“Despite rhetoric, Eisenhower was not prepared to intervene militarily to block Communists short of forcible seizure of power.”
Dr. Ronald D. Landa — State Department Office of the Historian
February 14 2017 – CIA covert aid to Italy continued well after the agency’s involvement in the 1948 elections – into the early 1960s – averaging around $5 million a year, according to a draft Defense Department historical study published for the first time by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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The 1948 Elections — Fears that Italy’s Communist Party would win the 1948 elections bring about a propaganda campaign in the United States, as well as a campaign of covert operations from the newly formed CIA.
The 1948 general election was greatly influenced by the Cold War that was starting between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The CIA, by its own admission, gave $1 million to Italian “center parties” and was accused of publishing forged letters in order to discredit the leaders of the Italian Communist Party.
The National Security Act of 1947, that made foreign covert operations possible, had been signed into law about six months earlier by the American President Harry S. Truman.
“We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets.” [According to CIA operative F. Mark Wyatt, this operation will become a ‘model’ for many more to come. See documentary below.]
In order to influence the election, the US agencies undertook a campaign of writing ten million letters, made numerous short-wave radio broadcasts and funded the publishing of books and articles, all of which warned the Italians of what was believed to be the consequences of a communist victory. [WIKIPEDIA]
The study, declassified in 2016, focuses on the role of Clare Boothe Luce as ambassador to Italy, 1953-1957. [I wonder if she inspired Madeleine Albright’s lifelong passion for pins and brooches?]
In addition to overseeing a program of covert financial support to centrist Italian governments, she used the awarding of contracts under the Department of Defense Offshore Procurement Program to weaken the Italian Communist Party’s hold on labor unions.
Dr Ronald D. Landa concludes that the Eisenhower administration, faced with the possibility of civil war in Italy or the Communist Party coming to power legally, was “willing to intervene militarily only if the Communists seized power forcibly and then only in concert with other European nations.”
CIA Interference in Foreign Elections
Dov Levin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie-Mellon University, found that the U.S. attempted to influence the elections of foreign countries as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000.
Levin’s figures do not include military coups or regime change attempts following the election of a candidate the U.S. opposed, such as when the CIA helped overthrow Mohammad Mosaddeq, Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, in 1953.
By Levin’s count, Russia attempted to interfere in other countries’ elections 36 times between the end of World War II and the end of the 20th century.
Even after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the U.S. continued its interventions abroad, including elections in Israel, former Czechoslovakia, and even Russia in 1996, Levin found.
Since 2000, the U.S. has attempted to sway elections in Ukraine, Kenya, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, among others.
Cold War – Post-war France and Italy: Marshall, communism and the CIA
The Soviet Union urges its communist colleagues in Western Europe to take action against the Marshall Plan.
In response, a series of strikes and demonstrations sweep through Italy and France.
Threats by the United States to withdraw Marshall Plan aid have an impact, though, and the strikes eventually fail.
CIA Covert Ops in Italy Lasted Long After the 1948 Elections (National Security Archive)
Two Years Ago — CIA Covert Ops in Italy Lasted Long After the 1948 Elections (National Security Archive)