Was the League of Nations a success or a failure?
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The League of Nations was most definitely a failure. It had one major goal and that goal was not achieved. Therefore, it was a failure.
The main goal of the League of Nations was to prevent war. It was set up to prevent disputes between countries and then, if disputes did arise, to prevent them from becoming wars. If necessary, the League was supposed to use the threat of force (collective security) to deter nations from attacking other nations.
None of this worked. The members of the League were not willing to use force to enforce the League's rulings on things like the Italian invasion of Ethiopia or the Japanese actions in China. Eventually, of course, WWII erupted and the League was completely powerless to stop that.
The League was set up to prevent war and yet the biggest war in human history happened within 25 years of the League's founding. Clearly, the League was a failure.
The short existence of the League of Nations in and of itself indicates that it was an abysmal failure. The League hoped to enforce its mandates by reliance on the major members of the League; however they were quite often reluctant to do so as it might conflict with their own interests. Although Woodrow Wilson, as president of the United States had proposed the League at Versailles, the United States never joined the League, which deprived it of a major member.
The League did succeed in freeing slaves in Africa and providing passports for homeless immigrants. These were some of its very few successes; overwhelmed by its major failures. When Itally invaded Abyssinia, Emperor Haile Selassie appeared personallly to appeal for help. His speech was hooted down by Italian delegates. When the league attempted to condemn Italy, that country simply resigned from the League. Similarly, Germany resiged following its invasion of upper Silesia (the Polish Corridor) and Japan resigned following its invasion of Manchuria. The League was powerless without its major members; and was ultimately replaced with plans for the United Nations at the Teheran conference of 1943.
The League of Nations had too little power on the world stage to be successful. Too many nations were not part, and too many didn't participate fully. As mentioned above, the League was created to prevent another world war, which it obviously did not. Without the participation of major nations and the little to no power it exercised it could not prevent war, or accomplish much else for that matter.
I have to agree with the above posts. The League of Nations' short existence is proof of its deficiencies, and the organization could not prevent Germany's aggression leading up to World War II. The resulting United Nations has proved to be a much more powerful organization, both diplomatically and when using military force to achieve its objectives.
The biggest proof of the League of Nations inability to achieve its purpose is found in Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia. The League of Nations was not able to back up any of its policies with military action, and this is something that Mussolini was well aware of and something that he exploited. Although it was a very good idea, unfortunately the League of Nations can only be considered a catastrophic failure, built more on good will than on action.
While I agree that the League of Nations itself was definitely considered a failure, I would add that it could be considered the pre-cursor to the United Nations that still exists today. We could also argue whether or not the United Nations is a failure or a success.
I didn't see it mentioned above that as a result of not ratifying the Treaty of Versailles (over a political battle between Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and President Woodrow Wilson), the US never joined the League of Nations. If it had, perhaps it would have had a better chance of achieving some concrete, constructive results. Without the US as a member, however, there was little chance of success overall.
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