The United States and "Psychological Warfare" in Italy, 1948-1955

by Mario Del Pero
The United States and "Psychological Warfare" in Italy, 1948-1955
Mario Del Pero
The Journal of American History
Start Page: 
End Page: 
Select license: 
Select License

The United States and "Psychological Warfare" in Italy, 1948-1955

Mario Del Pero

This article examines the covert and unofficial intervention by the United States in Italian domestic politics from 1948 to the mid-1950s, which was often referred to as "psychological warfare" (or "psywar").

Conventionally, the difference between regular and psychological warfare should correspond to that between the body and the mind of human beings. While normal


warfare aims at defeating the enemy through physical damage, psywar aims to con- quer the "minds and hearts" of the people in the symbolic conflict that always com- plements the military one. In the first years of the Cold 'War, there was a strong fascination in the ~hited States with the idea of psychological warfare. The pedaI gogic belief that it was possible to influence and condition political allegiances, pri- vate and public behaviors, and even individual and collective identities was largely a product of the time. As the State Department official Albert I? Toner recalled, "Psy- chological was a fashionable word in those early fifties. You heard for the first time, or more than previously, about psychological warfare or strategy or whatever." The Korean War popularized the Orwellian notion of brainwashing, which ended up exercising a wide attraction in American public opinion. It also stimulated the belief that the diabolical techniques of mind control allegedly developed by Communism could be virtuously reversed to promote and propagate Western democratic values.'

At the same time, the particular nature of the bipolar clash between the United States and the Soviet Union further legitimized psychological warfare as a necessary tool of American foreign policy. The Cold War was a total and absolute conflict between two antagonistic, but equally universalistic, models that did not acknowl-

Mario Del Pero is a research fellow at the Forli Center of the University of Bologna. This essay received the David Thelen Prize for 2000.

I wish to thank the Commissione del Premio Aquarone of Rome, the Lois Roth Endowment of Washington, D.C., the Gramsci Foundation of Rome, and the Gramsci Institute of Bologna for their generous financial sup- port. I am greatly indebted to Federico Romero, Anders Stephanson, and Giovanni Gozzini for their valuable comments and suggestions and to the staff of the Truman and Eisenhower libraries for their help and patience. Obviously, the responsibility for the final form of the article is mine alone.

'Albert I? Toner interview by Maclyn I? Burg, Nov. 19, 1974, transcript, p. 48, Eisenhower Library Oral His- tory Project (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kans.). On perceptions of "brainwashing," see Abbot Glea- son, Totalitarianism: The Inner Histo y of the Cold War (New York, 1995), 89- 107.

1304 The Journal of American History March 2001

edge each other as legitimate enemies, as justi hostes. The totality and absoluteness of the war conflicted nonetheless with the impossibility of solving it by military means. Psychological warfare, therefore, rapidly became a surrogate for a war that could not be fought-at least in the traditional way-and came to occupy a preponderant role in the United States anticommunist arsenal2

But the absolute nature of the bipolar conflict combined also with the substantial opaqueness and ambiguity of the concept of psychological warfare in transforming it into a sort of catchall formula. Since anything could have psychological repercus- sions, and since in a tmal war any act is automatically an act of war, any measure promoted by the United States could be ascribed to the potentially infinite panoply of psywar. "We can reach our objective not solely, not even chiefly, by means of mil- itary force," maintained an internal document of the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) of November 1951, "so, our intention is to use all other conceivable means to reach our objective; means that are lumped together under the general heading of 'Psychological Operations.' "3

In the early Cold War the United States goals in Italy were to prevent a Commu- nist takeover and, possibly, to reduce the appeal and electoral strength of the Italian Communist party (PCI, Partito Comunista Italiano). Most of the actions under- taken to those objectives were unofficial, since they involved intervention in the internal affairs of another sovereign country. The so-called psywar plans for Italy elaborated in the early 1950s were consequently characterized by their emphasis on the necessity for resorting to unorthodox and clandestine instruments: on "specific actions," as it was explicitly stated, "rather than propaganda themes."*

Psychological warfare was therefore most of the time understood as synonymous with co;ert operations. But the measures provided for in these plans also considered several other aspects, reflecting the catchall nature of the vague notion of psywar. Italian economic problems, the reform of the electoral law, and Italy's trade with the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were just a few of the many issues

See Anders Stephanson, "Fourteen Points on the Very Concept of the Cold War," in Rethinking Geopolitics, ed. Geardid 6 Thuatail and Simon Dalby (New York, 1998), 62-85; and Federico Romero, "Indivisibilit2, della guerra fredda: La guerra totale simbolica" (Indivisibility of the Cold War: The symbolic total war), Studi Storici (Rome), 38 (0ct.-Dec. 1997), 935-50. On the justus hostis versus the absolute enemy, see Carl Schmitt, "Der Begriff des Politischen" (The concept of the political), Archivfiir Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik (Tiibingen), 58 (1927), 1-33; and Carl Schmitt, "Der Begriff der Piraterie" (The concept of piracy), Volkerbund und Volker- recht (Berlin), 4 (1937), 351-54.

Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), "Notes on a Grand Strategy for Psychological Operation," Oct. 1, 195 1, box 23, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files (Harry S. Truman Library, Indepen- dence, Mo.). Established in April 1951 by a presidential directive, the Psychological Strategy Board had the task of indicating the principal objectives of United States psychological warfare abroad, defining guidelines, and coor- dinating the activities of the departments and agencies engaged in the field of psychological warfare. PSB statutory members were its director, the undersecretary of state, the deputy secretary of defense, and the director of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The presidential order creating the PSB is in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1951 (10 vols., Washington, 1979), I, 58-60. See also John Prados, Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operationsfrom World War IIthrough the Persian Gulf(Chicag0, 1996), 84-87; and Rhodry Jeffreys-Jones, The CIAandAmerican Democracy (New Haven, 1998), 69-85.

4Psychological Strategy Board, "Terms of Reference for ad hoc Panel C," Sept. 26, 1951, box 2, PSB Working File 1951-53, Records relating to the Psychological Strategy Board (Lot File 62D333), General Records of the Department of State, RG 59 (National Archives, Washington, D.C.).

1306 The Journal of American History March 2001

addressed by those plans. With little discrimination between what could and could not be attributed to the category of psywar, the plans were just United States foreign policy in scale: expressions of a more general process they often simply (and pas- sively) reproduced.

The Phase of Economic Determinism, 1948-195 1

The Italian elections of April 1948 are considered a crucial turning point of the early Cold War. The pro-Soviet Left was severely defeated at the polls, while the main Italian anticommunist party-the Christian Democrats (Democrazia Cristiana, DC)

gained an absolute majority in the new parliament. But those elections were also rel- evant insofar as they constituted an important precedent for United States foreign policy. During the electoral campaign, Washington had provided covert aid to dem- ocratic anticommunist parties: the Christian Democrats, the Republican party (Partito Repubblicano Italiano, PRI), and the Social Democratic party (Partito Socialdemocratico dei Lavoratori Italiani, PSLI). The electoral results were read in Washington as proof of America's ability to influence the domestic affairs of other nations through the use of unconventional instruments: according to the American historian James Miller, "The results of the April 1948 elections created a general confidence in Washington that the United States had the right tools and the right strategy to effectively deal with the left."5

This confidence intersected with a fascination for the unorthodox tools of power politics, which struck a number of important figures in the Truman administration, including George Kennan, at the time head of the State Department's Policy Plan- ning Staff. The ability to promote a whole range of measures short of open war seemed to offer what was needed in a Cold War: instruments between total military intervention and passive lack of a~tion.~

Nevertheless, no comprehensive plan of what would soon be called psychologi- cal warfare was activated in Italy after April 1948. The strength of Italian Com- munism was interpreted by Washington in a double and ambivalent way: as the inevitable product of Italy's poverty and social backwardness, on the one hand, and as a subversive and mainly political phenomenon directed by Moscow, on the other. In the late 1940s the first interpretation was clearly predominant: most

5 James Miller, "Roughhouse Diplomacy: The United States Confronts Italian Communism, 1945-1958," Storia delle Relazioni Internazionali (Florence), 5 (no. 2, 1989), 295; see also James Miller, "Taking Off the Gloves: The United States and the Italian Elections of 1948," Diplomatic History, 7 (Winter 1983), 35-56. Three National Security Council analyses of the Italian situation were elaborated before the elections: NSC 1, Foreign Relations of the Unitedstates, 1948 (9 vols., Washington, 1972-1976), 111, 724-26; NSC 112, ibid, 765-69; NSC 113, ibid., 775-79. The completely declassified versions are available in the Records of the National Security Council, RG 273 (National Archives). The best recent study on the foreign policy of the DC (Christian Demo- crats) has convincingly shown the crucial role played by internal factors in determining the outcome of the elec- tions and the limited impact of international problems in their campaign: Guido Formigoni, La Democrazia Cristiana e l'alleanza occidentale (The Christian Democracy and the western alliance) (Bologna, 1996).

Giles D. Harlow and George C. Maerz, eds., Measures Short of War: The George E Kennan Lectures at the National War College (Washington, 1991). See also Anders Stephanson, Kennan and the Art of Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 1989), 308- 10.

The Journal of American History March 2001

land reform in the depressed southern areas, and stimulate the adoption of produc- tivity strategies in the industrial sector.'

The scant receptiveness of De Gasperi and his economic ministers toward Arner- ican projects and the consequent frustration of officials of the ECA (Economic Cooperation Administration) and the State Department is not of interest here. In our context, it is important to notice that in 1948 the United States approach was primarily based on an economic interpretation of Italy's problems. Furthermore, Washington still considered that clandestine operations, propaganda, and psycho- logical warfare were duties of the Italian government and the anticommunist par- ties; responsibility was therefore delegated to local actors, whom Washington properly should only instruct.

Quite curiously, among the groups initially supported by the Rome embassy we can find the Comitati Civici (civic committees) and their leader, Luigi Gedda. They were tied to the most reactionary circles of the Catholic world, strongly opposed to Communism but also very distant from the reformism the United States wanted to promote. It is likely that a sort of self-deception played its part in the American decision to help Gedda and his Comitati Civici: according to Dunn, Gedda himself was "greatly concerned with social problems" and politically "left of enter."^

That explanation might justify initial American support of the Comitati Civici but not its lasting for three or four years. Anticommunism obviously constituted one crucial common denominator linking Gedda to United States interests in Italy. It is significant, however, that such a link weakened in the early fifties, just when anticommunism became the main-even the only-motivation of United States policies in Italy. The crucial factor was Gedda's ability to present himself as one of the few in Italy who knew how to use the techniques of psychological warfare. Gedda's frenetic organizing zeal and his knowledge of the most modern instruments of propaganda made him the local contact to whom the United States looked in order to organize anticommunist psywar in Italy. His activism was a contrast to the operational passivity of the Christian Democrats party, which-at least in its early years-did not represent a political structure firmly rooted in the entire national territory. The backing of the Comitati Civici, as much as that of the lay and anti- communist allies of DC, compensated for the Christian Democrats' weaknesses.

