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Why did the League of Nations fail in the 1930s?

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Introduction

Why did the League of Nations fail in the 1930s? In 1919, when the League of Nations was first created, it specified one of its main objectives as being 'to ensure a just and lasting peace'. Despite having several successes in the 1920s, it failed to uphold this statement on numerous accounts in the 1930s, eventually leading to its loss of credibility, followed by its collapse and the break out of World War Two. The League of Nations was ineffective in the 1930s for several reasons, and these shall be discussed in this essay. The root of the League's failure lies in the Great Depression that struck the world in 1929. The hopes for a lasting peace, evoked by the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 and the Young Plan of 1929 were immediately diminished. European businesses that relied so heavily on American loans soon found themselves bankrupt. With unemployment rates soaring to as high as thirty-three percent in countries such as Germany, the idealistic mood of the 'roaring twenties' evaporated, leaving people feeling emotionally dejected and disheartened. Distraught, they now turned towards hostile dictators, such as Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany, who promised to regain wealth and glory for their countries. The League's condemnation or disapproval did not stop these aggressive polices, and thus it can be said that the impact of Depression on international diplomacy caused the Leagues weaknesses to become increasing obvious. ...read more.

Middle

The country's isolationist policy would later have a staggering effect on the organization's ability to enforce decisions. Without the USA, economic sanctions were ineffective. For example, in the Abyssinian crisis of 1935, the League cut off several supplies to Italy, including rubber, tin and metals. However, oil was not sanctioned, as Britain and France feared that the USA would not support these. In addition, arms and artillery were still exported to Italy from the USA, and thus the League's bans had almost no effect. The idea of sanctions was initially introduced as the main method of stop a country's aggression, and yet, following the Abyssinian crisis, it was discredited all together. Another reason for the unsuccessfulness of sanctions and the downfall of the League was the fact that it had no army of its own. It had previously been decided that upon the failure of the former, military force would be used in an attempt to hinder aggressiveness. However, Britain and France-largely due to self-interest, which shall later be discussed-were not willing to provide armed forces, and thus there was no means by which verdicts or decisions could be enforced. League lacked muscle, and was not taken seriously. It can therefore be concluded that the policy of collective security in Europe could never be successful, as it shirked military action. In 1932, the World Disarmament Conference was held in an attempt make countries agree to limit their army, air force and naval weapons. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the canal was left open; both countries deemed that a closure of it would result in war with Italy. In addition, France was reluctant to oppose Mussolini or provoke a dispute, for she wanted Italy to remain an ally against Germany, as well as maintaining the Stresa Front. These actions once again undermined the League. The final blow was the leaking to the press of the Hoare-Laval Pact. Secret diplomacy was something the League had set out to eradicate; instead, people found its main members doing exactly that. This pact, signed furtively, offered Italy the bulk of Abyssinia. It caused a public outcry; both Hoare and Laval were discharged. It proved fatal to the League, for now, sanctions lost all momentum, delayed further and further until they were abandoned. When Mussolini formally annexed Abyssinia, the organization could do nothing but watch helplessly. After Abyssinia, the League was fruitless. It failed to prevent Hitler's remilitarizing of the Rhineland, his Anschluss with Austria, his annexation of Czechoslovakia, and finally, the break out of World War Two. In conclusion, it can be summarized that the League failed due to internal weaknesses such as lack of troops, unsuccessfulness of sanctions and the absence of the USA, as well as self-interest of its members, a general loss of the 'will to make it work' that was so abundant in the 1920s, and ofcourse, the Depression. As remarked by British Statesman Sir Austen Chamberlain, by the end of the 1930s, the League of Nations was "... a dead thing..." Reja Nadeem 10A ...read more.

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