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Journal of Cold War Studies 4.3 (2002) 1-2

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Editor's Note

This is the second of our special issues organized around a particular theme. In the Winter 2002 issue we focused on Cold War-era culture in the Soviet bloc, and in this issue we are looking at the role of Italy in the Cold War. The idea for this issue first arose in June 2000 when I was taking part in a conference in Rome sponsored by the Gramsci Institute. One of my fellow participants, Leopoldo Nuti, spoke to me about the possibility of doing a special issue of the Journal of Cold War Studies on Italy. I was immediately receptive to the idea, but I warned him that the articles should be complementary, rather than just covering the same ground. Of the manuscripts that he later submitted, some were rejected during the review process, and the others underwent one or more rounds of revision. We ended up with four articles that complement one another very well and that provide a well-rounded sense of the external and internal dimensions of Italy's role in East-West relations from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. I am grateful to Leopoldo for his proposal and his subsequent help.

The first article in this issue, by Alessandro Brogi, explores Italy's relationship with the United States during the Eisenhower administration. Brogi argues that Italy was little more than a client state in the early 1950s, but evolved into a "subordinate partner" by the end of the decade. This change was brought about mainly by the economic prosperity that Italy achieved, with crucial early help from the Marshall Plan. In addition, the Neo-Atlanticist strategy that Italian leaders pursued in the 1950s—a strategy that emphasized greater economic interaction among Western countries and independent overtures by Italy to nonaligned countries in the Middle East—created somewhat greater leeway for Italy in its relationship with the United States. Although the strategy did not always work as well as Italian leaders hoped, it did give Italy greater international prominence in the late 1950s. In subsequent decades Italy came close to attaining the same international rank enjoyed by the other leading West European countries (West Germany, Great Britain, and France), but that was predominantly because of Italy's economic strength rather than its international clout.

The second article, by Leopoldo Nuti, focuses mainly on the period immediately after the years covered by Brogi. Nuti is the author of a lengthy book on U.S.-Italian relations during the Kennedy administration (a book that received a glowing review in the Spring 2002 issue of the journal), and he uses his expertise to good advantage here. He debunks several myths that have arisen about U.S.-Italian relations during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, and he elaborates on issues that have been neglected in the existing historiography. In the second part of the article he draws a number of lessons about Italy's relationship with the United States in the 1950s, and [End Page 1] early 1960s, showing how the Italian case relates to the broader debate about U.S.-West European relations during the Cold War.

The third article, by Olav Njølstad, examines the Carter administration's policy toward Italy. Nowadays, when the Christian Democratic party of Italy has ceased to exist (having crumbled as a result of corruption scandals in the early 1990s) and the former Italian Communist Party (PCI) has been restyled as the Democratic Left (a party that assumed control of the government in 1998), it is sometimes hard to remember how strong the concern was in the United States from the late 1940s through the early 1980s about the prospect that the PCI would gain entry into the Italian government. This prospect loomed particularly large during the 1948 Italian parliamentary elections, and it arose again in the late 1970s, around the time that Jimmy Carter was taking office in Washington. The Carter administration's initial statements and actions gave the misleading impression that Carter might be willing to tolerate a role for the Communists...