The Nixon administration's attempt to promote a military coup in Chile after the election of a far-left president in September 1970 is a well-documented example of U.S. officials’ willingness do whatever was needed to curtail Soviet influence in the Third World. Drawing on declassified White House documents and records of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, this article examines the parallel but largely unknown story of U.S. dealings with right-wing extremists in one of the founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Italy, at around that same time. In December 1970, far-right activists in Italy staged an abortive coup that was intended to prevent further gains by Italy's leftist parties. The article draws on new and widely forgotten sources to examine the background and involvement of two private U.S. operatives for the Republican Party who were closely aligned with senior coup plotters in Italy. Their involvement with Italian neo-fascists should raise concerns about the dangers of private meddling in foreign policy and the potential for private actors to create misperceptions about critical U.S. government policies.

You do not currently have access to this content.