765.84/299: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy ( Long ) to the Secretary of State

265. My 262, May 13, 6 p.m.11 Following is summary of published text of speech delivered by Mussolini in Senate yesterday evening:

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No diplomatic representations have been made by the French and British Governments to the Italian Government as rumored abroad nor is it at all likely that they will do so in view of the cordial relations of the three Governments. As to the possible weakening of Italy’s military efficiency in Europe through a possible conflict in Africa, mentioned in foreign newspapers, “We may reply to these most solicitous and disinterested advisers who consider our presence in Europe indispensable that we are of the same identical opinion; but it is precisely in order to be fully prepared in Europe that we intend to protect ourselves from the rear in Africa”. In view of the distance between Rome and the African colonies it is the government’s duty to be prepared in time. As a matter of fact so far more laborers have been sent to Africa than soldiers; however “We will send all the troops we believe necessary and no one may arrogate to himself the intolerable right to demand an account of whatever concerns the character and extent of our precautionary measures”. Italy alone is competent to judge in this matter in which she had already had a bitter lesson in the past. “I am willing to be accused tomorrow of excess but never of deficiency when the security of our colonies and the life of a single one of our metropolitan or native soldiers are at stake.”

Mussolini stated that as to diplomatic procedure for conciliation, the Government had agreed to discuss matters with the Abyssinian Government and had some time ago informed the latter of its readiness to appoint the two Italian members of the commission. However, the Government could not entertain, much less spread, false hopes in view of Abyssinian armaments, advanced preparations for mobilization, and the spirit predominating especially minor chieftains who opposed any agreement with Italy.

As to any immediate deplorable contingency which might arise in Europe, he stated that Italy would hold in readiness for as long as might be necessary the classes of 1911, 13 and 14 and the class of 1912 in reserve and that he believed a total of eight to nine hundred thousand sufficient to guarantee Italy’s security especially when this force was perfectly organized of high morale and equipped with increasingly modern armed military by the Italian war industry which had been working at full capacity for some months.

“Backed by this mass of land, sea and air forces we shall continue to pursue a policy of willing, clear cut, and concrete collaboration with all European powers great and small, far and near, for the purpose of achieving those balances and those understandings without which the world and our continent will be cut adrift. Our military establishment to which we are devoting and will devote our most vigilant attention threatens no one but guarantees peace.” Announcement is made of the appointment of Count Luigi Aldrovandi, Ambassador, and [Page 602] Raffaele Montagna, Counselor of State, as the two Italian members of the commission of conciliation under article 5 of the treaty of 1928.

  1. Not printed.