“Survival” as a “vital national interest” in foreign policy (by the example of Italy)

In this article we analyze the correlation between 2 phenomenon “national interest” and foreign policy. Such kind of symbiosis might provide very interesting results. We are appealing to a concept of national interest by H.Morgenthau as well as to Italian, Soviet, American archival documents of a postwar period together with contemporary European and American approaches to Italian role in the European integration processes.

H.Morgenthau in his articles defined “national interest” as a “a dominant motive force of actors in the international system”, having divided “vital” and “secondary” national interests[1]. “Vital national interests” he claimed to be  nation’s security  and its survival, but moreover, he stressed that the importance of each is dependent on the people who interpret them.

Today we are interested in a “vital national interest” of “survival” and its importance in Italian foreign policy which had become vivid after the end of the World War II. For both Italy and FDR this period signified first of all capitulation, failure: “In July and even earlier we are aiming at if it is possible to invade Sicily in order to clean the Mediterranean Sea. The general Eisenhower was given an order to start immediately his attack in order to make Italy, Mussolini and his gang capitulate when the “Eskimos” is finished”[2]. As a result in 1943 Italian government under Badoglio proclaimed “unconditional surrender”.

From  “Document on Italian Capitulation”, which was sent to the UK, the US embassies as well as to soviet Narodny Komissar for Foreign Affairs  (Narkom) on the 26t of August 1943: “Italian government and Italian High Command acknowledge that Italian armed forces failed and thus ask to halt the fighting unpreservedly”[3]. In accordance with the document, Badoglio government promised the following: (а) Overall passive resistance throughout the country, (б) small acts of sabotage throughout the country, in particular, in infrastructure and airports used by Germans, (с) protection of allys’ prisoners of war, (d) not any Italian warship shall be in Germans’ hands, (e) not any Italian trade ship shall be in Germans’ hands, (f) Germans can’t take Italian coastal line into their hands.[4]

After the capitulation, it was proclaimed “a right of allies to take care of Italian navy, of course, absolutely indisputably, and Italian government should have understood that”[5].

Also, by the winning countries it was also made clear that any service made by Italian government and Italian citizens will be taken into account while elaborating the truce: “Badoglio was promised that allys’ governments are aimed at returning Sicily and Sardinia as well as historical Italian mainland back to Italy as soon as it will be free from enemies”. [6]

Therefore, Italian “survival” from our point of view in a postwar period is conditioned on by two factors:

–  the absence of a single coalition’s tactic on Italy,

– creating of a pro-european vector of Italian postwar foreign policy by its government.

Having proved the first thesis, we shall emphasize, that the USSR in particular, was severely blaming Italy which contributed to Germans’ attacks and was insisting on reparations, thus supporting Yugoslavia in its claims for Istria and Trieste.  The British Government also didn’t want Italian rebirth. «We don’t need Italy as well Spain»[7], – claimed W. Churchill in the House of Commons in 1945. However, the US was highlighting a slightly different position at that time. Both Roosevelt and Truman always supported Italy. In February 1945 in Yalta Roosevelt asked Churchill to support Italy’s renewal and again to help the country to get its place on the international arena. Gradually, the attitude to Italy was slightly changing: France, for example, diminished its claims regarding its common border in the Alps, Italy was again allowed to control the Southern Tirol gained in 1919. However, none of Italian claims concerning the return of its African colonies – Libya, Eritrea, Somalia was not satisfied. Political  situation in the country was also aggravated by the fact that French and German governments experienced a new level of collaboration developing the ideas of the European integration.

Hence, in such situation the European vector of Italian foreign policy was the only one way-out since it signified not only nation’s survival but also uniting its foreign policy and some deep internal changes. From the telegram №7909/507, dated by the 16th of June 1947 from Italian representative in London, Carandini, to a Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sforza: “It is clear, that everything is ready for nations’ integration. It will happen based on non-discrimination principles, taking into account not only participants’ economic potential but also creating a wider political union”[8].