'The best study on American economic policies in Italy in the immediate postwar period is still John L. Harper, America and the Reconstruction of Italy, 1945-48 (Cambridge, Eng., 1986). See also Charles Maier, "The Politics of Productivity: Foundations of American Economic Policy after World War 11," International Organiza- tion, 3 1 (Autumn 1977), 607-33; and Federico Romero, The United States and the European Trade Union Move- ment, 1944-1951 (Chapel Hill, 1992). American reactions to DC'S electoral success and to the formation of a new government led by Alcide De Gasperi were expressed in James Dunn to Dean Acheson, memo, April 24, 1948 (865.0014-2448), General Records of the Department of State; Dunn to George Marshall, memo, April 26, 1948 (865.0014-2648). ibid.;john Hickerson (director of the State Departmenti gffice of European Affairs) to Marshall, memo, May 4, 1948, General Records of the Office of the Executive Secretariat-Summaries of the Sec- retary Daily Meetings-1949-1952 (Lot File 58D609), ibid; Dunn to Marshall, memo, May 6, 1948 (865.0015- 648), ibid; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), CIA 5-48: "Review of the World Situation as It Relates to the Security of the United States," May 12, 1948, box 11, President's Secretary Files, Truman Papers (Truman Library).

Dunn to Department of State, memo, May 17, 1948 (865.0015-1748), General Records of the Department of State. The necessity of financing Luigi Gedda through the CIA is stressed in Edward Page Jr. to James Jesus Angleton and George Kennan, Oct. 11, 1948 (865,001 10-1 148), ibid.

While Washington assigned to the Republican party (PRI) and the Social Demo- cratic party (PSLI) the responsibility to pressure De Gasperi from the left-forcing him to adopt United States-supported reforms-it was up to Gedda and his com- mittees to develop the instruments of psychological action deemed necessary to counter the propaganda of the very efficient Communist machine.'

Covert United States action in Italy in the late 1940s did not end with the finan- cial assistance to the Comitati Civici and the anticommunist parties. Italian intelli- gence services, disbanded after 1945, were reorganized with the help of James Jesus Angleton when the country became a member of the Atlantic Alliance. Usually consid- ered as a proof of complete American control of Italian intelligence, this chronological coincidence underlines instead how the logic of the Cold War helped Italy to reassume its sovereignty after the defeat of World War I1 and the ensuing punitive peace. lo

Finally, in the late 1940s, unofficial United States intervention in Italian domestic affairs sought to weaken the Communist hegemony in the labor movement. This policy was pursued with the cooperation of the Free Trade Union Committee (FTUC),a sort of foreign affairs department of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), headed by Jay Lovestone and represented in Europe by Irving Brown. FTUC'S European activities were financed by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) through the Office of Policy Coordination directed by Frank Wisner. In Italy, Brown and Lovestone supported anticommunist labor, represented by the Catholic-dominated trade union (Libera Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, LCGIL, then Con- federazione Italiana Sindicati Lavoratori, CISL), founded at the end of 1948 after a split from the Italian unitary trade union federation. Brown and Lovestone soon conflicted with the CIA'S position, the policies of the American embassy in Rome, and the increasing international activism of the other American union federation, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (cIo)."

!'On Gedda and the Comitati Civici, see Istituto di Studi e Ricerche Carlo Cattaneo, Lbrganizzazionepartitica del~cre della DC (The party organization of the PCI and the DC) (Bologna, 1968), 493-548; Silvio Lanaro, Storia dell'ltalia Repubblicana: Dallajne delkzguerra agli anni novanta (History of republican Italy: From the end of the war to the nineties) (Venice, 1992), 101-6; and Gedda's memoirs of the 1948 elections: Luigi Gedda, 18aprile 1948:Memorie inedite dell'artefce della sconfitta del Fronte Popokzre (April 18, 1948: Unpublished memoirs of the author of the defeat of the Popular Front) (Milan, 1998). The Christian Democrats were strongly suspicious of the American backing of Geddds activities; see Dunn to Department of State, memo, Sept. 19, 1950 (765.01 19- 1950), General Records of the Department of State.

For a traditional interpretation that emphasizes American control of Italian intelligence services, see Giuseppe De Lutiis, Storia dei servizisegreti in Italia (History of secret services in Italy) (Rome, 1991), 40-43. On Angleton see the sophisticated analysis of Robin Winks, Cloak and Gown: Scholars in America? Secret War (London, 1987), 342-428.

l1 A vast amount of documents on American trade unions' activities in Europe during the early Cold War has been recently declassified at the George Meany Memorial Archives in Silver Spring, Maryland. The most relevant collections are RG 18-002 (CIO International Affairs Department's Files), RG 18-003 (Jay Lovestone Files), and RG 18-004 (Irving Brown Files). I have dealt extensively with this topic in Mario Del Pero, "Gli Stati Uniti e la Democrazia Cristiana negli anni del centrismo, 1948- 1955" (The United States and the Christian Democrats in the years of centrism, 1948-1955) (Ph.D. diss., State University of Milan, 1999), 55-66, 93-99, 128-35. See also Anthony Carew, "The American Labor Movement in Fizzland: The Free Trade Union Committee and the CIA,"Labor History, 39 (no. 1, 1998), 25-42; Maria Eleonora Guasconi, Lkltrafaccia della meahglia: Guerrapsico- logica e diplomazia sinahcale nelle relazioni Italia-Stati Uniti durante la prima fase della guerra fie& (1947-1955) (The other side of the coin: Psychological warfare and trade union diplomacy in the relations between the United States and Italy during the first ~eriod of the Cold War, 1947-1955) (Catanzaro, 1999); and Ted Morgan, A Covert Life: Jay Lovestone: Communist, Anti-Communist, and Spymaster (New York, 1999), 195-243.

1310 The Journal of American History March 2001

This brief and sketchy illustration of United States clandestine activities in Italy during the late 1940s allows us to put forth some tentative hypotheses.

Covert operations in those years were still the second choice of United States pol- icy in Italy. ?he 1948 elections generated widespread optimism, nourishing the con- viction that economic development, social reforms, income redistribution, and consolidation of democratic institutions would be sufficient to reduce the Commu- nist presence in the country. The years 1948-1950 were also a period of doctrinal legitimization of covert operations as necessary tools in the Cold War, but the united States government still lacked the experience and structures to initiate a pro- gram of clandestine activities on a wider scale in Europe and in Italy.12

Only ad hoc measures, destined to deal with contingent problems, were put into place. The lack of planning and coordination, however, allowed for the develop- ment of autonomous initiatives on the part of various American actors operating in Italy (State Department, Defense Department, ECA, CIA, trade unions). The result was a lack of supervision and the operative autonomy of the different groups, which continued in the following years and represented a paradigmatic expression of the more general pluralism of United States foreign policy.

United States officials initially emphasized the necessity for the Italian govern- ment and anticommunist groups to assume direct responsibility for the implemen- tation of the measures suggested by Washington. But De Gasperi and the DC were extremely reluctant to undertake those initiatives, for a variety of reasons that will be analyzed in the last part of this article. Here it is important to stress that the DC'S position was interpreted in Washington as further proof of its passive conservatism, which manifested itself in the unwillingness to promote United States-supported social and economic reforms but also in the weakness and apathy with which the Christian Democrats responded to the Communist "threat."

The Psychologicat Strategy Board and the Demagnetize-Clydesdale Plan

The American decision to elaborate a comprehensive plan of psychological warfare for Italy was made during the summer of 195 1. Three main elements contributed to this decision. First of all, the intensification of Cold War antagonism led the Tru- man administration to look for new instruments to employ against the Communist menace. The Korean War was a crucial turning point: it nourished the conviction that the Soviet Union was an expansionist power, bent on world domination and able to rely, in the Western bloc, on loyal fifth columns such as the Italian and the French Communist parties. United States foreign policy progressively shifted toward a symmetric-universalist approach to international affairs, which globalized American interests and commitments. A clear manifestation of this new line was NSC 68. Expres- sion of a binary and dichotomous approach to world affairs, this National Security Council document made extensive use of a series of rhetoric symbols-freedom versus slavery, democracy versus autocracy, pluralism versus totalitarianism-to define

I2MarkLowenthal, US. Intelligence: Evolution andAnatomy (Westport, 1992), 22-29.

the absolute conflict between Communism and the "free world." For my analysis, the most significant element of NSC 68 is represented by its call to create a "healthy international community": it meant removing those potentially contagious anoma- lies that still existed within the Western community.13

Second, the globalization of United States foreign policy intersected also with its progressive militarization. Fears that Soviet possession of the atomic bomb could combine with Moscow's conventional superiority to establish a "window of vulnera- bility" in Europe led Washington to promote the rearmament of European allies. This militarization of containment accentuated Washington's willingness to make use of unorthodox tools. Above all, it contributed to reducing the appeal of the eco- nomic interpretations of Communist success in Italy. The main emphasis was now on the subversive and conspiratorial nature of PCI and on its loyal subservience to Soviet expansionist designs.

Finally, this interpretation was also stimulated by the disappointment of United States officials in the slow evolution of the Italian domestic scene. Italy in 1951 looked distinctly different from what had been expected three years earlikr: despite previous hopes, the lay center-left anticommunist parties were unable to play a rele- vant role in the DC-dominated government. The DC, apart from being weakened by internal divisions, seemed too conservative to promote the reforms needed for the country's modernization and too weak to face the Communist threat. Corruption was widespread, and the success of the right-wing parties, the Monarchists (Partito Nazionale Monarchico, PNM) and the Neofascists (Movimento Sociale Italiano, MSI), seemed to pave the way to a polarization of political struggle that could only benefit the Left. Most of all, it was the size of the Communist (PCI) and Socialist (Partito Socialista Italiano, PSI) parties that surprised and worried the United States. The results of the local elections of May- June 195 1, the first nationwide poll since

1948, disappointed Washington: thanks to a new electoral law, the DC was able to conquer many cities previously administered by the PCI, but the pro-Soviet left vote increased from 33 percent to almost 38 percent.14

Within the Truman administration, many thought it was time to adopt a new approach toward Italian Communism. An analysis of the electoral results elaborated for the members of the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) emphasized this point.

