Establishing Peace Efforts in Disarmament in the 1920s

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Establishing Peace
Efforts in Disarmament in the 1920s:

How far were efforts for disarmament a success / failure in the 1920s and 30s?



Military Disarmament – Geneva Protocol and Kellogg-Briand Pact

The League of Nations decided to work towards military disarmament by getting countries to agree to not going to war.

The Geneva Protocol agreed that nations would bring their disputes for arbitration to the League of Nations and not go to war while this was going on.
In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact signed by 65 nations, proposed no war over the next five years except in the case of self-defence.
This form of disarmament did have some success because there was no war for the next five years and it was widely accepted by most countries including the most powerful one of all, the United States, giving the agreement a certain amount of legitimacy.

Washington Naval Conference

Kellogg-Briand Pact

No More War Demonstration, 1920s

Preference for Individual Security by most countries

While most countries did care about collective security and disarmament, their main focus was on the individual security of their nations.

There was a still a lack of trust and old hostilities which still existed among countries. While they all agreed that disarmament was a good collective plan, they still believed that individual nations needed a certain level of arms.
Hence, disarmament failed because most countries only paid lip service towards the idea and did not want to actually put it into action as they feared and distrusted other nations and believed in defending their nations against possible foreign threats.

The failure of German Disarmament

According to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was ordered to disarm and cut down its troops and weapons.

However, the Germans disarmed slowly and took advantages of loopholes in the Treaty. For example, they trained all their limited number of troops as officers because they were secretly training their ordinary soldiers elsewhere, making their army an army of 100,000 officers with many more soldiers training secretly in other parts of Germany.
Hence disarmament failed because it was not closely monitored by the League of Nations as Germany was able to take advantage and re-arm itself secretly instead of reducing its troop numbers and weapons.

Naval Disarmament (Washington Naval Conference, Geneva Conference, London Conference)

Naval disarmament was easier to achieve because not many countries had navies although it was difficult to get nations to agree to limit their navies.

After several rounds of negotiations, targets were set by agreeing to a ratio of shipbuilding between nations to keep the number of ships built by each nation in balance. The same proportions were applied to smaller warships and the nations involved could build submarines at a low level.
Although it seemed that naval disarmament was successful as it had set out targets for countries to limit their navies, there was little or no monitoring and some of the countries involved refused to attend subsequent conferences.

Military Disarmament – Treaty of Mutual Assistance

In 1923, the League of Nations suggested a Treaty of Mutual Assistance where countries would agree to limit their arms but the League would come to their assistance if they were attacked.

Unfortunately, this was a failure because few countries agreed to it as they did not think the League of Nations, which had no armed force of its own, would have the power to render military assistance to them if the need arose.

  • Please take note that you have to work out the weighing portion on your own. When doing so, take note that you have to focus on answering HOW FAR was disarmament a success or a failure and WHY...

© TWSS Humanities Department 2010 / Elective History / Miss Elodie Sng

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