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Mussolini became ruler of Italy in the 1920's - the first of several facist rulers. His long term goal was to establish Italy as a strong regional power, perhaps even a limited world power.

This goal was often ridiculed as an attempt to reestablish the Roman Empire of 2000 years prior.

To achieve his goals Mussolini planned to militarily dominate much of north Africa and the Balkans of Europe. Mussolini increased the armament spending and sent the army on a variety of foreign missions, all with less than satisfactory results.

Various problems proved insurmountable for him in gaining this new empire. For one, the Italian infrastructure and industrial base was limited. Also, the Italian business community was corrupt and inefficient. For example one reason the north African campaigns never worked out (for Italy or Germany) was the lazy, corrupt port authorities that handled shipping. Without adequate shipping and thus logistics, the various African campaigns were all doomed.

The Italian people by and large did not support making the sacrifices necessary to achieve the goals set forth by Mussolini. Ultimately their poorly led and badly equipped soldiers were routed. In 1943, when the first few Allied troops set foot on Italian soil, the entire government collapsed. In one of the most brilliant manuevers of the war, German troops entered the country, disarmed the Italian army, and took over the country - all this with hardly a shot fired. The result was that the hugely motivated and well led German troops took over defense of Italy from her own armed forces. As such the war in Italy lasted until the last few days of war, May 1945.

The lasting affect of all this was to completely rid Italy of any ideas of becoming a major player on the world stage. Italy lost all her colonies. Her industry and infrastructure had to be rebuilt over many years. The country was impoverished.

Ultimately Italy recovered economically, although politically the nation remained fractured and does so today. All the governments rule by coalition and there is no central driving political motivation in the country. The north part of the country, drawing on its Germanic industrial heritage, has become rather wealthy, the south, with its massive corruption, much less so.

Italy today is much as it was a hundred years ago in that it is a major tourist stop where the ruins and art are observed. There is no attempt whatsoever at international political positioning. Italian industry is by and large involved in fashion, clothing, shoes and electronics.

Demographically the country has a very low Birth Rate and is now experiencing a falling population. As such, the limited Italian military, a member of NATO, will likely become even less effective in the future. It seems clear that whatever chance Italy had of becoming a great power was lost by their indecisiveness and confusion during World War Two.

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Q: What were the effects on Italy from World War 2?
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