Life and Times of Haile Selassie I
Ethiopia Prepares for War
Ever since the crushing defeat of the Italian Army at Adowa in 1896, Italian officials, especially colonial officials had chaffed at the lack of revenge, or restoration of their honor Revenge for Adowa was considered essential for Italian prestige in Europe. Italian colonies in Libya, Italian (southern) Somali land and Eritrea were unprofitable, and in the case of Libya, unstable. The Italians increasingly saw Ethiopia as their natural hinterland for their Somali land and Eritrean colonies. A vast territory of industrious people, fertile soil, untapped mineral wealth and the prestige of ancient empire were a prize that they were simply unwilling to pass up for good.
The fact that relations between Ethiopia and Italy had been outwardly warm since the war of 1896 was no deterrent. As Crown Prince and Regent, the Emperor had visited Rome in 1923 and met with King Victor Emmanuel and Queen Helena, as well as Italy’s brand new Premier, a vulgar braggart and demagogue named Benito Mussolini. During the visit of Prince Regent Tafari, the leader of the Socialists in the Italian Parliament, and a vocal opponent to Mussolini’s fascism, mysteriously disappeared. A racist cartoon in a Rome Daily depicted the Ethiopian Prince asking el Deuce if he had eaten his opponent, as if that was typical behavior for Ethiopian leaders to eat their enemies.
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