To what extent would you agree that Mussolinis invasion of Abyssinia was his greatest failure in foreign policy in the period 19221939?

Authors Avatar by erinruth99gmailcom (student)

Jun 2012

To what extent would you agree that Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia was his greatest failure in foreign policy in the period 1922–1939? [22]

It is undeniable that Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia was his greatest failure in foreign policy in the period 1922–1939. In examining this view a good place to start is examining what occurred and what the disastrous effects were for Italy.

Ethiopia was an opportunity to lend enormous prestige to the Fascist regime at home, proving the Duce’s claim that he and he alone, could restore Italy to international grandeur. It was a large country and not been part of a European country’s empire; it lacked the means to conduct a modern war. Mussolini also liked the prospect of avenging Adowa. At the oasis of Wal-Wal, a skirmish took place between Italian and Ethiopian troops, in which 30 Italian troops were killed. Mussolini immediately demanded a full apology and hefty compensation. The Ethiopian government replied by requesting a League of Nations investigation. The League agreed and set up an inquiry. Mussolini had no interest in waiting for the results of such an investigation, as he had already issued a secret order for the ‘total conquest of Ethiopia’ in Dec, 1934, and was intent on building up his military forces in the area.

Even though Mussolini gained Abyssinia, it can be viewed as a failure for many reasons. The war had been very expensive. It had forced the government into borrowing and had diverted industrial production into armament production. It contributed greatly to the poor state of the Italian economy in the years leading up to the Second World War. It cost around forty million lire to fund and severely dented Italy’s already limited military resources. Some Italians, no doubt, had been taken in by the orchestrated press campaign stressing Italy’s right to an East African Empire and suggesting the presence of enormous quantities of valuable resources, and precious metals in Ethiopia, but many remained unenthusiastic. Ultimately Italy gained little from Abyssinia in terms of resources.

Join now!

On the other hand, it could be argued that other instances in Mussolini’s foreign policy were greater failures, such as Corfu. Between 1922 and 1935, Italian foreign policy appeared to be successful whilst Mussolini acted like an international statesman, but Corfu is an exception. In August 1923 an Italian general and four of his staff were assassinated in Greece. They had been working for the international boundary commission set up under the terms of the peace settlement and were advising on the precise, location of the new Greek-Albanian border. On hearing of the assassinations Mussolini blamed the Greek government and ...

This is a preview of the whole essay