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Post Musollini's Intervention in Ethiopia
Created by John Eipper on 02/02/17 3:12 PM

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Musollini's Intervention in Ethiopia (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 02/02/17 3:12 pm)

Following our esteemed moderator's comment on the interesting post from David Jorge (1 February), herewith I give my expected reply:

First of all, an excellent sentence from David: "No es valorando unos hechos a posteriori como se construye la Historia."  To this I would add, "sino recordándolos todos." [History is not constructed by evaluating events after the fact...rather, it's by remembering everything--JE.]

After so many wars that are praised for humanitarian reasons and/or for bringing "democracy," wars for which Italy in recent years has had to supply cannon fodder, from the Balkans to Africa and to the Middle East, I would like to state that the Abyssinian war was a humanitarian war to free ethnic groups from discrimination, such as the Jewish Falasha or Muslim Galla Sidamo, etc., and to abolish slavery.

I did not come up with this interpretation. It is, more or less, the argument made by Lord Mottiston at the Chamber of Lords on 23 October 1935.

Furthermore, the colonialism of Mussolini was based on cooperation and common development for natives and Italian immigrants. This was honestly recognized by the Negus, who defended them after WWII.

Italy had sponsored the entrance of Ethiopia into the League of Nations in 1923 and had a Treaty of Cooperation after 1928.

But then various casus belli were provoked by the Ethiopians (motivated by European interests?), such as the attack at Ual Ual on 5 December 1934 (supported by a British Group from Somaliland with Colonel Clifford, advisor of the Negus), in which 120 Dubats were killed, or previously on 4 November 1934, when the Italian Consulate at Gondar was attacked, resulting in the deaths of many Ascari, plus various raids by irregular fighters.

The Negus, supported by France and the UK, refused to pay reparations to the families of the dead. Later the League stated: No party is at fault!

Mussolini was pushed to intervene by the king and the Italian Church, etc. He also had, in a certain way, the green light from France's Pierre Laval during his visit to Rome on 4 January 1935 and from England. See the Maffey Report: "For British interests it is indifferent if Ethiopia remains independent or is absorbed by Italy."
In October 1935 Mussolini tried to avoid Sanctions by sending two great leaders of the Jewish Italian Community, Angiolo Orvieto and Dante Lattes, to look for help from his old friend Chaim Weizmann, but instead, he let him down. This was a great mistake.

Note that the Italian Jewish Community, grateful for the good treatment from Mussolini, on 30 January 1930 dedicated a gold medal to him This medal is extremely difficult to find now.

The Sanctions from a certain point of view were a failure because the regime was strengthened by them.

But from another point of view (the real one?), the Sanctions were a success. Mussolini had to be destroyed as his social ideas were extremely dangerous for the capitalist and communist countries, even more dangerous than Hitler's Panzers. It was imperative to push the former into the arms of the latter to be sure of his destruction for good.

JE comments:  First, apologies to Bob Gibbs for publishing a long untranslated paragraph in David Jorge's post.  This time I threw in a "JE" italicized translation.

Eugenio Battaglia's take on the Abyssinian war does not surprise me.  Most will not be convinced by claims of Ethiopian provocation or Mussolini's humanitarian intent, but Eugenio forces us to look in the mirror:  were the US "democracy building" adventures or "wars for humanity" motivated by altruism?  Did they yield better results?

A final comment on this statement:  "It was imperative to push [Mussolini] into the arms of [Hitler] to be sure of his destruction for good."  In 1940, was anyone on the Allied side convinced of the inevitability, or even possibility, of Hitler's destruction?  So why would they want to give him another ally?  Even Franco, greatly weakened by the Civil War, was paid off to keep him neutral...right?

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