Enforcement of the treaties

 The UK and the US showed no enthusiasm for the
Treaty of Versailles (T of V) after it was signed.
 They had no desire to enforce its provisions.
 This was influenced by their traditional policies of
isolationism and the views of the treaties’ harshness.
Overview contd.
 The French lost the Anglo-American Guarantee (Pg
43) and had to try and enforce the treaty alone.
 The failure of enforcement allowed Germany to evade
the Treaty and plan its demise at any moment.
 The disarmament conferences that were organized
after the war in the spirit of the 14 points were not
successful – due to a lack of co-operation and a failure
to resolve issues supporting expanded arms programs.
US isolationism
 US isolationism goes back to the time of George
Washington -“avoid foreign entanglements”
 Over the years people had come to the US to escape
Europe and its conflicts.
 The physical separation of the US and Europe also
created a psychological barrier as well – the US saw
itself as a better society than Europe.
US isolationism contd.
 The US had a hemispheric mentality as demonstrated
by the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny.
 The purpose was to give control of the western
hemisphere to the US and to exclude all foreign
 The US did not keep large armies in peacetime and did
not want to intervene outside its own areas of interest.
US isolationism contd.
 At the end of WW1 the US was the wealthiest and
most powerful economic entity in the world.
 All the Allied nations were in debt to her financially
and she had saved the Allies from defeat.
 Wilson saw this as a chance for American intervention
to prevent any future wars and change the ways
international relations were carried out.
US isolationism contd.
 Wilson thought his Fourteen Points and formation of
the League of Nations would create a new
international order.
 American involvement would be vital and would allow
the US to be a leader in creating a new peaceful and
progressive system of international relationships.
 This is in line with the American view that they were a
utopian society and an inspiration for the rest of the
US isolationism contd.
 Wilson was unable to get the T of V ratified in the US
senate .
 The US did not join the League of Nations. (See
Margaret Macmillan’s comments on pg 43)
 There was no consensus on America’s role in the
world, some wanted a return to isolationism others
wanted the US to participate in world affairs.
US isolationism contd.
 In addition the US did not ratify the Anglo-American
Guarantee, made to ensure French security in case of a
German attack.
 These decisions along with the election of Warren
Harding (“return to normalcy”) meant that the US was
returning to its traditional policy of isolationism.
The Anglo-American Guarantee
 The French were worried about their future security
against another German attack.
 The French proposed to take the Rhineland from
Germany which the US and the UK could not agree to.
 The US and the UK realized that France would not be
satisfied unless it had a guarantee of military support.
Guarantee contd.
 The US and UK pledged to come to the aid of France if
Germany attacked.
 This agreement was against Wilson’s principles that a
League of Nations would prevent the need for such
guarantees to be signed.
 The Anglo-American Guarantee was never ratified by
the US senate and never came into force, as a result of
this Britain withdrew from military commitment to
British isolationism
 The British throughout their history were isolationists,
who avoided commitments to other nations. (Splendid
 The British were ready to intervene in European affairs
and their policy was to intervene against any power
seeking dominance of Europe.
 They refused to tie themselves to one country or group
of countries.
British isolationism contd.
 There was a fear in the UK that France would try and
dominate Europe.
 There was a reluctance to support France as it looked
like it would be dragged into another conflict with
Germany.(France was supporting Poland and the Little
 The British were not prepared to go to war to defend
an unfair treaty.
 They were also reluctant to be dragged into another
horrific war.
Consider the following questions.
 What encourages countries to intervene in international
What are the motives that encourage either individuals or
nations to make sacrifices in defense of a principle or to
correct a wrong?
Why was it possible for American idealists to reject the
Versailles settlements?
What human motives might be involved in the decisions to
support or reject the Versailles settlements?
Do nations always base their actions on self-interest? Do
Disarmament – The Washington
Naval Conference and the Far East
 The arms race was one of the major causes of the
outbreak of WW1 and was targeted by Wilson in his
Fourteen Points.
