To what extent was Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia a turning point in his foreign policy?
To a certain extent, Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia could be seen as a major turning point in his foreign policy. However, Mussolini’s reluctance to fully commit to an alliance with Hitler would also suggest that perhaps the Pact of Steel of 1939 could be seen as a more convincing turning point.
It could be argued that following Abyssinia, Mussolini’s foreign policy took a drastic shift, becoming increasingly more aggressive and steering towards that of Hitler’s. Prior to his taking of Abyssinia, Mussolini’s foreign policy seemed to differ greatly from Hitler’s, for example in 1934 Mussolini sent troops to the Italian border with Austria in reaction to Hitler’s attempt to invade Austria. This move indicates that Mussolini was untrusting of Hitler and made a concentrated effort to ensure that Hitler’s position in the region remain largely unchanged. Moreover his joining of the Stresa Front in 1935 along with Britain and France in a bid to contain Germany would indicate once more that prior to Abyssinia, Mussolini’s position in regards to Germany was one of reluctance and hesitance. However, following Abyssinia, Italy’s international position shifted, with Britain and France condemning the move. Crucially however, Hitler supported Mussolini’s invasion and did not condemn it, and Hitler soon appeared to be Italy’s stronger option within Europe, and so Mussolini steadily synchronised his foreign policy with Hitler’s and it could be argued that it was at this point Mussolini’s foreign policy took the greatest shift. Following Abyssinia, Germany and Italy’s growing relations were evident in their assistance of Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Furthermore, the Rome Berlin Axis of 1936 made a statement of ideological similarity and unity, and also saw the start of Mussolini’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and growing anti-British views. Additionally, Mussolini...
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