The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946

By F. S. Northedge | Go to book overview

1 The world before the League

I

The League of Nations, an international organisation having as its members almost all the fifty-odd states of its day, was founded at the end of the First and wound up at the end of the Second World War. 1 Its purpose was mainly to keep the peace, but it was also intended to serve as an umbrella under which a more orderly management of all world affairs, political, economic, financial, cultural and so on, would develop. The League was a child of the First World War in that its constitution, the Covenant, formed the first twenty-six articles of the peace treaties imposed on Germany and her allies by the Allied and Associated Powers after their victory in 1918. This arrangement was insisted upon by the American President, Woodrow Wilson, the most enthusiastic exponent of the League idea among the war leaders, since he thought that his European partners were more likely to take the League seriously if it were part and parcel of the peace settlement for which they had paid so high a price. It had the drawback, however, that in later years the League tended to be regarded as the guardian of treaties which were hateful to the defeated states and were disowned by one of the victors, the United States, and by large sections of public opinion in another, Britain.

The League was also a child of the First World War in that it was launched on the tide of revulsion, not only against the war just ended, but against all war, which swept the world when the fighting stopped in November 1918. The war of 1914-18 was the first total war; for the first time in history the entire resources of the belligerents, human and material, were mobilised for the conflict, or, if any of them escaped mobilisation, were exempted only by leave of the governments. During the struggle, neither side

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The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vi
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The World before the League 1
  • 2 - Framing the Covenant 25
  • 3 - The Covenant Reviewed 46
  • 4 - Beginnings and Setbacks 70
  • 5 - The System Takes Shape 98
  • 6 - The Lure of Disarmament 113
  • 7 - Manchuria: the Covenant Defied 137
  • 8 - The Betterment of Life 165
  • 9 - The Mandates System 192
  • 10 - The Abyssinian Disaster 221
  • 11 - The Final Years 255
  • 12 - Was Failure Inevitable? 278
  • Abbreviations 293
  • Notes 294
  • Bibliography 311
  • Appendix A 317
  • Appendix B 328
  • Appendix C 329
  • Index 330
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