 It was a goal of the Paris settlements and the L of N to
reduce armaments and limit the threat of war.
 Ironically the US did not join the L of N who organized
the most successful disarmament conference of the
post-war period.
Disarmament contd.
 After WW1 the arms race continued with the US, UK
and Japan spending large amounts of money to expand
their navies.
 The naval race was caused by the American desire to
have a “fleet second to none” and…
 The British had always traditionally had the world’s
largest fleet as a matter of security and Japan wanted
to defend herself and her new empire and to increase
her international stature.
Reasons for Conference
 The decision to call a conference on the naval arms
race was based on two major issues:
 The cost of the arms race, neither the UK or Japan
could afford it and America wanted to reduce its
 The other reason was the need to diffuse the tension
between Japan and the USA in Asia and the fact that
this may turn into a major conflict.
Japan/US – conflict?
 Japan and the US were suspicious of each other’s
intentions in China and the Far East.
 The situation worsened after the war because Japan
had expanded their territory and sought further
dominance of China.
 The loss of trade and the threat to US possessions in
the Philippines were increasing tensions and the talk
of war between the two was becoming more common.
UK - Conflict?
 Japan was threatened by the US naval build-up and the
reluctance of the US to recognize her position in Asia.
 The UK was worried as it had a defensive alliance with
Japan since 1902 and did not want to be dragged into a
war on the side of Japan against the US.
 This encouraged the UK to support the naval
disarmament conference and a resolution of tensions
in the far East.
 The UK was also under pressure from Canada and
Australia to end the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and avoid
conflict with America.
Washington Conference
 The Washington Conference (1921-2) was the most
successful of the post-war disarmament conferences.
(although they were limited and not permanent)
 This was the norm for post-war disarmament
conferences which produced limited and short-term
 The most vital point to make about these conferences
were that they cannot succeed in a vacuum.
 The reasons for arms races must be addressed before
disarmament can occur.
 In a world where nations distrusted each other, had
grievances or territorial ambitions, disarmament stood
little chance.
 Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan saw rearmament as a
way to address their grievances.
 Believing that disarmament could take place under
such circumstances was foolish and may have
encouraged aggression rather than prevented it.
The Washington Agreements Terms
 The most important agreement was the decision to
limit the size of battleships, cruisers and aircraft
 The USA, UK and Japan agreed to a ratio of 5:5:3, all
nations were to destroy battleships until the fleet size
was reached.
 No new battleships were to be built for 10 years.
Terms contd.
 The construction of naval bases in the Pacific was
 This gave Japan dominance in the Eastern Pacific.
 This reduced the possibility of conflict as neither the
USA or UK could establish new bases there.
Success at the conference
 It resulted in the destruction of weapons and placed
limits on future armament.
 It was the beginning of further disarmament
negotiations which would cover other types of
 The weapons reduction took place because the
underlying political issues that had caused the arms
race were resolved.
Two agreements
 Two agreements were signed; The Four Power
Agreement and the Nine Power agreement.
 The purpose was to reduce tension in the Far East and
limit the possibility of conflict.
The Four Power Agreement
 USA, UK , France and Japan.
 This replaced the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and
ensured the rights of all signatories to their colonies in
 They all agreed to defend each other in the event of an
external attack.
The Nine Power Agreement
 UK, Japan, US, France, China, Italy, Belgium, Portugal
and Netherlands.
 It confirmed the Open Door policy for trade in China
and guaranteed its territorial integrity.
 This agreement collapsed with the Japanese invasion
of Manchuria in 1931.
United Kingdom - benefits
 The Conference was viewed positively by the public as
progress towards peace seemed to be made.
 All the countries also gained some benefits either
strategic and/or financial.
 The UK had avoided an expensive naval race that it
had felt obliged to enter at the expense to her domestic
UK benefits contd.
 The UK also got out of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
which removed a source of conflict with the US.
