Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO

By Roland N. Stromberg | Go to book overview

III. America and World Peace in the 1920's

The Decline of Collective Security

OF THE two decades between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II, economist W. Arthur Lewis has remarked that, to future historians, "they will appear at the same time among the saddest, the most exciting, and the most formative in human history. . . . There can have been few periods of 21 years into which so much experience has been packed. . . . An age of dislocation and an age of experiment."1 The League of Nations was one vessel into which sadness, excitement, hope, and perhaps formation were packed. There were also the rise of Communism, Fascism, and Nazism and a terrible economic depression, along with "vast experiments designed to eliminate it." There were an intense pacifism and new forms of violence, along with much brilliance and disturbance in the worlds of thought, literature, and art. The doctrine of collective security was only one ingredient in this explosive mixture. It was fated, however! to play no small part in the as yet largely unevaluated tragedy of these years that saw one war breed another, greater war.

Though the League of Nations became a flourishing institution, the idea of enforced peace declined during the 1920's. There was as much of a battle over Article 10 at Geneva, beginning with the first meeting, as there had been in the U.S. Senate. Canada led the onslaught against it, demanding nothing less than its complete suppression (which ranged the Canadians alongside Borah and the "irreconcilables"). "We live in a fireproof house far from inflammable materials," the Canadian delegate pointed out, in explaining why Canada had no desire to serve in a permanent fire brigade. Broadly speaking, this was the position of all the states that stood in no imminent need of protection but would have to do the protecting.2 The two chief fac-

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Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • I - Peace by Force? 3
  • II - Wilson and the League of Nations 22
  • III - America and World Peace in the 1920's 46
  • IV - The United States and the "Rape of Manchuria" 66
  • V - The Collapse of European Security: 1933-36 87
  • VI - Neutrality, Collective Security, and War: 1937-40 109
  • VII - American Entrance into the War 137
  • VIII - The Four Policemen 156
  • IX - The Second Failure 186
  • X - Collective Security in the Nuclear Age 213
  • XI - Concluding Analysis 230
  • Postscript 249
  • Notes 253
  • Bibliography 279
  • Index 293
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