I3Among the vast literature on ~sc

68, I have relied mainly on John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Securiy Poliolicy (New York, 1982), 89-126. I am indebted to Prof. Anders Stephanson for having allowed me to see his article before its publication: Anders Stephanson, "Lib- erty or Death: The Cold War as us Ideology," in Reviewing the Cold War: Approaches, Interpretations, Theory, ed. Odd Arne Westad (London, 2000). See also the essays in Ernest May, ed., American Cold War Strategy: Interpreting NSC 68 (Boston, 1993). NSC 68 can be found in Thomas H. Etzold and John Lewis Gaddis, eds., Containment: Documents on American Poliolicy andstrategy, 1945-1950 (New York, 1978), 385-442.

'*The American interpretation of the 1951 local elections is in Division of Research for Western Europe (Department of State), "Factors in the Italian Elections," June 18, 1951, box 3, Records of the Office of Western European Affairs Relating to Italy 1943-1951 (Lot File 54D328), General Records of the Department of State; Office of Intelligence and Research, Department of State (OIR), Intelligence Estimate 21, "Communist Strength in the Italian Elections," June 29, 1951, box 64, Intelligence Bureau, Office of the Director: 1950- 1959 (Lot File 58D528), General Records of the Department of State; James Bonbright (assistant secretary of state for European Affairs) to Matthews (deputy undersecretary of state), July 7, 1951, box 11, Staff Member and Office Files, Psy- chological Strategy Board Files.

1312 The Journal of American History March 200 1

Contesting the optimistic comments of the Rome embassy, the document under- lined the ability of the PCI to increase its strength despite the "amount of physical reconstruction" and the consequent "substantial economic improvement" that had taken place since 1945. While economic growth "has had a tremendous effect on the other countries of Europe, where the trend of post-war elections has reduced the Communists to minor proportions," that had not been the case in Italy (or in France) where "mass support for the Communists continues virtually undiminished, even in the privacy of the election booth where people are not subject to Commu- nist intimidation and coercion and need no fear of reprisal." The only conclusion that could be drawn was that American efforts in Italy had been a "failire" and that their continuation would not weaken the PCI. "The doctrine of economic determin- ism," the document maintained, "is too simple a hypothesis for France and Italy." It was therefore necessary to apply new anticommunist instruments and methods, "for unless Communist strength is very substantially reduced, France and Italy, regardless of the pro-Western orientation of their governments," would constitute "weak, irresolute and nervous members of the Western Defense alliance in the absence of war" and would be "unreliable to the point of being a positive danger to our strate- gic plans for Europe in the event of war." The Italian government was therefore invited to intervene in the labor movement and in the political field. In the labor movement, which represented the "major source of power" of the PCI, it was necessary to refuse "to negotiate with Communist union leaders in nationalized industries," to deprive Communist unions "by law of various [but unspecified] rights," to pressure employers not to negotiate with "unions under subversive control," and to forbid their leaders "to sit on public or semi-public bodies." In the political field, it was the moment to reduce the organizational power of the PCI, deprive it of the buildings and structures occupied at the end of the war, and freeze the public funds going to Communist (or fellow traveler) press, schools, and various organizations. The Italian government's refusal to take such actions "on the grounds they were 'undemocratic'-

one of the reasons given by past Governments to excuse their inaction-[was] incomprehensible." The actions did not need to be taken "at one time, but as a series of individual moves over a period of time" in order to reduce the danger of provok- ing a civil war. The possibility of outlawing the PCI was not ruled out but was con- sidered too risky at the moment. That step could be taken only at a later stage, when the Communist party had been substantially weakened: "Whether this extreme measure should or should not be taken is a practical question, not a question of principle. It need not be considered until after one can see how much success attends the less drastic measures advocated above."'5

l5 "French and Italian Elections," July 6, 1951, box 11, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files. The author of the document is not specified, but the minutes of the first PSB meeting, which took place on July 9, 1951, contain references to an analysis of the Italian and French situation elaborated by a State Department-CM committee chaired by Sam Berger (special assistant of Averell Harriman at the Mutual Security Agency) and presented to the PSB three days earlier. See Psychological Strategy Board, "Meeting re Official us Position vis-a-vis French and Italian Governments in Their Relation to the Communist Party," July 9, 1951, box 11, ibid A similar document, sent by Berger to Harriman but dated July 5, is quoted in Leopoldo Nuti, Gli Stati Uniti e l'apertura a sinistra: Importanza e limiti della presenza americana in ltalia (The United States and the open- ing to the left: Importance and limits of the American presence in Italy) (Rome, 1999), 13.

The belief that the success of Italian and French Communism was facilitated by the local governments' passivity was widely shared in Washington. During the sum- mer of 1951 it was therefore decided to elaborate a comprehensive psychological warfare plan for Italy and France (the first PSB plan), based on the recommendations of the two American ambassadors (James Dunn and David Bruce) and on a project of action drafted in September by the CIA'S deputy director, Allen Dulles.16

The PSB met during September to discuss the common psywar plan for Italy and France (PSB ~-16).l' An ad hoc committee (Panel C) was instituted in Washington to supervise the project, while the two ambassadors were invited to create similar bodies in their embassies. The plan assumed its final form in November when the definitive draft was elaborated by Panel C and approved by the PSB. It was divided into two parts, one concerned with France (Plan A) and the other with Italy (Plan B).18

The objective of the PSB plans was initially defined as "to reduce the strength and appeal of Communist Parties in France and Italy, with the ultimate objective of out- lawing them." In order to achieve this goal it was necessary to persuade the govern- ments of the two countries "to undertake appropriate and timely measures within their capabilities," while United States government agencies could furnish a "coordi- nated support." According to the State representative on Panel C, Walter Walmsley, the Italian government should begin to "treat Italian Communists as Communists rather than Italians, through legislative and administrative harassment, suppression and control."19

The measures provided for in the plan were divided into positive and repressive actions. Among the former were the usual references to the importance of improv- ing working conditions through social security and labor legislation, strengthening free trade unions and the cooperative movement, and intensifying anticommunist propaganda. The part on the repressive actions was more detailed and significant. It

Iqhe criticisms of the Italian and French governments, accused of being "not aggressive enough in using their powers to combat Communism," were expressed by Harriman during a meeting with Secretary of State Dean Acheson. See Summary of Meeting with the Secretary, July 10, 1951, Summary of Secretary's Daily Meetings (Lot File 58D609), General Records of the Department of State. A first set of operational proposals for Italy and France was drafted by the Rome and Paris embassies at the end of July. See Dunn to Department of State, memo, July 26, 1951, box 603, Clare Boothe Luce Papers (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.); and David Bruce to Department of State, memo, July 16-18, 1951, box 11, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files. The report drafted by Allen Dulles, "Analysis of Power of Communist Parties of Italy and France and of Measures to Counter Them," whose relevance to successive decisions is men- tioned in several documents, is still classified at the Truman Library. Allen Dulles's report is discussed in Bonbright to Webb (undersecretary of state), Sept. 19, 1951, box 2, PSB Working File 1951-53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State; and in Paul Davis (Department of Defense) to Gordon Gray (PSB director), Sept. 20, 1951, box 11, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files.

17See I11 Meeting PSB, Sept. 27, 1951, box 1, Bureau of European Affairs, Office of European Regional Affairs, Records Relating to Psychological Warfare 1951-1953 (Lot File 55D137), General Records of the Department of State.

I8VMeeting PSB, NOV. 15, 1951, box 6, PSB Working File 1951-53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, ibid.

l9 Psychological Strategy Board, Panel C, Sub-committee on Present Actions, "Reduction of Communist Strength and Influence in France and Italy," Oct. 26, 1951, box 24, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files; Minutes of Meeting of Sub-Panel to Panel C, Nov. 5, 1951, ibid

1314 The Journal of American History March 200 1

was stated that the United States government could "help to discredit the Commu- nist Party, Communist organizations and leading Communist figures by: a) Destroy- ing the respectability of the Communist Party. b) Compromising Communists in public offices. c) Discrediting Communist resistance efforts in World War 11. d) Play- ing up scandals concerning CP leaders."20

To the Italian government was delegated the responsibility of promoting a vast array of discriminatory actions against individuals (Communist activists and sympa- thizers), the Communist trade unions, and the PCI. According to the PSB plans, steps had to be taken to "remove Communists from administrative positions in schools and universities" and from "posts of responsibility in public administration and the national economy." In order to reduce the Communist presence in the labor move- ment, it was deemed necessary to "increase discrimination against firms employing Communist labor in the granting of Italian government contracts," while the indus- trialists' association (Confindustria) and other groups of employers should be pres- sured "to take anti-Communist positions" and support the Catholic trade union (CISL). Besides, the plan provided for an attack against PCI organizational strength, aimed at depriving it "of its material resources," such as former Fascist properties occupied at the end of the war, Communist "schools, printing offices, etc." Finally, following Allen Dulles's indications, Panel C members agreed on the necessity of attempting "to sow discord in Communist Party ranksn-promoting defections, divisions, and "diasporas" within the PCI, similar to the one that during the previous February led two important party officials (Aldo Cucchi and Valdo Magnani) to leave the party-and to encourage and support private Italian anticommunist orga- nizations (like Paix et LibertC in France), which could be activated in particular cir- cumstances under the guidance and supervision of the local American embassy.21

A few months later PSB D-16 was formally divided into two separate plans, one for Italy (PSB D-1 5, code name Demagnetize) and one for France (PSB D-14, code name Cloven). The two plans were approved by the P~Bon February 21, 1952. With the separation, Panel C was dismantled, and two distinct panels were instituted. This solution did not last long, as Washington still considered the Italian and French cases similar and complementary. Panel C was therefore rapidly replaced by a new committee, the Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee, which in May was nominally transformed into the Lenap Committee. The Lenap Committee was chaired by a representative of PSB; its members were officials of the State and Defense

20Psychological Strategy Board, Panel C, "Plan B," Draft Nov. 13, 1951, ibid

21 Psychological Strategy Board, "Scheme of attack, Panel 'C,"' Sept. 24, 1951, box 2, PSB Working File 1951 53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State; Psycho- logical Strategy Board, "Terms of reference for ad hoc Panel 'C,"' Sept. 26, 1951, ibid. Subcommittee on Present Actions, "Reduction of Communist Strength and Influence in France and Italy: Check List," Oct. 26, 1951, box 24, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files; Panel C, "Plan 'B,"' Draft Nov. 13, 1951, ibid Allen Dulles underlined the importance of supporting anticommunist organizations outside the Italian and French governments during 111 Meeting PSB, Sept. 27, 1951. On the defection of Aldo Cucchi and Valdo Mag- nani, see Giorgio Boccolari and Luciano Casali, eds., IMagnacucchi: kldo Magnani e la ricerca di una sinistra autonoma e democratica (The Magnacucchi: Valdo Magnani and the search for an autonomous and democratic Left) (Milan, 1991).

departments, the MSA (Mutual Security Agency), and the CIA. The first chairman of the Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee was Charles Norberg, while its members were Walter Walmsley of the State Department, Townsend Hoopes of Defense, and Sam Berger of MSA (the name of the CIA representative is still classi- fied). Finally, in May the code names of the two plans were also changed: Clydes- dale (Demagnetize), and Midiron (Cl~ven).~~

Demagnetize (PSB D-15) was a development of PSB D-16.The measures provided for in the new plan were again divided into two parts, which corresponded to the traditional division of positive and repressive actions. While illustrated in greater detail than in PSB D-16, they largely reproduced the proposals included in the plan approved the previous November. The most significant difference was represented by the definition of the objective of the plan. Demagnetize, in fact, contained no ref- erence to the possibility of outlawing the PCI. Instead, it was generically stated that it aimed at reducing "the strength of the Communist Party, its material resources, inter- national organizations, influence in the Italian Government, and particularly in the trade unions as well as its appeal to the Italian people, so that it will no longer consti- tute a threat to the security of Italy and the objectives of the United States."23

Responsibility for implementing the measures approved by the PSB was largely delegated to the Italian government, although with the approval of Demagnetize the authority to supervise and coordinate the operative phase was explicitly given to the American ambassador, who chaired the ad hoc committee created in Rome.

