Every society, religion and ethnicity always has within it capability for extreme violence. This is often manifested in the culture to consider other fractions of the society as inferior and go ahead with acts to exterminate or kill them. This scenario is accelerated to greater heights when the faction considered remain silent even when their rights are violated. Benito Mussolini, the II Duce, was an avid writer and later became a journalist with the Milan socialist paper ‘Avanti’
He was famous amongst the supporters of a socialist idea and then began promoting his views on the support of war against Germany in World War I. After joining politics for sometime, Mussolini went back to journalism as a career on which he spearheaded and promoted his ideas against Germany. This led to the birth of fascist party on March 23rd 1919 immediately after the end of World War I.
The destruction and loss of lives led to the popularity of the National Fascist Party since many were disenchanted the leadership following the after effects of the war. Mussolini stood on time and seemed to offer solutions to the Italy’s ailing economy and bring back the lost glory after the World War I. The Roman Salute and the Black Shirt Militia which were later copied by Hitler were his creation. He was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies on March 15th, 1921.
This provided more confidence and boost to his political ambitions. Several factors worked on Mussolini‘s favor in his rise to power. In August 1922, the ruling Leftist Party called for a nationwide strike. Mussolini saw this as an act that would destabilize the state and ordered the leftists to call off the strike or his Fascist Party would. King Vittorio Emmanuelle III saw the capability of Mussolini in handling the affairs of the nation and invited him to travel to Rome and form the government. Mussolini did not accept the invitation and instead insisted on a telegraph and soon it was wired.
The desire by France to take control of mineral rich Ruhr Valley saw it take sides with Italy on the Conference of Ambassadors and this bolstered Italy’s position since most of its endorsements were accepted. The government of Greek had nothing else to do and sensing defeat gave in to Italy’s demands thereby adding more confidence to Mussolini.
The thirst for more power and expansionist ideas led Mussolini to annex the city of Fiume from Yugoslavia, a successful operation that earned him a British Knight of the Bath. He was unsatisfied with the treatment Italy was accorded for giving the necessary assistance in defeating the Germans in the World War I. His thirst for power never ended and he dreamt of the day the Mediterranean Sea would be under his control. Italy then invaded Ethiopia under Mussolini‘s commands as a revenge against their shameful defeat at the battle of Adwa in 1896.
Such expansionist ideas led to Italy’s blacklisting by the League of Nations and as such forged a new close relationship with the Nazi Germany that harbored the same ideas. The League of Nations lacked the political mandate to reign on rogue nations such as Italy and Germany and Mussolini realizing this, continued with his expansionist ideas .Mussolini invaded Albania in 1939 and fully strengthened its alliance with Germany by forming the Pact of Steel. His exploits in war were always unsuccessful and due to lack of organized military techniques, lost many of the regions it had annexed earlier.
By 1943 Italy’s role in the war had seriously deteriorated and Mussolini was headed to a big loss in the war. Mussolini developed the culture of dismissing the king commands and made him a ceremonial leader. In July 1943, Mussolini met his end onto the hold on power. He was arrested and deposed by elements within the ranks of his own Fascist National Party and the King appointed Field Marshal Pietro Badoglio as the New Prime Minister. He was arrested but saved by Hitler who still regarded him as strong ally in the war. He made many unsuccessful attempts to return to power by forming the Italian Socialist Republic in regions that were under German control, imposing himself as the leader.
Mussolini was finally arrested by on April 28, 1945 with his mistress Clara Petacci, this time by Italian forces near Lake Como. He remained under Italian custody but realizing that he was going to be killed ordered that he be shot immediately. His long time friend, Walter Audisio eventually shot him in his chest on Mussolini’s request.
American Intervention in and Post World War II
The overall American intervention in World War II was as a result of the surprise attack of Pearl Harbor the Japanese army and the Franklin D Roosevelt fear of an imminent attack of North America by the Germans. The allied forces continuously bombed the allied strongholds and military bases including the German and Japanese cities of Dresden and Tokyo respectively (Jackson and Gleave, pp 87-103).
This was based on the belief that killing and destroying civilian areas would discourage more civilians in supporting the war and also put more pressure on their governments to bring an end to the war. While this idea was geared towards ending the war faster, it in turn brought about the opposite. Civilian support for their leaders and the war increased and the war took longer than was previously thought causing many deaths and further destruction of property.
Another intention of America on intervening in World War II was done in the name of freedom and democracy to the oppressed. It is true that freedom and democracy form fundamentals of human rights but these interventions have left behind more sufferings manifested in the loss of lives and the destruction of property.
This is because it is always difficult to make a distinction between rebels or armed groups and civilians. Italy was the first of the axis to experience the nature of America’s military intervention when President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and the combined Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to make the first island of Sicily their first target. According to the U.S. Army Center for Military History (para. 2), the allied forces conquered Messina, the capital Sicily on 17 August 1943, a feat that propelled the Allied forces to push forward with their agenda of freeing Europe of Nazi and fascist idea.
The support in terms of humanitarian and relief services from the United States did not begin after the war but in fact began long before the war. This demanded full control of organizations and relief services. During the war, relief services to the Axis –countries was not permitted as in the case of world war I.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw this as providing further support to German and its allies .This condition continued for long even after the entry of the United States into the war in support of the allied forces. 1939 Neutrality Legislation demanded whole openness and full background details regarding relief agencies as some organizations could be sympathetic to the warring factions.
