Why did the League of Nations fail to keep peace in the 1930s?

September 16, 2018 General Studies

?Why did the League of Nations fail to keep international peace in the 1930s? – Joel Surdhar The League of Nations was created to avoid international conflicts and maintain peace throughout the world, however the league of nations was not quite as successful as it intended. One of the main reasons why the League of nations was considered to be a failure was the Manchurian Crisis. The Manchurian Crisis was the invasion of a country in southern China, Manchuria, which was invaded by the Japanese.

The Japanese were economically depressed due to the great depression because no one was rich enough to purchase their silk which was their main export. They felt the only way to recover their economy was territorial conquest. The Japanese were interested in Manchuria because China was particularly weak at the time due to civil conflicts. Manchuria was also close to Japan and was rich in coal and iron which were the key recourses which Japan lacked therefore it was an ideal target for Japan to invade.

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In September 1931 the Japanese launched an invasion on the South Manchurian railway at Mukden and occupied the local area. China sent an appeal to the League of Nations and the Japanese promised a withdrawal, however they stood their ground as they realised that the League of Nations had little power. It was a key moment in which the League of Nations was needed when the Chinese appeal but they remained powerless to the situation. The League of Nations had little military empowerment over Japan, as it was extremely hard to transfer their army across the world.

Another problem which the Europeans faced was that they could not deny trade with Japanese because they knew the Americans would trade with the Japanese instead because US did not join the League of Nations. The greater powers of Europe, France and Britain were afraid of attacking making an aggressive approach toward Japan because it way threaten their Far Eastern Colonies such as Singapore or Hong Kong. In response, the League of Nations sent Lord Lytton to take a report and analysis of the situation.

18 months later Lord Lytton returned and confirmed that the Japanese invasion was not justified. In 1933 in the League Assembly a vote was hold against Japan’s actions and the result was 42 to 1 against Japan and Japan simply left the League. The League of Nations were too late and the Japanese had already secured Manchuria. Therefore the League of Nation had failed to resolve this particular conflict due to a lack of power and perhaps could have supressed Japan’s economy if the US was part of the

League of Nations and then Japan would have no one to trade with and would be forced to withdraw the invasion. Another Key problem that the League of Nations faced was the conflict of Abyssinia. Abyssinia was a poor country in North-East Africa and it was one of the few areas of Africa not under European control. The itallians tried to conquer Abyssinia in 1896 but failed in the battle of Adowa. Mussolini, the itallian dictator was keen for revenge and plotted to take Abyssinia’s mineral resources and fertile land.

This was against the friendship treaty of Italy and abyssinia signed in 1928. The League of Nations was anxious to avoid a clush between Italy and abyssinia because France and Britian believed Mussolini was the strongest ally they had against the threat of Hitler, however Mussolini hoped the League of Nations would let him do what he wanted in Abyssinia. Italy later attacked Abyssinia in October 1935 and it was a clear win for Italy as they had much more advanced weapons than the poor country of Abyssinia.

The League of Nations had to respond to this attack, as it was unprovoked invasion. The League of Nations banned the sale of arms and goods to Italy, however they did not ban oil exports as they were again fearful that the US would sell to Italy instead. France and Britian owned the seuz canal which was a very important route from Italy to Abyssinia, but the canal was not closed because France and Britian did not want to provoke a full scale war with Italy.

Instead the British and French governments created a secret deal. This was called the Hoare-Laval Pact, the deal was that Italy would get 2/3 of Abyssinia if they stopped the war. Mussolini said he would accept this deal, however the deal was leaked to the French press which caused public uproars and protests, forcing Hoare and Laval to resign. The Italy was very offended and left the League and became an ally of hitler, making the conflict of abyssinia very unsuccessfully handled by the League of Nations.

In conclusion the League of Nations failed to keep peace because of not having enough authority and global power such as in Eastern Europe. The League of Nations could have possibly been more successful had the US joined, which would give the League more power, authority and global presence. The League of Nations had also been severely damaged by the Hoare-Laval pact and lacked respect and authority from countries.


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