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Italy Between Europe and the Mediterranean

Diplomacy and Naval Strategy from Unification to NATO, 1800s-2000


Marco Rimanelli

From her national unification in the years between 1859-1861 to the Cold War, Italy's diplomatic, military and naval strategies focused on becoming a major European and Mediterranean Power alongside established wealthier rivals. Cyclically, foreign and domestic political pressures both propelled and restrained Italy's drive for national security and regional pre-eminence in the Mediterranean, where a fluid, but still constraining, balance of power frustrated her efforts. Faced with insoluble contradictions between regional ambitions and limited resources, Italy creatively exploited both alliance-building in Europe and technological naval innovations to cyclically pursue her regional strategic aims during the Early-Liberal (1848-1896), Late-Liberal (1896-1922), Fascist (1922-1945), and Atlantic eras (1945-2000). But these efforts were doomed by faulty strategic planning and wavering governmental commitment to invest sufficient national resources in the Navy, thus exposing a fatal gap between Italy's prestigious peacetime military façade and her insufficient war-fighting capabilities to attain regional pre-eminence in wartime. This book also examines how the Post-Cold War era and the collapse of the Soviet Union's threat, further lessened Italy's politico-financial pressure to assume a leading role in the Mediterranean.