Sheldrake wrote:The best explanations are given in the information panels in one of my favourite military museums the Museo Piana del Orme in Latina. In explanation of Italian reverses against Greece and Britain in 1940 ity says that the Greeks were unexpectedly brave and the British unexpectedly strong.
The British were not "unexpectedly" strong to the Italian commander in the theater, given his caution in advance and the cautions he sent back; but Mussolini found easier to send quarter million troops rather than say the three motorized infantry and one tank division the situation required(which, TBF, Regio Esercito didn't quite have in Fall 1940).
If the Italians had been rationally doing their best for Fascist Italy and Axis victory and possessed a crystal ball they would have extracted a hefty price from Nazi Germany for staying Neutral. With the advantage of hindsight a southern flank secured by a neutral buffer was far more valuable to Germany than a Mediterranean war. But that assumes rational behaviour...
I agree on Neutrality being better for Italy (fascist or not). But then it is usually the case in such a big dustup. OTOH, without the costs of the North Africa Campaign the Albion can have Vichy colonies free-frenched by COB September 1 1941, freeing the needed forces to reinforce Malaya (see the active Singapore thread on the snowball effects of THAT change), and the ability to tenfold their pinprick campaign against Continental Europe.
Mussolini was probably driven by a fear of missing out from the spoils of an axis victory.
IIRC there are statements stating exactly this attributed to "Benzino".