Diarmement Essay, Research Paper
DISARMAMENT AND INTERNATIONALISM
In the years immediatelyafter World War I,the view developed that it was the existence of the massive military machines of the European powers that had made war possible in 1914.Thus it followed that if another disaster were to be avoided,these military machines needed to be destroyed.A war cannot be fought without military power.Furthermore it was argued that the existence of large armed forces meant that any move made by any power was greeted with fear and suspicion.Consequently there was always the danger that an isolated incident could escalate into something more serious.
Unfortunately,despite all the good intentions,the story of disarmament between 1919 and the 1932 Disarmament Conference is a story of failure. Specific proposals contained too many flaws and nations took diametrically opposed positions on the entire issue.In some ways it could be argued that disarmament was and still isa logically impossible.
The first step in disarmament after the war was the treatment meted out to Germany in the Treaty of Versailles.It was hoped that this would begin a general move towards disarmament.Article 8 of the League Covenant saw disarmament as a specific goal:
The members of the League recognise that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enorcement by common action of international obligations…
Reasons for the Failure of Disarmament
*In the same way that France found it impossible to compromise over the issue of reparations,so it found it impossible to do so over disarmament. Britain saw disarmament as a means of achieving security.France believed that it was necessary to first achieve security before the process of disarmament could begin.
*The French viewed Germany as a potentially powerful nation of 70 million. France,a nation of 4 million,would always be at Germany`s mercy unless it could be sure of an ally,so it aimed at keeping Germany weak and could not move on disarmament until its security had been established.
*The major divergence of opinion on the disarmament question can be summarised as follows:
-the British desire for disarmament versus the French aim for sucurity;
-the Greman desire for disarmament versus the French aim for security;
*Throughout the 1920s Germany demanded equality.Anglo-French differences over Germany were already great and these spilled over into the area of disarmament as Britain again sympathised with the German cause.
*Added to Frances fear of a German rival was the now growing fear of Bolshevism.`The hydra-headed fear of Bolshevism added to the sense of insecurity which checked disarmament.`-1
*In some ways it could be argued that moves towards disarmament were either impossible or unnecessary.If there were no fears about the international situation,then there would be no great worry about the issue of disarmament.If nations do not fear aggression they do not worry about their neighbour`s forces;however,if these fears do exist,they are more likely to discourage disarmament and encourage rearmament.
*The fundamental reason for the failure of disarmament can be found in Article 8 of the League Covenant.Nations were to disarm to the `lowest point consistent with nationsal sefety`.Each nation had to decide for itself what this point was.As the belief in national sovereignty gradually swamped any hope for internationalism,nations decided that the `lowest point consistent with national safety` was the point at which they were stronger than any possible rivals.In such an evironment the chance for disarmament were slim.
Course Of Disarmament To The 1932 Disarmament Conference
*The first step in disarmament came in 1919 with Germany`s treatment by the Versailles Treaty.Under the terms of the treaty,Germany:
-was allowed an army of only 100 000;
-was not allowed an air force;
-had restrictions placed on her naval capacity,for example,no ships over
16 256 tonnes and no submarines;and
-had to demilitarise the Rhineland.
*In May 1920 a Permanent Advisory Commission was set up in accordance with Article 9 of the League.
*In November 1920 a Temporary Mixed Commission was established to get the disarmament process moving.
*The first major effort in disarmament came with the Washington Coference
*Washington conference was called in 1921 to discuss the arms limitation,and Pacific and Far Eastern issues.Out of this conference came three main agreements:the Four Power Treaty,the Five Power Treaty and the Nine Power Treaty.
The Five Power Treaty between the U.S,Britain,Japan,France and Italy was aimed at disarmament.
-Capital ships were to be limited to a ratio of 5:5:3:1.75:1.75 for the U.S, Britain,Japan,France and Italy,respectively.
-No Battleships were to be built for ten years.
-The status quo,regarding the powers` bases in the area,was to be maintained.
*The Five Power Treaty did not place any limits on cruisers or submarines,a situation President Coolidge tried to change at the Geneva Conference of 1927.Italy and France refused to accept any limits,and so the conference failed.
*A similar attempt by President Hoover at the London Conference of 1930 to extend the ratio to auxiliary ships also failed.
*The U.S had lost a chance at achieving naval supremacy,scrapping fifeteen ships valued at $300 million.By agreeing not to fortify naval bases between Singapore and Hawaii,Britain and the U.S effectively rendered these places virtually defenceless.
*In 1922,Britain presented the Temporary Mixed Commission with a numerical scheme of disarmament known as the Esher Plan.
-Troops would be grouped into units of 30 000
-A Washington Conference-style allocation ratio would form the basis of this plan.It was pointed out that a simple numerical unit of 30 000 is meaningless as the effectiveness of any such unit would depend on the level of armaments,training and back-up available to each army.Thus,the proposal was dropped.
A.J.P Taylor makes the point that German disarmament could only work if the Germans chose to make it work.He argues that `They could wreck the system of security against them by doing nothing.`2 The Allies had to take positive action o enforce the Versailles Treaty.Indeed the Inter-Allied Disarmament Commission of 1926 produced a report that related German evasions of its disarmament obligations under the Versailles Treaty,but because of the `spirit of Locarno` the report was quietly shelved.The Control Commission was withdrawn in 1927.
*In December 1925 the Prepatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference was set up,ready to meet in May 1926.Throughout 1926 a lot of technical work was carried out.This involved working out armaments specifications such as size of weapons,effectiveness,range,etc.
*Proposals presented in 1927 illustrate how much views diverged on the whole issue of disarmament.
-France wanted to limit only the numbers of men actually in the armed services.
-Britain and Germany wanted to limit the numbr of all trained men.
-Germany wanted material limits to be set by means of specific numbers as in the Treaty of Versailles;the French wished to achieve this by imposing budgetary restraints.
*Further attempts at naval disarmament failed at Geneva in 1927.
*The London Naval Conference of 1930 achieved only marginal success.
Britain was willing to accept a limit of fifty cruisers but France claimed they needed a lot more.