Mussolini's military supported Italian policy by designing the strategies that underpinned Italian campaigns in all theaters of battle, translating the Duce's frequently irrational political concepts into operational designs, and obediently following instructions. Mussolini devised a crude diplomatic scheme to complement his shaky predictions of how world relations will unfold. Mussolini set out his master agenda in the midst of the Phoney Battle. Mussolini's goal in initiating the 'parallel battle' was simple: to use Germany's military prowess to carve out a significant geographic area of influence in North Africa and the Balkans. General Mario Roatta created what has been considered the only strategic appreciation with some extent and seriousness to emerge from the military during the war on December 13, 1940, with Italian armies bogged down in Albania and withdrawing in North Africa. Factors that neither Mussolini nor Cavallero could influence decided North African policy in 1942.
The chance for Mussolini arrived in the summer of 1922. A general strike was called by the remnants of the labor union movement. Mussolini announced that unless the government intervened, the Fascists would go on strike. In reality, Fascist volunteers assisted in the failure of the strike, advancing the Fascist claim to authority. On October 24, Mussolini threatened 40,000 Fascists in Naples, saying, "Either the government will be offered to us, or we will take it by marching on Rome." The gathered Fascists enthusiastically picked up the cry, chanting in unison, “Roma! Roma! Roma!” in response to his oratory. Everything seemed to be ready to march.
Mussolini would have lived to be a legend until his death if not for his callous xenophobia and greed, his misunderstanding of Italy's basic needs, and his fantasies of hegemony, which pushed him to pursue international conquests. His eyes fall first on Ethiopia, which Italy invaded in October 1935 after ten months of preparing, rumors, attacks, and hesitations. Following that, the Italians conducted a vicious war of imperial invasion, dumping tons of gas bombs on the Ethiopian citizens. Europe shared its horror, but then stayed quiet. The League of Nations introduced controls but took care to ensure that the scope of banned exports did not contain those that might spark a European conflict, such as gasoline. Mussolini said that if the League had enforced oil restrictions, he would have had to leave Ethiopia within a week. But he had no such problems, and on the night of May 9, 1936, he declared to an audience of around 400,000 citizens gathered in Piazza Venezia in Rome that “in the 14th year of the Fascist era,” a great thing had been accomplished: Italy had its kingdom. This was most certainly the height of national enthusiasm for the government.