A History of the League of Nations - Vol. 2

A History of the League of Nations - Vol. 2

A History of the League of Nations - Vol. 2

A History of the League of Nations - Vol. 2

Excerpt

An unfavourable moment--First debates of the Conference--New chances of agreement-Brüning's proposals and their fate--The Hoover plan-- Adjournment without progress--Germany refuses collaboration without equality--German collaboration resumed--An irrelevant interlude

(FEBRUARY-DECEMBER 1932)

WHEN at last the Disarmament Conference met, on February 2nd, 1932, more than thirteen years had passed since the close of the First World War. At that time public opinion everywhere had demanded, and expected, that the creation of the League would put an end to the burden and danger of great national armaments. Rightly or wrongly, the massive reduction of war establishments had been regarded, ever since, not only as the test of the League's success, but as almost the principal object of its existence. Men had looked forward, year after year, to the day when the signature of the first general Disarmament Treaty should consecrate and consolidate the peaceful organization of the modern world. And as that Treaty could only be made at a world conference, the holding of the Conference had come to be in itself the symbol on which their hopes were fixed.

In 1924 the Assembly had actually resolved to hold the Conference in the following June. In 1925 it had hoped that the Conference would meet during 1926; and successive Assemblies thereafter had echoed the impatience felt by the popular masses in most countries at the recurrent postponements which their rulers had imposed or accepted. Year by year the difficulties of agreement had grown: and never more swiftly than in the last year, during which the organs of the League had been condemned to almost total inaction in regard to disarmament. The plea that the great powers must be given more time to prepare the understandings necessary for success had again and again proved little more than a pretence. Its utter falsity was finally demonstrated by the fact that in the early weeks of the Conference three of the powers concerned-- France, the United States, and Italy--put forward fresh schemes of their own, reproducing, of course, the main propositions which they had always maintained, but with various new proposals and arguments on which the others had not been consulted. Thus the long and laborious preparatory work was almost as though it had never been, the Draft . . .

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