Depression And Threats To Collective Security

The Impact of the Great Depression p.66
Carlos and Chris

  • The Depression is revelant to this topic, as it influenced the development of international relations after 1929 (especially with Manchuria and Abyssinia)
  • It was not caused by the Wall Street Crash of 1929, but rather, by the weakened state of nations like Germany and Britain (nations that were heavily involved in the war) after WWI ended.
  • Also, trouble in Eastern Europe and Russia weakened trade and World market.
  • War debts, deficits, and turmoil played a role as well.
  • Nations were no longer willing to easily co-operate with other nations. They had adopted a more exclusionary mentality, with increased tariffs.
  • Most countries now focused only inside their borders. No energy was to be wasted anywhere else.
  • There were still aggresive states, though, like Japan, which sought conquering more land as the solution for their hardship. They invaded Manchuria, claming that they would starve without Manchuria.

The Impact of the Great Depression p.67 (Kristen and Kerry)

  • The great Depression was the single greatest reason for the collapse of all previous efforts to maintain international peace and cooperation
  • The Depression destroyed the economic welfare of the world and murked its optimistic spirit
  • It was the Great Depression, more than any other reason, that brought Hitler to power in Germany, which also seriously endangered efforts to maintain peace
  • Hitler's solutions to Germay's economic weakness was to promote territorial expansion in order to seize resources
  • The Depression created reasons for aggression in the Manchurian crisis
  • Nations lost motivation to co-operate to preserve peace
  • Result: League and its founding principle of collective security were exposed as hollow
  • Powers who had pledged support for collective security were now even less able to stand behind it, assuming that they had any desire to do so anymore.
  • The Depression seriously weakened Britain and France, who had tried to defend the Versailles agreement and the precepts of the League.
  • Weakness was exposed by the Manchurian crisis.
  • Manchurian crisis: encourage aggression in the form of Mussolini's attack on Abyssinia, ending the Stresa Front agreement, and providing Hitler with an ally in his desire for conquest.

Manchuria 1931-33 (pg. 68)—Jennifer K. and George A.

  • Japan's industrial revolution in the late 19th century; became the largest industrial power in Asia
  • This economic development was based (like the UK) on the exports to foreign countries
  • Due to its lack of natural resources and growth of the population through the industrial revolution, Japan depended on the export of manufactured goods especially to the U.S. to maintain prosperity
  • The collapse of the American markets and higher tariffs in the Great Depression created a huge economic disaster in Japan; massive unemployment and starvation in rural areas were common
  • This economic hardship led to demands for action by radical nationalist groups of army officers; they demanded the government to take action to protect the population and protect Japan from the failures of the liberal capitalist system
  • Japan's alternative was to take over the Chinese province of Manchuria, which held a vast wealth of natural resources
  • The decision to take over Manchuria was easier because Japan had already made significant economic investments in the region since the Russo-Japanese War and maintained troops in the city of Port Arthur to protect its interests
  • Civil War in China resulted in a warlord in Manchuria. Concessions forced from the weak Chinese government and the Treaty of Versailles allowed Japan to increase its influence in China.
  • Military an invasion of Manchuria made sense.
  • Japan occupied Korea since 1910 and China could offer no effective resistance.
  • There were no Western bases in the Pacific (Washington Conference of 1922) and the Depression had minimized any chance of a Western response.
  • Japan invaded Manchuria on the pretext that China had attasked her property and citizens.
  • This scenario was created by radical nationalists in order to ensure popular support for the invasion. In 1932 the puppet state of Manchukuo had been established.
  • The League of Nations was directly challenged. China, as a member, appealed for support against Japan but nothing was done.

Page 69 (Maya and Lucy)
Legacy for the League

  • United States and UK were not able to cooperate on a policy with respect to Manchuria.

- Neither wanted to be responsible for taking the lead.

  • Japan and Manchuria = not central concerns to European powers
  • Collective security in the Far East = dead.
  • USA and UK entered into policy of appeasement.

