One of the many tragedies fascism in Europe was responsible for. By 1932 Emperor Haile Selassie had, through his incredible management and political astuteness, managed to bootstrap Ethiopia from a third world nation into a formidable economic power, with valuable exports. At the time, they were also forming a modern army, with the aid of several European powers, but purchased with their own money. This military was small by European standards, but nonetheless greatly distressed the Italians, due to their holdings in Somalia. France, seeking to have the Italians harmlessly expend their aggressive energy, gave the green light to an attack on Ethiopia in 1935, in exchange for concessions regarding Tunisia.

The initial probing attacks by the Italians began in 1932, though it had obviously been planned for some time. They gradually seized territory along the border which belonged to the Ethiopians. The British were present as observers at the time, but were wary of interfering, not wanting to provoke war with Italy. All the Europeans assumed Ethiopia would fold and make concessions, rather than fight a war they couldn't win against the Italians. They were wrong. The fiercely independent Ethiopians were not about to surrender the nation they had raised up from squalor to economic prosperity. They fought with swords and primitive firearms against modern weapons, such as poison gas and tank columns, and Haile Sellassie was forced to flee the country to avoid capture.

He continued to plead before the League of Nations for aid, but Italy only received a slap on the wrist, in the form of a trade embargo (oil, the only product that might have made a difference, was not impeded, as France protested that oil constituted a military, not economic embargo). This is the incident which eventually broke the League of Nations, and thus contributed greatly to the causes of World War II.

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