Most of the documents concerning the operational aspects of PSB plans are still partially or entirely classified. But the difficulty in evaluating the actions undertaken after the approval of Demagnetize-Clydesdale is also caused by the extreme vague- ness of many PSB proposals. The first report of the Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinat- ing Committee in May 1952 indicated some of the results obtained in Italy, such as the intervention of the Rome embassy against the appointment of the Communist union leader Giuseppe Di Vittorio as labor delegate to the ILO (International Labor Organization) conference and the stationing of one American expert "to work with the democratic cooperative to eliminate Communist domination from the impor- tant Italian cooperative movement."24

22Psychological Strategy Board, "Psychological Operations Plan for the Reduction of Communist Power (Code Name: Demagnetize)," Feb. 21, 1952, box 24, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files; "Remarks by the Department of State member of the Psychological Strategy Board on the Psycholog- ical Strategy Plan for the reduction of Communist Power in Italy," Feb. 21, 1952, box 1, PSB Working File 1951- 53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State; Allen (second director of the PSB) to Charles Norberg (chairman of Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee), March 18, 1952, box 23, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files; Meeting Cloven- Demagnetize Coordinating Committee, April 4, 1952, ibid.; Meeting Lenap Committee, May 9, 1952, ibid.; Bonbright to Ellsworth Bunker (new American ambassador to Italy), May 20, 1952, ibid.

23 Psychological Strategy Board, "Psychological Operations Plan for the Reduction of Communist Power in Italy (code name: Demagnetize)." The document is also published in the appendix of Guasconi, Altrafaccia delka rnedagia, 203-19. The role of the Department of Defense in the PSB'S projects is illustrated in Joint Chiefs of Staff, 'Report for the Secretary of Defense on the Joint Aspects of Psychological Operations," Feb. 27, 1952, box 371, Office of Admin- istrative Secretary: Correspondence, Records of the Secretary of Defense, RG 330 (National Archives).

24N~rbergto Allen, May 8, 1952, box 1, PSB Working File 1951-53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State.

The Journal of American History March 2001

From the beginning, therefore, there was an evident discrepancy between the bombastic rhetoric of the plan and the effective actions undertaken in Italy. In prac- tice, the most relevant change introduced by Demagnetize-Clydesdale was the ambi- tious attempt to use Mutual Security Program offshore military procurement (OSP) contracts to pressure Italian entrepreneurs and politicians to adopt a tougher stand against Communist-dominated trade unions. This practice intensified with the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower but was conceived by the PSB and put into effect for the first time in April 1952, when an OSP order to the Galileo firm of Flo- rence was canceled due to the strong Communist presence in that fact0r~.~5

The political use of osps was probably the most manifest form of American inter- ference in Italian domestic affairs. It produced tensions and friction between United States officials, the Italian government, and Confindustria. Pessimism about Italy's willingness to adopt the PSB'S proposals had earlier been expressed by several mem- bers of Panel C.26 In the following months the scant Italian cooperation was fre- quently denounced by the Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee. During a meeting that saw the participation of the new American ambassador to Italy, Ellsworth Bunker, and of the State Department official William Knight (of the Ital- ian desk), the De Gasperi government was accused of being "less receptive" to American "political pressures" than it "had been a few years ago" and "not our natu- ral allies in this campaign."27

A strong sense of frustration for the scant results obtained by Demagnetize- Clydesdale rapidly arose among PSB officials. Many of them tended to blame the Italian government and anticommunist parties for their alleged lack of cooperation. The "informal protests" of the Italian government against the handling of the OSP order to Galileo confirmed the skepticism of many United States officials about Italy's willingness to cooperate with American psywar plans. Those protests were presented by Sam Berger as an example of the "many cases in which we want the Italian government to act and it is reluctant to do so": according to the represent- ative of the MSA, Italy's behavior raised "a general question" that needed to be dis- cussed with De Ga~peri.~~

As already mentioned, most of the measures planned by the PSB were based on the assumption that they would be carried out by the Italian government (while the United States, after the first phase of elaboration and planning, would only coordi- nate the plan and, if necessary, provide some form of external support). The ten-

25The contract was assigned only after the dismissal of Galileo's personnel manager, Gianfranco Musco, a former leader of the Italian resistance and a PCI member: see Lorenza Sebesta, L'Europa indifesa: Sistema di sicurezza atlantico e caso italiano, 1948-1955 (Europe undefended: The Atlantic security system and the Italian case, 1948-1955) (Florence, 1991), 21 1-12; and Meeting Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee, April 4, 1952, box 23, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files. The necessity of rewarding Galileo for the dismissal of Musco is pleaded in Walter Walmsley to Norberg, May 13, 1952, box 7, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files; and Norberg to Allen, May 16, 1952, ibid.

26Meeting~Sub-Panel to Panel C, Oct. 31, Nov. 5, 1951, box 23, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychologi- cal Strategy Board Files.

27 Meetings Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee, April 18, 25, 1952, ibid.

28 Meeting Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee, May 2, 1952, ibid.

sions between United States officials in charge of PSB'S projects and the Italian


government were one element characterizing Washington's attempts to promote a more radical attack against Italian Communism. Although a common feature of the relations between the United States and its European junior partners during the Cold War, those tensions were exacerbated by what Washington considered an unjustifi- able, passive resistance by De Gasperi tb the adoption of the measures provided for in Demagnetize-Clyde~dale.~~

A second important element characterizing PSB'S activity was represented by the dispute that immediately arose among its statutory members (State, Defense, CIA, and MSA) and between them and the PSB staff. Psychological warfare activities- because of their very nature implying secrecy and the necessity of leaving discre- tionary power to the operatives working in the field-tended to escape rigid supervision from above. From the beginning PSB'S members were extremely reluc- tant to coordinate their actions better; that would have meant losing the opera- tional autonomy achieved during the early Cold War (such was the-case of the CIA) or, worse, accepting a new aEtor in washington's bureaucracy (the PSB itself), which seemed bent on usurping the prerogatives of the traditional subjects of American foreign policy. The State Department, in particular, assumed immedi- ately a critical stance toward the PSB, while several of its officials denounced the opposition of the Defense Department, the ECA (and then the MSA), and the CIA to the principle that the ambassador was "the undisputed director and controller" of the operations planned in Italy.30 The "confused start" of the PSB and its staff's "excursions into policy fields already covered" were already being discussed in Sep- tember 1951 during a meeting of the undersecretary advisory committee. On that occasion, Paul Nitze criticized the tendency of PSB to act as "a sort of high com- mand for US actions against the Soviet bloc," while C. B. Marshall, also of the Policy Planning Staff, caustically remarked that the ambition of the PSB was to "remake US policy rather than to think about [its] psychological effects." Under- secretary of State James Webb (who represented the State Department on the PSB board) noticed the complete lack of coordination between State, Defense, and CIA, while Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Edward Barret maintained that "there was no theoretical reason for the establishment of PSB"; it had been created in order "to meet the Defense demand for a neutral forum for the discus- sion of psychological policy" and "the popular and Congressional cry for more action in the psychological field."31

Similar complaints characterized the two years of life of the PSB. Stimulated also by the scant successes of the PSB plans for Italy and France, they reechoed in the

29 On the complex dialectic between Italy and the United States during the 1950s see Alessandro Brogi, L'ltalia e I'egemonia americana nel Mediterraneo (Italy and American hegemony in the Mediterranean) (Florence, 1996), 67-104.

30 Edward Barret to Webb, Nov. 17, 1951, box 2, PSB Working File 1951-53, Records Relating to the Psycho- logical Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State; Barret to Bonbright and Walmsley, Nov. 20, 1951, ibid.; W. K. Scott to Webb, Nov. 23, 1951, ibid.

31 Meeting of the Undersecretary Advisory Committee, Sept. 18, 1951, box 5, ibid.

The Journal of American History March 200 1

Lenap Committee, where State's representative, Walter Walmsley, openly polemized with the chairman, Charles Norberg, and with Sam Berger of the MSA.~~

In May 1952, a second round of the Italian administrative elections confirmed to a great extent the results of the previous year, which-as we have seen-had constituted one of the primary reasons for the decision to implement new psychological warfare activities in Italy. The success of the parties of the Left and the troubling growth of the Monarchists and Neofascists corresponded to a clear defeat of those center-left parties that constituted the natural interlocutors of the United States. Washington now feared a polarization of the Italian political picture along a fascist- antifascist division, which could have crushed the parties of the center and further bolstered the PCI, whose antifascism was one of the central elements of its political and cultural identity.33

Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and the State Department intensified their pres- sures on De Gasperi, inviting him to implement at least some of the measures con- templated by the PSB plans. Nevertheless, the reluctance of the Italian government to put into practice Demagnetize-Clydesdale continued during the months preced- ing the crucial general elections of June 1953. Responding to Bunker's exhortations to adopt a tougher stand against Italian Communism, De Gasperi reaffirmed the necessity of acting within the law and the Constitution. The prime minister of Italy objected to American requests to remove Communist organizations from public properties, stressing the fact that they had signed regular contracts with the govern- ment. The same negative answer was given to the request of Bunker to prevent PCI'S ability to secure large-scale financial support through the payments industrialists were forced to make in order to trade with the Soviet Union and the Eastern Euro- pean countries. According to De Gasperi, there was little the government could do, and in any case that trade was too important for the Italian textile industry.34

The summer of 1952 was characterized by an intensification of the conflicts

32The clash between Walmsley and Norberg is reported by Walmsley in a letter to the undersecretary of state, David Bruce: Walmsley to Bruce, May 7, 1952, box 2, ibid. Berger criticized the State Department for not consid- ering Demagnetize-Clydesdale a radical departure from previous United States policies in Italy: see Wallace Irwin Jr. (acting secretary of the Cloven-Demagnetize Coordinating Committee) to Norberg and Richard Hirsch (Defense's representative on the PSB), May 7, 1952, box 23, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files. The document is quoted in Nuti, Stati Uniti e l'apertura a sinistra, 14.

