And, finally, it was learnt that the British Empire had been granted six votes in the Assembly. THE purely idealistic reasons for joining the League of Nations have been dwelt upon in abundance of detail; and, with arguments of equal loftiness, certain very great nations have declared that if they did not join it was solely in order that they might preserve their liberty and thus render still more service to humanity. The Soviet Union was expelled from the League in 1939, following its invasion of Finland, and were the only country to face this measure. It is the problem of security. France's reputation of being a nation which, smarting from a series of violent blows, was hardly disposed to wish the League well, preceded her into the Assembly. Such a distinction cannot be admitted. The covenant establishes the roles of the league: “to promote peace and prevent war”, however the league never outlaws war. In the third place, the independence of Austria. There in the Hall of the Reformation the words "Little Entente" took on concrete meaning, signifying a force that counts for something and with which one has to count, since room has been made for it on the Council. By giving too much satisfaction to national desires, they said, these clauses had left Europe bristling with frontiers and tariff walls and had left the instruments of production--which had been created by great peoples who understood how to use them--in the hands of little peoples without experience. Every year for five years the support lent by British diplomacy and British public opinion to a Germany which, they say, asks nothing better than to take her place in line if France will only grant her the right to live, has gained England nothing but disappointment, for Germany has always evaded the issue when it has been proposed to apply the ordinary rules to her candidacy. Then it was learned that there had been adjustments of the plan by General Smuts and Lord Robert Cecil, and that suggestions and amendments from other quarters were being launched against the united and obstinate Anglo-Saxon front. After Trump, Is American Democracy Doomed by Populism? If this were so she would be faithless to her past, for during the last century and a half--by the example of her own revolutions, by the tears she shed for the woes of Athens and Warsaw, by the blood she shed in America and Lombardy--France has been the instigator of the greatest political changes that have taken place in Europe, if not in the world. Italy invaded Abyssinia in 1935. The League experienced success in: The Aaland Islands (1921) Forced to withdraw by German occupation in May 1940 and incorporation into the German Reich. France, then, has been taking a beneficial solidarity cure at Geneva for the last five years. The conference was organised by the League of Nations and attended by representatives of 61 countries. LOUIS AUBERT, formerly Editor of the Revue de Paris, member of successive French delegations at Geneva. The Geneva Conference was the last attempt to limit the growth of armaments before the Second World War. This treaty was to continue in force until the League of Nations should be strong enough to offer France an equivalent guarantee of security. I may add that, like most members of the League, they feel sure that though the United States remains outside the League it does not wish the League ill. Become a subscriber for unrestricted access. It was at Geneva, during the discussions of the Pact of Mutual Guaranty and the Protocol, that France was able to show that the obligation to arbitrate before entering on a war would not suffice to permit reduction of armaments unless the security of the more exposed states was guaranteed. When France took her seat in the first Assembly at Geneva she disposed of one vote in forty-one, whereas the British Empire could rely on six, and there were sixteen members whose native language was Spanish or Portuguese. Fourth, the mandates. On the one hand, the Protocol provides that each member of the League shall indicate the forces it is willing to place, if needed, at the League's disposal in order to permit each member to carry out a reduction of armaments proportional to the aid on which it can rely. Even Turkey is not hostile to the League, since she has entrusted to it the task of tracing the frontier of the vilayet of Mosul. Please enable JavaScript for this site to function properly. Respect for the League had fallen so far that the Gestapo invaded the home of the League high commissioner in Danzig the night before the war began, and when Britain and France sent in notifications of their declarations of war, they pointedly did not invoke the Covenant of the League of Nations–Part I of the Treaty of Versailles. Here France is in control of the mines. A land with a low birth-rate, busy repairing by immigration the gaps which war created among her producing population; a land which has not yet effaced from her soil the traces of invasion; which though formerly the world's creditor is today, as a result of the war, heavily burdened with internal and external debt; which is confronted with the enormous task of meeting continental, maritime, and colonial obligations; which is temptingly exposed to the covetousness of her neighbors, though herself desiring no new territory; which knows by experience that disturbances anywhere in the world will have repercussions on the Rhine (for the World War, though it did not come after Mukden and Liaoyang or after the Agadir crisis, did finally begin in the Balkans); which is aware that she saved the world from the surprise German attack, but is quite aware, too, that, having held out long enough for the public opinion and the armies of Great Britain and the United States to mobilize, she was herself saved in turn by her allies and associates,--what is it that such a country needs? Is it not clear that the way in which the interallied debts are handled will either destroy or intensify the confidence in this engagement? One of the stumbling blocks was support for the decision from other countries to support the measures. The relative importance thus attributed to political and economic factors is one of the chief reasons for the confidence which the League inspires in France. At this time, only Costa Rica (22 January 1925), Brazil (14 June 1926), Japan (27 March 1933) and Germany (19 October 1933) had withdrawn, and only Egypt was left to join (on 26 May 1937). In thus entrusting to the League the oversight of four matters of chief concern to her, France not only has given from the start the greatest proof of attachment to the League that she can give, but she has at the same time shown her preference for fair and objective policies. It has now been over century since the League of Nations, a similar body established to resolve international disputes, was founded following the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of … Now, most advocates of the revision of the peace treaties have long been talking of employing the League of Nations for this purpose, and they have found support within the League itself. The Outcome: Japan refused to leave Manchuria. In the same way, a conference that did not reduce land and naval armaments equally could not succeed, for Europe too often finds that in the opinion of great naval powers land armaments have an especially dangerous and immoral character because they precipitate wars; whereas naval armaments, thanks to the economic power of the blockade, prevent continental conflicts and have a beneficent and virtuous influence. The confidence of France in this universal League of Nations will naturally grow or decrease according to the way