cold War History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Italy can be described as having been on the front line during the cold war. Additionally, it can be described as having contributed to the war in two ways. To start with, it was the Southern end of Churchill’s ‘iron curtain’ referred to as Trieste. Secondly, Italy possessed a very huge communist party, which was treated as the second largest in the Soviet Union [1] The cold war resulted from the Second World War, and had several events and consequences in Italy.

Background Information

During the Second World War, the nations fought so as to decide whether the world would be one whole or divided into regional empires. Immediately after the Second World War ended, the cold war ensued. Its aim was to contest between the global competitors in a bid to decide the modernization that would take over as far as the leadership of the nations was concerned. The cold war is defined as the conflict between the world’s democratic nations which was led by the United States, and the global Communists nations led by the Soviet Union. The cold war was fought by propaganda, diplomatic haggling, economic war and military clashes at some point. Additionally, the war was fought in independent African nations, Asia, in the outer space and also in the neutral states. The war is believed to have started after the then president of the United States, Truman declared a policy; the anti communist policy in 1947 [2] 

Significant Cold War Events in Italy

Slightly after the end of the Second World War, a major event took place in Italy. Italy faced great challenges that led to their participation in the cold war. To start with, President Mussolini forsook the ‘non- belligerency’ and concentrated on his war against the British Empire and the American forces. [3] According to Gardner, [4] Benito Mussolini had so much hatred for the Americans and the British citizens in Italy. Therefore, he went ahead and imposed racial laws which deprived the Italian Jews of their citizenship basic rights. There were so many hate targets to the U.S, as Italy even attempted to bomb the latter.

The combination of the Fascist and the Royalist groups led to the surrender of Italy in 1943.The country was divided and consequently directly controlled by the Southern Kingdom with America and Britain being the administrators. Britain had a logistic superiority in war, and therefore became the senior partner in the collaboration. As a result, Britain became really harsh on the Italians, as it imposed the ‘Long Armistice Terms’ brought forward by the White Allies in 1943. This was one way in which the Italians were punished, and therefore were denied any sort of economic development.4

After the Second World War, Italy was ruled by National Unity Governments between 1945 and 1947. All the anti-Fascist parties participated in the Communist and Socialist activities. There was an atmosphere of collaboration and compromise between the political forces, with a republic being established in 1946, a constitution being formed in 1947 and an electoral system which was based on a proportional representation was also introduced at the same period. [5] 

However, the 1948 April 18th general elections led to a severe confrontation between the ideological and the electoral blocks. Italy became a cold war region, being split into two political and opposing cultural camps. The split was as a result of the West and East, anti- communism and communism groups, democracy and dictatorship, anti-clericalism and clericalism as well as the Catholics slogans of ‘against or with Christ’. However, anti-Fascism went on to provide Italy’s legitimating principle of political institutions and post-war governments. [6] 

One of the greatest events of the Cold War in Italy was the involvement of religion in the war. The participation of the church in the cold war started during the 1948 general elections, when the Italian church and the Pope Pius XII responded greatly to the Italian political situation at that time. The church involved and committed itself to the maximum. The Catholic Action Movement had a massive presence in the Italian civil society. It was also summoned to battle, launching a huge propaganda in 1948. Even though the institutional church and the Vatican were two different entities, they were considered as one because all of them were fighting for a common cause. The two combined and were referred to as the Vatican throughout the cold war period, especially between 1948 and 1958 [7] 

Another great event that occurred in Italy was the communism threat during the cold war period of 1948.This was as a result of the effects of the Second World War, which included social, political and economic problems in Italy. Therefore, the aim of the Italians was to restore the diplomatic state of the country as well as to be rehabilitated into the international community after the Fascism catastrophe. This was only gotten after the peace treaty that was signed between the White Allies and Italy in 1947 [8] 

The priority at this time in Italy was to establish a political settlement as well as the reconstruction of the Italian economy after the Second World War effects. Additionally, the Italians also aimed to abolish the monarchy through a popular referendum in 1946.The establishment of the resistance movement, which was aimed at fighting fascism and doing away with the capitalist bourgeois, also took place 8

The election period in April 1948 was the peak of the cold war in Italy. The monthly general elections under the Republic’s constitution were held in Prague coup, with the communists seizing Czechoslovakia. Also, the Christian Democrats won with forty eight percent of the votes. From this point, catholic propaganda gained momentum and its form was apocalyptic, as it treated the election as a battle between the anti-Christians and the Christians and also barbarism against civilization 8

Consequences of the cold war in Italy

During the cold war period, Soviet calculated and realized that Italy would result into turmoil as well as a long-live economic crisis, which would lead to unpredictable events. Yugoslavia became the most prominent allies in Europe, and therefore pressed revolutionary and geopolitical objectives. The first crucial moment was during the spring and winter periods after 1945, when a final ‘insurrection’ was launched against fascism so as to keep the resistance movements from the U.S. and the British control [9] 

The cold war had severe impacts on the republic of Italy. To start with, there was a general trend of political immobilism. The Christian Democracy party stood on its own, collaborated with the government or fully backed the church. The other party, the Communist Party was always in opposition at all times. This political immobilism trend led to corruption and clientelism. The end of the cold war successfully did away with all the obstacles that led to the development of an improper democracy [10] 

In the 1990’s, Italy experienced a change of two parties’ coalition in the government, the first centre-right coalition in 1994 and the center-left coalition in 1992.This was a good step of cleaning up the public political after opening up the levels of corruption in the country. Therefore, the history of the first republic is seen as a slow progress of the extreme parties in the centre and the right to govern. Therefore, the cold war left a legacy, in that Italy became a proper functioning democracy, even if it took a long period of time 10

Between 1950 and 1970, Italy witnessed the rise of a more secularized and pluralistic society especially after the cold war. New social and pressure groups arose, for instance women, students, pro-abortion and pro- divorce activists. At the same time, there was an increase of the Communist Party Popularity. There was also a rise in internal conflicts such as students’ unrest, blocked political systems, and therefore, there was need for a political change in Italy. As a result there were so many terrorist attacks as the Italians tried to seek for a new government 10

The cold war also had negative consequences in Italy. It led to the lack of trust between the citizens of Italy and the State. In several instances, this lack of trust was as a result of the cold war, as Italy sought for national solidarity. Italy made the democratic state not to acquire a new legitimacy, therefore denying the possibilities of trust in the country. Therefore, the citizens lacked trust towards their state as the Fascist periods came to an end. The rulers were full of cynicism and deception and the communist parties were done away with 10

Another consequence involved the invisible networks that were given power in Italy so as to give decisions to the Italian leadership. The Irangate and Watergate scandals, as well as some recent effects such as the “Arms into Iraq’ are clear revelations of the cold war aftermath in Italy and other nations. The Mafia is another aftermath, which is now present in Italy, and is involved in the trafficking of arms to all those countries with an embargo. [11] 

Conclusion

Clearly, the Cold War had very significant effects which lasted for a considerable period of time, thereby leading to far- flung effects in Italy. The importance of the war in Italy is significant, even though there were still some negative effects as a result of the war.


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