33This preoccupation is expressed in Llewellyn Thompson to Department of State, memo, June 19, 1952 (765,0016-1952), General Records of the Department of State; Thompson to Department of State, memo, June 23, 1952 (765,0016-2352), ibid.; Bunker to Department of State, memo, July 8, 1952, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-54 (16 vols., Washington, 1979- 1989), VI, 1581 -84; and especially in OIR (Office of Intel- ligence Research), Intelligence Report (IR) 5802, "The May 25 Italian Administrative Elections," May 19, 1952, General Records of the Office of the Executive Secretariat-Summaries of the Secretary Daily Meetings- 1949-1952, General Records of the Department of State. On the 1952 elections see also Francesco Malgeri, "De Gasperi e I'eti del centrismo (1948-1954)" (De Gasperi and the age of centrism, 1948-1954), in Storia della Democrazia Cristiana: De Gasperi e l'etd del centrismo (1948-1954) (History of the Christian Democracy: De Gasperi and the age of centrism, 1948-1954), ed. Francesco Malgeri (2 vols., Rome, 1987), 11, 150-57; and Pietro Scoppola, La repubblica deipartiti: Evoluzione e crisi di un sistemapolitico, 1945-1996(The parties' repub- lic: Evolution and crisis of a political system, 1945- 1996) (Bologna, 1997), 263-74.

34Memorandum of Conversation Bunker-Alcide De Gasperi, Sept. 5, 1952 (765,0019-1852), General Records of the Department of State. The quoted passages are still classified in the document published in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-54, VI,159 1-95.

within PSB, which reached their zenith after its decision to promote a detailed project evaluating the results obtained by Demagnetize-Clydesdale. The representa- tives of the Department of State denounced the vagueness of the project and the general tendency of PSB members to draw up political projects that overestimated the American ability to condition Italian domestic affairs. The CIA proposal to send an election expert to Italy (which was supported by the chairman df the Lenap Committee, Charles Norberg) was opposed as counterproductive by the Depart- ment of State. Paul Nitze expressed his opposition to any form of direct American intervention in Italy that could weaken the Italian government. Writing to Under- secretary of State David Bruce, Walmsley reaffirmed that "the genuine local charac- ter and spontaneity of initiative and actions against the internal threats of Communism" were "essential to the success of the fight."35

In many ways, the situation had reached an impasse. The PSB seemed unable to perform its task of coordinating the activities of ;he various agencies and depart- ments of the United States government engaged in the field of psychological war- fare. The representatives of the Department of State clashed frequently with those of the Department of Defense, the MSA, and the CIA, while the staff of the PSB, rather than mediating those bureaucratic struggles, tended to take part in them, siding predominantly against the Department of State. On the operational side, the awareness of the necessity for local subjects to act on their own initiative conflicted with the refusal of the Italian government to adopt many of the measures provided for in Demagnetize-Clydesdale.

Among calls to resort to "unethical methods" to counter the Communist menace, worried reports on the increase of neutralist and anti-American tendencies in west- ern Europe, and open invitations to avoid counterproductive "overt pressures" on the Italian government, American involvement in the 1953 electoral campaign ended up being much more restrained than that of five years earlier.36 The main (and probably most effective) tool used by Washington to influence the electoral outcome was again represented by the OSP contracts. Ambassador Bunker, in partic-

35Walmsley to Bruce, Aug. 6, 1952, box 2, PSB Working File 1951-53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State. Paul Nitze's position is reported in Sherman to Cox, June 30, 1952, box 23, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files. The State Department's hostility toward the evaluation project for Italy proposed by the PSB is expressed in Robert Joyce (Policy Planning Staff) to Joseph Phillips (deputy assistant secretary of state for Public Affairs), July 28, 1952, box 4, PSB Working File 1951-53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State.

S6The necessity of resorting even to "unethical methods" was stressed by then undersecretary of state David Bruce during a conversation with Daniel Horowitz (labor expert of the Department of State's Office of European Regional Affairs). See Memorandum of Conversation Bruce-Horowitz, Oct. 2, 1952, box 7,PSB Working File 1951-53, Records Relating to the Psychological Strategy Board, General Records of the Department of State. The increase of neutralist and anti-American tendencies in western Europe is emphasized in Psychological Strat- egy Board, "Status Report on the National Psychological Effort and First Progress Report of the Psychological Strategy Board," Aug. 1, 1952, box 5, ibid.The necessity of avoiding an overt United States intervention similar to that of 1948 is indicated in PSB D-38, "Psychological Strategy Planning for Western Europe," Jan. 15, 1953, box 13, White House Office, National Security Council Staff: Papers 1948- 1961, PSB Central Files Series (Eisen- hower Library). The Department of State lectured the new ambassador, Clare Boothe Luce, before her departure to Rome, on the necessity of avoiding "overt pressures" during the electoral campaign: see Department of State to Luce, memo, March 18, 1953 (865.0013-1853), General Records of the Department of State.

1320 The Journal of American History March 2001

ular, did not miss any opportunity to stress the political and psychological relevance of American procurements, which would have given "ocular evidence" to Italian workers that they were benefiting from Italy's alliance with the United States and membership in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organi~ation).~~

The position of Bunker illustrates a systemic situation that had emerged during the Cold War: the ability of America's junior partners to make use of their weakness and dependence to impose their goals and priorities on Washington. The fact that the concession of OSP contracts was subordinated to electoral considerations irritated Defense Department officials, who obviously reasoned in military terms and were not particularly happy to buy Italian products for the sake of political imperative^.^^ In spite of those objections, the new secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, asked that the osps destined for Italy be given "absolute administrative priority." Consequently, in the first six months of 1953 an unprecedented number of osps was accorded to Italy, in the vain attempt to help the DC and other governmental forces at the polls.39

The Elections of 1953 and the Arrival in Rome of Clare Boothe Luce

The election results were not what had been hoped and expected in Washington. The DC and its allies were not able to obtain the absolute majority of the votes nec- essary, with the new electoral law, to seize two-thirds of the parliamentary seats in the lower chamber (Camera dei Deputati). The right wing slightly increased its votes (Monarchists and Neofascists received 7 and 6 percent of the votes, respec- tively), while the Left (Socialists, PSI, and Communists, PCI, running separately unlike in 1948) remained around 35 percent.40

The elections of 1953 were a crucial turning point. They caused a reappraisal of American policies in Italy, determined both by the often unorthodox approach of the new American ambassador, Clare Boothe Luce, and by the more general atti- tude held by the Eisenhower administration toward E~rope.~'

This reappraisal was in some way anticipated by Luce during the last weeks of the electoral campaign. The new ambassador to Italy manifested her perplexity toward

37Bunker to Acheson, memo, June 4, 1952 (765.5MSPl6-452), General Records of the Department of State; Bunker to Acheson, memo, July 9, 1952 (765.5MSPl7-952), ibia!; Bunker to Acheson, Aug. 14, 1952 (765.5MSPl8-1452), ibid.

38 On the effects of the Mutual Security Program in Italy see Sebesta, Europa indifesa, 147-242; Luciano Seg- reto, "Gli investimenti americani in Italia (1945-1963)" (American investments in Italy, 1945-1963), Studi Storici (Rome), 37 (Jan.-March 1996), 273-316; and Luciano Segreto, "Americanizzare o modernizzare I'econo- mia? Progetti americani e risposte italiane negli anni cinquanta e sessanta" (Americanize or modernize the econ- omy? American projects and Italian responses during the fifties and sixties), Passato e Presente (Florence) (no. 37, 1996), 57-83.

39John Foster Dulles to the Embassy in Rome, memo, Jan. 23, 1953 (765.5MSPll-2353), General Records of the Department of State; Stassen (director of MSA) to John Foster Dulles, March 2, 1953 (765.5MSPl3-253), ibia!

40 On the 1953 elections see Carla Rodoth, Storia della Yegge truffa" (History of the "swindle law") (Rome, 1992); and Paul Ginsborg, A Hijtory of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988 (London, 1990), 141-45.

4' On Clare Boothe Luce see Sylvia Jukes Morris, Ragefor Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce (New York, 1997), which unfortunately stops at Luce's election to Congress in 1942; and William Sheed, Clare Boothe Luce (New York, 1982).

1322 The Journal of American History March 2001

Luce's behavior clearly reflected a nayve overestimation of America's ability to influence Italian domestic affairs, but it was the first evidence of the new American approach toward the anomalies of the Italian situation. Two points are especially worth emphasizing here:

First, criticizing the ease with which osps had been granted to Italy was also a way

of underlining the necessity for Italy to assume its responsibilities in the anticom-

munist struggle. Italy, in other words, could no longer rely on the strategy of depen-

dence that had frequently allowed it in the past to escape the responsibilities entailed

by its membership in the Atlantic community while obtaining economic support

and external military security.44

Second, in order to have a stronger and more responsible Italy within a federated and autonomous Europe, it was vital to resolve once and for all the problem repre- sented by Italian Communism. For Washington it would have been simply suicidal to support the integration of Europe with the prospect that one of its main mem- bers could legally (that is, through the electoral process) go over to the enemy side. The new administration therefore intensified the pressures on the Italian govern- ment asking for the implementation of the measures outlined in Demagnetize- Clydesdale. Italy was, along with France, the most favorable theater of the Cold War where Washington could apply the idea of roll-back, initially destined for East- ern Europe: if containment seemed too passive and morally repugnant, and inter- vention in the "captive" countries too risky, vanquishing Communism in an allied country integrated in the western bloc was an excellent way for the new republican administration to distinguish itself from the foreign policy of Harry S. Truman and Dean Acheson.

