In 1919 Woodrow Wilson stated, “I can predict with absolute certainty that within another generation there will be another world war if the nations of the world do not work together to prevent it.” The League of Nations was Wilson’s idea in keeping the world at peace and it had four main aims: to stop war, to disarm, to improve people’s lives and jobs and to enforce the Treaty of Versailles. Even though the aims of the League are presently clearly ? historians still argue that the real aims of the League are not what they appear to be.
The League believed in keeping peace all around the world, showing shown clearly through its name the League of Nations. However, historians claim “The League of Nations, the unhappy forerunner of the UN, should have been designated the League of Imperial Nations, given that most of the world at the time was occupied or controlled by imperial powers.” The League claimed that it would help countries with any matter, and yet when dealing with imperial nations or nations of the Security Council, it was the smaller countries that suffered. In the Corfu Incident, Mussolini invaded and it was Greece that had to back down in order for Mussolini to stop. Clearly this does not meet the aim of improving people’s lives. True, it did prevent war, but it also laid groundwork for the Greek invasion of Bulgaria in 1925. Similar to the Corfu incident, Greek officials were killed, but the Greeks did not gain the same result as the Italians. True, the League settled the dispute and prevented outbreak of war, but clearly shown through the two situations, countries that were more powerful and more significant in the League were treated better.
Other nations were not benefiting the same way, which clearly emphasizes historians that claim it should be the “League of Imperial Nations.” These were the countries that obtained power. Also seen in when the French and the British invaded the Ruhr for reparations. France and Britain were not condemned, and it resulted in hyperinflation for Germany. The League was run by Imperialist countries and they were free to do what they pleased. They were known as the world policemen, and they themselves were not following their rules. They didn’t disarm, but forced down the military size of Germany. They wanted to stop war and all violence, but they invaded for reparations. Also, in the Hoare-Laval Pact of 1935, not only was Abyssinia given to Italy, it was also done under a secret treaty , breaking Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Once again it showed that imperialist countries are the ones that are benefiting from the aims. However, historians do argue that by signing this pact, the League was trying to fulfill its original aims. A. J. P Taylor said the pact “‘was a perfectly sensible plan, in line with the League’s previous acts of conciliation from Corfu to Manchuria’ which would have ‘ended the war; satisfied Italy; and left Abyssinia with a more workable, national territory.'”
He believes that Abyssinia was in better conditions and it prevented war. Military historian Correlli Barnett also believed the Pact was a wide method. He believed that if the League were to condemn or ignore Italy then Italy, “”would be a potential enemy astride England’s main line of imperial communication at a time when she was already under threat from two existing potential enemies at opposite ends of the line [Germany and Japan]. If – worse – Italy were to fight in a future war as an ally of Germany or Japan, or both, the British would be forced to abandon the Mediterranean for the first time since 1798” and that provoking Italy would be a “highly dangerous nonsense to provoke Italy” due to Britain’s military and naval weakness and that therefore the Pact was a sensible option.” It prevented war, which was an aim of the League, but it was for the benefit of Britain, which reiterates the fact that it should have been the League of Imperialist Nations. Historians and other actions of the League clearly demonstrates non-imperialist countries are discriminated against, which is not making the world peaceful and a better place.
The League of Nations is to improve the living conditions of the people in the world. They successfully achieved this by closing down four Swiss pharmaceuticals, it created the International Labor Organization to enforce the 48-hour work week, it help refugees in Turkey and the prisoners of war from World War One, freed slaves in Africa and sent economic experts to help Austria and Hungary etc. All of these successes show that the League did want to improve the lives of people and they attempted to do so. But, all the actions that they took were in Europe or in colonies of Europe countries, since many African nations were still under European control and influence. Countries outside of the European influence did not get the same amount of help. In Manchurian Incident, the Japanese were told leave and that was the end of the League’s help when China had asked for it. The League gained the report of the incident a year after Japan had invaded.
Then in 1932 Japan left and Manchuria became Manchukuo and the League did nothing about it. From this one failure it is again seen that the leaders of the League had no concerns except for Europe and themselves. Historians claim that Britain needed to keep a mutual relationship with Japan because of the treaty that they had signed in the early 1900’s. Britain needed Japan to keep their colonies in Asia safe. Other than not caring about non-European countries, the League didn’t care for Germany as well. The invasion of France in 1923 caused Germany to go into a state of hyperinflation. This was not making the world a better place.
Firstly, it was against the League to invade and France did not disarm. Secondly, the world policeman was worsening the living conditions in Germany rather than improving it, as seen as an aim of the organization. True, they were enforcing the Treaty of Versailles because Germany needed to pay reparations, but simultaneously they were contradicting another aim. By not caring for European countries as well as non-European countries, the League’s aims are directed towards Europe and the benefits of the Security Council.
Enforcing the Treaty of Versailles was another aim of the League of Nations. The Treaty of Versailles was directed towards the punishment of Germany. The League managed this one well. They forced Germany to pay, meeting Article 232, the reparation clause. They made sure that Germany was suppressed and could not become powerful. However, the League sought out for disarmament and only Germany’s military power was suppressed to 100,000 men. When the French invaded it was clear that they had not disarmed. Also, the appeasement when Hitler took power clearly went against the Treaty of Versailles. Germany’s land and people were split according to the Treaty, but Hitler united the German territories with an agreement Chamberlain. Historians claim that there was appeasement was because Britain and France didn’t want a war and neither of them could fight Germany alone.
True, they prevented and stopped war for a certain time period, but completely disregarded the League’s aims for their own intentions and purposes. Because the world policemen couldn’t afford a war and didn’t want a war they let Hitler act as he wished. The aim of enforcing the Treaty contradicts with the aim of improving living conditions for people. Because they wanted to enforce the Treaty, Germans suffered. They were not guaranteed self-determination, they had to disarm and they suffered from hyperinflation. When the League broke the aim of enforcing the Treaty they then reached the aim of stopping war, even if it was only temporary. Enforcing the treaty was a clear and obvious aim, but it was for the Imperialist countries and when they broke the aim, it was for the same reasons.
The aims of the League of Nations are clear. However, they were more for the benefits of the European Imperialist countries, rather than for the nations of the world. The aims were said to be for the world, and yet they focused more on the benefits of Europe and the Security council members.
http://www.newstatesman.com/200509120019http://www.answers.com/topic/hoare-laval-pactA. J. P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (Penguin, 1991), p. 128. http://www.answers.com/topic/hoare-laval-pactCorrelli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power (Pan, 2002), pp. 352-3 and p. 356. http://www.answers.com/topic/hoare-laval-pacthttp://www.johndclare.net/RoadtoWWII_19_Reasons_for_appeasement.htm
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