Reshaping Transatlantic Energy Relations: Italy, the United States and Arab Producers During the 1970s
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This chapter examines Italy’s energy policies between the second half of the 1960s and the mid-1970s. Based on new archival sources from the USA and Italy, it argues that during and after the Six Day War and in the context of the 1973 oil ‘shock’, the Italian government, particularly its foreign minister Aldo Moro, linked in new and original ways the changes taking place in the Mediterranean with the process of détente. Moro argued that the forms of multipolarism and dialogue promoted by détente should be extended to the Mediterranean, and lead the European Economic Community (EEC) to support the establishment of new, more equitable relations between oil producers and oil consumers. A series of domestic and international factors, however, limited Moro’s politics. While Italy remained economically too weak and politically too unstable, the EEC was too divided to promote a coherent policy in the Mediterranean. Most importantly, in the first half of the 1970s the US administration ‘contained’ Italian and Western European efforts to redefine relations between the Atlantic bloc, the EEC and the Arab world. It strongly criticized Italy’s effort to pursue an autonomous policy in the Mediterranean, and interpreted European positions as a betrayal of the Atlantic Alliance and of the the USA’s primacy in it. In the context of the 1973 oil ‘shock’, the Italian government abandoned its wider interpretation of Mediterranean politics. While it continued to pursue a pro-Arab policy, it also realigned itself with US positions. In this framework, Italy’s energy policies limited themselves to the establishment of bilateral relations with single producers, including countries such as Libya and Algeria.