The Defeat of Ethiopia Essay

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In the beginning of the 20th century, all of Africa was in European hands except for just one country. Despite all the factors against this one country, Ethiopia, in1896 they successfully defended themselves from the Italians in the Battle of Adwa. Unfortunately, when the Italians invaded a second time in 1935, the Ethiopians were not so successful. How come the Ethiopians were defeated when not 50 years earlier they were victorious? Was the advance in technology to much for the Ethiopians to combat or was it the lack of good leadership that they once had in the years leading up to the second invasion. I believe that due to the lack of good leadership before and during the second Italian invasion attributed to the defeat of Ethiopia, rather than their technological deficiencies.
To first understand the loss in the second war we must first briefly look at their victory in the first war. In this conflict Ethiopia defeated the Italians because their leaders made all the right choices before and during the war. It started with Emperor Tewodros II, who “reunified the Ethiopia under a single emperor”. Before that Ethiopia was in great disarray, with many different kings and warlords ruled different parts of Ethiopia. This was a crucial step in defeating the Italian because without the full cooperation of all the Ethiopian warlords, than the Italian military would have easily defeated the fragmented Ethiopian states. Another crucial decision that Tewodros II made was to modernize the Ethiopian military with firearms. He learned this lesson harshly after a tough defeat from the modern equipped Egyptian army and from this experience he used it to better his empire. With just these two simple improvements Ethiopia was now in ...

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...talian bullets ever could. Even in our time, the most modern army like the United States is not assured victory against a less advanced foe like the Taliban. In the end, it all comes down to the soldiers training, and the leadership of their superiors.

Del Boca, Angelo. Guerra d'Abissinia. Translated by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. The Ethiopian War 1935-1941, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969.

Milkias, Paulos. The Battle of Adwa. N.p.: Algora Publishing, 2005.

Nicolle, David, and Raffaele Ruggeri. The Italian Invasion of Abyssinia 1935-36. London: Osprey Military, 1997.

Wienholt, Arnold. The Africans' Last Stronghold. London: John Long, 1938.

Gilbert, Erik, and Jonathan T. Reynolds. Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Boston: Pearson, 2012.

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