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“The Leagues failure to act decisively led to the outbreak of War.” How far would you agree with this statement? Do you think the League was to wholly blame?” (8)

Many people blame the League of Nations for the outbreak of World War Two because they were not tough enough with the likes of Japan and Italy. For example, in Manchuria it took them a year to get a report together on the issue. During the disarmament conference they made a number of laws that were not tough enough. For example, using chemical weapons was banned, yet the manufacture of them was not. In Abyssinia, the League had no excuses. Although Manchuria was far away, Abyssinia was on the doorstep and was a victim of a major European power. Although they passed sanctions on Italy, they did not ban oil from the Suez Canal which would have crippled Italy. Hitler saw how weak the League was and on the very day that Mussolini announced victory in Abyssinia, Germany invaded the Rhineland. The league had lost all respect.

However, it is too easy to blame the League. Britain for example made a naval agreement with Germany in 1935 breaking the Versailles Treaty. This would only encourage Germany to rearm. Economic conditions were so bad in Europe that countries could not afford to put through sanctions. For example, Britain traded coal with Italy and couldn’t afford to lost the trade. In Manchuria, even if the League had put sanctions of oil into place, America was Japan’s main trading partner. America was not a member of the league. Countries were so afraid of another War they failed to back up their threats with the use of military action. The League is only as strong as the countries in it.

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