Thus, on the 4th of December 1945 a postwar, post fascist, Christian-democratic/anticommunist Italy headed by Alcide De Gasperi, chairman of the Council of Ministers, started its long and difficult way together with other founding-fathers of the EEC pursuing the goal – building up Europe without custom barriers and separate lines. He understood that once having united Europe, it could become a powerful actor on international arena. This and some other ideas might be found in De Gasperi’s articles “Political discussions”[9], “The Time and the people, that created “Rerum Novarum””[10]. Alcide De Gasperi, the founding father of the Christian-Democratic party, became a main postwar figure in Italian politics. Many scholars till nowadays have been discussing his personality. A historian R.Willis highlights: “De Gasperi had a political flexibility and a non-compromised morality. His talent was in uniting lots of opinions – hence, Catholicism became an inalienable part of a Christian-democratic party. All this made him charismatic”.[11] G.Andreotti, head of the Council of Ministers, also stressed De Gasperi’s popularity : “His cabinet consisted of communists, socialists, republicans. De Gasperi was a Minister for Home Affairs at that time simultaneously in order to be fully responsible for Italy’s restoration”[12]. A famous Italian magazine “Il Popolo” on the 20th of June 1947 also wrote on De Gasperi: “In his life he said that followed 2 principles: sin into business, never let yourself  make it half and always keep your word”[13]. Having taken his first office he thus finished the fascism epoch in Italy. His 3 offices in total became very important for Italy’s survival in a postwar period. Today Alcide De Gasperi prize is awarded for ones’ commitment to promote a European political vector. Hence, on the 19 of August 2004 Helmut Kohl received this prize, on the ceremony the president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi claimed: “I witness that you always understood, that Europe’s success is in its integration in basic realms together with the coordination of national politics in other realms”[14].

In order to understand better, how Italy pursued its national interest of survival in a postwar period, we are turning to contemporary European and American approaches to Italian role in the European integration processes, i.g. G.Vattimo, Italian political scientist, who is proving that the main  post war goal for all the European governments was «to make impossible wars between nations’ continent. One more reason was a wish to make Europe more competitive and richer»[15]. At the same time, many scientists, mostly American, believe that the main reason for European integration was not a wish to become a powerful actor on international arena or its wish to preserve European identity or economic welfare. Fascism and  communism and their thereat of spreading on the continent became that bridge among European nations starting with the 50ies. This thought is pretty much clear in Fukuyama article “the End of the history”: “Speaking abstractly, fascism and communism are two tests for durability, which not divided but reunited European countries again and became useful for democracy  restoration at the end”[16]. Among contemporary researches on democracy in a postwar Europe which were published for the last years, we appeal to M.Cotta and L.Verichelli. Italian authors treat Italy as a “late democracy” motivating that “a nondemocratic (fascist) intermezzo (governance) which had been for a long time (for more than 20 years) after the World War II was substituted by democracy”[17].

We are also turning to Italian, American and Soviet archives that had been important for understanding the Cold War period. They reflected the superpowers positions on the issue of the ECC creating as well as Italian role in it.
It is interesting to mention that despite its ideological clash, their position on creating of a single economic space in Europe was united. The superpowers both supported European integration.

Thus, on the 16th of March 1957 in a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs USSR on the creation of a single European market and Euratom follows: «In Italy the supporters of a single market claim that its creation will provide more  favorable conditions for resolving an acute problem – citizens employment. Lack of job offers amounts to  2 millions. It is more likely that Italian government would like to get rid of it having sent them to other member-states of the common market. At the same time, it is impossible to ignore that Italians will work on dangerous, low-paid jobs while Germans and other monopolists would feel sorry about them»[18]. Situation with Italian immigrants was very severe in Italy, and that was a serious obstacle for Italy which wanted to get integrated. This is underlined by a Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sforza in a telegram on a 11th of august in 1947  to Italy’s ambassador in Paris, Cvaroni : “Regarding an immigration issue, our opinion is the following – the frontiers opening, liberty of capital and goods movement without given equal liberty to our labor force and stabilization of situation with immigrants is impossible”[19]. As a whole, another statement of Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlines its loyalty to the EEC creation: “The USSR has always contributed and is contributing to an overall development of international economic cooperation and to peaceful use of nuclear power, thus, is considering such cooperation is in interests of all states”[20].

