Países grandes, guerras pequeñas

LONDRES – El presidente de los Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, ha prometido vengar el asesinato de J. Christopher Stevens, ex embajador de su país en Libia. No está claro cómo propone hacerlo, ya que el precedente histórico es de poca utilidad.

En 1864, el emperador de Abisinia tomó de rehenes al cónsul británico y a algunos misioneros y los retuvo en la que era entonces la capital del país, Magdala. Como tres años después el emperador Teodoro seguía negándose a liberarlos, los británicos enviaron una fuerza expedicionaria formada por 13.000 soldados, 26.000 acompañantes civiles y 44 elefantes.

En su libro El Nilo azul, Alan Moorehead describe así la expedición: “De principio a fin, su desarrollo tiene el decoro y la grave inevitabilidad de un banquete de Estado victoriano, incluidos los discursos tediosos”. Pero fue una temible empresa. Después de un viaje de tres meses a través de las montañas, los británicos llegaron a Magdala, liberaron a los rehenes y quemaron la capital hasta los cimientos. El emperador Teodoro se suicidó, los británicos se retiraron, y su comandante, el teniente general Sir Robert Napier, se convirtió en Barón Napier de Magdala.

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