The United States, Italy and the Cold War: Interpreting and Periodising a Contradictory and Complicated Relationship
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The essay discusses the policies pursued by the USA in Italy and the bilateral relationship between the countries during the Cold War. It defines the main objectives of the post-1945 US administrations in Italy, the various strategies deployed to achieve them, and the impact of the evolution of the Cold War on the particular Italian context. By defining the variables and constants which informed US policies with regard to Italy, the chapter proposes a tripartite periodisation and a general interpretative framework. The periodisation is defined by the identification of two crucial turning-points—the first in the early to mid-1960s, and the second in the mid-to late 1970s—which subdivide the conventional 1945–1989 chronology of the Cold War. This interpretation rejects unilateral and quasi-imperial readings of the asymmetric relationship between the USA and its junior Italian partner, emphasising the agency of the actors involved and examining the multiple dynamics which defined the forms and nature of US actions in Italy. Lastly, the chapter emphasises a paradox which scholars are now required to reflect upon, that is, how the post-1970s gradual waning of the Cold War and the declining interest of Washington in Italian matters coincided with greater curtailment of Italy’s sovereignty and freedom of action.