“the failure of collective security” the broken promise of the league of nations

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  • The Failure of Collective SecurityThe Broken Promise of the League of Nations

  • OVERVIEWIn these lessons, you will examine:The definition of collective securityThe creation of the League of NationsThe structure and responsibilities of the LeagueStrengths and weaknesses of the League systemResponses 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 actionEconomic sanctionsDiplomatic isolation

  • A difficult birthImmediately upon its creation, the League of Nations was struck by certain issues:The US Senate refused to ratify American entry into the League of NationsThe defeated powers, especially Germany, were not initially admitted into the League

  • The League of Nations contained several major bodies:

    General AssemblyCouncilCourt of JusticeSecretariatCommissions

  • StrengthsThe League was successful with issues not involving conflict between major powers:Child welfare and womens rightsAssistance to refugees of warControl of drug traffickingArms control and disarmamentConflicts between small states

  • WeaknessesBritain and France, the lead powers of the League of Nations, avoided major conflict for various reasons:Faith in diplomatic agreementsWeak national economiesPreference for back-door diplomacyDomestic political pressures

  • 1. Faith in diplomatic agreementsThe Western powers believed that diplomacy was effective:Washington Conference 1922Locarno agreement 1925Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928Stresa Front 1935

  • 2. Weak national economiesBritain 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 diplomacyBritain and France often worked outside of the League of Nations system, undermining the principle of collective security:

  • Domestic political pressuresBritish 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 challengeJapan invaded north-east China (Manchuria) on Sept 18, 1931Japan needed manpower, resources, territory of neighbouring countries to rebuild its economyLike Britain and France, Japan wished to establish an overseas empire later to be known as the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere

  • The League respondsThe 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 partnerBritain and France wanted to avoid a war which did not threaten its immediate national securityThe League requested that Japan withdraw and that Manchuria be administered by the League Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933

  • SUMMARY QUESTIONSWhat was the Leagues 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?