The United States and Italy, 1940-1950: The Politics and Diplomacy of Stabilization

The United States and Italy, 1940-1950: The Politics and Diplomacy of Stabilization

The United States and Italy, 1940-1950: The Politics and Diplomacy of Stabilization

The United States and Italy, 1940-1950: The Politics and Diplomacy of Stabilization

Excerpt

The American effort to build a peaceful and prosperous postwar world order began in Italy in the summer of 1943. Italy, the first Axis nation to surrender, the first occupied enemy nation, the first liberated nation, was the laboratory in which the United States experimented with a program of political and economic reconstruction.

The ultimate objective of American policy was stabilization: the creation of a democratic and prosperous society, capable of self-reform and linked to the United States by mutually beneficial economic and political arrangements. The decision to stabilize the postwar world through intervention was a revolution in American foreign policy. After World War I, the American people rejected Woodrow Wilson's plans for building a democratic Europe through the use of United States economic and political power. Wilson's Republican successors tried to stabilize Europe by providing diplomatic backing for an economic stabilization program carried out by American bankers. Relying on economic expansion to promote peace, the bankers supported any regime, democratic or totalitarian, that assured domestic peace and promised an open door for American investment. American economic aid was a factor in Benito Mussolini's successful consolidation of power in Italy.

By the late 1930s, the Great Depression, the rise of nazism, and the imminent approach of a new European war convinced a growing number of Americans that democracy, economic prosperity, and peace were indivisible, and that the United States must assume a leading role in any postwar reconstruction of the international order. The consensus for a government-directed policy of stabilization expanded rapidly during World War II, as many prewar isolation-

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