 This was achieved without offending Japan.
 This was a good thing because they were very attached
to the alliance and would likely have reacted badly to
any British moves to end it.
Japan - benefits
 Japan was unhappy that it had a smaller fleet than
both the UK and the US, however Japan benefitted the
most from the conference.
 It gained tremendous security because no new GB or
US bases could be built within 3000 miles of its
 This gave Japan control of the eastern Pacific and
China in the event of any disputes.
 The US was able to reduce its spending on armaments.
 The US also decided to retreat into isolation.
 These two factors reduced the possibility of friction
and conflict in the Pacific.
Success contd.
 The success of the agreements depended upon the co-
operation of the countries involved as they had no
enforcement provisions.
 They were successful because the nations involved all felt
that they had some success.
 The small number of participants also made it easier to
reach agreement.
 The timing was important because there was great public
support for disarmament after ww1.
 The agreements were vaguely worded.
 This might mean it could be easily ignored if one or
more nations found themselves in changed
circumstances where the agreements no longer served
their best interests.
 This situation occurred in the case of Japan’s invasion
of Manchuria in 1931.
Missing countries
 It is extremely important to note that the agreements
did not include two major powers: Germany and
 Both these nations wanted to increase their
armaments and military strength in the future.
 This would prove a challenge to the whole concept of
The London Naval Conference
 This was the third in a series of meetings to reduce the
naval armaments of the major powers.
 In 1930 the five major naval powers – the UK, USA,
Japan, Italy and France- met in London to revise and
extend the agreement reached in 1922 in Washington.
 The first meeting was the Washington Conference in
1921, another conference in Geneva in 1927 had failed
to reach an agreement.
The Treaty
 The treaty changed the ratio of ships established in
Washington to 10:10:7 for the UK, USA and Japan.
France and Italy refused to take part in this agreement
but agreed not to build any new ships for five years.
Agreements were made regarding the size and number
of cruisers, destroyers and submarines that each
country could possess.
Submarines were not allowed to sink ships unless the
crew and passengers had been removed to safety.
The treaty remained in effect until 1936.
Reasons for success
 The world was in the midst of the Great Depression
and countries were looking for ways to reduce their
spending on weapons.
 In the democratic countries spending on defense was
not popular compared to relief programs.
 In light of the economic crisis it was easy to reduce
spending despite the protests of the naval officers.
The London Naval Treaty, 1936
 The major powers met to renegotiate the London
treaty of 1930 which expired in 1936.
 The conference was a failure – Japan and Italy walked
 Japan demanded an equal ratio with the USA and the
The London Naval Treaty, 1936
 The UK, France and the USA signed a treaty to limit
the size of warships.
 This collapsed after 1936 in view of the Japanese and
German rearmament programs.
 Another reason for its collapse was the increasing
number of conflicts and crises in the world.
The Geneva Disarmament
Conference, 1932-4
 The Paris Peace Settlement limited armaments for
Germany and its allies.
 Wilson’s Fourteen Points also advocated disarmament.
 Public support for disarmament was encouraged by a
number of factors.
Public support: reasons
 The League of Nations and the idea of collective
security would lead to a more peaceful world.
 The belief that arms races had been a major cause of
the war and reducing arms would reduce the chance of
 The cost of arms at a time when nations were
struggling to recover financially after the war.
Public support contd.
 The peaceful 1920’s had given the illusion that the risk
of war had been greatly reduced – nations no longer
needed large armies.
 The optimism of the Locarno Pact.
 The success of the Kellogg-Briand Agreement.
Public support contd.
 The League of Nations promoted world disarmament
as its mandate to support world peace.
 The League held a world disarmament conference in
Geneva in 1932.
 Thirty-one nations attended including the USA and
the USSR who were not member s of the League.
Problems for the Geneva
 The Great Depression had reduced the optimism of
the 1920’s.
 There was an increasing demand to revise the Paris
Peace Settlements.
