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Was the League of Nations doomed to fail?

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Introduction

´╗┐Was the League of Nations doomed to fail? Established in the aftermath of the First World War, the League of Nations, ?a potentially revolutionary new concept in international affairs? was based upon American President Woodrow Wilson?s Fourteen Points. With the intent of aiding international communication to avoid further conflict, an intent that the vast majority of countries supported, the League had nevertheless disbanded by 1946 and the debate as to whether it was doomed from the start has been a contentious one ever since. After being drastically weakened by a lack of support from the USA, a collective failure to disarm across Europe, an overly complicated structure and the effects of the Great Depression, as well as the fact that the League had neither man nor materiel with which to enforce its decrees, the little chance of survival the League did have at the dawn of the 1930s was quashed through a combination of changing social attitudes and no spirit of compromise in and between Nations. The fact that from its creation, the League of Nations failed to adequately represent powers from across the world contributed to its demise. The power within the organisation appeared to be concentrated to Britain, France, Japan and Italy as the ?Big Four?, and moreover the representation amongst smaller Nations was not proportional, with Bolivia being granted an equal amount of representation as Brazil, a country several times its size and with considerably more political power in South America. ...read more.

Middle

French delegate M. Noblemaire even went as far as to state in 1921 that ?we must keep our arms at readiness France is obliged to be military for the present and to continue to be so in order to avoid the resumption of war? ? a clear contradiction of one of the most important parts of the League?s Covenant, that disarmament and cooperation is necessary to prevent any future conflict. With this example set from the leaders of the League, only Germany took steps towards disarming and only did so out of obligation to Versailles. The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 had the intention of remedying this, and it supplemented the Covenant of the League and united countries against war. Although it marked the increased involvement of the USA in European affairs, at most American commitment to the Pact was based on moral grounds; were it to be violated, morality has no real strength against guns. Indeed all members of the Pact were still not committed to anything of substance, and the success of the pact to aid disarmament relied upon the good will of Nations, an invariably unreliable thing. The Kellogg-Briand Pact, although like the League in that it was another good idea in theory, failed to translate into practicality and did little to help the disarmament process. ...read more.

Conclusion

Britain, for the sake of its empire and trade relations, continued with the ?old-school diplomacy? that Woodrow Wilson had wanted so much to eliminate, and the wide majority of countries failed to abide by the League?s principles. This was in part due to the fact that the atmosphere of 1919 had passed; people no longer felt as much resentment towards Germany and considered the Treaty of Versailles too harsh. Therefore, in a sense the League was doomed to fail as its remit was the ?peace to end all peace?. Ultimately, in order to succeed, the League of Nations needed to represent all Nations and definitely the major world powers, which it failed to do. All countries needed to fully commit to its work in order for it to be successful; given that the USA was never properly involved, the League did well to make the little international progress that it did. Although its chances of success were severely limited thanks to the lack of support from the USA and lack of commitment from its members, the League of Nations was not a unqualified failure; it allowed the international community to appreciate the potential in such an organisation and a much more successful organisation emerged from its ashes; in the words of Lord Robert Cecil in the last League assembly, ?the League is dead. Long live the United Nations?. Ciara Lally 09.03.2010 ...read more.

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