This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

External Influences on Weak State Foreign Policy: The United States and Italy during the Cold War




Spyker, Rick

Type of Degree



Political Science


This dissertation examines the extent to which one country may influence the foreign policy choices of a weaker partner. It specifically examines the complex interdependent relationship between Italy and the United States during the Cold War (1945-1991). I utilize a multi-method approach, employing quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the nexus between various political and economic measures and foreign policy outcomes. For the quantitative section, multiple regression is employed to study the influence of several economic factors—trade dependence, aid dependence, and loan dependence—on Italy’s incidence of agreement with the U.S. on UN General Assembly (UNGA) roll call votes. The quantitative section begins with the UN voting data for 1956, the year in which Italy began voting in the UNGA. Two of the independent variables examined—Italy’s dependence on imported goods from the U.S. and its dependence on U.S. loans—were found to have a statistically significant impact on the Italy-U.S. Index of Agreement (IA) on UN roll call votes. The qualitative section of this dissertation studies the historic foreign policy relationship between the U.S. and Italy during the entirety of the Cold War. The historical record suggests that the large aid outlays in the immediate postwar period had a substantial effect in influencing Italian compliance with American foreign policy desires. This study concludes that of the three explanations for weak state foreign policy outlined in the literature review, compliance emerges as the best explanation for Italy’s pattern of foreign policy behavior during the Cold War. However, it highlights the limitations of aid alone in motivating the foreign policy choices of weak states, as other mechanisms will almost certainly be required to buttress development assistance programs. The results obtained from the multivariate analysis reinforce the idea that trade policy can be a potent instrument in motivating weak state foreign policy behavior. Finally, the high statistical significance of Italy’s loan dependence on its pattern of foreign policy agreement with the U.S. may have important implications for the functioning of the international system and is deserving of further study.