The origins of the league lay in the enthusiasm of Woodrow Wilson and others to set up an organization for maintaining peace after the First World War. It was included in all five peace treaties. Its main aim was to solve disputes through negotiation and avoid war as well as making the world a better place to live in. The main principal was collective security.
However the military sanctions were not that clear and detailed. For one thing it never ruled out war as illegal (but this was later amended in 1928 by the Kellogg Briand Pact). Also the covenant of the league never forced the member states to protect the covenant \u2013 they didn\u2019t have to listen to the league decisions and didn\u2019t have to do what it told them to do. This was seen especially true with the stronger, more powerful nations and they were not willing to listen to the league e.g. Japan in the Manchurian crisis.
The covenant of the league gave the League a means of influence in 4 ways. First it was able to publicly condemn a nation and public opinion might force a country to stop its wrong doings. For example in the Greek Bulgarian conflict of 1925, the league condemned Greece and it stopped its invasion of Bulgaria. The second was that it could offer arbitration, as in the Aland crisis in 1921. The covenant also permitted the use of Military and trade sanctions and these, if used properly, could stop an aggressor.
The League also gained strength from its members. From the start it had 42 nations and by 1930 60 nations had joined. They all signed the covenant, and in particular article 10 which promised collective security. The league had a healthy membership throughout its life and most countries were part of the league at some point. This meant that collective security could be offered to more countries and makes it stronger as well \u2013 the trade sanctions would be more effective if more countries cut off financial links with the aggressor.
Although the league was strong in some respects, it also had weaknesses. It major weakness came from the fact that some of the major world powers were not part of the League. Also it had no army and the military sanction clauses of the covenant were not clear.
The main weakness for the league came from the fact that some of the great powers were always missing from it. The USA with its isolationism attitudes was never a member and Japan, Italy and Germany left during the 1930s leaving only Britain and France. This meant that it was never a truly global organization, and this made collective security more difficult to work as it couldn\u2019t tell counties outside the league what to do during a crisis. As the USA was not a member of the league, collective security was not as strong as it could be. The USA was the most powerful nation in the world in terms of economic and military strength. Most countries relied on the USA for money and as a market for selling
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