War as a continuation of diplomacy in international relations can be made either to maximize power as offensive realism explains or to maximize security as defensive realism suggests. The later resonates well with Ethiopia’s diplomatic history. Ethiopia in the history of its foreign policies strived to gain an appropriate amount of power to survive amid the anarchic world and more particularly amid the scramble for Africa. The battle of Adwa is the best historical account for this.
Emperor Menelik II had used all peaceful means at his disposal to maintain the very survival of Ethiopia. However, Italy’s diplomatic trickery created a planned controversy within the Wuchale Treaty thereby planning either to subdue Emperor Menelik II and his empire peacefully or to use the controversy as a pretext to launch a colonial war. The controversy culminated to the battle of Adwa. Ethiopia won the battle and maintained its independence. It secured, in the terminology of defensive realism, an appropriate amount of power to survive.
Despite the vast historical narrations, there is little comprehensive analysis on the battle of Adwa from the perspective of foreign policy. Most of the books, papers focus on the historical narrations and accounts, and overlooked to present a systematized knowledge on the battle of Adwa in relations to foreign policy. This paper, therefore, aimed at filling that academic lacuna by exploring and explaining the battle of Adwa within the purview of foreign policy.
A systematized document and historical analysis using realism as foreign policy analysis tool revealed that the battle of Adwa was fought to save what Emperor Menelik II preferred to call the God-given country. It was fought to maintain the independence of Ethiopia at its own geographic and political territory. Hence, Adwa was a Continuation of foreign policy by other means.
Keywords: Foreign Policy, security/power maximisation, defensive/offensive realism, diplomacy