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How successful was the League of Nations in the 1920's?

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Introduction

How successful was the League of Nations in the 1920's? After suffering the horrors of the First World War, many people wanted a long lasting peace and to ensure this happened, the League of Nations was formed with four main goals in mind. They were: to discourage aggression from any nation, to encourage countries to co-operate (especially in trade), to encourage nations to disarm and finally to improve living condition in all parts of the world. After comparing their successes and failings, one looks to see how well they achieved these goals and how successful they were in the 1920's. The league was successful with a number of border disputes that it resolved quickly and peacefully. Some of these would include the Upper Silesia dispute. The region (bordering Poland and Germany) had a rich iron and steel industry and with both countries wanting control over it, the league stepped in to resolve the dispute and held a plebiscite for the Silesian people. French and British troops were sent to keep order at the polling booths and in the end the industrials areas went to Germany, and the rural areas went to Poland. Both counties accepted this decision and many safeguards were built in to prevent future disputes. ...read more.

Middle

Despite its successes the League did have its failings. From the very start the League encountered difficulties when U.S.A refused to join, despite being Wilson's idea. This stressed the lack of confidence people had in the league at the start, especially the Americans, who were not convinced about its effectiveness and felt there country would be better off isolating themselves from the affairs of Europe. Furthermore, America's refusal to join the league meant that the way it dealt with aggression from other countries, by either economic sanctions or moral condemnation would be undermined as an aggressor could still continue trade with non members, such as the USA. Also without the backing of the most powerful country in the world, moral condemnation would not be as effective. The league also faced difficulties when it came to its most powerful members, Britain and France. After the war neither country was the world power it once was and neither had the resources to fill the gap left by USA. Also they had their own agendas and put them before the league. Britain was busy re-building trade and looking after its empires than concentrating on helping the international peace keeping force. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall, weather or not the league is deemed successful in the 1920's depends upon the importance of their successes and failings. Though they did resolve conflicts between countries, the fact of the matter is that neither country was a world power or important enough to cause much of an impact on the league's reputation. Despite this however the Leagues efforts for social and industrial improvement was commendable and made a big impact on world affairs. However, their failings were numerous ranging from their lack of involvement in important treaties (such as the Washington Treaty and the Dawes Plan), to the Vilna and Corfu crisis. Not to mention the fact that the USA didn't join despite being Wilson's idea. In addition to this, the main leaders Britain and France were also pre-occupied and acting in their own interests when really they should have taken on board a more global view. The league also never achieved its goal of Disarmament, and whenever there was move towards this goal, the league was not involved. In short, one can conclude that despite having successfully averted war between smaller countries and improving industrial and social conditions, the Leagues failings were far more serious and numerous for it to have been successful in the 1920's. ...read more.

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