Through my studies and research I have come to the following conclusion about the League of Nations: despite all of President Woodrow Wilson’s efforts, the League was doomed to fail. I feel this was so for many reasons, some of which I hope to convey in the following report. From the day when Congress voted on the Fourteen Points, it was obvious that the League had a very slim chance of being passed in Congress, and without all of the World powers, the League had little chance of surviving. On November 11, 1918 an armistice was declared in Europe.
Wilson saw the opportunity to form an international rganization of peace to be formed. He acted quickly. On January 18, 1919 he released his fourteen points. The Fourteen Points consisted of many things, but the most important was the fourteenth-the establishment of a league of nations to settle international disputes and to keep the peace. After congress had voted, only three of Wilson’s fourteen points were accepted without compromise. Six of the others were rejected all together. Fortunately the League was compromised. Wilson then went to Europe to discuss the Treaty of Versailles.
Representatives from Italy, France, and Britain idn’t want to work with the nations they had defeated. They wanted to hurt them. After much fighting and negotiating, Wilson managed to convince them that a league of nations was not only feasible, it was necessary. The Senate supported most of the Treaty of Versailles but not the League. They thought it would make the U. S. A. too involved in foreign affairs. Wilson saw that the League may not make it through Congress, so he went on the road and gave speeches to sway the public opinion.
Unfortunately, Wilson’s health, which was already depleted from the egotiations in France, continued to recede. Wilson’s battle with his health reached its climax when Wilson had a stroke on his train between speeches. After Wison’s stroke, support of the League weakened, both in Congress and in the public’s opinion. In 1920 G. Harding, who opposed the League, was elected as president. The League formed but the U. S. never joined. The first meeting of the League was held in Geneva, Switzerland on November 15, 1920 with fourty two nations represented.
During twenty-six years the League lived, a total of sixty-three nations were represented at one time or nother. Thirty-one nations were represented all twenty-six years. The League had an assembly, a council, and a secretariat. Before World War II, the assembly convened regularly at Geneva in September. There were three representatives for every member state each state having one vote. The council met at least three times a year to consider political disputes and reduction of armaments. The council had several permanent members, France, Great Britan, Italy, Japan, and later Germany and the Soviet Union.
It also had several nonpermanent members which were elected by the assembly. The council’s decisions had to be unanimous. The secretariat was the administrative branch of the League and consisted of a secretary, general, and a staff of five hundred people. Several other organizations were associated with the League- the Permanent Court of International Justice, also called the World Court, and the International Labor Organization. One important activity of the League was the disposition of certain territories that had been colonies of Germany and Turkey before World War I.
Territories were awarded to the League members in the form of mandates. The andated territories were given different degrees of independence in accordance with their geographic situation, their stage of development, and their economic status. The League, unfortunately, rarely implemented its available resources, limited through the were, to achieve their goal, to end war. The League can be credited with certain social achievements. these achievements include settlement of disputes between Finland and Sweden over the Aland Islands in 1921 and between Greece and Bulgaria over their mutual border in 1925.
Great powers preferred to handle their affairs on their wn; French occupation of the Ruhr and Italian occupation of Corfu, both in 1923, went on in spite of the League. The League failed to end the war between Bolivia and Paraguary over the Gand Chaco between 1932 and 1935. The League also failed to stop Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, which began in 1935. Although Germany joined in 1926, the National Socialist government withdrew in 1933 as did Japan, after their attacks on China were condemned by the League. The League was now powerless to prevent the events in Europe that lead to World War 2.
In 1940 the secretariat in Geneva was educed to a skeleton staff and moved to the U. S. and Canada. In 1946 the League voted to effect its own dissolution, whereupon much of its property and organization were transferred to the United Nations which had resently been founded. Never truly effective as a peace keeping organization, the lasting importance of the League of Nations lies in the fact that it provided the groundwork for the United Nations. This international alliance, formed after World War 2, not only profited by the mistakes of the League but borrowed much of the organizational machinics of the League of Nations.