Following the indications of his special assistant C. D. Jackson, Eisenhower decided to replace the PSB with a new body, the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB).OCB'S statutory members were the undersecretary of state (who was also its chairman), the deputy secretary of defense, the director of the Foreign Operations Administration (FOA), the director of the CIA, and a special representative of the president (Jackson himself). Eisenhower's goal was to have better supervision and coordination of the various United States agencies and departments involved in the field of psychological warfare. The nomination of a presidential special assistant for psywar reflected this goal and the intention of the new president to centralize the foreign policy process in the White House.45

OCB was more powerful than its predecessor. The terms of reference of the new body were "considerably broader than those of the PSB" since OCB also had the task of "coordinat[ing] the carrying out of National Security Council policy by all agen- cies while recognizing that responsibility for this action rests with the agencies them-

44 On Eisenhower's conviction of the necessity for greater western European participation in the struggle against Communism and the Soviet Union see Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the Euro- pean Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton, 1998), 146-200.

45The executive order that instituted the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB) in September 1953 is in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-54, 11, pt. 11, 455. On the creation of OCB see also H. W Brands Jr., Cold Warriors: Eisenhower? Generation andAmerican Foreign Policy (New York, 1988), 11 9-21.

The Journal of American History March 200 1

Affairs), while its executive secretary was Charles Norberg of the OCB staff. Its other members were William Blythe of Defense, Sam Linch of the U~IA(United States Information Agency), and Stuart Van Dyke of FOA; the name of the CIA representative is still clas~ified.~'

The creation of this OCB working group and the subsequent unification of the three plans into a single document were relevant because they reflected the connec- tion made by the new administration between the struggle against Communism and efforts toward European unification. The importance of thinking in terms of a regional approach to European problems, and not just on a country-by-country basis, was immediately stressed by the new working group. The objectives of the new plan of psychological warfare for western Europe were therefore defined as: "a) To reduce the power and influence of the Communist Party in Western Europe, particularly in France and Italy, and b) To encourage the development of European unity of a political, economic, cultural and military nature."48

With the exception of the emphasis on the theme of European unity, the opera- tional proposals of the new plan were almost identical to those of Demagnetize- Clydesdale, although it no longer provided a formal distinction between positive and repressive actions. The part on Italy stressed the need to "greatly intensiy the "use of various U.S. aid programs" (direct economic aid, os~, and counterpart funds) in order to oblige the Italian government to undertake several anticommunist actions. Among these actions were the

c) Elimination of Communists from executive positions in government-controlled industries, and adoption of a policy of preference for non-Communist labor in such industries . . . ;e) Initiation of vigorous legislative and administrative action to dry up Communist sources of income in Italy, especially those derived from commercial transactions with Soviet and Satellite countries and from other busi- ness enterprises; f) Initiation of a program to harass and if possible close Commu- nist "activist schools."

It was also deemed necessary to use os~

contracts to bring about "analogous anti- communist actions" in the private sector: Italian employers (criticized for being "almost impervious to the message that increased productivity should mean increased welfare for labor") were consequently asked to "grant preference to the greatest extent possible to non-Communist unions in negotiations for collective bargaining agreements, in hiring and firing, and in all matters relating to labor-management relations." On the positive side, the plan provided for the usual measures in the field of propaganda and included references to the necessity of supporting the European

47 Meeting of the Working Group for D-38 and Related Matters, Jan. 19, 1954, box 82, White House Office, National Security Council Staff: Papers 1948-1961, PSB Central Files Series. On the unification of the three plans see John Foster Dulles to the Rome Embassy, memo, Nov. 27, 1953, box 33, Records relating to State Department Participation in the Operations Coordinating Board, General Records of the Department of State.

48 The objectives of the plan can be found in "Checklist of Courses of Action to Enhance Progress toward National Objectives for Western Europe" attached to "OCB Progress Report on PSB D-14c, PSB D-15b, and PSB D-38," Feb. 23, 1954, box 82, White House Office, National Security Council Staff: Papers 1948-1961, PSB Central Files Series.

Federalist Movement (Movimento Federalista Europeo, MFE), a moderately progres- sive interparty political organization whose ability to attract consensus was widely overestimated.*9

The decision to continue, or even intensify, United States psychological warfare in Italy was therefore based again on the recognition that a strictly economic or social explanation of the reasons for Communist success in Italy (defined by the Department of State's labor adviser, Daniel Horowitz, as "belly Communism") was partial and insufficient. In particular, Communist strength in the labor movement had to be attacked by pressuring Confindustria and the Italian government to stop "treating all unions equally" and to recognize "the fact that the Communist domi- nated union" was "foreign c0ntrolled."5~

The main means Washington had in its struggle against Italian Communism continued to be the offshore military procurements. But the use of osps as political leverage joined with the new, more radically anticommunist direction of the Eisen- hower administration and of its representative in Italy, Clare Boothe Luce. This direc- tion manifested itself in the way American military aid was managed, in the new attitude of the Rome embassy toward the Italian government, and in the embassy's willingness to cooperate with non-DC conservative political groups and figures.

osp aid to Italian industries was in fact tied to the effective reduction of the Com- munist presence in the concessionary firms. In many instances an OSP contract des- tined for Italy was postponed or canceled because of political considerations. The most important (and famous) case was that of the F-86K order to Fiat, which was fro- zen until the internal shop steward elections took place. The Communist trade unions were soundly defeated. In the run-up to the elections, Fiat management adopted sev- eral discriminatory measures against pro-Communist workers and unionists, who were often dismissed or transferred to isolated departments in the firm. The anticom- munist organization Pace e LibertB and Irving Brown were allowed to operate within Fiat, promoting propagandistic actions and organizing anticommunist lab0r.5~

At the same time, Clare Boothe Luce assumed a more intransigent attitude toward the Italian government, denouncing on several occasions its apathy and ineptitude. The political career of De Gasperi had ended with the 1953 elections. After its electoral failure, the DC formed several precarious minority governments that tried to follow De Gasperi's path and rely, in their relations with the American senior partner, on the traditional strategy of dependence. Luce was very outspoken in

4g"o~~ PSB D-15b, and PSB D-38," Feb. 23, March 1, 31, 1954, ibid. Some rel-

Progress Report on PSB ~-14c, evant portions of the OCB collections available at the Eisenhower Library are still partially or entirely classified.

5OMeeting of the Working Group for D-38 and Related Matters, Jan.19, 1954, box 82, ibid.

51 Fiat's adoption of many of the measures requested by Washington is illustrated in Memorandum of Conver- sation Clare Boothe Luce-Vittorio Valletta (Fiat's managing director), March 11, 1955, box 6, Bureau of Euro- pean Affairs-Office of Western European Affairs-Records of the Officer in Charge of Italian and Austrian Affairs-Subject Files Relating to Italy 1953-1956 (Lot File 58D71), General Records of the Department of State. The best illustration of this episode is still Sebesta, Europa indifesa, 218-33. See also Guasconi, Altrafaccia della rnehglia, 126-33; and Gian Giacomo Migone, "Stati Uniti, Fiat e repressione antioperaia negli anni cinquanta" (The United States, Fiat, and repression of workers in the fifties), Rivista di Storia Contemporanea, 3 (April 1974), 232-81.

"Communist menace" corresponded to a more general radicalization of American approaches toward Italian Communism, clearly expressed in the new National Secu- rity Council paper for Italy, NSC 54 1 1 12, which superseded NSC 6713, the 195 1 plan for Italy. Approved in April 1954, NSC 541 1 12 was a significant departure from previous American positions on Italy. The document was characterized by a bom- bastic and binary rhetoric but also by the ambiguity of many of its formulations; nonetheless, it explicitly dismissed the traditional equating of leftist and rightist authoritarianism, maintaining that even "an extreme rightist government," while "almost certainly authoritarian, probably ultra-nationalist and opposed to European unity," would have been "far less dangerous than a Communist regime." Besides, NSC 541 112 partially accepted the requests of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), stating that "in the event the Communists achieve[d] control of the Italian government by apparently legal means, the United States, in concert with its principal NATO allies, should take appropriate action, possibly extending to the use of military power, to assist Italian elements seeking to overthrow the Communist regime in Italy."53

This stronger resoluteness and the increasing lack of confidence in the DC'S reliability as an ally progressively led Clare Boothe Luce to establish ties with non- Christian Democrat anticommunist groups who seemed more receptive toward her proposals to adopt a hard line against the pro-Soviet left. Among them were the former minister of defense, the Republican Randolfo Pacciardi (who suggested openly provoking the Communists, as it would have been easier to defeat them in the streets than at the ballot box); the head of the political intelligence (Ufficio Mari Riservati) of the Ministry of the Interior, Gesualdo Barletta; journalists such as Indro Montanelli and Leo Longanesi; and several conservative industrialists led by Count Cini.54

The American ambassador was certainly aware that it was impossible to create a credible and strong conservative alternative to DC. What she hoped was to use the most pro-Western and anticommunist Italian elites to pressure the government and the Christian Democratic party toward the right. Many of those figures attempted

53Thi~point was included following an explicit request of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Adm. Arthur W. Radford, and of Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, who had criticized an earlier version of the document because it did not provide for United States military intervention in the case of PCI'S access to power through electoral means. Perplexities on the possibility of intervening militarily in Italy were instead expressed by Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles. See 190th Meeting NSC, March 25, 1954, box 5, Ann Whitman File, NSC Series (Eisenhower Library); and 193rd Meeting NSC, April 13, 1954, ibid. The position of the JCS was also a consequence of the increasing geopolitical relevance of the Italian theater. On this aspect see Ennio Di Nolfo, "Italia e Stati Uniti: Un'alleanza disuguale" (Italy and the United States: An unequal alliance), Storia delle Rehzioni Internazionali (Florence), 6 (no. 1, 1990), 3-28; and Brogi, Italia e l'egemonia amerirana nel Mediterra- neo. An entirely declassified copy of NSC 541 1 12 is now finally available in box 79, Records relating to State Department Participation in the National Security Council 1947-1963 (Lot File 63D351), General Records of the Department of State.

54Memorandum of Conversation Clare Boothe Luce-Randolfo Pacciardi, Feb. 27, 1954 (765.0013-254), General Records of the Department of State; Memorandum of Conversation Luce-Giuseppe Pella, April 10, 1954 (765.0014-1254), ibid.; Memorandum of Conversation Luce-Henry Tasca-Leo Longanesi, April 18, 1954 (765.0014-2154), ibid.; Memorandum of Conversation Luce-Eugene Durbrow-Pacciardi, May 14, 1954 (765.0015-1454), ibid. On the Italian non-DC conservative groups see the brilliant and caustic comments in Lanaro, Storia dellIItalia repubblicana, 11 1-28. See also Mario Del Pero, "Anticomunismo d'assalto: Lettere di Indro Montanelli all'ambasciatrice in Italia Clare Boothe Luce" (Storming Communism: Letters of Indro Mon- tanelli to ambassador to Italy Clare Boothe Luce), Italia Contemporanea (Milan) (no. 212, 1998), 633-46.