In 1941, Joseph E Davis took over as the head of war relief agencies and brought in much needed reforms that included reducing the number of licensed relief organization from 300 to only 67 by the end of the war immediately after the war the relief control board formally known as the war relief agencies took over the advisory role on voluntary foreign aid.
The relief services provided by the American government in World War I had many differences with that of world II, these included regulations regarding the provision of relief services to the prisoners of war and the additional statute on the Geneva Convention regarding the role of the Red Cross. All countries that took part in World War II with exception of Japan and the Soviet Union, were signatory to the 1929 Geneva Convention regarding the overall treatment of prisoners of war.
Relief suppliers that included clothing toiletries and medicine were taken to prisoners in the prisons. Continuous inspections by the international Red Cross made sure that term of the Geneva Convention were fully complied with and all prisoners of war receive humane and fair treatment. Due to the different standards for treatments of war prisoners, the Geneva Convention strived to achieve an even state of treatment. Prisoners of war from countries that were not signatories to the Geneva Convention were badly treated by the Geneva Authorities.
The overall performance of the Italians in World War II has had different opinions on whether it was a success or a failure. The general idea that the Italians military gave a poor show of there strength and surrendered early is not very true. There are standing examples in very successful war exploits that Italian military achieved
Italian military poor ratings from the world war11 seemed too have cropped up due to failed annexing of Greek Island and the unsuccessful take over of North Africa. Describing Italian soldiers as numerous were other factors that definitely contributed to such military mistakes. Lack of modern weapon, poor leadership and division amongst the rank of Mussolini’s senior advisors that led to lack of will in the objective to accomplish his major war exploits. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland and took control of it; Italy at this point was not in a military position to launch and offensive.
Hitler and Mussolini both wanted a redrawing of Europe’s map and in harboring this kind of vision; Mussolini ignored the state of Italy’s military strength and the inability of its war industrial complex to produce modern weapons that were capable of sustaining a full scale war.
Other neighboring nation such as Britain, Germany and France had put a lot in the development and production of military weapons and had supplicated tanks, guns ammunition and trucks at there disposal(Evan, pp 743-756). In fact at the time of joining the Second World War, Italy’s position in terms of equipment was only at the same level with the First World War. Its war artillery included the remnants from the First World War that were in ineffective and outdated. It lacked industrial capacity to produce new military equipment and those that were made were always out numbered by the demand.
Beretta Pistols and automatic rifles were considered very efficient war machines but were always short in supply while the dreaded machine and sub standard qualities. The shipyard at their disposal was properly designed but lacked the strength in armor and lacked radar. This made it difficult for the Italy military to perform effective in comparison to other nations.
Mussolini invented the art of propaganda and as such projected an image of effective air power but was in reality non existent. The whole military had only a few thousands of air crafts, most of which were bi-plane. The modern creations were of no match to those in the possession of the Allied forces.
The command of Italy at the beginning of World War II was considered the poorest of all the nations that took active military exploits. Mussolini depended on loyalty as the main basis of selecting officers in various military ranks at the expense of experience. In fact Italy had the least number of experienced generals by the time of joining the war. The commanders and generals who had taken part in World War I were considered as sympathetic to the King and as such were taken to Africa and specifically in Somalia to do away with opposition in homeland.
Other tactics involved the demotion of officers who were loyal to the King to lower ranks and replacing them with those that were considered loyal to the II duce. Mussolini asserted full control of the media and all organs of the state and those who criticized him were exiled in the wastelands of Italy such as Somalia. The remainder was composed of loyal military commanders and generals who were loyal to Mussolini and acted as his own stooges. This consisted of a class in the military that lacked the experience to handle a full scale war.
Italy’s navy had very limited number of ships that were capable of defending its territorial waters (Gregory, pp 86-99). Poor leadership in the military and the lack of will to fully implement Mussolini’s objectives were main contributors to Italy’s unsuccessful conquests. Italy could not come out the war victorious. The Italian command sensing loss after the Axis evacuated their strongholds in Italy such as the Island of Sicily and the loss of Messina (Atkinson, pp 201-220).
The high army command then opened secret negotiations with the Allied forces behind Mussolini’s back with the full support of the King who felt betrayed by Mussolini and undermined his position. He in fact blamed Mussolini on political problems that befell Italy. This almost marked the end of Italy’s active military involvement in the war. The unrelenting Germans disarmed Italian soldiers and rushed in to take up their positions upon realizing that they were about to surrender to the Allied forces.
In conclusion, it is obvious that Italian military under the command of Mussolini was headed to a big failure in the war as they got involved into a war the least prepared for and lack of political will to fight Mussolini’s personal war. The whole military at that time lacked both the material and human resource and everything was undertaken to please Mussolini’s desire to gain a greater control of Europe. Questions as to why Mussolini’s would drive an ill equipped army into a full scale war remain baffling to date.
The terming of Italian soldiers as cowards was utterly baseless as they fought so well under the experienced guidance of German soldiers led to defeat in Greece and the continuous successful offensive along the Russian borders. It was therefore a multiple number of factors that led to Italy’s early surrender but not cowardice. Mussolini’s inability to learn and change tactics was the major contributor to the progressive loss of war. Lastly it can be said that Italy bravely fought and lost.
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