CHAPTER XLIV
MUSSOLINI RUNS AMOK

Here Mussolini had to step in. The British people would not forgive Hoare for allowing Mussolini to start war in Africa, and then rewarding him with an "honourable" settlement, had this not been presented to them as the only alternative to a tremendous war in Europe. Therefore, Mussolini had a definite role in the farce: he had to run amok.

The usual "well-informed" journalists let it be known that Italy was considering the advisability of withdrawing from the League, if oil, iron, and steel were added to the list of materials that might not be exported to Italy (Cortesi, NYT. 23. xi); Italy had warned France that an oil embargo "meant war" ( Associated Press from Paris, 23.xi); the British and French Governments had agreed to urge postponement of the discussion of an oil embargo against Italy ( Augur, NYT. 24. xi); if the United States followed in the footsteps of the League of Nations, Italy, finding herself with her back to the wall, might "even resort to some act of desperation with results that might be disastrous not for herself alone" (Cortesi, NYT. 24. xi); Laval had been made aware by the Italian ambassador that the application of an oil embargo would be fatal to all efforts at reaching a compromise, and might have dangerous consequences in view of the exacerbated state of Italian public opinion ( NYT. 24. xi); "it was generally believed" that the Italian Ambassador "had protested strongly against French acquiescence in an embargo on oil and had hinted that the consequences might be serious" ( LT. 25. xi).

Information reaching Birchall in London "from many and varied sources" (the Italian Embassy and the British Foreign Office?) concurred in the opinion that Italian royalty, "whatever it might think of this adventure", did not dare to oppose it. The Crown Prince was in Naples speeding troops off to East Africa ( NYT. 26. ix). He and three other princes of the royal house were made to attend the Senate meeting of December 8 and applaud the Senate's vote of "total solidarity with Il Duces policies". Thus, if Mussolini went down, the monarchy in Italy would go down with him. Could the crowned heads of Europe, the English Tories, and, in general, the "classes" of the whole world run such a terrible risk?

The Paris L'Œuvre ( 28. xi) reported and the London Morning Post ( 30. xi) rehashed the news that Aloisi had paid an "anguished visit" to M. de Chambrun, the French Ambassador in Rome: an oil embargo would make the continuation of the campaign in East Africa

-374-

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