287. Editorial Note

On July 5 the Department of State forwarded to the White House a paper entitled “Outlines of U.S. Policy Toward Italy.” Among its recommendations regarding Italian political affairs was:

“We should encourage the evolution of the PSI toward greater and more effective political independence of the Communists, being careful not to move too far ahead of the line being followed by the responsible progressive leaders of the DC Party. The choice of specific actions to be taken to achieve this objective should be kept under close review and at any given moment should reflect our current assessment of the opportunities and dangers inherent in the situation. Our influence should be directed towards encouraging the party to break its ties with the Communists in every possible field, particularly within the CGIL labor organization, to form local administrations with the democratic parties rather than the PCI and to modify its fundamentally neutralist foreign policies.” (Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Italy)

In a July 6 memorandum to Walter Rostow, Schlesinger commented on the paper, stating that it “in the main, is harmless.” Schlesinger continued:

“The critical issue in Italian policy continues to be our attitude toward the ‘opening to the left.’ In this respect, the paper shows a definite advance over past State Department thinking on the subject. However, it still adopts the attitude that the PSI is engaged in a unilinear drift toward the west and implies therefore a passive, wait-and-see policy on our part—i.e., it implies that it is OK for us to stand by until the situation has evolved, at which time we are then free to accept or reject the possibility of CDPSI collaboration.

“In my judgment, this is a misreading of the situation. The pace of events has been quickening steadily this spring; and the evidence shows [Page 812]clearly that the PCI is engaged in a massive effort to isolate and discredit Nenni and to wreck his position and influence. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] we may find that, instead of gradually evolving toward the west, the PSI will be cut to pieces in the Communist counteroffensive.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Italy)