From the US State Department statement regarding a single European market creation and a free trade zone on the 15th of January in 1957: “Six states are involved  in negotiations regarding the common market. The common market will signify a gradual removal of trade barriers among 6 states and setting down of a single exterior tariff in regard with the other states. The US attitude to the Western Europe ideas to create a single market and a free trade zone is determined by 2 traditional political programs of American government – our permanent support of steps that develop economic and political power and a unanimity of Western Europe in frames of expanding transatlantic community as well as strong alliance to more liberal multilateral non-discriminated trade”[21].

However, Italian integration to the EEC has been a little bit different and much more difficult comparing to some other European nations. Political, economic, social spheres had been in deep crises. R.Willis also selects a number of “Italian” factors which create serious obstacles on the way to successful membership in the EEC: remote agriculture, unemployment, obsolete bureaucracy, population density, regional anthogonism, strong communist party.

Meanwhile, despite all these complications, we incline to select a number of wide-spread factors which conditioned on Italian decision to integrate: historical roots, common problems with the EEC, political will of Italian government to pursue European policy and to overcome an internal crisis as well as an objective realia itself together with a wish not to let a french-german coalition to become stronger. In R.Willis opinion, not to let Germany and France to increase their  power was a very significant reason for Italy’s integrating in the EEC. The memories on the World War I and World War II initiated by Germany were very much alive[22].

As a result, a number of all the mentioned factors resulted in the fact that Italy managed to enter the European Economic Communities but moreover to become its locomotive starting with the 1957 having made afterwards different initiatives.

As a result, a postwar Italian diplomacy has elaborated such a proeuropean tactics in foreign policy which, on one side, would preserve national interests safely, on the other, would contribute maximally to creation of a new European space. Tactical goal of such cooperation was Italy’s relationship development with other European states on a wide range of issues, strategic necessity of this partnership is conditioned on by an objective demand to create a multipolar world.  Thus, Italy’s entrance the EEC in a postwar period has become pretty logic since it preserved the national interest of survival at its best.

References:

1.      Andreotti G. De Gasperi e il suo tempo. – Milan. 1964, pp.253-256.

2. Correspondence of the USSR Chairman of the Council of ministers with the US presidents and the British prime-ministers under the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945. V.2, Gospolitizdat., М.,1958  // Strictly confidential private message from President Roozevelt and prime-minister W.Churchill to marshal I.Stalin  №102, 19.08.1943; №177, 17.03.1944; №194, 21.09.1943; №101, 08.08.1943.

3.      Cotta M, Verichelli L., The main ways of development and transformation of parlamentarian elite in Europe (1848-2000 гг.) // Parlamentarism in Russia and Germany. History and modernity/ edited and introduced by Ya.Plais, О.Gaman-Golutvina. – М.:Russian political encyclopedia, 2006. – С.525-555.

4.      Documents on International Affairs, 1957: 30 v./ selected, edited and introduced by Noble Frankland, аssisted by Vera King. – London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1962. – V.18. – Р.431, 443.

5.      I Documenti Diplomatici Italiani. Decima Serie, 1943-1948: 25 v./ – Roma: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello stato, 1950. – V.6.

6.      Fukuyama F. The end of history? // Philosophical issues. -1990.- № 3.

7.      Gasperi A. Discorsi politici. Roma, 1956, 661p.

8.      Gaspei A. I Tempi i gli uomini che prepararono la “Rerum Novarum”. Milano, S.E. Vitae e pensiero, 1945, 108p.

9.      Helmut Kohl was awarded with the Alcide De Gasperi prize. RIA News, 19 августа, 2004: [Electronic resourse] / . Electronic art. Acess regime:http://rian.ru/politics/20040819/658206.html.

10.  Il Popolo. – July 20. – 1947.

11.  Italia, Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, Servizio delle Informazioni // Documenti di vita italiana, 1945.  – P.3.

12.  Morgenthau G. In defense of the national interest: A Critical Examination of American Foreign Policy. Pp. xii, 83, viii. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951.

13.  Vattimo G. Casa Europa // La Stampa. – 2003. – 31 Maggio. – P.12.

14.  Willis R. Italy chooses Europe. NY.: Oxford University Press, 1971, P.14.


[1] Morgenthau G. In defense of the national interest: A Critical Examination of American Foreign Policy. Pp. xii, 83, viii. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951.

