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The failure of the League of Nations

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The failure of the League of Nations In this essay I am going to explain whether I agree or disagree with the following statement: 'The league failed in the 1930's simply because it faced greater challenges than it had faced in the 1920's.' The League of Nations was formed in 1919 just after the First World War. It was the initial idea of Woodrow Wilson, the president of the USA, and was formed as an international police force to keep the peace and to make sure such world atrocities like the First World War never happened again. When the league first started everyone had different ideas of what organisation it should be and what aims it should have. The league was based on the covenant (a set of 26 articles or rules which all members had to agree to) and the covenant set out the aims of the League of Nations. These were: * To discourage aggression from any nation. * To encourage countries to cooperate, especially in business and trade. * To encourage nations to disarm. * To improve the living and working conditions of people in all parts of the world. Before I make my decision I am going to look at the main weaknesses of the league. When the league started for business in January 1920 the American chair was empty. America never joined the league even though it had been the idea of the American President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson needed the approval of his congress and in America the idea of the League was not popular at all. To many Americans plans for the League of Nations suggested that America was promising to send its troops to settle every little conflict around the world. ...read more.


In February 1932 the Disarmament conference finally got under way. By July 1932 it had produced resolutions to prohibit bombing in civilian areas, limit the size of artillery, limit the tonnage of tanks, and prohibit chemical warfare. There was very little in the resolutions to show how these limits would be achieved so it was not a very good start. However, the biggest problem of the conference was what to do about Germany. At this time the Germans had been the League for six years and most people thought that they should be treated more fairly than under the treaty of Versailles. The question was should everyone disarm to the level that Germany had been forced to, or should Germany be allowed to rearm to a level closer to the others. Experience showed that the first option was no good but the league was very reluctant to allow the second option. The Germans made proposals for the rest of the countries to disarm to their level and when the conference failed to agree the Germans walked out. In the December that year an agreement was finally reached to treat Germany equally and in January 1933 the Germans announced that they were coming back. In February 1933 Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany. He secretly started to rearm Germany. But he promised to the other conference members that he would not rearm if 'in five years time all of the other nations destroyed their arms'. In October 1933 Hitler withdrew Germany from the disarmament conference altogether, and soon after took Germany out of the League altogether. By this stage everyone knew that Hitler was 'secretly' rearming Germany already. They also began to rebuild their own armaments. ...read more.


Another weakness of the League was that it did not have an army of its own, if it wanted an army to stand up to a country not following its orders, it must raise an army from member countries. This became ineffective, as many member countries were very unwilling to raise an army, as they were afraid that it would affect their own self-interests. Without an army the league could also not give out military sanctions when the other sanctions failed, which they often did. The League also failed because there was a lack of unity between Britain and France. They often disagreed and they did not trust each other. With this and the fact decisions had to be unanimous made it almost impossible for the League to make a decision. The time in which it took the league to come to decisions was far too long. For example at the time of the Manchurian crisis it took the league a whole year to decide what coarse of action to take. The Great Depression that hit the world in the years following the Wall Street Crash in 1929 also weakened the League. At this time of crisis the League had trouble imposing sanctions. The Depression also caused great dictators such as Hitler to come to power. Overall I believe that the league failed though its design weakness and through the attitudes of its members. It was the weakness in the leagues design and the attitudes of the members, which led to its failures in disputes such as the Manchurian and Abyssinian crisis. Just because the league failed that is not to say that it was not a success in some respect. Throughout the 1920's the league achieved many great social achievements. It worked to abolish slavery, it improved working conditions, it worked hard to defeat the dreaded disease leprosy and it did tremendous work in helping refugees. ...read more.

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