Courtesy Reuters

The Frontiers of Italy

WHEN Prime Minister Churchill stated in the House of Commons on September 21, 1943, that the Italian Empire "has been lost -- irretrievably lost" he no doubt referred to all the territory which since 1936 has been termed "Italian East Africa," that is, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland. From 1936 to 1943 these territories formed King Victor Emanuel III's "empire." On November 30, 1943, the Italian Cabinet headed by Marshal Badoglio officially stripped the King of his title of "Emperor," officially acknowledging the doom of the East African Empire.

Cyrenaica, the eastern section of Libya, seems destined to become part of Egypt, under one guise or another. The southern sections of Libya, i.e. Tibesti and Fezzan, will most likely go to France. The latter are the most wretched spots of the Sahara Desert, but they are wide and they make a big show on maps, to the satisfaction of empty-headed imperialists. What will happen to Tripolitania, the western section which borders Tunisia, is still the secret of the gods. Some Italians hope that Tripolitania at least will be left them as fiche de consolation. Neither Tripolitania nor any other Italian colony ever brought any economic advantage to the Italian people. They swallowed up enormous sums of taxpayers' money and only civil and military bureaucrats and contractors profited.

None of the colonies would ever solve, or even help to lessen, the Italian problem of overpopulation. The few thousand farmers who by 1940 were eking out a meager living in Libya had been transported there at public expense and were supported by heavy subsidies. Each of them would have become a prosperous landowner in Italy had he been given that money at home. Economic delusions, strategic fancies and above all a hankering after prestige prompted the Italian colonial enterprises. Colonies were like the jewels with which millionaires deck their mistresses; but the Italian people never were rich enough to afford such luxuries and they will be even less able to afford them when this war is over. Railways, roads, bridges,

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