“The League of Nations failed because of the absence of the U.S.A. How far do you agree with this statement.”
The League of Nations, although still functional after the Second World War, collapsed by 1936. Throughout its short lifespan, there were periods or prosperity and troubles, until it ultimately failed. Why the League of Nations failed is down to a few reasons, the most convincing being the absence of the USA.
The absence of the USA meant that the League had no strong major power unaffected by the war, to lead it, making it a convincing reason as to why the League of Nations failed. As America did not join the League, Britain and France were in charge despite the fact that they had several issues to deal with involving the aftermath of the war. Both nations, though once a great powers, were significantly weakened after the war both economically and with the military. This issue had an impact later on in the League’s lifespan as it led to the organisation having to make decisions in an attempt to gain support from the USA, most notably the Suez Canal. America being out of the League ultimately led to the Manchurian Crisis – one of the League’s most noted failures- because whilst they imposed trade sanctions and tariffs America still traded with countries affected in order to increase its economy, and in 1935 America still traded with Italy in the Abyssinian Crisis (the downfall of the League). Therefore, the absence of the USA plays a very convincing part in the failure of the League of Nations, not only because it was the only major power at the time that had any involvement in international affairs (the other major power was the USSR), but because it continued trading with countries the League were fighting, meaning the little impact sanctions would have had to their opponents were weakened.
A less convincing point compared to the absence of the USA, but still important is the Great Depression. In 1929 following the ‘booming 20s’, the American stock market crashed, and caused great havoc on a global scale. This is because America had loaned a lot of money to the European countries effected by the World War, and needed to cash the money back in. What this ultimately led to was that countries were now focusing more on domestic issues than that of the League of Nations. Following the depression, turmoil in Germany led to Hitler coming to power in 1932, with his Nazi Regime, causing many issues for the League as they were worried that the German’s fascist leader would want to start a war to become a great empire again (which it ended up doing). This lead to the British and French continuing trade with Italy despite the Abyssinian crisis going on at the same time, in an effort not only to help their economy but to try and have Mussolini be their ‘bodyguard’ in case Hitler tried to invade. Furthermore, the depression in 1929 caused Japan’s biggest trading partners, China and the USA, to put up tariffs to protect their economy. This lead to Japan trying to invade Manchuria, so if the depression had not happened, then the crisis may have been averted. However whilst this is a very strong point as to why the League failed, it is not as strong as that of the USA because America caused the Great Depression in the first place by loaning countries money in order to help them, and whilst the Great Depression caused one primary crisis (Manchuria), America started it all off. Furthermore, the Great Depression evaporated the optimism of the 1920s, and due to high unemployment rates in Britain and France at the time, they were less willing to help with international disputes because they needed to deal with domestic problems in their own country.
A slightly less important reason as to why the League of Nations failed was the structure of the organisation. The League of Nations worked with an assembly having a vote once a year to try and raise matters to the ‘council’ that consisted of Britain, France, Japan and Italy as its permanent members. The problems arose as everyone had to agree in the assembly to raise matters to the council and the council had a veto to anything opposed. The way the assembly was organised meant that very few cases were actually resolved as countries often disagreed with one-another (as shown years earlier with the failed alliances before World War One). Furthermore the council’s veto policy led to Japan leaving the League altogether in 1933 due to being ‘insulted’ that every other country voted against it during the Manchurian Crisis. Furthermore, the fact that members of the council had a veto meant that the greater powers had a lot more power over the lesser ones. This was shown when the League had successes over small nation disputes (such as that of the Aaland Islands in 1921), but failed to do anything against nations that were part of its council – Japan in the Manchurian Crisis and Italy in the Abyssinian Crisis. Despite this, the structure of the League is not as important as the Great Depression or the absence of the USA because the structure of the League only made matters worse for the society, and did not directly cause a crisis to occur although it played a massive part. The League were lacking a strong power from the start with USA not joining, and when Japan was ‘insulted’ by the voting they left and shortly after so did Germany and Italy. This left the League in disarray as there was now no major power to keep it going, all because of the structure.
The final reason as to why the League of Nations failed, though the least convincing, is the lack of an army. The lack of an army in the League was its major ‘thorn in its side’, as it essentially meant that the League of Nations was a powerless body. This was shown not once but twice! First in the Manchurian Crisis, the League ordered Japan to withdraw from China, but as Japan had no opposing threat, they continued to attack. This led to Japan leaving the League of Nations altogether which was a major blow because Japan was its most influential member in East Asia. The same idea occurred in the Abyssinian Crisis as the League had no army to drive Italy out. As a result the only way to resolve disputes was by imposing trade sanctions, which was meaningless as USA, Japan and Germany at this point (1935) were still going to trade with Italy. As a result the League had no choice but to watch as Italy invaded Abyssinia within a year. Despite this, the reason why a lack of an army is not a more convincing reason is because this was the result of major powers not helping the League and Britain and France being unable to support it whilst they had to deal with the depression.
In conclusion, the most convincing reason as to why the League of Nations failed was due to the absence of the USA as this led to the Great Depression as well as stopping the Manchurian and Abyssinian crisis being thwarted as America still could trade with the opposing nation. Also, America caused all subsequent points, such as the Great Depression, to have a massive impact on the League. If America had joined the League of Nations, it is possible that the League may have had an army or at least better diplomatic relations. Therefore I think the absence of the USA is the most convincing reason as to why the League of Nations failed as it caused many issues, however other points also had an effect.
In an exam though don't write this much though, there is just not enough time.
well done though
This makes more sense