League of Nations Power Point C. Cullen revised Aug. 2014 The League of Nations was first proposed at the Paris Peace Conference by American president Woodrow Wilson. The other Big Three leaders were not too enthusiastic but did finally agree to the proposal. Ironically, the American Congress voted against joining the League as many Americans supported the idea of isolationism and didn’t want to be drawn into future European conflicts. Goals and Structure of the League The League of Nations had two main goals… a) to preserve world peace through the principle of collective security (if one member was threatened, the other nations would intervene) b) to improve the economic and social conditions in the world. The League had three main tactics it could use to deal with aggressive nations… a) apply verbal sanctions (condemn the country’s government through speeches) b) apply economic sanctions (boycott certain goods, refuse to trade with the country c) use military force (this didn’t happen because the League had no army and countries were reluctant to risk military casualties so soon after the carnage of WW1 Structure of the League The League had its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland (a neutral country that hadn’t fought in WW1). There were several different organizations within the League… a. The Assembly which consisted of all 42 member nations and met once a year. The Assembly controlled the budget. b. The Council which was the most powerful group and consisted of 4 permanent members (Britain, France, Italy and Japan) and other rotating members. This group met several times a year and dealt with any crisis that arose. c. The International Court of Justice at the Hague, which consisted of 15 judges who could resolve legal disputes between nations d. Secretariat: the civil service of the League that kept records, wrote reports etc. e. International Labour Organization to improve working conditions f. Mandates commission and other special agencies League of Nations in Geneva The League of Nations set up mandates for some of the territories formerly part of the Ottoman and German empires. These mandates were intended to prepare the former colonies for independence. In the Middle East, Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq all were handed over to British control, while Syria and Lebanon were governed by France. Former German territories in Africa and the South Pacific were given over to Britain, France, Belgium and Australia to supervise. African Colonization At the 1884-85 Berlin Conference, Africa was divided up by the European powers. Britain and France claimed the bulk of the territory. Germany had four colonies, which were taken away from them at the Paris Peace Conference and given out as mandates. Weaknesses of the League The League of Nations had a number of major weaknesses including… a. the United States didn’t join b. Britain and France did not fully support the ideals or actions of the League and did not always stand up to aggressor nations. c. The lack of a military force (aggressor nations had no fear of military repercussions) d. the Council needed unanimous approval to pass a resolution, which often didn’t occur. If one of the four permanent members disagreed with a proposal, it would not proceed. e. Losing nations were not invited to join at first, including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Turkey. Russia was not invited to join because of its new communist government under Lenin and the fact that they were currently fighting a civil war. Successes of the League a. The League organized the Washington Naval Conference in 1921 where several of the most powerful nations agreed to limit the size of their navies in the spirit of disarmament to help prevent future war b. Conflict between Greece and Bulgaria in 1925: The League intervened and helped these two countries find a peaceful solution. c. The League helped to facilitate the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, where 15 countries (including Germany) agreed to use peaceful methods to resolve future conflicts. d. In 1925, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Belgium signed the Locarno Treaty (Pact) to agree to respect the border between Germany and France that had been set by the Treaty of Versailles. Germany also promised not to seize land by force from Poland or Czechoslovakia. e. The League had a number of humanitarian successes and helped improve health and social conditions. They launched a massive campaign to help Turkish refugees displaced by civil war, organized campaigns against smallpox and leprosy, and tried to address issues such as women’s rights and child labour. The League Expands In the years between 1919-1946, the League of Nations expanded its membership. Austria joined in 1920, and Hungary in 1922. Germany accepted an invitation to the League in 1926, while the USSR (Russia) joined in 1934. However, some of the more aggressive countries such as Japan, Germany and the USSR would leave the League in the years leading up to the outbreak of World War Two, so the numbers fluctuated. Failures of the League The Ruhr: In 1923, French and Belgian troops invaded the German industrial region of the Ruhr because Germany had failed to pay a reparation installment. Britain supported this action, despite the fact it violated League of Nations policy. Corfu: In 1923, 5 Italian surveyors working for the League of Nations were killed in Greece while mapping the proposed border between Greece and Albania. Mussolini demanded compensation, and when Greece refused, Italian forces bombed and invaded the Greek island of Corfu. Although the League ordered Italy to withdraw, Britain and France again supported Italy and Greece was forced to pay compensation to Italy. French and Belgian troops parade into the Ruhr. Failures Continued: Japan’s Invasion of Manchuria Japan invaded the Chinese province of Manchuria in 1931 to try to gain more natural resources and living space. The League of Nations condemned the action and ordered Japan to withdraw, but did not impose any economic sanctions. Japan refused and the League sent Lord Lytton to investigate, who found Japan guilty of an act of aggression and recommended that Japan should leave and the League should govern Manchuria. Japan again ignored the recommendation and quit the League in 1933 (they had been one of the original four permanent members of the Council. Japan then invaded the rest of mainland China in 1937. Once again, the League did not take military action as countries wanted to avoid war. Failures continued: Disarmament Conference of 1932-33 Hitler being appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 by President Hindenburg Sixty countries met to discuss how to reduce the chance of future war. Hitler refused to limit the size of Germany’s military and left the conference. Soon after, Germany withdrew from the League of Nations (they had been invited to join in 1926). In 1935, Hitler announced that Germany was beginning a program of rearmament, a complete violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Failures continued: Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia In 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), the only independent country in Africa, as Mussolini wanted to increase Italy’s power and prestige. The League condemned the invasion and imposed economic sanctions, but did not include oil, coal, or iron in the sanctions, which were crucial resources to Italy’s economy. Britain and France wanted to maintain positive relations with Mussolini as they were worried about Hitler’s growing aggression. Germany and the USA ( not members of the League) continued to trade with Italy as they had done before. Samual Hoare and Pierre Laval, British and French politicians, proposed a solution whereby Italy would get over half of Abyssinia. Haile Selassie, the Abyssinian leader firmly rejected the Hoare-Laval Pact, and appealed to the League for to get Italian troops out of his country. Italy also did not agree to the Hoare-Laval Pact as they wanted all of Abyssinia. The League did not intervene and Italy ended up taking over the entire country in brutal fighting that included the use of mustard gas against Ethiopian civilians. Germany remilitarizes the Rhineland In 1936, Hitler instructed German troops to march into the Rhineland, the demilitarized zone along the German-French border, in complete defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. Once again, the League of Nations did not take action as Britain and France were both reluctant to risk military intervention. Spanish Civil War 1936 Civil war broke out in Spain in 1936 as Francisco Franco’s Nationalist / fascist forces tried to overthrow the leftist government. Germany and Italy both used their air forces to support Franco, which was clearly another major violation of League policy. Britain and France maintained a non-intervention stance and did not get involved. Stalin sent Soviet military aid to support the leftist fighters, and volunteers from other countries, including Canada also sent volunteers to fight against the fascist troops.