The Italian Debacle In Adwa: Domestic, Foreign, Geo Political And Topographical Causes

990 words - 4 pages

This essay asks why the forces of the newly emerged Great Power of Italy were so completely obliterated by the Ethiopians and their aspirations to empire crushed by them during the Campaign to Adawa. Essentially, the Campaign to Adawa was a series of skirmishes between Italy and local warlords and tribal leaders, known as ‘Ras’, which culminated in the catastrophic battle of Adawa. Essentially, Italy failed to complete a successful campaign to Adawa because of massive leftish political and public pressure at home. It failed to build a strong military because the budget cuts from it’s economic troubles at home were bourn by the troops. Additionally, Italy failed because its foreign policy ...view middle of the document...

These political and media views were echoed by the masses, who used to host “spontaneous demonstrations” where they shouted “viva Melenik”, honoring the king of Ethiopia in the public squares of Rome. Additionally, the war was considered to be solely in the interests of the Italian King Victor Immannuel and the Prime Minister Signor Crispi. This regime was known for brutality in Italy, and were famously known to have used indiscriminate force to crush a leftist uprising in Sicily. in 1894. Triulzi remarks that “Sicilian Peasants were equalled to rioting Africans to be easily pacified and brutally put down”. This manifested itself on the battlefield. The only first hand English account of the war was by an English observer, G. F-H Berkeley. Berkeley recalls his conversations with the head of the Italian Operation, General Baratieri. Baratieri noted that he had a “strong impression of having finally risked a battle against his better judgement” in light of the potential backlash back home. The parliamentary gridlock also affected his on field policies, in his official instructions, Baratieri notes “there was nothing definite in the telegram beyond the demand for a ‘plan of campaign”. He subsequently attributes a failure to attack Adwa on this lack of direction, saying that the only option given to him was to remain entrenched as long as his supplies held out.The vague plan of operation as well as the well publicized disdain for the operation had infected the Italian Troops in Abbysinia with a low morale and “a sort of lethargy”, about the operation according to Berkeley.It is evident that the anti-war movement in government and civil society in Italy had created a sort of “Vietnam Syndrome” among the military in Ethiopia. A famous quote by Canadian Marshall McLuhan states “that Veitnam was won and lost in the living rooms of America-not on the battlefields of Vietnam”. In that country, frequent public demonstration and strong left wing political sentiment against Vietnam stagnated...

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