2. The League of Nations:

The League of Nations was set up in 1919 as a result of the United States President Woodrow Wilson’s contribution to the Treaty of Versailles at the Paris Peace Conference. It was set up to be international organization where members could solve their disputes through negotiations and diplomacy, and putting an end to secret alliances.

Although the idea for the League came from Woodrow Wilson, the United States had begun to adopt a policy of isolationism and did not join the League. In addition, Germany was not permitted to join as a consequence of starting World War I, and so was Russia because it was communist. This greatly undermined the strength of the League.

The League of Nations had a primary focus of maintaining peace in Europe. For this purpose, the League was allowed to set economic sanctions on any member that violated either the Treaty of Versailles, or posed a threat to international peace. Economic sanctions meant that the other members were not allowed to trade with the violator, thus forcing it to obey the decisions of the League. This was the League’s only power for it had no army to back it up. As the Great Depression worsened, economic sanctions could no longer be used since countries all around Europe were absorbed by their own economic problems and not trading with any particular country would hurt their economy even more.

Although the League was able to solve disputes among lesser powers, it was unsuccessful in stopping the stronger powers. Evidently, the league failed to stop Hitler as he took over the countries around Germany such as the Czechoslovakia and achieved Anschluss with Eastern Austria, and again when Hitler and Mussolini cooperated in the Spanish Civil War. As Mussolini put it, “The league is very well when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out.”

The League of the Nations was a symbol of cooperation amongst countries through diplomatic means to resolve disputes. It had no military, and enforced its decisions using economic sanctions, which required the cooperation of all members to not trade with the violator. As seen during the Great Depression, countries did not cooperate with the League and economic sanctions failed completely as countries sought to look after themselves.

In terms of internationalism, the League was supposed to stop secret alliances, to improve international relations between countries, and to encourage diplomacy and peaceful solutions to disputes.

Global Collective Security:
The purpose of the League was to maintain peace throughout Europe.

The League encouraged openness amongst countries, to stop the formation of secret alliances and pacts that occurred before World War I.

The League of Nations was able to solve disputes among small countries, but it was not at all able to prevent the outbreak of World War II. It excluded some of the strongest countries in the world at the time, Germany, Russia, and the United States, and it could not successfully enforce its decisions through economic sanctions as the Great Depression hit its members.

As a result, the aggressors such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Japan were able to invade territories unpunished. For example, in the Spanish Civil War, Hitler and Mussolini were able to support the rebellion, Hitler was also able to gradually take over Czechoslovakia, and again it was unable to intervene in Japan’s advance into Manchuria despite the pleas of the Chinese for support. Members of the League began to leave, as they realized the uselessness of the League, and it was finally dissolved in 1946.

Despite its failures, the League of Nations gave the world the idea of collective global security and inspired the creation of the United Nations. Unlike the League of Nations, the United Nations has military strength provided by its members to enforce its rules -- a lesson learnt from the failures of the League.

Copyright ©2009 by Ben Pi, Tony Fu, Amere Huang, Jeff Fong, Edwin Li, Irena Liu SS 20IB