Arthur Rosenberg

The Prospects of Mussolini’s Adventure in Greece

(13 September 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 60 [30], 13 September 1923, pp. 663.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2023). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

“This Tellini has been killed at precisely the right moment” – thus may Mussolini have expressed himself on receipt of the news of the murder in Albania. Fascist internal politics have run into such a hopeless cul-de-sac that a “national” war would appear to be the best manoeuvre for distracting attention. Up to now Mussolini, despite a great deal of powerful phraseology, has not accomplished more in respect to foreign politics than his “weakling” liberal and democratic predecessors. Mussolini exercised no real influence in either the Ruhr or the Orient negotiations, and he has not made the slightest progress in the Adriatic. But now the murder of the Italian military mission in South Albania presents the opportunity for a really Italian national action.

The external possibilities for a success on Mussolini’s part would appear to be given, for Greece has been militarily paralysed since her defeats in Asia Minor. England and France have their hands full with the Ruhr adventure. Mussolini’s fleet can occupy Corfu as well as the Romans did after the first Punic War, and he may win more or less bloody laurels on the coasts of Hellas and Albania. But the moment must speedily arrive when the offensive thus taken by Italy will destroy the equilibrium in the Balkans, and with this the equilibrium in Europe, to such an extent that serious complications are inevitable.

The fixing of the South Albanian frontier, General Tellini’s task at the time of his death, dates back to the famous London Treaty of 1915, which signalized Italy’s entry into the great war. Even at that time the French and English diplomats attempted a complicated adjustment of Italian claims on the one hand and Jugoslavian and Greek claims on the other. Already at that time it was decided that the foreign policy to be pursued by Albania was, in future, to be subject to Italian leadership. But the northern and southern frontiers of this Italian vassal state remained an open question. In South Albania the Greek nationality and the Greek church hold powerful positions, and therefore the nationalist Greek bourgeoisie is anxious to withdraw these districts from the Albanian state, that is, from Italian imperialism. Thus the atmosphere became more and more charged until a climax was reached in the murder of the Italian officers sent to fix the southern frontier of Albania in a manner unfavorable to Greece.

There is at least one Balkan state compelled to stand solid with Greece, and that is Jugoslavia. A conflict running parallel with the Greco-Italian quarrel is that between Italy and Jugoslavia for Fiume. Mussolini has already despatched his ultimatum regarding the Fiume question to Belgrade. Should Italy succeed in defeating isolated Greece, the second act of the play will be performed in Dalmatia. Then Mussolini may establish the autocracy of Italian capital along the whole East Coast of the Adriatic from Trieste to Corfu, the Jugoslavian bourgeoisie would then be seriously menaced with being cut off from the sea, although access to the sea on the part of the free Jugoslavian state has been the main object of Jugoslavian foreign politics for decades. Jugoslavia will thus be obliged to take sides sooner or later with Greece against Italy. And Jugoslavia means the Little Entente. On the other hand, Zankov’s Bulgaria is Mussolini’s natural ally against Jugoslavia. For the Macedonian and officers’ associations of Bulgaria, backing up Zankov’s government, would not and could not miss such an opportunity of depriving Jugoslavia of Macedonia again.

A serious menace to the Little Entente in its turn involves France; however disagreeable it may be for Poincaré to be disturbed in his Ruhr policy by a quarrel with Mussolini.

It is easy to understand that the course taken by Greek events is being followed with considerable anxiety in London, for the English bourgeoisie trembles at every fresh shock to the European equilibrium. But the English press appeals in vain for help to the lame donkey known as the League of Nations. Precisely as France’s financial crisis drove Poincaré into the Ruhr valley, Italy’s social crisis drives Mussolini to Corfu and Fiume. Capitalist Europe goes headlong to its inevitable fate – regardless of all pacifist tinkering.

Last updated on 1 May 2023