Foreign policy decisions were the most important and revealing of the regime’s nature and intentions, and must be harmonised with any view of domestic and economic policy between 1936 and 1940. The Ethiopian invasion could be regarded as a successful exercise in ‘determining weight’ diplomacy. Exploiting the threat of Germany to Anglo-French hegemony in Europe, Mussolini had won what he thought was a free run in East Africa in return for restraint on Germany in Europe, specifically resistance to Anschluss. The question is, what options were still open to Mussolini during and after Ethiopia? Could he maintain a position of ‘equidistance’ in international relations, and did he actually want to?
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