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World Wars

Tuesday, May 22 2012, 2:18 PM

Total Wars Societal Implications


Causes Military Factors

1. Germany was trying to expand its navy to match £ naval supremacy. This was less out of the concerns to protect its colonial empire and more for its ambitions to become the strongest power by combining her traditional land supremacy with naval supremacy. That £ opposed it not because of the threat it posed to her colonial empire but because her naval supremacy was the only guarantee for her own independence.

2. The shocking defeat of Russia in the war with Japan dangerously exposed the changed balance of power in Europe. It allayed the traditional German nightmare of a 2 front war and thus made it more aggressive. It made France more insecure and thus made it go deeper into £ laps and strengthen their alliance.

The Contradictions of Versailles Contradictions with Fourteen Points

1. The first of the Fourteen Points was that no secret negotiations and alliances will take place and all conferences will be held in open. When this was applied to the Paris peace conference, it led to a hopelessly slow conference and had to be abandoned there itself. The small and the defeated powers were kept out.

2. Freedom of seas was something which £ refused to guarantee.

3. The Fourteen Points nowhere stipulated the harsh treatment which was met out to Germany in the treaties.

Imposition of Democracies

1. The wartime slogan of the allies was 'war for democracy'. Naturally after the war, democracies were setup in the defeated countries. For some time it seemed that the experiment had succeeded and the world had become safer for democracy, but it wasn't to be for long. No attention was paid to the socio-economic fabric of these countries. They wanted to setup democracies in these countries and yet force them to accept severely penalizing peace conditions. How is it possible for any democratic government to do that and yet retain legitimacy in the country. Then they kept these democratic government weak in the fear that if they become too strong they might rise again. Obviously democracy can't work in such situation and specially when these countries had been ruled by monarchies and aristocracies for centuries and were not ready for democracy immediately. Thus within a few years democracies were overthrown and replaced by military dictatorship.

2. The assumption of the treaty was that a democratic government will be a peace loving government and would keep radical nationalism and militarism under check. Obviously this was to backfire.

economic duress, the government didn't have any legitimacy, there were coups and counter-coups and soon Hitler came up.

4. In Italy the government was weak anyways and lost all its credibility when she failed to gain anything out of Versailles. The economic hardships meant there were large strikes and deterioration of law and order. Communists and anarchists tend to gain in such an environment and fearing them, the bourgeoisie handed over the power to the thugs of Mussolini in 1924.

5. In Hungary, democracy lasted for only 5 months. A liberal government was setup initially which pleaded Hungary to be treated as a successor state and not enemy state. But the demand was rejected. Subsequently, Hungary negotiated a separate treaty with France in the hope of getting better terms. But Rumanians continued to invade in its eastern territories (in defiance of all treaties) and she was forced to retreat even from the agreed frontiers. This led to its collapse and power went into the hands of a communist. This alarmed the western powers who blockaded Hungary and threatened military action. This led to power going into the hands of a military general.

6. Austria wanted to unite with Germany but when allies forbade it, she had to setup her own democratic institutions. She knew no nationalism before that and was held together by loyalty to Habsburgs. So she chose a federal structure but it was kept very week by vested interests. This led to the establishment of a far right army soon which proved disastrous for it in 1934.

Issue of Communism

1. This formed an overriding factor for which all other principles could be sacrificed. We have seen how a communist government in Hungary was overthrown with a show of force by the allies. It also served to make states like Finland, Poland, Rumania as large and strong as possible so as to counter communist Russia @ her borders.

Constituting Nations

1. The newly created nations were a mere collection of diverse territories not bound by any common feelings of nationalism. Though the right to self determination and nationalism were the mainstay of the fourteen points, the treaties were signed keeping in mind the considerations of economic viability and keeping the balance of power against Germany so as to prevent her resurgence as an aggressive state again (by surrounding her with large, military defensible neighbors). This led to multiple violations of nationalistic principles and sowed seeds for further discontent. Also it seemed wise to follow the existing lines of communication and roads and to combine industrial and agricultural areas into one nation so as to make the nation viable.

