Mar. 19 – League of Nations

Gay Lynn HillBell Ringers, Government(BR)

On Mar. 19, 1920, the United States Senate rejected Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations treaty.

Woodrow Wilson believed that forward-thinking individuals could use the example of World War I to end war altogether. His idealism, however, was in stark contrast with the goals of the allies, who wanted to punish Germany.

The linchpin of the new world order which was going to eliminate war was the creation of a “League of Nations.” American senators, however, were skeptical of allowing the United States to enter into a new “entangling alliance” – ongoing involvement in the skirmishing and backroom deals which characterized world politics. As a result, they rejected the Treaty. The key provision was a requirement that members send troops in case of conflict. Agreeing to such a provision would be tantamount to giving the League power over American decisions about going to war.

The League nevertheless was formed – with the United States – and engaged in a series of negotiations ending in treaties designed to prevent conflict. When Adolf Hitler came to power, however, he simply withdrew Germany from the League, and any restrictions it placed on his freedom to rearm.



Questions:
  1. Do you believe the United States should transfer authority over its foreign policy to international bodies (such as today’s United Nations)? What are some benefits and drawbacks in doing this?
  2. One result of the experience of the rejection of the League of Nations is that American presidents today often use other means that treaty to make agreements with foreign governments. One example is the Iranian Arms Deal signed by President Obama. Such agreements are much easier to repeal when a new president takes office, but perhaps such agreements are the most that the United States can achieve in this day of highly partisan politics. How do you think having such a politically divided public affects American foreign policy?
  3. Do you think that something like the League of Nations might have prevented World War II, had the U.S. been a part? Why or why not?

Image Citation:

AZ Quotes.  13, Mar. 2018, Woodrow Wilson Quote “This is a war to end all wars.” [Digital image].  Retrieved from <azquotes.com>.