Developed in 1919 at the Paris peace conference, US President Woodrow Wilson hoped the League would ensure that the First World War truly was “the war to end all wars.”
Based on his Fourteen Points and rooted in the ideology of liberal internationalism, the League was supposed to go further than the Concert of Europe had in the 19th century. Its aim was to give all countries a voice, to promote self-determination and to unite the world.
During the 1920s the League had modest successes, resolving a dispute between Greece and Bulgaria amongst others. But the League was doomed from the outset, as the isolationist US Senate refused to ratify it. It had no military power, and it did not include the powerful Russia, which was by then under Communist control and, was not allowed to join.
In 1926 "peace-loving” Germany joined. The country had been kept out initially, under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. But it would only be a member for seven years.
Then, in January 1933 Adolf Hitler became German Chancellor. The League was at the time fixated on reaching an international disarmament agreement, but efforts to limit army sizes prompted the departure of Japan in March 1933 and then Germany a few months later.
The League was officially disbanded after the Second World War and many of its principles were adopted by the United Nations, founded in 1945.
What the JC said: Much nebulous rhetoric has been uttered as though war had been definitely and finally banished for all time, and nothing remained to be done but to leave the settlement of international disputes to the assemblies of philanthropic and internationally minded statesman at Geneva….A fundamental error was committed in supposing that the League would prove to be an entity above and apart from the Governments of States admitted to membership. Sober reality has taught us that the League cannot be a Super-State.
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