THE MANCHURIAN CRISIS
In August 1931, Ramsay MacDonald broke away from the Labour Party and with a handful of followers joined up with the Conservative Party and the majority of the Liberals to form a "National Government", of which he was the figurehead, while the power behind the throne was Stanley Baldwin, leader of the Conservative Party.
The election of the following October gave an overwhelming victory to the newborn Coalition. In November 1931, Sir John Simon, a former Liberal, became Foreign Secretary.
From 1906 to 1914 the British Conservative Party had been out of power. Then from 1914 to 1922 it had been in coalition with the Liberals. From 1922 to 1929 its majority in the House was not large enough to permit of a rectilinear policy. After the elections of 1931, the MacDonald—Baldwin Cabinet had an enormous Conservative majority. The traditional British policy of the balance of power could now be carried on unhampered.1
This policy might have kept peace in the world had the British Tories not made two serious miscalculations as to who was the stronger and who was the weaker. In the Far East they thought that Russia was the stronger; so they sided with Japan. In Europe they thought that France was the stronger; so they sided with Germany.
A few days after the "National" Government was formed in Britain, Japanese troops began invading Manchuria, north of Mukden, and soon bombed and occupied that city. By this action the Japanese violated not only the Covenant of the League of Nations, but also the Nine-Power Treaty of 1922 concerning China, and the Kellogg Pact.
Stimson, the American Secretary of State at the time, wrote in his diary that if the military party in Japan had its way, "the damage to the new structure of international society provided by the post-war____________________
"For four hundred years the foreign policy of England has been to oppose the strongest, most aggressive, most dominanting Power on the continent, and particularly to prevent the Low Countries falling into the hands of such a Power. . . . The question is not whether it is Spain, or the French Monarchy, or the French Empire, or the German Empire, or the Hitler régime. It has nothing to do with rulers or nations; it is concerned solely with whoever is the strongest or the potentially dominanting tyrant(?). Therefore, we should not be afraid of being accused of being pro-French or anti-German. If the circumstances were reserved, we could equally be pro-German and anti-French."