2. Thus Yugoslavia comprised not only Serbia but westernized areas of Croatia and easternized areas of Macedonia. She was given Albania in order to give her access to the sea, but this clashed directly with Italian interests. Also that such a large nation come up in Balkans which could rival Italy again stoked discontent in Italy. Yugoslavia comprised of multiple races and minority ethnic groups which just before the war had been fighting each other and after the war were put in one nation!

3. Czechoslovakia comprised of industrialized areas of Bohemia along with the backward peasant areas of Slovakia and Ruthenia. In order to make here industrially viable and militarily defensible, she was also given Sudenteland where more than 3 million Germans lived but it was believed that the Bohemian mountains were the only militarily defensible frontier for her.

4. Access to sea to Poland could only be given at the cost of Germany by giving her territories of W Prussia and the Polish corridor. This would leave Germany with a permanent grudge.

Issue of Minorities

1. Since the principles of nationalism had to be sacrificed for the principles of economic viability and military defensibility, many nationalities were left in other states as minorities. The treaty makers for some reason had hoped that the new states would be peace loving and these minorities would be treated well. But the treaty was wrong again. These states had been fighting each other before and during the war and as such the minorities were often seen as the 'enemy' in these nations. How could then it be expected that Hungarians would be treated well in Romania and Yugoslavia, Germans in Poland, Poles in Germany, Bulgarians in Yugoslavia and so on.

2. To handle this issue, the allied tried to induce the successor states and the defeated states to guarantee the protection of minority rights. But the treaty didn't create any mechanism to ensure the implementation of these provisions and the protection of minority rights except by creating a feeble minorities commission in LoN which had no powers. It was hoped that the danger of international publicity would deter the new nations from harshly treating their minorities but it had no such effect. On the other hand, such allegations fanned more radical nationalism.

Issue of International Trade

1. The treaty created multiple mid size states and enhanced the length of borders in Europe by 4000 miles. This had an important effect in the post war world of prohibitive tariffs.

War Guilt Clause

1. This met with universal resistance in Germany for it essentially meant that all the Germans who had died in the war had died for an unjust cause. This complicated situation in Germany on many fronts (anti- semitism, extreme nationalism, loss of credibility of the government etc.).

Reparations Clause

1. At the time of signing the treaty the allies were not able to come up with any figure on reparations. Thus they created a Reparation Commission and asked Germany to sign that she will pay whatever be the amount fixed by the Commission. This was like signing a blank check and leaving the question of reparations to post war politics. £ had suffered little destruction on land herself and saw Germany as a potential valuable market. So she was not interested in fixing very high reparations. France on the other hands saw these reparations not only as a means to compensate her for the losses of the war but also as a potential tool to keep Germany weak in future and ensure her security. So she wanted highest possible reparations. After prolonged haggling an amount of £6.6 bio was fixed which was so high that it actually aroused £ sympathies for Germans. This meant that when Germans violated it, £ public opinion would not automatically mobilize against it.

2. The first payment of the reparations was received only after a French threat of occupying Ruhr. During next 3 years Germany made payments in kind but in 1923 she announced she couldn't make any further payments. Thereupon the Belgian and French troops occupied Ruhr arousing much sympathy for Germany in £ and other countries. The government and the workers resisted passively and the production came to a standstill. Paper currency was printed on a large scale and by November, 1923 Germany suffered from one of the worst hyperinflation in the history. It was thus clear enough that she won't be able to make any more payments.

payment of reparations over a period of 59 years in cash. As a result of these foreign loans and new FDI Germany was able to buildup her infrastructure and industries back. Finally in 1932 in the Lausanne Conference, the reparations ceased and in any case in 1933 after the Nazis captured power even the repayment of the foreign loans made earlier (under the Dawes and the Young plans) also ceased. Thus it can be questioned how much in reparations she actually paid except for the first 3 years when she paid in kind. These reparations (in kind) were also not free from trouble in the allied countries for it was like dumping which would ruin the domestic production.

