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The Ethiopian Campaign and French Political Thought

Yves R. Simon

Publication Year: 2009

Yves Simon was one of the preeminent Thomistic philosophers and political theorists of the twentieth century. He saw it as a moral duty to understand human reality and to use philosophical analysis to examine contemporary politics when they embodied philosophical errors or vicious ideologies. In The Ethiopian Campaign and French Political Thought, Simon extracts principles from the 1894 Dreyfus Affair in France and applies them to Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethopia. As Simon’s analysis shows, the relatively obscure events leading up to the Italian invasion had larger implications for Europe and the world, perhaps even paving the way for Vichy France’s collaboration with Hitler’s German New Order. This book, available for the first time in English, offers an interesting case study of such ethical concerns as just war theory and pre-emptive war, and is of particular relevance in our modern political climate.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

There are at least two features of Yves Simon’s The Ethiopian Campaign and French Political Thought that may initially strike the reader as curious. The first is that Simon does not begin this short but trenchant and thought-provoking study...


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pp. xvii-xviii

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Translator’s Preface

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pp. xix-xxiv

Ever since the creation of philosophy in ancient Greece, philosophers have had a reputation for being generally impractical and unreliable in ordinary matters. The great early philosopher Thales, according to a well-known story, allegedly...

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pp. 1-4

After several months of unrest among his supporters, Captain Dreyfus’s guilt represented, in the eyes of national factions in conflict, no more than a secondary question.1 France was profoundly split into supporters and adversaries of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Whether Dreyfus...

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Chapter One: From before the War to the Stresa Conference

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pp. 5-12

What attitudes prevalent in France before the war toward the Italian nation were considered as a political formation? When I was a child, I was taught that Napoleon III committed two particularly grievous faults: he allowed...

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Chapter Two: What Do We Care about Ethiopia?

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pp. 13-18

What do we care about Ethiopia! This exclamation, which has become familiar to many French people, is not a simple confession of incompetence; it is a positive declaration of indifference, implying some principled...

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Chapter Three: The Anti-Fascist Crusade

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pp. 19-22

To the partisanship of indifference with respect to the fate of Ethiopia another sort of partisanship quickly replied: blaming the Fascist government. The opportunity was too beautiful. Since the advent of the Fascist...

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Chapter Four: But Is This War Just?

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pp. 23-28

As we have recalled, the Italian military action involves the violation of several treaties; if we abstract from actions prior to Ethiopia’s entry into the League of Nations, three treaties still forbid Italian troops to enter...

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Chapter Five: Ethiopia’s Foreign Relations

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pp. 29-34

Ethiopian foreign relations are determined in their essentials by three sets of interests: French, British, and Italian.1 In France’s colonial economy, Djibouti plays a twofold role: it is a port of transit on the route to Indochina...

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Chapter Six: The Mad Dog

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pp. 35-40

From that time on, we saw the multiplication of Italian accusations against Ethiopia, which were abundantly reported by the French press. The accusations were of two kinds: some related to the internal situation in Ethiopia...

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Chapter Seven: Ethiopia’s Internal Situation

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pp. 41-48

Everyone knows that the vast territories subjected to the suzerainty of the Negus contain immense natural riches that have been little developed. A better use would assure that these riches would contribute to the common...

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Chapter Eight: The Covenant of the League of Nations

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pp. 49-79

During the Peace Conference, the word spread to Addis Ababa that the French government was prepared to cede Djibouti to Italy.1,/sup> The Regent, Prince Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie) believed that there was a threat to Ethiopian independence...

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Chapter Nine: British Policy

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pp. 55-62

It is unfortunate that diplomatic habits force statesmen to clothe their aims in idealist garb; this practice contributes to the appearance of a number of foolish questions. Many people have gravely asked whether Great Britain...

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Chapter Ten: The Intervention of the Intellectuals

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pp. 63-68

At the beginning of autumn 1935 when it was certain that Italy would not avoid the application of the sanctions provided for in the Covenant, or at least of the more mild among them, French opinion was deeply affected...

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Chapter Eleven: Reflections on Certain Resistances to the Progress of International Law

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pp. 69-80

Did some French believe that the League of Nations would never mobilize the powers of its members except in defense of our territory? We must believe so, since the plan introduced by André Tardieu at the Disarmament...

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Chapter Twelve: 7 March 1936

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pp. 81-82

At the moment of writing these last lines, the Italian armies have just won important victories; thousands of men are dead; the League of Nations is trying one last effort at reconciliation; Great Britain has confirmed...

Appendix 1

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pp. 83-92

Appendix 2

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pp. 93-110


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pp. 111-116


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pp. 117-124


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pp. 125-132

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780268092719
E-ISBN-10: 0268092710
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268041304
Print-ISBN-10: 026804130X

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Intellectuals -- Political activity -- France -- History -- 20th century.
  • Just war doctrine -- Case studies.
  • Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935-1936 -- Diplomatic history.
  • Italy -- Relations -- France.
  • Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935-1936 -- Foreign public opinion, French.
  • League of Nations -- History.
  • Public opinion -- France -- History -- 20th century.
  • Preemptive attack (Military science) -- Case studies.
  • France -- Relations -- Italy.
  • Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935-1936 -- Moral and ethical aspects.
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