 Nations were fearful of their own security and did not
want to commit to disarmament.
Further problems..
 The problem between the definition of an offensive
weapon and a defensive weapon!
 The US said if all offensive weapons were destroyed
nations would feel more secure.
 This argument led to many frustrating debates which
undermined the conference.
Problems with enforcement
 The conference had no enforcement methods in place.
 There was no official organization to oversee nations
compliance to the terms of disarmament.
 This is clearly illustrated with the Rapallo Treaty in
1922 which enabled Germany to evade the
disarmament clauses of the T of V.
Further problems
 Disarmament would never work unless all the nations
felt secure to do it.
 France refused to disarm without a guarantee of
support of protection from Germany.
 The UK and other refused to give such support and
France refused to consider reducing its arms, especially
as Germany was resurgent.
Germany’s role
 Germany used the conference to expose the hypocrisy
of the other countries.
 It said all countries should disarm to the German level
or allow Germany to match their military forces.
 No country supported these proposals so Germany
withdrew from the Geneva conference in July 1932.
Hitler’s role
 Germany rejoined the conference in 1933 but Hitler
was now the chancellor of Germany.
 He demanded equal treatment and when this did not
happen, Germany withdrew from the conference and
shortly after the League.
 Hitler had no interest in disarmament.
Hitler contd.
 The unwillingness of the powers to give him equal
treatment gave him a valid excuse to rearm.
 It made the French look uncooperative, as they had
refused to consider arms reduction.
 Although the French had no choice as they did not
receive any support from UK or USA.
Italy’s ambition
 Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, was not
interested in reducing its armed forces as it had
imperialistic ambitions.
 He wanted to sign a Four Power Agreement involving
the UK, Italy, France and Germany.
 He wanted this group to make “peacful” revisions to
the treaties.
Italy contd.
 The formation of this group would mean that
Germany would become an equal partner.
 The conference would then resemble Locarno as
means of negotiating between France and Germany.
 This pact was never signed because France objected
but it showed a move away from the League to a
Concert of Europe model.
Rising Tensions
 The disarmament conference broke up without any
agreements being reached.
 Europe was entering a period of increased tension .
 Nations were going to have to decide how to protect
Two fundamental approaches:
 Increase spending on arms to defend oneself.
 Examples:
 The Maginot Line in France.
 Force concessions from other nations, following
Hitler’s model.
Second approach:
 Attempt to negotiate a settlement with other nations
as a way to avoid escalation of tensions and the need to
 Examples:
 The Anglo-German Naval Agreement.
 Mussolini’s failed Four power pact which sought to
produce negotiated settlements and to recapture the
spirit of Locarno.
 Disarmament could not be discussed unless the
fundamental sources of conflict were resolved.
 Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan were determined to
revise the Versailles settlements and reclaim lost
 As long as this was the case there was very little hope
of long term arms reduction.
Why did disarmament fail? Key
revision questions.
 What possible strategies could have been suggested to
revive the disarmament process?
 Which nations had little real interest in disarmament
and why?
 What are the conditions necessary for a successful
disarmament agreement?
 What does Rapallo show about possibilities of
disarmament and its enforcement?
“Better Make it wide enough to
hold yourself too, Big Boy”
 This cartoon was published in the London Evening
Standard in 1932.
 What specifically is the cartoon referring to?
 Can you name five important things in the cartoon
that help us to understand what the cartoonist is
trying to say?
“ The Conference Excuses Itself”
 This cartoon was published in the London Evening
Standard in May 1934.
 What specific event is the cartoon referring to?
 Can you identify three important things in the cartoon
that allow the cartoonist to get his point across?
“A Lucid Interval”
 This was also published in the London Evening
Standard in 1930.
 What event does the cartoon refer to?
 Which five countries are represented in the cartoon?
 What is the significance of the “venue” in the cartoon?
 Name at least two other important things in the
cartoon which help the author get his point across.