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The Story of Trying to Achieve Success - The League of Nations

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After the end of the destructive World War I, the victorious Allies wanted to ensure that a similar tragedy would never happen again. To achieve this, US President Woodrow Wilson proposed the creation of an international organization, called the League of Nations, the goals of which was to offer countries peaceful, diplomatic means for resolving their disputes, thus avoiding military conflicts. The economies of once powerful empires such as Russia and Germany were exhausted. Wilson believed that, if united towards international peace and security states would never again have to suffer from another destructive conflict such as WW1. Wilson’s draft of the League of Nations was first presented in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. It became clear that a handful of powerful states could not guarantee continuous peace “all countries had to work together in order to achieve international stability”.

In the beginning, the League of Nations had a truly remarkable influence on its members. A series of disputes ‘between Germany and Poland over Upper Silesia, and between Finland and Sweden over the Aaland islands’ were resolved by the League of Nations. Though minor, these were just the kind of incidents that had triggered regional conflicts. In the 1920s, the League was successful in its work for a better world: The league took 500,000 PoWs home, helped Turkish refugees, attacked slave traders and drug sellers, and supported measures against leprosy and malaria.

The League of Nations proved itself useful by helping states to rebuild after the end of World War I. In the newly formed Austrian Republic, their first actions were to ask the League for a loan, which they used to create houses for most of the Austrian population, which had lost their homes during the war.

In its first five years, the League of Nations served as a true instrument of diplomacy: Nations were willing to sit down together and negotiate their way out of any crisis that threatened international security. Despite the early successes, the League of Nations had many political failures. Examples of the League of Nations failures include: the 1935 invasion of Ethiopia by Italy, the annexation of the Sudetenland and Austria by Germany, the Invasion of Manchuria by Japan in 1932. The League objected but could do nothing. The Invasion of Abyssinia in 1935. Although the League officially condemned the Italians, France and Britain were caught making a secret agreement to give Abyssinia to Italy.

These crises destroyed the authority of the League, and it was powerless to stop Germany after 1935. By the time of the Sudeten crisis of 1938, Britain and France were ignoring the League, and were trying appeasement instead. Despite the league being the biggest attempt at international co-operation at the time, a lack of superpowers, force and determination resulted in the league failing in times of need.

It is possible to look at this and see that the League of Nations was an attempt to create international co-operation, although countries were only committed to working together to solve problems when it benefited them individually , and it proved that during a big crisis, the nations hadn’t the determination and will to co-operate for peace and collective security, or was it the fact that the USA never joined the League?

World War I had brought many European countries’ economies to their knees. The League of Nations’ strength was supposed to come namely from the US and European countries, as they were highly developed both economically and socially. The United States had the best economy of the post-war period, and the increase of US armaments improved domestic economic stability. The League, therefore, relied to a large extent on the military and economic aid that the United States could provide. Without the US, the League would turn out to be toothless

In conclusion, we can learn from the League that attempts to create international co-operation were not very strong, although there were good intentions and problems were solved; aided refugees, and tried to end slavery and the drug trade, ultimately there was not enough co-operation to stop major conflict, partly because the LON didn’t have enough power, but in my opinion it was because the determination to protect other nations and aid them when it didn’t suit them wasn’t there. Countries like Britain and France, Germany did not fully care about collective security and therefore the league could not carry out its role, they put their national interests before the league’s objectives and therefore the league failed and international co-operation was not carried out fully.

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