1328 The Journal of American History March 200 1

to use Luce's inflexibility to promote radical actions against the Communist party. In March 1954, for instance, Barletta sought (through a United States military intel- ligence channel) and obtained American endorsement for his project of outlawing the PCI through the application of the section Reati contro lo stato (crimes against the state) of the old fascist penal code. According to the Ministry of Interior official, the disturbances caused by PCI'S representatives during the debate on the European Defense Community and the consequent impossibility for the Italian parliament to act as a normal legislative body would have provided the formal pretext for the arrest of Communist leaders. The extremely incomplete and fragmentary documentation seemed to indicate that, despite what Luce and American officials thought, Barletta's plan was not backed by the Italian government. Meeting Ambassador Luce, in fact, Prime Minister Mario Scelba refused to incorporate the measures proposed by Bar- letta and supported by the United States.55

The episode is nonetheless significant for at least three reasons. First of all, it shows the willingness on the part of the United States to support extreme measures such as the outlawing of the PCI and the arrest of its main leaders on condition that the initiative came from the Italian government. Second, it points out how the anti- communist activity promoted by the United States in Italy during the 1950s had the effect of producing connections between American officials and individual represen- tatives of the Italian state, such as Barletta, whose loyalty to the Italian constitution was subordinated to the struggle against C0mmunism.5~ Third, Scelba's behavior seems to indicate that even De Gasperi's successors tried to follow his line, resisting internal and external pressures to implement drastic anticommunist measures.

The new attitude of the United States made it more difficult for the Italian gov- ernment to avoid the implementation of the PSB/OCB plans. American investiture (and, eventually, economic aid) was a crucial element in the DC'S internal struggle over a successor to De Gasperi. Anticommunism was the main instrument available to Italian politicians to obtain this investiture and be recognized as strong and cred- ible interlocutors by the United States. Scelba was conscious that he could get Wash- ington's backing only by pursuing the actions suggested by the United States. He subordinated the adoption of the measures provided for by United States psywar plans to an explicit commitment on the part of the Eisenhower administration to intervene militarily in Italy in case of a civil war. The issue was discussed in October 1954 during a meeting at the White House. On that occasion, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles reported that Scelba "was considering taking strong anti-Communist

55Partial documentation of this episode can be found in box 12, Subject Files 1945-1960, Records of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) (Lot File 58D776), General Records of the Department of State.

56 More than just a product of the Cold War, the anticommunism of certain sectors of the Italian state appara- tus (such as the police and the intelligence services) had its roots in the fascist formation of their officials (this was certainly the case of Gesualdo Barletta). This radical anticommunism can therefore be better interpreted as an expression of the continuity of Italian bureaucracy from the fascist period to the republic than as a consequence of the double allegiance (to the Italian constitution, but also to the international alliance of which Italy was a member) structurally imposed by the Cold War on Italian noncommunist politicians and public officials, as main- tained in the nonetheless illuminating essay of Franco De Felice, "Doppia lealti e doppio stato" (Double alle- giance and double state), Studi Storzci (Rome), 30 (July-Sept. 1989), 493-563.

measures" that "might lead the Italian Communists to launch a full-scale insurrection" and "wished to know whether U.S. forces would assist the Italian Government to repress such a Communist uprising." According to John Foster Dulles, NSC 541 1 I2 and the Senate hearings on the NATO treaty "seemed to give approval to a policy of supporting the Italian government in such circumstances." Eisenhower, while expressing "some concern," indicated that action by United States armed forces "should be under the doctrine of self-preservation and protection of U.S. property, life, and the security of its forces; and that, if the affair assumed large proportions, the matter might be referred promptly to a special session of C~ngress."~'

A few weeks later, on December 4, 1954, the Italian cabinet approved a package of actions that was largely a photocopy of those proposed by Demagnetize-Clydesdale. According to Scelba, once agreed on the fact that the PCI was operating "against the democracy and the democratic state," any measure became acceptable and "logical." The package provided for the removal of public officials who "did not guarantee their allegiance to the democratic state," the "recovery" of the former fascist build- ings transformed in PCI'S sections (the famous case delpopolo, people's houses), and the suspension of Communist mayors and locally elected officials responsible for administrative irreg~larities.5~

Scelba's action was received with enthusiasm by the Rome embassy and the Depart- ment of State, which considered it as the starting point of a process that should lead to outlawing the PCI. But it soon became clear that that was not the case. The decision of December 1954 was largely cosmetic, and in any case it represented for the Italian government a point more of arrival than of departure. As a matter of fact, the December 4 package was never applied, increasing the resentment and irritation of American officials.59 Scelba's political weakness and the precariousness of his govern- ment help explain the outcome of his anticommunist program, but it is also plausible to consider his proposal of it as an attempt to get American support before his visit to the United States (which took place in March 1955), during which he vainly hoped to obtain the economic aid necessary to consolidate his political position at home.60

57Memorandum of Conversation Eisenhower-John Foster Dulles-Hoover Jr. (undersecretary of state)- Livingston Merchant (assistant secretary of state for European affairs), Oct. 30, 1954, box 1, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series (Eisenhower Library). Portions of this document are still classified.

58The minutes of the December 4, 1954, meeting of the Italian cabinet can be found in Mario G. Rossi, "I1 governo Scelba tra crisi del centrismo e ritorno anticomunista" (The Scelba government between the crisis of cen- trism and the return of anticommunism), Italia Contemporanea (Milan) (no. 197, 1994), 791-800. See also Gio- vanni Gozzini and Renzo Martinelli, Storia del Partito Comunista Italiano: Dall'attentato a Togliatti all'VIII Congresso (History of the Italian Communist party: From the attempt on Togliatti's life to the VIII Congress) (Turin, 1998), 363-66.

59 William Knight, "Italian Government's Anti-Communist Program of December 4, 1954," March 19, 1955, box 2, Bureau of European Affairs-Office of European Regional Affairs-Records of the Officer in charge of Politico-Military Affairs-Subject Files relating to European Security-1950-1955 (Lot Files 55D273&55D543 combined), General Records of the Department of State; Durbrow to John Foster Dulles, memo, March 20, 1955 (765.0013-2055), ibid

Initially, Clare Boothe Luce supported the necessity of rewarding Scelba's action with some supplementary economic aid. See Luce to Department of State, memo, Dec. 15, 1954, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957 (27 vols., Washington, 1985-1993), XXVII, 1713-15; and Luce to FOA (Foreign Operations Administration) Washington and Paris, memo, Dec. 21, 1954 (765.5MSP112-2154), General Records of the Department of State. I have examined Scelba's economic projects and his visit to the United States in Del Pero, "Stati Uniti e la Democrazia Cristiana negli anni del centrismo," 210-34.

1330 The Journal of American History March 200 1

In the following months, new tensions and difficulties arose between the two gov- ernments. The scant documentation available seems to indicate that the OCB working group on western Europe stopped meeting in the course of 1955.61 In May 1954, after the approval of NSC 541 112, a specific OCB working group for Italy was re-created. This committee was initially chaired by William Knight, who was then replaced by James Engle (also of the Italian desk). In the following years the OCB continued supervising NSC 541 1 12 and producing progress reports on it but without making any specific reference to Demagnetize-Clydesdale (or to PSB D-15b and PSB ~-38).~~

The first phase of international dktente in 1954-1955, symbolized by the "spirit of Geneva," was having some effect on the Italian political climate. As such it was denounced by Clare Boothe Luce, who saw in it an immoral form of appeasement that could facilitate the PCI'S access to power through the Trojan horse represented by ~~1.~3

Although she was unable to understand the autonomy of the Italian Social- ist party, Luce was substantially correct in considering 1955 a watershed for Arneri- can policy in Italy and in linking it to the evolution of the international situation. In 1950-1951 the radicalization of the bipolar dispute had a crucial influence on Washington's decision to modify its approach toward Italian affairs and to approve Demagnetize-Clydesdale. In 1955, a relaxation of international tensions altered Ital- ian policies. That year saw the election to the presidency of the Italian republic of DC'S leftist leader, Giovanni Gronchi, and the fall of Scelba's government (whose successor, Antonio Segni, immediately revoked the December 4 measures). The years from 1951 to 1955 were therefore not only those of maximum tension in Europe but also the period in which Italy's constitutional equilibrium came very close to being swept away by the imperatives of the Cold War.

Conclusions and Suggestions

The documentation currently available on United States psywar plans for Italy is still partial and incomplete. It supplies us only with a few fragments of a complex mosaic that must be in large part reconstructed. This notwithstanding, it is possible to formulate some conclusions and a few methodological hypotheses on how to ori- ent future research.

First of all, it is evident that analyzing unofficial relations between Italy and the United States in strictly one-on-one terms represents a form of simplification of dubi- ous heuristic value. The post-World War I1 American approach to Italian affairs was

The few declassified documents on the activity of the OCB indicate that the OCB committee in charge of the psychological warfare plan for western Europe held its last meeting in the summer of 1955. See the documents in box 85, White House Office, National Security Council Staff: Papers 1948-1961, PSB Central Files Series.

G2OCB progress reports on NSC 541 1 I2 can be found in box 9, White House Office, Special Staff File Series (Eisenhower Library); box 21, Records Related to State Department Participation on the Operations Coordinat- ing Board, General Records of the Department of State; and box 79, Records Relating to State Department Par- ticipation in the National Security Council 1947- 1963, ibid

G3See, for instance, Clare Boothe Luce to John Foster Dulles, June 15, 1956, box 2, General Correspondence and Memoranda Series, John Foster Dulles Papers (Eisenhower Library); and Luce-Dulles phone conversation, June 13, 1956, box 5, Telephone Calls Series, ibid

characterized by its intrinsic pluralism and the consequent inability to produce a unified, coherent synthesis. The ambivalent interpretation of the causes of Italy's problems (and of the Communist success) intersected with the presence of several different tendencies within United States foreign policy, from the internationalism of Cordell Hull (initially represented in Italy by William Clayton), to the geopoliti- cal approach of part of the State Department (such as James Dunn), to Keynesian reformism (supported by many ECA officials operating in Italy).64

Those differences were rapidly blurred by Cold War imperatives, but they did not entirely disappear, as pointed out by the critical positions assumed during the early 1950s by the intelligence service of the Department of State (the Office of Intelli- gence Research, OIR) and by the analytical section of the CIA toward Luce's anticom- munism and their often positive comments on the possibility of opening the Italian governmental majority to the ~~1.~5

In Italy, this pluralism often ended up impairing the consistency of United States actions and policies. Partial and competitive alli- ances between individual agencies of the United States government and particular Italian political groups and personalities were quite common, and on a few occasions the Italian government-like other allies of the United States-was able to take advantage of the loose American institutional system in order to promote its own interest and influence the United States decision-making processe~.~~

Second, it appears clear that the outcome of United States psychological warfare plans for Italy was substantially different from that anticipated in Washington. Demagnetize-Clydesdale, in fact, did not achieve its primary objective, namely, "to reduce the strength and appeal" of the PCI and of the Communist trade unions. The Communist party continued to play a relevant role in Italian political life, despite the many discriminations against its members and activists, particularly in the workplace. Two factors contributed to this result: the ambiguity and vagueness of the concept of psychological warfare itself and the scant collaboration of the Italian government.

