On no enterprise did the League of Nations spend more time and energy than on the attempt, in the words of Article 8 of the Covenant, to reduce armaments 'to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations'. The Article echoed the fourth of President Wilson's Fourteen Points set forth in his speech in January 1918, which called for 'adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety'. Article 8 of the Covenant stated that League Members recognised that peace 'required' disarmament, and this was certainly the belief of many millions of League supporters, at least in the first half of its life. The First World War was widely regarded as having been precipitated by the arms race which preceded it, though it is doubtful whether many governments in the inter-war period ever seriously believed that disarmament by international agreement, on the scale called for by Article 8, was either desirable or feasible. Nevertheless, they had no alternative but to make every effort to achieve it in view of the fervent wishes for a world without arms on the part of their supporters.
Moreover, the Allied victors in the war were obliged by the peace treaties they had imposed on the defeated, if not to disarm, at least to try to do so. When they prescribed drastic measures of disarmament for Germany in Part V of the Versailles Treaty, and in the corresponding clauses of the treaties with Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary, they explained that this was to be regarded as a prelude to disarmament on a world-wide scale. Part V of the Versailles Treaty was introduced by a Preamble which read,