The Reasons Why League of Nations Failed

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. The league was based on the covenant and the covenant set out the aims of the League of Nations. To encourage nations to disarm.

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To improve the living and working conditions of people in all parts of the world. 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. They thought that the League would be under the control of France or Britain and why should they fight for them. The USSR did not join until 1934 whilst Japan left in 1933 and Italy in 1937.

As the league had no armed forces of its own it relied upon its members. France and Britain, however, were reluctant to supply troops. Without an army the league could not enforce sanctions and could not make sure that members followed its order. A big weakness of the league was the self-interest of its leading members.

The League depended upon Britain and France to provide firm support in times of crisis. However these countries were too nationalistic and when conflicts did occur neither Britain or France was willing to abandon their own self-interests to support the league. One of the main tasks of the League was to sort out any disputes that arose among its members, the members brought the problem to the League and the problem was sorted out through discussion before matters got out of hand. Economic sanctions were supposed to be the Leagues main weapon but members of the League did not impose them willingly because they were worried that without America they wouldn’t work.

In the USA the Wall Street Crash started a long depression which quickly caused economic problems all around the world. By the 1920’s Japan was a major power and the Depression hit Japan badly. Without this trade Japan could not feed its people. Japan controlled a railway that ran through China and when part of it was destroyed by a bomb the Japanese army moved in to protect the line- the Chinese troops opened fire and the Japanese fought back.

The judgement was that Japan was in the wrong and had acted unlawfully and Manchuria should be returned to the Chinese. The League morally sanctioned Japan. Japan ignored the League and instead of withdrawing from Manchuria the Japanese announced that they intended to invade more of China. Eventually Japan withdrew from the league in March 1933.

The League did nothing as Britain and France could not afford to stop trading with Japan and The League had no military power. Japan had got away with invading Manchuria and back in Europe both Hitler and Mussolini were watching very closely. The next big failure of the League of Nations was over disarmament. The Germans especially had long been angry that they had been forced to disarm after the First World War while other nations had not done the same.

Many countries were actually spending more on their armaments than before the First World War. It was the Manchurian crisis that made the League members realise the urgency of the disarmament problem. Britain did not consult the League of Nations about this or even its allies it was also in violation of the treaty of Versailles. This shows that even members going on with the League were starting to ignore it.

The final blow came to the League of Nations in 1935 when Italian dictator Benito Mussolini invaded Abyssinia. The League of Nations had some success in the 1920’s but by 1937 it had become irrelevant and ignored even by its main members Britain and France. It was a great shock and disappointment for the rest of the world when the American people decided against joining the League. This can be considered a great weakness because the USA was becoming the most powerful and influential country in the world, and therefore the League would probably be unwilling to make a decision which would go against the USA, and it would also mean that a country that was a league member, who had economic sanctions placed upon them would still be free to trade with the USA.

07 July 2022

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