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Africa during the Scramble: The Last Kingdom

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
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What do you think would be the best outcome for Ethiopia here?
Mussolini loses his nerve. The success of the Ethiopian Christmas offensive rattled the italians, that's when they started using gas warfare, it's also when Mussolini starts seriously considering the French-British peace plans (the infamous hoare lavel plans which are enacted in the sealion press novel a greater britain, illustration from that book below).



I know a lot of historians think he was just stalling and was never going to accept anything less than total victory but I'm unconvinced. I think a stronger Ethiopian defence absolutely could have forced Mussolini to the peace table. And then Ethiopia is in the position of Finland after the winter War as opposed to France in 1940.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
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Feels there'd be a huge global impact from that - if the self-proclaimed power of Fascist Italy gets beaten by Africans (and less equipped ones at that) would make various countries worry about what a war with someone who isn't African, and thus "superior" to their eyes, might do.
 

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
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Feels there'd be a huge global impact from that - if the self-proclaimed power of Fascist Italy gets beaten by Africans (and less equipped ones at that) would make various countries worry about what a war with someone who isn't African, and thus "superior" to their eyes, might do.
It could still be spun as an Italian victory- they've gained more land than they've lost, an agreed upon area of economic concessions and theoretically could be able to spin the latter into a mechanism to try and butter up the Oromo down that way.

The main thing however is Ethiopia now has a port- I think Asab is in that territory transferred over. It's not much but it does have significant effects- Ethiopia gets access to trade, is likely able to keep that port long-term and also just so happens to block French Somaliland from the Italians.

There's a decent chance this turns the East African campaign in WWII from a relatively short slog and then long-term guerrilla war, to something very quick indeed. Historically Italy just overran French Somaliland and invaded British Somaliland from what had been Ethiopia. Here they'd need a naval invasion while also having much smaller fronts verses Kenya and Sudan and long frontlines against Ethiopia to defend. Alternatively the Italians dig in and try and hold on to the last man and it becomes a pretty brutal clash indeed.
 

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
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It could still be spun as an Italian victory- they've gained more land than they've lost, an agreed upon area of economic concessions and theoretically could be able to spin the latter into a mechanism to try and butter up the Oromo down that way.

The main thing however is Ethiopia now has a port- I think Asab is in that territory transferred over. It's not much but it does have significant effects- Ethiopia gets access to trade, is likely able to keep that port long-term and also just so happens to block French Somaliland from the Italians.
I agree, it is an Italian victory. Certainly the angry reaction in France and the UK when it leaked was that the allies were giving Mussolini everything he wanted with that offer.

But it seems, to me, like the sort of offer that both sides would have reason to accept. Italy get a victory, but Ethiopia get to stay alive. That I think is a more likely best case scenario than a full white peace.
 

Nofix

Scalawag
Good stuff. I broadly knew the history of Ethiopia in this period, but not the specifics, especially not

I'm also inclined to assume that Italy wasn't aware of the ruse because if the aim was just to get a bad faith treaty they could use to justify an invasion, they wouldn't have kept supplying Menelik with guns and ammo but as late as 1893 they supplied him with thousands of guns and over two million cartridges. This continuing supply of weapons makes more sense if you assume that Rome believed the Italian version was the agreed treaty and saw Ethiopia as a loyal vassal state. Menelik, who could only read the Amharic version, happily accepted the weapons from his ally but had no intention to ever sign away his independence and angrily refuted the treaty once the contents of the Italian version came to light.
this part. It's so stupid, yet utterly believable, that I'm amazed I haven't heard it before.
 

Redolegna

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this part. It's so stupid, yet utterly believable, that I'm amazed I haven't heard it before.
It's a trick people have pulled repeatedly.

A slight variant was used on George Washington at the beginning of the French and Indian War who did not speak French and signed the treaty put in front of him, not realizing it involved a lot more than just paroling his fellow prisoners. Or for another variant, there is a contention that the wording on UN Resolution 242 is intentionally different in English and French so as to give competing interpretations of it equal grounding.
 

Jared

fatal softener
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Over the rainbow
It's a trick people have pulled repeatedly.

A slight variant was used on George Washington at the beginning of the French and Indian War who did not speak French and signed the treaty put in front of him, not realizing it involved a lot more than just paroling his fellow prisoners. Or for another variant, there is a contention that the wording on UN Resolution 242 is intentionally different in English and French so as to give competing interpretations of it equal grounding.
Also in New Zealand with the Treaty of Waitangi. The English version says that the Maori were surrendering sovereignty to the British.

The Maori version translated “sovereignty” with the word “kawanatanga”. That is usually translated as “governance”, but was a word coined only five years before to translate the English concept of governance. It was, to put it mildly, not a familiar word to the Maori.

It’s been long argued by some Maori that if the word “mana” had been used instead - which really gets across the concept of sovereignty- the Treaty of Waitangi would never have been signed.
 

napoleon IV

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Wasn't this trick used in the very first recorded treaty, between the Egyptians and the Hittites, where the wording in the two versions was carefully different in order to save face?
Forget the guy who takes the minutes, the guy who writes the translations is the person with the most power.
 

Geordie

"One of popculture's most iconic men"
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Forget the guy who takes the minutes, the guy who writes the translations is the person with the most power.
@Skinny87: I am invincible!

@Mumby: where is your ration book

Skinny: What? This is a treaty promising a Valentine to every voter.

Mumby: the wolof, cantonese and sanskrit copies are in agreement that this treaty is designed to crush black marketeers and squanderbugs

[Mumby's eyes glow red]

ration book please
 
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