Saturday, 10 February 2018
ITALY THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: ASPECTS OF BRITISH POLlCY AND INTELLIGENCE CONCERNING ITALY, 1939-1 941
ITALY THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: ASPECTS OF BRITISH POLlCY AND INTELLIGENCE CONCERNING ITALY, 1939-1 941, a 1997 PhD thesis by Dawn Marie Miller
This thesis examines British policy and intelligence concerning Italy between 1939 and 1941, paying particular attention to British images of Italy. In this period, British policy ran the gamut from appeasement to a pre-emptive strike, each corresponding to the prevailing image of Italy. This image was determined by the combination of net assessments, British fondness for the indirect approach and intelligence whose inability to ascertain Italian intentions gave expectations disproportionate influence over assessments. Chief among these expectations was the belief that Italian policy would further British plans to satisfy its strategic needs. After Italy joined the war on 10 June 1940, intelligence's inability to penetrate Mussolini's mind was less critical. Italy's declaration of war shattered the illusion that its policy would be compatible with Britain's strategic needs while breakthroughs in signals intelligence improved operational intelligence. In East Africa, this resulted in a policy of "raising the tribes", a plan to defeat Italy by supporting an indigenous rebellion in the Italian territories. British success in Abyssinia in May 1941 was a turning point in Anglo-Italian relations because it marked the end of Italy's ability to fight a parallel war. This thesis examines the interplay of image, intelligence and policy in Britain's relations with Italy between 1939 and 1941 in order to increase understanding of the nature and results of British policy for Italy in this period.