Section Ten: Foreign Policy

  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 25-04-13 19:40

Foreign Policy Aims


Terra Irredenta

World Prestige

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Empire in Mediterranean

  • Mussolini wanted an empire in the Mediterranean
  • an opportunity came when an Italy General and his 4 staff were murdered in Greece in 1923
  • Mussolini demanded 50million lire and an apology and when this did not come he bombarded Corfu and received the payment
  • this showed his ability to assert Italian dominance
  • however, he could dominate small countries but not big ones
  • Britain and France demanded he withdraw
  • also, though he received the compensation money, he did not obtain any apology, showing that he had not completely bullied Greece
  • more significant, this incident hardly constituted an empire in the Mediterranean as Britain largely controlled the area with naval bases in Gibraltar, Matla and Cyprus and joint British and French control of the Suez Canal
  • thus the Mediterranean was not "Mare Nostrum" - our sea
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  • there was more success in the Balkans with the Treaty of Rome handing over Fiume to Italy
  • this was significant as it was part of the terra irrendenta
  • in Albania he sponsored a local Chieftain Ahmed Zog and encouraged Italian investment in the country
  • the 1926 Treaty of Friendship turned Albania into little more than an Italian satellite state
  • also, as Zog had had taken power near the Yugoslavian border, the country was threatened by Italy which exercised large amounts of influence over it
  • these achievements increased Italy's world standing BUT were small compared to Mussolini's grand foreign policy aims
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Spread Fascism

  • Mussolini wanted to spread fascism and did this by backing Franco and the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil war
  • there was a degree of success here as Franco was victorious and so Italy had gained a potential ally
  • this was an invaluable prospect with the possibility of a European war so imminent
  • however, this effort was to no avail as Spain declared itself neutral during WW"
  • this failure also had economic ramifactions as Italy had invested large amounts of money into helping Spain but had not received any benefits from this
  • all that happened was a severe lack of preparedness at the outbreak of WW2
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Gain Prestige

  • Mussolini wanted to gain prestige especially after Corfu which showed that Britain and France held the real power
  • he knew he had to play the part of statesman and show himself willing to cooperate with other powers
  • to do this he remained a member of the League of Nations and signed the Locarno Treaties and Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 in order to appear as a credible player on the world state
  • he also joined the Stresa Front, which portrayed him as a diplomatic fixer, an image which became particularly potent when he acted as a mediator between Chamberlain and Hitler over the Sudetenland at the Munich Coneference
  • Mussolini hoped to gain concessions from Britain and France and this looked to be a possibility as the Munich Conference obviously showed he was admired by the British elite
  • however, he overestimated his standing with Britain and France when, outraged at the use of gas in Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, they placed economic sanctions over Italy
  • though the two powers were still willing to negotiate after the incident, Italy viewed them as weak especially after the attempted Hoare-Laval Pact and so relations never fully recovered
  • Italy thus had limited success in gaining prestige abroad
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Increase Popularity at Home

  • the Duce wanted to increase popularity at home
  • he gained prestige by singing pacts + treaties abroad + gained extensive press coverage
  • e.g. Locarno - made grand entrance - raced across Lake Maggiore - flotilla of speed boats
  • publicity was always exaggerated but it succeeded in making Italians believe that their leader was making important contributions to world politics
  • in reality -  never a great part of many treaties and rarely bothered to read them properly
  • propaganda, however, more than made up for this
  • E. war improved M's popularity at home - regained "Italy's place in the sun" 1000 casualties
  • raised morale as it was seen to make up for the terra irredenta + 1896 defeat at Awowa and appealed to nationalistic sentiments, boosting the public belief that Italy could have a great world standing
  • thought this was not strictly true as the Ethiopians were at a huge disadvantage militarily, Mussolini had worked the public up so much that this did not matter
  • however, the Ethiopian war wasted precious money on an adventure that in reality brought little benefits and again, hardly consituted an empire
  • it harmed Italy's war effort for WW2 and so in the long run had a detrimental effect on Mussolini's popularity at home due to his poor performance in WW2
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Ties with Germany

  • Mussolini also sought to develop closer ties with Germany
  • in a way, this policy achieved some success as, to an extent, it enabled Mussolini to manipulate Britain and France who feared Italo-German relations
  • this explains the relatively relaxed economic sactions over Ethiopia
  • however, Mussolini was not able to fully exploit this situation and, added to this, closer German ties created discontent at home
  • the Italian public distrusted the Germans and so Rome-Berlin Axis and Pact of Steel were highly unpopular, resulting in failure to garner public support for this policy from a war-weary nation
  • furthermore, relations with Germany did NOT end well as Germany became increasinly dominent
  • Italy was unprepared for WW2 and upon their declaration of non-belligerence, Mussolini received an embarrassing dismissal from Hitler informing him that his support would not really be needed
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