“The Failure of Collective Security” The Broken Promise of the League of Nations OVERVIEW In these lessons, you will examine: •The definition of “collective security” •The creation of the League of Nations •The structure and responsibilities of the League •Strengths and weaknesses of the League system •Responses to major aggression What does “collective security” mean? Collective security can be loosely defined as the attempt by nations to protect each other by punishing states which violated rules of sovereignty agreed upon by all. These punishments may include: Military action Economic sanctions Diplomatic isolation A difficult birth Immediately upon its creation, the League of Nations was struck by certain issues: •The US Senate refused to ratify American entry into the League of Nations •The defeated powers, especially Germany, were not initially admitted into the League The League of Nations contained several major bodies: Secretariat Commissions Council Court of Justice General Assembly Strengths • • • • • The League was successful with issues not involving conflict between major powers: Child welfare and women’s rights Assistance to refugees of war Control of drug trafficking Arms control and disarmament Conflicts between small states Weaknesses Britain and France, the lead powers of the League of Nations, avoided major conflict for various reasons: 1. Faith in diplomatic agreements 2. Weak national economies 3. Preference for “back-door” diplomacy 4. Domestic political pressures 1. Faith in diplomatic agreements • • • • The Western powers believed that diplomacy was effective: Washington Conference 1922 Locarno agreement 1925 Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928 Stresa Front 1935 2. Weak national economies Britain and France had not experienced the positive effects of the Roaring Twenties; even after the Great War, unemployment remained relatively high and the economies had not recovered to pre-war levels 3. Preference for “back-door” diplomacy Britain and France often worked outside of the League of Nations system, undermining the principle of collective security: Anglo-German Naval Agreement Hoare-Laval Agreement Domestic political pressures British and French public opinions were strongly against war: “Should Britain promise assistance to Czechoslovakia if Germany acts as it did towards Austria?" (Asked in March 1938) Yes: 33% No: 43% No opinion: 24% The first serious challenge Japan invaded north-east China (“Manchuria”) on Sept 18, 1931 • Japan needed manpower, resources, territory of neighbouring countries to rebuild its economy • Like Britain and France, Japan wished to establish an overseas empire – later to be known as the “Greater East Asia Coprosperity Sphere” The League responds The League sent the Lytton commission to investigate the invasion – the report led to various actions: • Many League members were against sanctions because Japan was an important trading partner • Britain and France wanted to avoid a war which did not threaten its immediate national security • The League requested that Japan withdraw and that Manchuria be administered by the League – Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933 SUMMARY QUESTIONS • What was the League’s major problem from its very start? • In what areas did the League find success? • Why was the League ineffective in dealing with major conflict? • What pattern of action and response emerged when the League faced significant challenges?