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Was the league of nations a complete failure?

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Introduction

Was the League of Nations a complete failure? The League of Nations was an international organisation established as a result of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. The purpose of the league was to ensure that there would never be a repeat of the First World War, and to encourage member countries to settle any disputes through talking rather than fighting. Another aim of the league was to improve social and working conditions, which in many ways the league succeeded in. For example, the league helped approximately 400,000 refugees and former prisoners of war return to their homelands in the first few years after the war alone; the league also assisted in stamping out cholera, smallpox and dysentery after the refugee crisis in turkey in 1922 when thousands of people were forced into refugee camps. The league also set up The Health Committee which worked to overcome leprosy, reduced the number of cases of malaria and yellow fever and gave advice on preventing the plague in Russia. Working conditions were also greatly improved by the league in many areas. In British-owned Sierra Leone 200,000 slaves were granted freedom whilst in Africa the death rate amongst workers building the Tanganyika railway was brought down to 4% from a staggering 50%. However, despite the early successes of the league the failures outweighed the achievements considerably. ...read more.

Middle

The league also failed in defending the areas taken over by the Japanese during the crisis due to the fact that the league had no permanent army. This meant that when Japan refused to withdraw its troops there was no army in place to stop them, as a result the Japanese were able to gain further control by taking over even more territory. Finally it took over a year before the results of the Lytton report were published, and whilst all countries accepted the report Japan did not and left the league in 1933. After this Japan invaded the Jehol Province and in 1937 started a full scale invasion of China. There was very little the league was able to do by this point, economic sanctions did not work as the USA was Japans main trading partner and Britain was worried about taking further action against Japan in case British trade in Asia was effected; yet another example of how the self interest of member countries had an effect on the power of the league. However, the most important problem the Manchurian crisis revealed was that the when a dictatorship wanted to invade neighboring territories the league was powerless to stop it. The biggest blow to the league by far however was the Abyssinian crisis. Abyssinia was a poor and underdeveloped country in eastern Africa which was situated next to the Italian colonies of Eritrea and Somaliland. ...read more.

Conclusion

By this point the league had reached a point of no return and had lost the confidence and trust it once had. After the Abyssinian crisis the league was in ruins and it became clear to many of the smaller nations that they could not rely on the league to protect them from stronger powers. In conclusion, despite the early successes of the league it is fair to say that the leagues overall aim as a peace keeping organisation was a failure. Woodrow Wilson's intention was to create a coalition of countries who would work together for lasting peace and security, evidently this was a failure as within 20 years another world war had broken out. The reasons for the failure of the league became clear through the Manchurian and Abyssinian crises such as the self interest of member countries; the ineffectiveness of sanctions especially combined with the absence of the USA; the lack of troops and the reluctance of other countries to commit their own troops. Many of the smaller countries which made up the league lost faith in Britain and France when they realised that not even the most powerful countries were prepared to stand up to dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini. Without the support or trust of other countries there was no chance of the league ever being successful. ...read more.

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