Italy and the Wider World 1860-1960

Italy and the Wider World 1860-1960

Italy and the Wider World 1860-1960

Italy and the Wider World 1860-1960

Synopsis

Richard Bosworth's overview of Italy's role in European and world politics from 1860 to 1960 is lively and iconclastic. Based on a combination of primary research and secondary material he examines Italian diplomacy, military power, commerce, culture, tourism and ideology. His account challenges many aspects of current Italian historiography and offers an original vision of the place of Italy in modern history.

Excerpt

In 1939, Harold Nicolson, minor English diplomat, politician and littérateur, penned, in a manual which he published on international diplomacy, the classic description of the basic traits of Italian foreign policy. Amid the European powers, he wrote, Italy was sui generis:

The rigidity of French diplomacy stands in striking contrast to the mobile diplomacy of the Italians. The Italian system is derived from the traditions of the Italian states of the Renaissance and is based neither on the sound business concept, nor on power-policy, nor on the logical attainment of certain ends. It is more than opportunist, it is based upon incessant manoeuvre. The aim of Italy’s foreign policy is to acquire by negotiation an importance greater than can be supplied by her own physical strength. It is thus the antithesis of the German system, since instead of basing diplomacy on power, she bases power on diplomacy. It is the antithesis of the French system, since instead of striving to secure permanent allies against a permanent enemy, she regards her allies and her enemies as interchangeable. It is the antithesis of the British system [Nicolson went on, with a certain patriotic bias] since it is not durable credit that she seeks for, but immediate advantage. Her conception, moreover, of the Balance of Power is not identical with the British conception; for whereas in Great Britain that doctrine is interpreted as opposition to any country who may seek to dominate Europe, in Italy it is desired as a balance of such equipoise that her own weight can tilt the scale.

These characteristics, Nicolson asserted, could be identified in even the most mundane diplomatic action:

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