The suspended Republic. Italy and United States during the Cold War


  • Umberto Gentiloni Silveri Sapienza Università di Roma

Parole chiave:

Postwar, Italy, USA , Republic, Cold War


Between the end of the Second World War and 1989, the Cold War both circumscribed Italian political life and left a deep mark upon it. The stand-off between East and West cut across boundaries and natural affiliations; it determined political relationships, and created political leaders. Two opposing but equally misleading points of view of the so-called Prima Repubblica have often been proposed. One is that Italy had limited sovereignty and its main political actors followed decisions taken in Moscow or Washington; the other is that Italy plowed a completely independent furrow. This latter view is sometimes expressed in terms of Italian exceptionality and uniqueness, as if Italian political affairs were incomparable and quite unlike those of other countries. More recent scholarship, which has been able to draw on new sources, has emphasized interconnectedness, arguing that for all its peculiarities, recent Italian history is best understood in the general context of the Cold War. External influences and internal factors are no longer seen as two diametrically opposed and incompatible elements but, rather, as both belonging to the one historical process. Many historians are now pointing to the central importance of the 1970s in their research, noting that the decade offers a particularly rich source of information, and provides an excellent vantage point from which to consider the preceding and subsequent years. In that crucial decade, previously solid bonds began to unravel, models began to creak and identities began to dissolve as the post-war equilibrium came to an end. It was a period that saw the twilight of the old order and the start of a new and difficult type of confrontation. In those years, the relationship between Italy and the United States was characterized by intense discussion of the potential fall-out for other western nations of an Italian economic and political crisis. The debate polarized positions both within the domestic world of Italian politics and among the different tendencies that existed inside the Us Administration.






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