- in order to accommodate the demands of the revisionist powers—in hopes that they would
become less aggressive and not create any other world conflict
- idea that reasonable revisions and negotiations would be the best way to avoid war

Failure of Collective Security, Manchuria 1931

  • member of the league = United Kingdom and France

- had substantial military force
- neither had bases in Far East to support an effective challenge

  • British Navy = state of crisis

- mutiny over proposed pay cuts
- crucial absence of motivation to undertake a military commission

  • Nations would normally engage in hostilities when something of vital interest to their security or welfare is at stake. (Not the case with Manchuria)
  • difficult to convince the British public that an expedition with resulting cost in lives and resources would be to their advantage
  • Democracies cannot make major foreign policy decisions that the public will not support—especially wars.
  • 1930’s – very unlikely that the United Kingdom would get involved
  • The depression was everyone’s main focus —- no one was willing to sacrifice anything when they were unemployed, unfed, etc.
  • Anti-war pacifist movements were very strong
  • People preferred to think that the League of Nations would handle it and maintained that war should only occur in self-defense

- The United States was probably expected to get involved because …

  • the precedent set by the Open Door Policy (an American policy which supported equal access for all countries to trade and economic opportunities; opposed colonial and other political restrictions to trade and investment)
  • had been suspicious of Japan for a long time
  • had rivaled Japan for power in the Pacific and could have assumed that the Manchurian action was a challenge of American interests

- In the end, the United States did nothing

- Why was there no response from the United States? (this paragraph continues onto page 70)

  • lack of armed forces or bases necessary to support any military expedition
  • very strong policy of isolationism would have made it hard to gather any support for involvement
  • severe effects of the depression = focus on the internal domestic problems and refusal to give away any resources

Page 70 (Matthew and Emily)

  • Americans were more concerned about the domestic economic crisis than collective security
  • The U.S. had significant investments in China and the Far East; did not want to oppose Japan because the U.S. would not be able to protect their interests in Asia from Japanese hostility.
  • The League was basically powerless; since it didn't have armed forces of its own, the only thing it could do was condemn and publicly disapprove of Japan's actions, which Japan was unconcerned about.
  • League sent out a "fact-finding mission" under Lord Lytton
  • Lytton Commision Report (1932): recognized that Japan had grievances about situation in Manchuria but shouldn't have resorted to force
  • Suggested that China give Manchuria independence and Japan withdraw troops
  • Japan refused—withdrew from the League of Nations
  • Manchuria became Manchukuo, puppet state in Japanese Empire

Abyssinia 1935-6 Pg. 71
Marshall and Michael

Background to Abyssinia

  • Adolf Hitler takes power in Germany
  • He is bent on reasserting the power of Germany
  • Geneva disarmament talks fail
  • Germany withdraws from the League of Nations
  • Italy a major player in Europe after the Lacarno agreement
  • Italy defended the Versailles Treaty in 1934 when Germany tried to annex Austria
  • Hitler's rise would mean less power for Italy
  • Confrontation might occur with Germany over South Tyrol
  • Mussolini met with allies on order to make an agreement to counterbalance German power
  • They pledged to resist if Germany tried to modify the Versailles agreement by force

Why Abyssinia? Page 72
Laura and Gabbie

  • Hitler's new power meant that Italy no longer played a major role in Western or Central Europe. So he looked somewhere else for an ego boost aka Abyssinia.
  • Fascist ideology supported national strength and pride aka getting more territory.
  • Also wanted a "new Roman Empire."
  • Good choice because it was the only African territory available and located new to two existing Italian colinies.
  • Location of humiliating event in Italian history. Italy was the only European power to be defeated by a native African state. Revenge time!
  • Possible oil deposits and oulet for the surplus Italian population.
  • A pool of army recruits in future years
  • The Stresa Front= relationship with UK and France. Both agreed that Abyssinia was in Italian sphere of interest.
  • He was also part of the anti-Hitler coalition so he thought they would allow him to gain colonies in return for his support.

The lack of opposition to Italy
By Shandra and Alex

  • Began in 1934 when Mussolini used the border skirmish between Abyssinia and the Italian Somaliland as an excuse to plan a full-scale invasion
  • Invasion began in Oct. 1935
  • Oct 7, Italy declared the aggressor and economic sanctions were imposed on the nation; however the sanctions did not include oil and steel and the UK did not close the Suez Canal to Italian shipping.
  • UK and France pressured to either make sanctions work, to make it seem as though the League was a genuine force of peace, or placate Italy in order to maintain the Stresa front against Hitler.

*Hoare-Laval Pact: planned to give Mussolini two-thirds of Abyssinia and leave the rest as an independent state; Pact did not go through because it caused a negative reaction by the public, especially Britain

  • No way to stop the Italian invasion without force so by May 1936, Abyssinia was in Italian hands.

Significance of the crisis

  • The League and concept of collective security were exposed as ineffective
  • UK and France could not take any action that risked war because they could not defend themselves
  • crisis revealed the weakness of the powers defending Versailles and the League
  • Since the UK and France were unwilling to support Mussolini's goals in Africa, his only option was to associate himself with someone stronger—Hitler.
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