The Abyssinian Crisis
During the Abyssinian crisis, it was already evident that Britain would follow a policy of appeasement.
A book about the League of Nations published in 1996 stated: "The British government was desperate to avoid a crisis either by offering Mussolini territorial compensation elsewhere or by helping to negotiate an arrangement which would give Italy effective control of Abyssinia. "
What were foreign attitudes towards the Abyssinian Crisis?
Sanctions imposed on Italy
Laval (French Minister of Foreign Affairs) was deeply worried that sanctions would lead to a war with Italy.
The British government was worried that they might have to face Italy alone. Hoare (British Minister of Foreign Affairs) was very concerned by this and wished to avoid war.
The determined Laval and Hoare decided on a plan which would give in to Mussolini’s wishes. However, their plan was leaked and the outraged people in France and England, which forced Hoare and Laval to resign.
At this time, many countries were unwilling to engage in conflict as their economies were still recovering from the Great Depression. Furthermore, Britain was hesitant to take action against Italy as they feared that Italy would attack their fleets. Believing a war would last a long time and being aware of the issue of Hitler, Baldwin did not want to risk British losses and waste the war effort.
French opposition to action:
France wished to maintain good relations with Italy to maintain a ‘united front’ against Germany, so they did not wish to anger Italy or go against them too harshly. This is understandable as France had suffered two German invasions; the Franco-Prussian War and WW2.
Who was responsible for the League of Nations’ failure to take effective action in response to Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia?
Reasons why was France was responsible:
France was showed “a marked lack of enthusiasm for effective action against Italy.” as they were against harsh action towards Italy. They wished to maintain an alliance with Italy and feared that too harsh of an action imposed on Italy “could weaken a united front against the German peril.”
Since the League was formed in 1919, France had continued to push national security measures as part of the Foreign Policy. For example, as part of the Treaty, new nations were created as allies for France, such as Poland, and the Rhineland was demilitarised with the aim of making the French more secure. However, when the time came for France to follow their own agreements, they were reluctant as they focused too heavily on their empire during the Manchurian crisis and their alliance with Italy during the Abyssinian crisis. Evidently, France did not want to support other nations of the League and only wanted to use it as part of their own national security policy to keep them safe.
France was reluctant to be involved in the Abyssinian crisis as they did not want to face military casualties, or the threat of an attack from Italy as a result of French action towards them. This is because France was concerned about and relied on Italian assistance in the event of a German invasion.
Reasons why was Britain was responsible:
Britain opposed closing the Suez Canal. Britain owned the canal, so they could have closed it if they wished. However, they feared an attack on the British Navy. Closing the canal would have prevented Italy from supplying their army in Abyssinia.
During the Abyssinian crisis, it was already evident that Britain would follow a policy of appeasement. A book about the League of Nations published in 1996 stated: "The British government was desperate to avoid a crisis either by offering Mussolini territorial compensation elsewhere or by helping to negotiate an arrangement which would give Italy effective control of Abyssinia. " This was demonstrated when Hoare (British Foreign Minister) and Laval (French Foreign Minister) planned to give into Mussolini's demands.
Reasons why was both countries were responsible:
Britain and France were more concerned about their national (western) borders than their duties and responsibilities as core members of the League.
Britain and France were afraid of Italian aggression and Mussolini believed the League to be weak.