Enforcement of the provisions of the treaties: US isolationism, the retreat from the Anglo-American Guarantee, Disarmament-Washington, London and Geneva Conferences

1.4.1 Problems with Enforcing of the Treaties

  • The United States never joined the League of Nations which weakened the League
  • The Anglo-American guarantee never happened
  • Germany was angry as it thought the Treaty of Versailles was unfair and harsh and so wanted the treaty revoked
  • Italy was angry as it was on the winning side, however it did not receive much territory and so the Italians wanted to revise the treaty in favour of Italy
  • Japan was only interested in issues concerning itself and not the issues concerned with the European aspects of the peace settlement  
  • The United States retreated into isolationism
  • The USSR was isolated throughout the1920's (with the exception of the Treaty of Rapallo with Germany)
  • France and Britain disagreed on the strategies concerning Germany

1.4.2 US Isolationism

  • The United States never accept the Treaty of Versailles because they did not agree with Article X and could not accept the agreement of the League of Nations and so it was never part of the League 
  • The United States did not approve of the Anglo-American Guarantee which was a measure of protection for France if Germany was to attack again
  • Isolationism was not new to the United States. It had been a big part of its history
  • After the war it returned to its isolationism and did not want to intervene outside its own areas of interest

1.4.3 The Anglo-American Guarantee

  • Security was very important to France, was very afraid of another attack from Germany once Germany regained its strength
  • France wanted the Rhineland area of Germany to be an independent state to protect itself. This state could either be neutral or under French influence. Wilson and George did not agree with this however they new that France would not give up unless it got a firm guarantee of military support from the United States and Britain.
  • The Anglo-French agreement was signed on the 28 of June 1919
  • Wilson campaigned vigorously in the United States between 1919 and 1920 to win support for the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and for the United States to join the League of Nations 
  • However the Anglo-American Guarantee was not accepted by the US Senate and so never took place
  • When the United States did not accept the Guarantee, Britain withdrew from the agreement as well
  • France no longer had a guaranteed military support from the United States and Britain

1.4.4 Rising Tension Between Japan and the United States

  • Japan wanted to expand its territory and wanted to dominate China
  • This could ruin the trade relations China had with other countries
  • The United States was not happy about this as it did not want to lose its trade with China and it had possessions in the Philippines that where threatened by Japan 
  • Japan was unhappy about the fact that the United States did not recognise Japan's position in Asia and it felt threatened by the increasing US fleet
  • As tension grew there was talk of a possible war between the two
  • The UK was very concerned about this as it had a defensive alliance with Japan
  • For this reason the UK supported the Washington Conference on disarmament

1.4.5 Disarmament

  • A major contributor to the First World War was the arms race
  • Reducing the armaments was mentioned in Wilson's Fourteen Points and it was an important target for the League of Nations
  • In doing so the goal was to reduce the threat of a future war
  • A permanent advisory commission on armaments was appointed

Support for disarmament

  • The belief that the arms race was a major cause of the war and so reducing arms would reduce the treat of a future war
  • A lot of countries where in debt, the costs of the arms where high, countries wanted to focus on rebuilding their economy

The Washington Conference 

  • 1921-1922
  • It was the most successful of the disarmament conferences
  • The major naval powers met in Washington in November 1921
  • A number of treaties where signed between December 1921 and February 1922
  • There where two reason for which the conference was called. Firstly, Japan and the UK could not afford the costs of the arms race and the United States wanted to reduce its own costs. Secondly there was growing tension between Japan and the United States in Asia and the United States wanted to avoid conflict which could involve many countries

Terms of the Washington Treaties 

  • The Four Power Treaty 
  1. USA, Japan, France and Britain
  2. The Anglo-Japanese alliance was ended
  3. An agreement to recognise each others possessions in the Pacific and if problems arose there was an agreement to reach a
    diplomatic solution
  • The Five Power Treaty
  1. USA, Japan, France, Britain and Italy
  2. Agreed to maintain a fixed constant ratio of naval armaments 
  3. No new naval armaments where to be constructed for the next ten years
  4. The United States and Britain where not allowed to build new fortresses or naval bases in the western Pacific
  • The Nine Power Treaty
  1. USA, Japan, France, Britain, Italy, China, Belgium, Netherlands and Portugal
  2. An open door for trade on China was agreed on so that all countries had equal trading rights with China
  3. Agreed to respect China's authority
  4. An agreement was also made to discuss problems of common interest

The London Naval Conference 1930

  • It was a revision and an extension of the Washington treaty
  • US, Japan, Britain, Italy and France met in London
  • Ratio of capital ships moved from 5:5:3 for the US, Britain and Japan respectively to 10:10:7
  • France and Italy did not take part in this agreement however they did agree to continue to not build new naval armaments for the next five years
  • Agreements on the numbers of submarines, cruisers and destroyers that each country could have where made
  • Submarine warfare rules where made more strict
  • The Treaty was to remain valid until 1936

The London Naval Conference 1935-1936

  • The major powers met again in 1935 to discuss the treaty of London (1930) as it was to expire the following year
  • Japan wanted equality in terms of ratio of fleets with the US and Britain but this was denied and so Japan walked out of the conference, as did Italy
  • France, Britain and the US did agree on limiting the size and number of their naval armament however this collapsed in 1936 with the Japanese and German rearmament programs and the increasing conflicts arising in the world
  • All in all, the conference was a failure 

The Geneva Conference 1932-1934

  • There was an increased demand to revise the Paris Peace Settlement
  • A number of crises had occurred in the last few years
  • The Great Depression of 1929 had reduced the optimistic outlook and international co-operation
  • The United states wanted the elimination of offensive weapons, however there where disagreements to what weapons where offensive and which were defensive
  • France was worried about German regaining its strength and so it did not want to reduce its military spending unless it got a guaranteed agreement with the other major powers to support France
  • The other major powers were not interested in a guaranteed agreement and so France refused to reduce its military spending
  • Germany wanted the major powers to either reduce their military spending to Germanys level or Germany should be allowed to increase its military spending to their level
  • This was not accepted by the major powers and so Germany walked out of the conference in 1932
  • Germany rejoined the conference in 1933
  • Adolf Hitler was now chancellor and wanted Germany to have equal treatment to the major powers
  • Once again this was denied and so Germany walked out of the conference
  • This caused Germany to embark on a rearmament scheme
  • France had no choice but to increase its military spending as it did not gain the military guarantee from either the United States nor the UK. It was well aware of Germany's larger population and industrial capacity. Decreasing its military spending was not an option for France
  • Italy was also not interested in reducing its military spending
  • The conference was a failure as no agreement was reached
  • Tension was rising in Europe and countries where starting to consider what was best for themselves 
  • Disarmament was not possible at this point as tension started to rise and there was a potential source of conflict