When the Italians invaded Ethiopia, there was widespread
condemnation of the invasion and calls for the western powers to act.
Let’s say that one of the British politicians takes a tougher stance and
demands that the British honour their league commitments.
The British don’t quite declare war, but they close the Suez to Italian
shipping and seal off the Italian positions.
Mussolini can’t back down.
He needs to have military success to validate Italy’s role as a great
power, so he orders the Italian forces in Libya to prepare for war and starts
making noises about illegal blockades.
Italian ships start convoying troopships to Libya and British ships
shadow them. One incident later
and Italy and Britain are at war.
Italian forces head out of Libya towards Egypt.
The Italians are slower than they were in OTL 1940 and even less eager
for war. On the other hand, the
British don’t have so much in place to stop them.
The Italians grind towards Cairo.
The British impose a blockade on Italy and attack the
Italian navy. The Italians are
short on oil and fuel and lose several ships to British action.
Italian troops are running out of supplies in Libya, although their
resort to poison gas comes as a shock and gives them a couple of minor
successes. The British supply the
Ethiopians with weapons and help them to fight back.
The British build up rapidly in Egypt.
Indian, Australian and South African troops are used to launch a
counterattack that shatters the weakened Italian army and then head to Tripoli.
Italy launches an amphibious invasion against Malta that is a complete
failure. Mussolini’s power is
As the British cross the border of Libya, Mussolini offers
to negotiate. The British want
several guarantees that Mussolini refuses to give, including his own removal, so
the British keep the war going.
Their economy gets a boost from the war.
When Libya falls, the Italian government sees the writing on the wall and
overthrows Mussolini, restoring a democratic government.
Peace comes swiftly.
Italy loses all its colonies in Africa.
Ethiopia gets a full apology and Italian Somaliland.
Italy loses most of its navy and is forced to accept limits on some of
its armed forces. Hitler gets the
message that not all democratic states are weak.
WW2 is averted as it seems to be clear that the democratic states will
halt any too aggressive state.
This has major long-term effects.
The Spanish Civil War won’t last so long without Italian involvement and
probably no soviet involvement.
The republicans would hold most of the cards without their opponents receiving
aid from Hitler and Musso, Franco would end up trapped in Morocco.
If France helps out, Morocco might be recaptured, if not, there would be
a nationalist-dominated Morocco complicating politics.
Without the SCW, Hitler can’t rearm the way he needs to, meaning that
Germany won’t pose such a great threat.
Once it’s clear that there will be no more conquests, the Third Reich is
likely to collapse.
Japan would be less aggressive if it’s clear that Britain
still has some fight left in it.
This would probably mean a quiet agreement on spears of influence.