By use of precise examples, show how Mussolini's foreign policies contributed both to the success and downfall of fascism in Italy.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Mussolini was able to consolidate and advance his power in his assertion of Italian nationalism and exceptionalism. This became the platform for his rise to power domestically.  Exerting this will on an international policy level initially showed some strength and increased his power.  Mussolini was seen as advocating a new world order of the all- powerful dictator. Evidenced by his support of Franco in Spain and Hitler in Germany, Italian fascism initially grew because of Mussolini's support of other leaders that were like him.  People perceived Mussolini to be "ahead of his time" in his role as the unquestioned leader.  Adding to this was the movement of troops into Eastern Europe and Africa, helping to advance the idea that Mussolini's greatness and thus Italian nationalism knew no boundaries.

In his support of other leaders like him, Mussolini's downfall became evident.  His support of Hitler and the lack of balance in that relationship caused Mussolini more disaster than long term success.  Once Hitler became so prominently identified with Anti- Semitism and the Holocaust, the narrative grew out of Mussolini's control.  He had been pushed off- stage, cast as another one of Hitler's "hanger- ons" as opposed to being his own significant force.  Italians could not fathom how someone who asserted so much in way of Italian strength and nationalism could wind up as so insignificant as the war advanced.  Coupled with this was the massive casualty count that Italy swallowed during World War II, something seen in large part as being driven by Hitler and the Germans and not by the Italians.  As the war progressed, Mussolini was unable to control the story, and with a muddled narrative, fascism in Italy spiraled into a lack of control.  When Mussolini is executed and hung upside down, it becomes a statement as to the dizzying heights and sobering lows evident in Italian fascism.

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