PSB and OCB were instituted with the goal of coordinating the different (and

64Thi~pluralism represented a legacy of Roosevelt's GroJe Koalition, but it is also a structural feature of the American institutional system that has lasted to this day. On the Italian case see in particular Harper, America and the Reconstruction of Italy. On the basic tendencies within the Roosevelt administration with respect to the prob- lem of Europe see John L. Harper, American Wsions of Europe: Franklin D. Rooseuelt, Geovge R Kennan, and Dean G. Acheson (New York, 1994), 49-76.

65 See, for instance, OIR, IR 6141, "Communist Developments in Italy," Jan. 6, 1953, General Records of the Office of the Executive Secretariat-Summaries of the Secretary Daily Meetings- 1949-1952, General Records of the Department of State; and OIR, IR 6352, "The New Climate in Italy: An Analysis of the 1953 Elections," Oct. 9, 1953, ibid. A summarized version of National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 71 ("Probable Developments in Italy"), with the CIA'S positions, can be found in 765.0014-853, General Records of the Department of State. On the tensions between the OIR and the analytical side of the CIA, on one side, and CIA'S operators and the Italian desk, on the other, see the comments of William Knight in William Knight interview by Sheldon Stern, May 18, 1978, transcript, Kennedy Library Oral History Project (Georgetown University Special Collections, Lauinger Library, Washington, D.C.).

"On the variety of ways for foreign governments to penetrate and influence the United States decision-making process and to become players in the United States political process, see Thomas Schwartz, "The United States and Germany after 1945: Alliances, Transnational Relations, and the Legacy of the Cold War," Diplomatic His- toty, 19 (Fall 1995), 5621151.

The Journal of American History March 2001

sometimes contradictory) approaches of the various subjects of United States foreign policy. Their staffs ambitiously (and unrealistically) tried to promote such coopera- tion. In doing so, they immediately clashed with the corporate hostility of the Department of State, which struggled to keep control (through the ambassadors) of the psywar plans for Italy and France. Furthermore, the pluralism of United States foreign policy characterized PSB / OCB'S activity itself, which was strongly conditioned by the conflicts among its membem67


attempt to coordinate the various actors of United States foreign policy ended up relying on the catchall formula represented by psychological war- fare. The term could include, as we have seen, any conceivable measure, and thus it effectively provided a common denominator for United States foreign policy. But the unlimited nature of such a common denominator made coordination just a facade, a semantic device (psychological warfare exactly) to hide the persistence within the American government of several different tendencies on world affairs.

This maximalist and opaque notion of psychological warfare partially explains the reason for PSB'S and ocs's failures. As the common denominator was unlimited, it could not possibly stop the intrinsic centrifugal tendencies of United States for- eign policy. With little discrimination between what could and could not be ascribed to the category of psywar, PSB/OCB'S

analyses and plans simply represented a passive reproduction of the contradictions and inconsistencies of United States foreign policy they aimed to eliminate.

Contradictory and generic as they were, PSB/OCB plans were also based on the assumption that they would have been carried out by the Italian government and by anticommunist groups. But, despite American pressure, this did not happen. Politi- cal opportunism certainly played its part. The phase of "invitationn-in the histo- rian Geir Lundestad's famous, and sometimes abused, definition-had ended when Marshall Plan aid and military security were guaranteed. After that date, the DC'S (and De Gasperi's) resistance to American pressures originated also in the awareness that a strong Communist presence in the country guaranteed economic support, external security, and the perpetuation of the Christian Democrats' hold on political $ower (the DC being the only reliable interlocutor Washington had in Italy).68

Clare Boothe Luce was therefore right in denouncing the feeble participation of the Italian Christian Democrats in the United States-led anticommunist crusade. But opportunism was not the only motivation. The refusal to implement most of the measures outlined in Demagnetize-Clydesdale, besides reflecting DC'S tendency to rely on more traditional and sober means to build consensus and exercise power,

67Acc~rdingto the first director of the Psychological Strategy Board, "The PSB as it was known was somewhat abortive. There are many reasons for this including its non-acceptance by established government agencies, partic- ularly the State Department, which is understandable because my view of what PSB should have been doing would have had it somewhat invade the State Department responsibilities and the State Department didn't cotton to this": Gordon Gray interview by Maclyn I? Burg, June 25, 1975, transcript, p. 12, Eisenhower Library Oral His- tory Project.

'j8The term was originally used in Geir Lundestad, "Empire by Invitation? The United States and Western Europe, 1945-52,"/ournalof Peace Research, 23 (Sept. 1986), 263-77. He then developed the concept in Geir Lundestad, The American Empire (Oslo, 1990).


was also an attempt to contain the impact of the Cold War on the Italian political system-a sort of "containment of containment" originating from the desire to safeguard Italy's constitutional equilibrium.

Many scholars maintain that the Cold War imposed on Italy a "material constitu- tion," based on anticommunism, that deprived the 1948 "formal constitution," based instead on antifascism, of its a~thority.~9

A closer look seems to indicate that this was not the case. De Gasperi and many others within the DC were aware that the Cold War imperatives of the anticommunist struggle could provoke an authori- tarian regression in Italy, and this was potentially threatening to the DC itself, or at least to its most democratic representatives.

The Cold War entailed a clash between two different principles of legitimacy that defined inclusion and exclusion within the international alliance of which Italy was a member and in the Italian political system itself. The former was based on the antinomic pair of Communism-anticommunism, while Italy's political system was founded on the constitutional compromise of 1948 and on the different antinomic pair of fascism-antifascism. That point allows us to understand both the DC'S resistance and the accusations it drew from America of being not "sufficiently Atlantic." The 1948 Constitution was in fact based on the mutual recognition between the two Italian mass parties (Christian Democrats and the Communist party), a recog- nition that was lacking in the international context. As pointed out by the Italian historian Franco De Felice, Italy was the only case in Europe where there was no "convergence on the strategic choices" between the two main parties (DC and PCI).~~ Nevertheless, the Constitution fixed the limits of this hostility. Applying Carl Schmitt's categories to the Italian political system, I argue that even in the most tense moments of the Cold War the Christian Democrats never ceased considering the PCI as a justus hostis, a legitimate enemy to be defeated rather than eliminated as the United States would have wished. The "particular" represented by the Italian sit- uation, while rapidly "inscribed" by Washington within the "general" of the Cold War, could not therefore be automatically fitted into the divisions that characterized the international situation.

Finally, underlining the lack of success of Demagnetize-Clydesdale does not mean to suggest it was irrelevant or had no impact on Italian political life. In 1956, two former undersecretaries of state, Robert Lovett and David Bruce, drew up a

69 Some recent examples are Francesco Barbagallo, "La formazione dell'Italia democratica" (The formation of democratic Italy), in Storia dell'ltalia repubblicana, vol. I: La costruzione della democrazia: Dalla caduta delfascismo aglianni cinquanta (History of republican Italy, vol. I: The construction of democracy: From the fall of fascism to the fifties), ed. Francesco Barbagallo et al. (Turin, 1994), 5-128; Mario G. Rossi, "Una democrazia a rischio: Politica e conflitto sociale negli anni della guerra fredda" (A democracy at risk: Politics and social conflict during the Cold War years), ibid., 91 1 -1005; and Franco Ferraresi, Threats to Democracy: The Radical Right in Italy ajer the War (Princeton, 1996).

'O De Felice, "Doppia lealtii e doppio stato," 516. See also Franco De Felice, "Nazione e sviluppo: Un nodo non sciolto" (Nation and development: An unsolved problem), in Storia dell'ltalia repubblicana, vol. 11: La trasfor- mazione dell'ltalia: Sviluppo e squilibri, I: Politica, economia, e socied (History of republican Italy, vol. 11: The transformation of Italy: Development and imbalances, 1: Politics, economy, and society), ed. Francesco Bar- bagallo et al. (Turin, 1995), 783-882; Leonardo Paggi, "Violenza e democrazia nella storia della Repubblica" (Violence and democracy in the history of the republic), Studi Storici (Rome), 39 (0ct.-Dec. 1998), 935-52.

The Journal of American History March 2001

report on United States covert action for Eisenhower's Boards of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. While concentrating exclusively on CIA operators, Lovett and Bruce (who four years earlier had enthusiastically supported promoting anticommunist covert operations in Italy and France) strongly denounced American interference in the internal affairs of other countries: "The idea of these young, enthusiastic fellows," Lovett declared, "possessed of great funds being sent in some country, getting themselves involved in local politics, and then backing some local man and from that starting an operation, scared the hell out of us." The report stressed how under "the twin, well-born purposes of 'frustrating the Soviets' and keeping others 'pro-Western' oriented . . . almost any [psychological and political] action can be, and is being, justified." In particular, Lovett and Bruce denounced the lack of control and supervision of United States covert activities abroad; the effect could be "to divide U.S. foreign policy resources and to incline the foreigner . . . to play one agency against the other, or to use whichever suits his current purpose."71

The report therefore reaffirmed the traditional State Department's goal of keep- ing unofficial United States activities abroad under the control and supervision of the American ambassador. But it also summarized some of the main consequences produced by United States psychological warfare operations, such as the clashes between the different Washington agencies and departments involved in them, the lack of controls, and the ability of local players to take advantage of this situation. In many ways, Demagnetize-Clydesdale and the other covert operations promoted by the United States in Italy seemed to have opened up a Pandora's box whose effects, paradoxically, could have become more evident in later years, when Arner- ica's interest in Italian domestic affairs diminished. It is plausible, in fact, to suppose that many of the psywar actions provided for in the PSB/OCB plans continued even after the disappearance of the sense of emergency that inspired them but took place in an even more uncontrolled way, which further enhanced the ability of local sub- jects to exploit the situation and act autonomously. Such a hypothesis would permit us to explain the frequent "American connections" to events and episodes of the 1960s and 1970s in Italy, which have often been simplistically interpreted as the outcome of a single and coherent anticommunist strategy directed by Washington.

Portions of the Lovett-Bruce report are quoted in Peter Grose, Gentleman Spy: The Life ofAllen Dulh (Boston, 1994), 445-48.

  • Recommend Us