[2] Correspondence of the USSR Chairman of the Council of ministers with the US presidents and the British prime-ministers under the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945. V.2, Gospolitizdat., М.,1958 // Strictly confidential private message from President Roozevelt and prime-minister W.Churchill to marshal I.Stalin, №101, 08.08.1943.

[3] Ibid // Strictly confidential private message from President Roozevelt and prime-minister W.Churchill to marshal I.Stalin, №102, 19.08.1943.

[4] Correspondence of the USSR Chairman of the Council of ministers with the US presidents and the British prime-ministers under the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945. V.2, Gospolitizdat., М.,1958  // Strictly confidential private message from President Roozevelt and prime-minister W.Churchill to marshal I.Stalin,  №102, 19.08.1943.

[5] Ibid// Strictly confidential private message from President Roozevelt and prime-minister W.Churchill to marshal I.Stalin, №177, 17.03.1944.

[6] Ibid // Strictly confidential private message from President Roozevelt and prime-minister W.Churchill to marshal I.Stalin, №194, 21.09.1943.

[7] Italia, Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, Servizio delle Informazioni // Documenti di vita italiana, 1945. – P.3.

[8] Il rappresentante a Londra, Carandini, al Ministro degli esteri, Sforza, Londra, 16 giugno 1947. telegramma 7909/507 // I Documenti Diplomatici Italiani. Decima Serie, 1943-1948: 25 v./ – Roma: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello stato, 1950. – V.6. – Р.60.

[9] Gasperi A. Discorsi politici. Roma, 1956, 661p.

[10] Gaspei A. I Tempi i gli uomini che prepararono la “Rerum Novarum”. Milano, S.E. Vitae e pensiero, 1945, 108p.

[11] Willis R. Italy chooses Europe. NY.: Oxford University Press, 1971, P.14.

[12] Andreotti G. De Gasperi e il suo tempo. – Milan. 1964, pp.253-256.

[13] Il Popolo. – July 20. – 1947.

[14] Helmut Kohl was awarded with the Alcide De Gasperi prize. RIA News, 19 августа, 2004: [Electronic resourse] / . Electronic art. Acess regime:http://rian.ru/politics/20040819/658206.html.

[15] Vattimo G. Casa Europa // La Stampa. – 2003. – 31 Maggio. – P.12.

[16] Fukuyama F. The end of history? // Philosophical issues. -1990.- № 3.

[17] Cotta M, Verichelli L., The main ways of development and transformation of parlamentarian elite in Europe (1848-2000 гг.) // Parlamentarism in Russia and Germany. History and modernity/ edited and introduced by Ya.Plais, О.Gaman-Golutvina. – М.:Russian political encyclopedia, 2006. – С.525-555.

[18] Statement to the press by the Soviet Foreign Ministry concerning the European Common market and Euratom, 16 march, 1957 // Documents on International Affairs, 1957: 30 v./ selected, edited and introduced by Noble Frankland, аssisted by Vera King. – London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1962. – V.18. – Р.443.

[19] Il Ministro degli esteri, Sforza, all’ambasciatore a Parigi, Quadroni, Roma, 11 agosto, 1947 // I Documenti Diplomatici Italiani. Decima Serie, 1943-1948: 25 v./ – Roma: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello stato, 1950. – V.6, 31.05 – 14.12.1947. – Р.390.

[20] Statement to the press by the Soviet Foreign Ministry concerning the European Common market and Euratom, 16 march, 1957 // Documents on International Affairs, 1957: 30 v./ selected, edited and introduced by Noble Frankland, аssisted by Vera King. – London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1962. – V.18. – Р.443.

[21]Statement by the United States Department of state regarding united states views on the European Common Market and free Trade area, 15 January, 1957 // Documents on International Affairs, 1957: 30 v./ selected, edited and introduced by Noble Frankland, аssisted by Vera King. – London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1962. – V.18. – P.431.

[22] Willis R. Italy chooses Europe. NY.: Oxford University Press, 1971, P.14.



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