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Italy - 1950-1975

The United States Information Services (USIS) arrived in Italy in 1943 with the Office of War Information (OWI) and the Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB), and after the Liberation they started to work independently. At the end of World War II, the USIS initially tried to reach Italian mass audiences primarily through the press and the radio, but clearly this was not working. In 1950 country plans for Italy established a huge and hardhitting intervention, extended to the whole population, especially to those who were part of the so-called 'labour' target group, mainly factory and rural workers who were more likely to be seduced by the Communist Party. This kind of intervention was very expensive and, as has been said, it did not seem to be working. The news bulletin sent to newspapers and magazines every day was hardly used by the Italian press, and VOA's listening figures testified that the population was clearly more likely to listen to the RAI frequencies.

In order to create a new and more reliable Italy, which was able to assume responsibilities and to be integrated into the new European projects, it was necessary to solve the problem of Italian communism once and for all. Western Europe had to represent a bastion against Soviet expansion that could prevent Moscow from taking control of both Europe and Asia, damaging the United States. The risk represented by Italy in this environment, with its powerful Communist Party, was decidedly too high, and the new Eisenhower Administration decided to intensify its anti-communist policy in the country.

When, on 22nd April 1953, Clare Boothe Luce [best known as the wife of the superpowerful publisher of Time, Life and Fortune, Henry Luce] arrived in Naples on board the Andrea Doria, it was clear that a plan to roll back communism in the country was ready. Along with the Italian USIS chief director Lloyd A. Free, Ambassador Luce prepared a prospectus for Italy for 1954-1955. Despite the very relaxed attitude of both the American and Italian staff however, it is undeniable that the whole USIS network achieved important results in developing American cultural policies for Italy in the first decade after the war, an important step towards the 'Americanization' of the country during the Cold War.

The years of Clare Boothe Luce's tenure in Villa Taverna were characterized by unprecedented intervention in Italian internal affairs, with an unquestionable overestimation of American ability to condition the Christian Democratic governments, and were marked by deep anti-communism.

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Page last modified: 22-11-2013 00:03:25 ZULU