When the National Security Council had started work in November 1947 its first paper concerned Italy, the 'prerevolutionary' conditions said to exist there, the possibility that the Communists could come to power by legal or extra-legal means and the impression that Italy had first priority in Cominform strategy. The NSC was convinced that: 'the majority of the Italian people ... are ideologically inclined towards the Western democracies, friendly to the United States and conscious of the fact that US aid is vital to Italian recovery'. The Council was also clear that 'the prevailing economic distress' was what gave the Communists their mass support. I2

When the uproar died down and the true impact of the conservative victory of 18 April 1948 could be measured, it became clear that not all the plans had worked. The DC victory - for the first and so far only time the Christian Democrats secured an absolute majority - was based on the mobilisation of the Vatican more than on outside aid, while the American money and support lavished on right-wing socialists disappeared almost without trace. In terms of international politics, the event demonstrated that the USSR had done nothing to aid the PCI - refusing to surrender Trieste, renegotiate the Peace Treaty or aid Italy's admission to the United Nations - while the West Europeans, specifically the British and French, though willing to recognise that Italy was of one of their weaker brethren, had proved powerless to come to the country's aid in its hour of need. The Americans for their part had demonstrated a quite new and infinitely ingenious capacity for projecting their power into such situations. But the long-term implications of the effort did not look encouraging to thoughtful commentators.