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I think that Mussolini's role in Italian involvement in World War II is critical. In the end, it is Musolini who forges the alliance with Hitler to form the basis of the Axis powers. It is Mussolini who covets Italian conquest as much as Hitler holds designs on world domination. It was Mussolini who was responsible for aggression in the takeover of Abyssinia in 1936, and through this committed to the war effort in 1940. It is Mussolini who so strongly identified himself with the nation that it became a reflection of him. Therefore, when it went into war, it only did so with his consent. His desire for power and conquest plunged Italy into a war that outmatched their capacity. The worldwide nature of it was far more than what Italy could muster. Certainly, Mussolini was more of a localized threat than Hitler and few would argue that he was overall as malevolent as Hitler. However, it is difficult to minimize his role and influence over Italian participation in the Second World War. Since it is highly unlikely that if Mussolini had made the correct call and the Axis powers won the conflict he would have defrayed credit for the positive results, he needs to be assessed as having a large role in Italian participation and the disaster it represented for the people of Italy.
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