765.84/862: Telegram

The Chargé in Italy ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

495. My 494, August 17, 9 p.m. Response not yet received and no reply as yet regarding audience.

In amplification of my 493, August 17, 8 p.m. I desire to call to the Department’s attention the special factor now present in the Italian mind in that it has persuaded itself that Italy’s position in the present conflict is morally justified (see my 492, August 17, 5 p.m.,57 paragraph 2). Italy has its concepts as to its rights to expand and as to the justification for the measures necessary thereto but the Italian mind is at present unwilling to grasp the argument that whereas the Italian Government is basing its policy [on?] force other nations are regarding the problem from the point of view of the present rules of international relationships and of international justice. Italy is professing to be engaged in an undertaking which she has justified to herself not only on the moral grounds of the higher interests of the state and even on the doctrine of a struggle for existence but also on the assumption that in carrying out this undertaking she is ultimately advancing plea for civilization. It is from this point of view that Italy envisages the opposition of England which she characterizes as selfish and anti-historical and it is on this ground that she will probably regard any arguments from without destined to persuade her to modify her course. It should be added, however, that Mussolini as a student of political philosophy is believed to be more likely than other Italians to evaluate the principles of force and justice in international relations but whether at this stage he will choose to recognize those values is a matter of pure conjecture.

The foregoing is offered merely as of possible interest in connection with the message referred to in the Department’s 135, August 17, 2 p.m., and the impression it may be expected to create.

  1. Not printed.