Addressing French Security Concerns

1. France was the most anxious state and she wanted to prevent a resurgence of Germany in future at any cost. Thus many German territories were given to her neighbors in order to make them strong and defensible. Other restrictions were also imposed. Clemenceau even wanted the bridges of Rhineland for France to guarantee her future security but the allies refused since they feared it would create an Alsace-Lorraine in reverse. Instead they offered him a joint £-US guarantee for automatic and immediate military support in case French security was threatened by Germany. France agreed reluctantly but this guarantee was soon rendered void when the US senate refused to ratify the treaty and £ too backed off saying such an action by US invalidated her obligations also.

2. As a result France was forced to create a 'Little Entente' by making a network of alliances with the succession states like Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Rumania whose very survival depended upon the maintenance of the Versailles order. But this meant that she now was guaranteeing their security against Russia, Lithuania, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Bulgaria as well. She had now assumed the role of preserving the Versailles order just as Austria had taken the role of preserving the Vienna order. This led to diplomatic and military overburdening of France.

3. France was also increasingly worried that an alliance might come out of Germany and Russia and this nightmare seemed to be coming true for some years as Germany and Russia increased bilateral relations. This was made worse by the apparent shifting of interest of £ to outside europe into her colonial empire and US in pacific. The unbalance of power on which the treaty depended so much for its fulfillment was now rapidly being redressed in Germany's favor.

4. To allay her security concerns, France first proposed in LoN in 1923 a Treaty of Mutual Assistance which stipulated that in the event of an aggression, within 4 days of the outbreak of hostilities, the LoN should decide which party is the aggressor and automatically be obliged to give military aid against it. Earlier the military obligations of LoN were optional. £ rejected it since she was against automatic obligations. As a compromise in 1924, the Geneva protocol was proposed by France where it sought to plug the loopholes (condition of unanimity and optional nature of sanctions) in LoN by proposing that if there was no unanimity then the matter may be referred to arbitrators and the member nations will abide by the decision of such arbitrators. But again £ and her dominions refused it.

5. Locarno: Due to above rejections, France began to seek £ guarantee for her border with Germany. By 1925, £ was in a more conciliatory mood and was prepared to give a guarantee for the Franco- German border against an aggression by any party. This guarantee was extended to include Belgium- German border as well as the demilitarized areas of Rhineland. Italy too joined in and it was decided that Germany should join LoN. In October 1925, 3 set of treaties were signed - (a) Treaty guaranteeing Franco-German and Belgium-German border, (b) Treaty of mutual guarantee between France on one side and Czechoslovakia and Poland on the other, and (c) Treaty of arbitration between Germany on hand and France, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium on the other. The effect of the last 2 treaties was that since £ would not guarantee the eastern borders, France should and that Germany would submit any border dispute to arbitration. It was the first treaty which recognized the needs of both Germany and France. This was the best security arrangement which France could get while Germany came back in the international circle of powers (and also reduced its chances of

affiliating with Soviet Union). But it had grave implications as well for now it graded the borders with the western borders being ranked more sacrosanct than the eastern. £ distinction between the frontiers which she would guarantee and which she would not guarantee undermined the general obligations of the whole Covenant. It divided the indivisible peace of Versailles and made it clear that now the Versailles order depended upon the willingness of Germany and didn't have any international backing. She could now easily disregard her eastern borders without any threat of £ action (in fact without threat of French action as well since if French attacked Germany, £ wouldn't come to French aid and France alone couldn't harm Germany). France clearly overburdened herself without the partnership of £. It also undermined the authority of LoN since now it distinguished between its members and the idea of collective security went into drain. There were technical absurdities too for how could £ armed forces prepare a joint defence plan with French if they could be made to fight against France also. This also had the effect of weakening LoN further since while Germany was being inducted as a permanent member, Poland, Span and Brazil too raised the same demand. Inducting Poland as a permanent member would have canceled out Germany's vote, so a new level of semi-permanent members was created and Poland was admitted to it. But Spain and Portugal declined and resigned from LoN. LoN now had no representative from Americas. As a result of increasing pacifism (borne out of Locarno and otherwise), all the concessions which allies had made to Germany became a source of tension. Allied military control of Germany had ended in 1927. The Young Plan of 1929 gave her loans and removed the financial controls imposed on her. £ pressed for ending the allied occupation of rhineland and by 1930, all Allied troops were withdrawn from Rhineland. Now it was only Germany's willingness which lay between peace and the war.

