Italy's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 marked a turning point in interwar Europe. The last great European colonial conquest in Africa, the conflict represented an enormous gamble for the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. He faced a challenge not only from a stout Ethiopian defence, but also from difficult logistics made worse by the League of Nations' half-hearted sanctions. Mussolini faced down this opposition, and Italian troops, aided by air superiority and liberal use of yprite gas, conquered Addis Ababa within eight months, a victory that shocked many military observers of the time with its speed and suddenness. The invasion had enormous repercussions on European international relations. In the midst of a national election campaign, the British National Government had felt constrained to support the League, despite fears that sanctions through the League could lead to war with Italy. The concentration of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean Sea alienated Mussolini and placed the French government on the horns of dilemma; should France support its military partner, Italy, or its more important potential ally, Great Britain? French attempts to mark out a middle ground did little to placate the Duce, and the crisis seemed to develop a deep rift between Fascist Italy and the Anglo-French democracies, while at the same time creating a crisis in Anglo-French relations. Mussolini turned towards Nazi Germany in an attempt to end his diplomatic isolation during the sanctions episode, although Hitler considered the Duce's friendship a mixed blessing. The question of American adherence to sanctions increased ill will between British politicians and the Roosevelt administration in Washington, as each tended to blame the other for the failure of oil sanctions and the collapse of collective security. The international crisis posed similarly thorny problems for the smaller powers of Europe, and for Japan and the Soviet Union. The crisis impeded common defence against Fascist expansionism while giving impetus to claims of the revisionist powers. Despite the tremendous importance of the international crisis, however, little new work on the subject has appeared in recent decades. In this volume, an international cast of contributors take a fresh look at the crisis through the lens of new evidence and new approaches to international relations history to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the crisis currently possible, and their work provides new frames of reference for exploring imperialism, collective security and genocide.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Introduction, G. Bruce Strang; ’Places in the African sun’: social Darwinism, demographics, and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, G. Bruce Strang; The Ethiopian crisis and the emergence of Ethiopia in a changing state system, Ian S. Spears; Philip Noel-Baker, the League of Nations and the Abyssinian crisis, 1935-1936, Gaynor Johnson; ’This silly African business’: the military dimension of Britain’s response to the Abyssinian crisis, Steven Morewood; France and the Ethiopian crisis, 1935-1936: security dilemmas and adjustable interests, Martin Thomas; ’A sad commentary on world ethics’: Italy and the United States during the Ethiopian crisis, G. Bruce Strang; 'The last ditch defender of national sovereignty at Geneva': the realities behind Canadian diplomacy during the Ethiopian crisis, Francine McKenzie; The paradox of peaceful co-existenceâ„¢: British dominions’ response to the Italo-Abyssinian crisis, 1935-1936, W. Neville Sloane; Schreck and schadenfreude: Hitler, German alliance priorities and the Abyssinian crisis, 1935-1936, Geoffrey T. Waddington; An alliance of the ’coloured’ peoples: Ethiopia and Japan, J. Calvitt Clarke III; Soviet appeasement, collective security and the Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935 and 1936, J. Calvitt Clarke III; A way out of isolation: Fascist Italy’s relationship with the Vatican during the Ethiopian crisis, Nicolas G. Virtue; The former European neutrals, the Ethiopian crisis and its aftermath, 1935-1938, Remco van Diepen; Select bibliography; Index.
G. Bruce Strang is Professor of History and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Brandon University, Canada. He lives in Brandon, Manitoba, with his wife Nancy Hennen, and sons Sean and Marc. He is currently writing a monograph assessing Italian foreign policy and reconstruction in the early Cold War Era.
'This collection certainly broadens the existing literature on the crisis. It brings a wide range of international perspectives to bear and helps to explain how the invasion and annexation were able to occur in the face of the international community. Perhaps the most useful aspect of it is the sheer array of new source material it presents to the reader. Archives of 11 different countries ... have been consulted, alongside all the published primary and secondary materials. It is a vital addition for anyone interested in the crisis or in the turbulent international relations of the 1930s in general.' Second World War Military Operation Research Group 'The volume makes a significant contribution, representing by far the most updated and valuable publication currently available on the diplomatic dimensions of the Italo-Ethiopian crisis of 1935-36.' H-Soz-u-Kult 'The strength of Collision of Empires is that it is not limited to standard topics related to the major European powers of the time that were involved in the Italian-Ethiopian conflict of the 1930. Rather it provides analysis on broader international relations issues. As such, it is best suited for students of political science and international relations.' African Studies Quarterly