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Berlusconi defends Mussolini, draws outrage from political left
Berlusconi Quote from the article:
## "Obviously the government of that time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler's Germany rather than opposing it," he said.
"As part of this alliance, there were impositions, including combating and exterminating Jews," he told reporters. "The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well," he said, referring to laws passed by Mussolini's fascist government in 1938. ##
Yes, in the considered opinion of a man who was recently Prime Minister (and still hopes to reprise that role) Mussolini had lots of mostly good ideas. And this great body of GOOD work should not be tarnished by a few missteps like going along with Hitler's idea of, "combating and EXTERMINATING the Jews". Besides, Hitler made him do it. (We do know in hindsight what a bully Hitler could be when he wasn't getting his way!)
The European Right seems to be having the same problem as the GOP is here. They spend so much time drinking their own Kool Aid / telling each other how right they are, and so little time debating their ideas out in the broader public arena, that they are increasingly prone to say what they really think in public without any idea of how crazy it's going to sound.
### HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE ###
There are a few small historical problems with Silvio's interpretation.
Italy signed its first treaty of alliance with Germany in 1937, the Anti-Comminturn Pact under which Germany - Italy - and Japan committed to jointly fighting Communism.
In 1937, Hitler was still widely seen more as Mussolini's protégé than the other way around. Hitler did indeed admire Mussolini; and el Duce's enormous ego, which seems to have been larger than even Hitler's own, certainly did not allow him to see the relationship otherwise.
Further, in 1937 Germany was still rearming from WWI and was widely seen to be the sure loser should a major European war erupt.
Italy upgraded its alliance with Germany and Japan to a full military alliance in 1938, nearly a year before England and France declared war on Germany under their treaty obligations to defend Poland.
At this time, Germany was still seen as the underdog in a war with Britain and France. Moreover, Italy, being divided from Germany by the Alps, never seriously feared a German assault had they stayed out of Germany's adventures.
In fact, el Duce was impressed with Hitler's expansionist territorial ambitions, and hoped to piggy back on any military success that Germany might have by realizing his own territorial ambitions, beginning in the Horn of Africa. He liked his odds of consolidating Italy's position in Ethiopia and adding some neighboring British territories while Germany, France, and Britain were busy contending with other. And whatever the result of the hostilities in the North of Europe, he doubted that the war weary winners would have the stomach to contest the "fait accompli" of any Italian conquests in Africa.
This turned out to be another one el Duce's "less than successful" projects, as the Italian military operations in Africa went badly awry.
One has to wonder, which of Mussolini's "good ideas" Italy might be able to build on, if they could just get over that whole Nazi Alliance thing? Judging people by the company they keep is so 20th Century ...
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