Britain's Response to the invasion of Abyssinia was weak

HideShow resource information
Preview of Britain's Response to the invasion of Abyssinia was weak

First 710 words of the document:

January 2010 Essay (B)
Britain's response to Italy's invasion of Abyssinia was weak
In 1935 when Mussolini launched his invasion of Abyssinia the government of
Britain responded by following the example of the League of Nations and condemning Italy
for her actions yet only a few months before in April at the signing of the Stresa front when
asked if Abyssinia had been discussed the then Prime Minister Ramsay Mac Donald
responded by saying `that my friend is none of you concern.' It is widely believed that at this
point and at many offers on the lead up to the invasion of Abyssinia Mussolini was being
`tipped the wink' by the British Government with regards to the invasion. This would go to
suggest that not only was the reaction to the invasion weak but it was marginally accepted as
Abyssinia was regarded as a backwards country and Britain had openly opposed her joining
the League of Nations in 1923.
Yet in conflict with the above statement from the Prime Minister, Sir Samuel Hoare
stated at the League of Nations conference when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia that `The
League stands, and my country stands with it for the steady and collective resistance to acts
of unprovoked aggression' follow yet only 2 months after the invasion of Abyssinia the same
man Samuel Hoare along with French Foreign Minister Laval attempted to appease
Mussolini without the Leagues consent by offering him 2/3 of Abyssinia if he were to stop
his conquest. Once again this highlights the haphazard and weak flaws in Britain's response
to the crisis.
Moreover, though Samuel Hoare was making speeches at the League of Nations at
the time of the invasion indentifying Britain's anger towards Italy, Britain in effect allowed the
invasion to continue unhindered by not closing the Suez Canal which allowed Mussolini
access to Abyssinia. So once more while Britain was resisting with one hand its was
conceding with the other. This can only be read as not only a weak reaction yet also one of
On the other hand however, though it is easy to criticise Britain now, there is also an
argument that the British government did do all in its feasible power to stop the invasion of
Abyssinia. Lest we not forget that on the 28th of June 1935, just 4 months before the
invasion the results of the Peace Ballot had just been published. This ballot showed that 10
out of 11 million people in Britain would prefer the British government to use international
sanctions as oppose to war to resolve issues. So with regards to closing the Suez Canal it is
perfectly acceptable to suggest that if that had been done Mussolini's ships would have fired
upon Britain's ships thus resulting in a naval war. This is a risk that the government would
not be willing to take especially so close to the 1935 general election following the results of
the Peace Ballot. So in this respect Britain reacted as strongly as it could given its current
Also as the Peace Ballot showed that the people wanted economic resolutions as
oppose to military, it could be argued that although secretive and unorthodox that the
HoareLaval Pact was merely an attempt to do just that. It may well have been that Samuel
Hoare at that stage in the invasion could see no other way in halting the invasion without
,military intervention, then to allow Italy to keep the sizeable territory it dominated. This
would allow Britain to show a strong arbitrational role in the conflict and therefore the
opposite of a weak reaction.
Lastly it could be argued that Britain was simply choosing the lesser of two evils.
For by attempting to appease Mussolini and thus appearing weak it was in fact a vague
attempt to keep him on side against the fight of German Fascism with Hitler. As up until that
date Italy had been the only country to actually stand up to Hitler, yet unfortunately not

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Suez Canal along with attempting to offer 2/3 of Abyssinia to Mussolini didn't
not seem to counteract the idea that Mussolini had been publicly humiliated in the League of
Nations. So as a result the dictator in the words of Sir Robert Vansittart `performed another
volteface into the arms of Germany.' Thus categorising this reaction to the invasion as
intentionally strong yet ultimately weak.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all resources »