in which the great countries beyond the sea deal with Europe. The successes of the League of Nations. Her bonds with Czechoslovakia and Poland fell into line quite naturally with the requirements of the League, being defensive alliances, designed to reduce armaments and quite capable of being registered and published. To her allies were added Rumania and Jugoslavia. Some of them even hope for an agreement between France and England and are working for it. Economically and financially she depends too much for her raw materials, capital and markets on lands beyond the sea. Such was the revelation at Geneva, which has been renewed at each Assembly for five years. Such a solution of the disarmament problem would be fatal to the League of Nations. Yet the League of Nations did work surprisingly well, at least for a decade after the war. Signature of the Treaty of Versailles. Furthermore, the report stated that the creation of Manchukuo did not result from a "genuine and spontaneous independence movement." The treaties, by giving satisfaction to the aspirations of peoples toward liberty, are responsible for this post-war stabilization which has so greatly surprised the gloomily prophetic economists. The League banned weapons sales, and put sanctions on rubber and metal. When this treaty was not ratified by her old allies and associates France felt that she had been cast off. But they have found warm exponents in most European countries. Finally, the British Empire has never set up a single complete bloc at Geneva. Unable to enter with her Empire as a whole, she would stay outside. The reasons for French confidence in the League of Nations also concern the future. As for Central and South America, France has found support which is particularly welcome because it is voluntary and free from all material considerations, reminding her of a fact which too often, in her chagrin, she has been inclined to forget--namely, that the place among the nations which her civilization guarantees her implies an obligation upon her not to live apart. January 16: First session of the Council of the League… The material wealth of the American continent has been more rapidly utilized in the interests of the world by free peoples than it would have been by European colonies. In ten years the territory of the Saar will decide by plebiscite whether it wishes to become French or German, or to stay as it is. There is another danger. Germany and Italy would follow in Japan's steps years down the road. There is yet another problem--to France the most important of all--which seems to her closely linked with the fate of the League of Nations. Does it not include most of the former neutral powers? The dominions retain their right of free speech where there is any question of assessment quotas, technical organizations, the interpretation of Article X, or exclusive competence. On December 14, 1939, the League of Nations, the international peacekeeping organization formed at the end of World War I, expels the Union of Soviet Socialist By taking up or refusing to take up certain matters the League has disappointed or disturbed a good many nations. Instead, Japan left the League. So far as France is concerned, I shall now try to reply to the question. Today the League of Nations is something more in the minds of the peoples than an idea. The methods and spirit prevailing at Geneva are an added reason. These assertions have their value. Her language employed in two-thirds of the speeches delivered at the plenary sessions and in four-fifths of the discussions held by the commissions; and warm sympathy on every side, especially among the Latin Americans and the Slavs--this, of course, without mentioning her neighbors in Spain and Belgium and her allies in the Great War. The technical commissions of the League of Nations on questions of economics, finance, and transport, have already paved the way for serious reforms and are about to undertake others still more important--all this without mentioning the International Labor Office. The spheres-of-influence policy is bankrupt. In response to the first debate, the only members of the League that could, in theory, stand up to an aggressive nation such as Germany were Britain and France. It is false, therefore, to pretend that the Covenant and the Protocol, because they do not permit alterations wrought by force, are intended solely to maintain the status quo for the benefit of special nations. The Covenant forming the League of Nations was included in the Treaty of Versailles and came into force on 10 January 1920, with the League of Nations being dissolved on 18 April 1946; its assets and responsibilities were transferred to the United Nations. It is true that the United States and the British Empire, feeling that they need no one to protect them, are always hostile to these two ideas. These assertions have their value. Perhaps alone among the great powers, France has been neither disappointed nor disturbed by Geneva: none of her protectorates or colonies is a member of the League; in her case, immigration, active though it is, is of a date too recent to make the question of racial equality so grave as elsewhere; and, finally, the raw materials which France enjoys are not so extensive or so important that she is the most envied among the nations. ©2021 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved. At the same time she drew closer to the Baltic countries. The fight for the League of Nations was therefore largely on the shoulders of President Wilson. At Geneva, too, England comes to realize France's true position in Europe and the support given her by the nations born or reborn in the war in her determined opposition to German ambitions for a restoration by violence. Second, the military control of Germany. But the fact that one country is more densely populated than its neighbor or less provided with natural resources bestows on it no incontestable and unlimited right to take possession of the soil needed for its inhabitants, whether by force or by organizing annexationist propaganda among its nationals abroad. If the League had remained a mere idea it is hardly likely that the governments would have gone to the expense of providing for it; but now that it has proved itself capable of undertaking great things in the same spirit in which it has undertaken more modest enterprises it is in a position to demand sacrifices. But what does she see there today? Europe is returning to normal production and consumption far more rapidly than the experts expected. Last year the moment Mr. Ramsay MacDonald sensed the feeling of the Assembly he knew that his project of eliminating all idea of security and of special agreements from his plan of reducing armaments was impracticable. Moreover, the refusal of the United States to join the League of Nations has naturally diminished the French fears of Anglo-Saxon preponderance in the Council, the Assembly, and the Secretariat. THE purely idealistic reasons for joining the League of Nations have been dwelt upon in abundance of detail; and, with arguments of equal loftiness, certain very great nations have declared that if they did not join it was solely in order that they might preserve their liberty and thus render still more service to humanity. League of Nations. It is a necessity. Discussion about the Protocol thus offers a method of measuring the progress made in five years towards understanding the importance of an international force and of control organized by the League of Nations. To occur in Europe in the League started to leave the League of Nations was a favored subject academic! 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