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Since the late 1970s, Italian policy toward NATO has been characterized by increasing assertiveness, but this has not threatened the basic national commitment to coalition defense and is unlikely to do so in the future. Nonetheless, Italian attitudes and policy toward NATO through the mid-1990s will be subject to strains arising from long-standing strategic dilemmas and competing strategic interests. Although Italy has placed greater emphasis on the Mediterranean dimension of its security policy, there can be little Italian interest in a predominantly Mediterranean approach that would contribute to the "marginalization" of the Italian role in NATO and focus attention away from the twin pillars of Italian postwar external relations — NATO and the European Economic Community. Italy will almost certainly remain a loyal and cooperative ally, but increasing Italian activism on security questions will make the course of Italian policy more difficult to predict in detail, and Italian support for Alliance — and particularly U.S. — initiatives less automatic.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.