Failures of Collective Security

The League of Nations and the
Inability to Prevent World War II
Collective Security
• Wilson’s Fourteen Points set up the
League of Nations
• Collective Security
• Peace could be preserved through countries
acting together
• Disputes referred to the Assembly
• No decision, left to the Council
• Covenant
• Also aimed to promote disarmament,
supervise territories, and promote
international good will and cooperation
• 32 Allied states originally
• International Disputes
• Could refer disputes to Permanent Court of
International Justice, Arbitration or Council
• League could impose economic sanctions,
impacted by success of blockade in WWI
• Could call for military action, did not have its
own forces, little teeth
Problems for the League in 1920s
Absence of major powers
• USA missing weakened potential of
collective security
• Led to distinctly European organization,
continent in decline
• Excluded the USSR
• League a club for capitalists
• Absence of Germany
• Initially excluded, victors’ club
• Weakness of Central European states
• New states struggling politically
Attempts to Strengthen the League
• Two attempts to strengthen the
League by France in 23-24
• Draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance
• Would have required all members to
assist another following aggression
• Geneva Protocol of 1924
• Arbitration compulsory in all disputes
• Both rejected by Britain
• Divided over those who wanted a
strong League and those who wanted
to be selective
• Others not as worried as France
The Ruhr Crisis
• For France, security was upholding
the Treaty of Versailles
• Felt it had been undermined
• German political situation meant a
government that would not comply
• Reparation payments became absent
• Germans had protested
• Wiesbaden Accords, France would
assist Germany by taking raw
• Germany asks for suspension of
payments for four years
• France has had enough
• With Belgium and Italy, moved troops
into the Ruhr Valley in January 1923
• Germany protested under Chancellor
Wilhelm Cuno
The Ruhr Crisis
• German economy collapsed
• Cuno replaced with Gustav Stresemann
• Crisis ended with Dawes Plan
• Brokered by U.S.
• Reparations were reduced, but
• France accepted this because it
brought the Americans back into the
• Allies recovered more than ever
• France withdraws from Ruhr
• Had shown weaknesses of the
• France had taken matters into their own
hands, a permanent member
• Increase of tension between France and
The Rapallo Treaty
• April 1922, Germany and Russia
• Introduced diplomatic relations
and pledged cooperation
• Germany recognized the Soviet
government and both powers
denounced reparations
• Close economic cooperation
• Germany rearmed and trained
secretly in Russia
• Made Britain want to be friendlier
with Germany
Locarno Era – Improving Europe
• Still troops in Rhineland and other
Germany cities
• Stresemann wanted them gone
• Locarno Conference in Feb. 1925
• Series of treaties
• Guaranteed borders between France,
Belgium and Germany
• Germany signed treaties with
Czechoslovakia and Poland
• Brought into League
• Gave hope for future security,
Locarno Spirit
• France had not changed its view of
Germany, only its strategy
• Both Treaty of Versailles and League
of Nations had been undermined
Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928
• Renounced war as an instrument
of national policy
• 62 of 64 states signed
• High point of Locarno Spirit era
• Really, Germany was still
recovering, economics were good
• Decreased tensions
Young Plan, 1929
• Addressed problems of the Dawes
• Further reduced sum of money to be
repaid by Germany
• Set a date for completion of
repayments – 1988
• Continued US involvement in
reparation payments
• Britain and France agreed to end
occupation of the Rhineland early
• Most investment in Germany was
happening from US capitalists
Why Did Collective Security Fail in the 1930s?
