Große Länder, kleine Kriege

LONDON: US-Präsident Barack Obama hat gelobt, den Mord an J. Christopher Stevens, dem ehemaligen amerikanischen Botschafter in Libyen, zu rächen. Wie er das zu tun gedenkt, ist unklar – und die Geschichte bietet hier wenig Hilfe.

Im Jahre 1864 nahm der Kaiser von Abessinien in der damaligen Hauptstadt des Landes, Magdala, den britischen Konsul sowie einige Missionare als Geisel. Drei Jahre später setzten die Briten, nachdem Kaiser Tewodros die Freilassung der Geiseln immer noch verweigerte, ein Expeditionskorps als 13.000 Soldaten, 26.000 begleitenden Zivilisten und 44 Elefanten in Marsch.

In seinem Buch The Blue Nile beschreibt Alan Moorehead die Expedition wie folgt: „Sie schreitet von Anfang bis Ende mit dem Dekorum und der schwerfälligen Zwangsläufigkeit eines viktorianischen Staatsbanketts voran, komplett mit salbungsvollen Ansprachen.“ Dabei war das Ganze ein furchterregendes Unterfangen. Nach dreimonatigem Marsch durch die Berge erreichten die Briten Magdala, befreiten die Geiseln und brannten die Hauptstadt völlig nieder. Kaiser Tewodros nahm sich das Leben, die Briten zogen wieder ab, und ihr Kommandant, Generalleutnant Sir Robert Napier, erhielt den Titel Baron Napier von Magdala.

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