Treatment of Colonies

1. The allied powers had gotten their support from the colonies in the name of providing right to self determination after the war. But once they won the war, they made it clear that such a rule was not to be applied to the colonies (a direct violation of Fourteen points as well). Obviously this created resentment everywhere.

2. Moreover as a settlement of Turkey under the treaty of Severes, £ got Palestine, Iraq and Jordan while French got Syria and Lebanon as 'mandates'. Plans were made even to partition Anatolia itself among the allies. While Mustafa Kemal accepted the loss of Arab territories he could in no way accept the partition of Turkey itself. £ and France sent their troops. This led to a nationalistic revolution in 1924 and treaty of Severes had to be abolished.

Failure of League of Nations

1. It was the last of the Fourteen Points but the form in which it was actually implemented reflected the modifications to suit £ and French interests. One way of looking at it is a wider extension of Concert of Europe where all the member states may meet regularly to discuss common problems and issues threatening world peace. The League merely provided a standing machinery for doing this. Another way of looking at it was like a multilateral treaty where each member state committed itself to not only seek peaceful means to settle any dispute it may get involved in but also to share some responsibility for defending every other signatory against aggression. This notion of collective security was supposed to keep world peace by deterring the aggressor and in this the LoN failed miserably.

caused the war and the 'perfect' settlement after the war would remove the militancy from nationalism. But once such assumptions were nullified, there was no mechanism to restore the efficacy of LoN. It also had no method to ensure that only democratic governments become and remain a member.

3. The LoN was borne out of and was an integral part of the Versailles settlement and it endorsed all the settlements reached in Versailles including all their weaknesses. Thus it too endorsed the 'war guilt' clause. Thus from the start itself this (the integration with the treaty) made LoN a suspect to Germany and Russia and all the neutral states who didn't wish to be associated with the allied war plans.

4. Article 10 of the Covenant was its strength as well as weakness. Article 10 was the collective security clause which obligated each member state to respect and preserve the territorial integrity of all other member states against any external aggression. In the event of any such aggression, the LoN was obliged to take an action after discussion which could include military and economic actions. But it was this clause which was used by US senate to reject the treaty and hence the LoN.

5. Thus US, Germany and Russia kept out of it. Italy and Japan were very dissatisfied from the Versailles settlement and by extension had no interest in LoN and chose to openly violate it. Everything was left on £ and France and when France in defiance of £ opinion occupied Ruhr in 1923, it further reduced any enthusiasm in LoN. A system like LoN can work when there is balance of power among multiple nations which have rival interests but clearly the power realities of the world were not reflected in the LoN. Otherwise there is no one left to check the aggressions of the powerful nation in the system and hence the credibility of the system gets eroded. Thus no action was taken against French aggression and this emboldened Italy to violate it later in Ethiopia and Albania and then Japan in Manchuria. Even France was apprehensive about its efficacy and thus sought to secure its security outside LoN by signing pacts with Poland, Czechoslovakia and Rumania.

6. The procedure of decision making in LoN was ill suited to taking any international action. Any international action could be taken only by its assembly in which every state had one vote and a complete unanimity was required. This amounted to giving a veto even to the smallest of the power. On the other hand the council which had major powers had mere recommendatory role and it could recommend only on subjects which were referred to it by the assembly.