Britain considered Italian coup

The Independent has unearthed a remarkable find in the National Archives:

A secret Foreign Office memo dated 6 May 1976, entitled Italy And The
Communists: Options For The West, floated one possible course of action
as "action in support of a coup d’etat or other subversive action". The
authors admitted: "By its nature, a coup d’etat could lead to
unpredictable developments." But they added that, in theory at least,
"it could be promoted. In one way or another, the force of the right
could be counted on, with the support of the police and the army". The
idea of a coup to remove the PCI or stop it coming to power "could be
considered attractive" – but the idea was rejected as "unrealistic". (Independent)

A coup might have been discounted, but the mechanism to promote one did exist, in the form of the NATO stay-behind network Gladio, revealed by Giulio Andreotti in 1990.







4 responses to “Britain considered Italian coup”

  1. WorldbyStorm avatar

    I was going to say that that’s incredible. But no… all too credible. What intrigues me is that the concerns centred on NATO as much as anything else. It really makes one wonder what would have happened had the election results in Italy gone the other way. And I guess it also indicates just how important the end of the Cold War was in reshaping Western European politics. After all, elements of the old PCI were in government within five or six years of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  2. Mike avatar

    Given the coming Wilson Plots (this was 1976, right?) this isn’t in the least surprising.

  3. Tom Griffin avatar

    Some of the figures floating around the Wilson plots might may have been involved with SOE/MI6 in setting up stay-behind networks in the 40s, before CIA money took over.

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