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A CRUMBLING DICTATORSHIP

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

All recent reports from Rome and the Ethiopian front indicate that the Italian campaign has bogged down completely. The heavy rains alone preclude, until next summer, the possibility of renewed aggression, unless it be from the Ethiopian side. Such a situation bodes no good for Mussolini.

That a practically bankrupt nation should cmbark on a great imperialistic adventure was remarkable. That Italy, laboring under the stress of badly disarranged conditions within and effective financial sanctions without, has-managed to live on its nerves for such a long time, is even more remarkable. However astonishing, the course of events is, nevertheless, explicable, first by political necessity and later by that phenomenon known as war fever. But now that the little fat that Italy had is gone, and now that there can be no buoying military success, the largely unseen currents of public opinion may soon well up, suddenly and dramatically, to sweep Mussolini from power. Any other conclusion would seem far fetched and miraculous.

Dynamic forces are at work. The recent rioting of Alpine troops is a straw in the wind. The regular army never made a secret of the fact that it did not relish its task. More quiet cursing and derogation of Mussolini is heard in the streets of Rome, Milan and Salerno. The troops in the field are spread out, discontented, badly supported by communications, and strategically exposed to serious defeats. Any spark from a number of sources may kindle the flame, and there are as many gusts of sentiment ready to nourish it.

A half-year more of living on its nerves, with no prospect of aggressive action and much prospect of increased difficulties--such is the picture Italy has to contemplate. Even a few weeks hence we may see faces replaced in Rome, an ambiguous League policy redirected and an even more paradoxical neutrality policy in the United States overturned. In itself, the lull in African warfare means less than nothing. The quiet is a surface calm. Mussolini's barometer is dropping fast. By the same token, the monarchial barometer is rising.

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