• League had collapsed by 1939
• Depression after October 1929
• World’s economy had been linked
to USA
• Return to a world of self-interest
and military forces
• Governments found right-wing
political groups difficult to restrict
• Heightened fears of the USSR
• Expansionism growing in Europe
and Asia
• Economic sanctions now not an
option for the League
• Return to old-style diplomacy,
outside of the League
Failure of Disarmament
• Attempts to reduce weapons
through 1920s
• Washington Conference, 1921-22
• Great Britain, US, Japan built up navies
after WWI
• Cost was too much
• Five Power Treaty
• 5:3:3 for America, Britain, Japan, ratio of
naval tonnage
• No new battleships for the next 10 years
• Four Power Treaty
• USA, Japan, Britain, France, guaranteed
possessions in Asia, agreed to come to aid
• Nine Power Treaty
• Affirmed territorial integrity of China,
endorsed Open Door policy
• Successful in limiting naval armament
• Did not include Germany or Russia
Failure of Disarmament
• London Naval Conference, 1930
• Revised the agreement at Washington
• 5:3:3 now 10:10:7
• London Naval Treaty, 1936
• Re-negotiation of London Treaty, 1930
• Japan no longer wishes to limit naval
tonnage, walked out
• Now going along with Germany in
• Geneva Disarmament Conference,
• Facing German threat, disagreements
over what should be limited and how
• Germany demanded equality of status
• 1933, Hitler led Germany out of
The Manchurian Dispute
• Japan has an Empire
• Mariana and Caroline Islands after WWI
• Greatest industrial and trading power in
• 1931, Japanese army in Manchuria,
claimed that a bomb explosion was
evidence of growing disorder
• They had actually planted it
• Japan attacked China
• China appealed to the League
• League condemned Japan, ordered it to
• Government accepted, army did not
• Appointed a commission, invasion already
complete though
• Instructed members not to recognize
• Japan left the League
• Claimed hypocrisy by Britain
The Manchurian Dispute
• Impact of the Depression causes
member states to be too troubled
with their own domestic situations
• Unwilling to apply economic
• Japan’s main trading link was USA,
not even a member
• Military solution was problematic
• Manchuria was remote, inaccessible
• Only Britain or USA could have done it
Dire failure for the League
China had no practical support
Mussolini encouraged
Starting point for dominance of
Japanese militarism
The Abyssinian Crisis
• 1932, Mussolini began planning
annexation of Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
• Wanted to secure North African
Empire, distract his people from the
impact of the Depression
• Would link Eritrea with Italian
• First conflict Dec. 1934, full scale
invasion Oct. 1935
• Knew the League would let him do it
• Britain and France afraid to lose him
as an ally against Germany
• Brutality of the assault was too
• League condemned Italy
• Escalating program of sanctions
• Britain and France worked for
settlement outside of the League
• Italy held Mediterranean Sea
The Abyssinian Crisis
• League sanctions had no effect on
• Mussolini in control of Abyssinia by
May 1936
• Abyssinian Crisis was a disaster
• Permanent member had again ignored
the League and been victorious
through war
• Proved self-interest was more
• Italy, now isolated from Allies,
moved towards Germany
• Hitler exploits the League with
militarization of the Rhineland in
March 1936
• Final nail in the coffin, failure
Simulation of Manchuria and Abyssinia
China – Ally, Gabrielle
Japan – Darren, Sara
Britain – Alex, Alice
France – Cara, Meghana
Italy – Julianna, Hannaan
United States – Jennifer, Jack
• What is your position on the
Abyssinia – Cara, Jennifer
Italy – Gabrielle, Darren
France – Ally, Alice
Britain – Jack, Meghana
United States – Alex, Julianna
Germany – Hannaan, Sara
• What action should the League
take? What is the impact on your
Peacekeeping 1920-25
• Aaland Islands, 1920
• Populated by Swedes
• Collapse of Russian empire, Finland
claimed sovereignty
• Sweden accepted the League’s
decision to give them to Finland
Peacekeeping 1920-25
• Vilna, 1920-23
• Poland and Lithuania wanted control
of town of Vilna
• Once the capital of the latter, people
were Polish
• League unable to prevent the Poles
from seizing it by force
• Conference of Ambassadors awarded
it to Poland
Peacekeeping 1920-25
• Upper Silesia, 1921
• Both Germany and Poland wanted
control of this industrial area
• League split the area between the
Peacekeeping 1920-25
• Corfu, 1923
• Three Italian army officers shot while
working on a boundary dispute
between Greece and Albania
• Mussolini blamed Greece and ordered
• Greeks did not pay, Italy occupied
• Greece appealed to the League, but
Italy ignored them
• Left when compensation was paid
Peacekeeping 1920-25
• Mosul, 1924
• Claimed by Turkey and Iraq
• Awarded the territory to Iraq, decision
• Bulgaria, 1925
• Greek invasion of Bulgaria
• League ordered both armies to stop
• Investigation blamed the Greeks
• Accepted it and paid compensation