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An introduction to the comparison of manchurian crisis and the abyssinian crisis

The Manchurian and Abyssinian Crises and the Failure of Collective Security Anna CostaAug 11 2011, 7411 views This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree. Both the Manchurian and the Abyssinian crises represented instances of the failure of collective security as it was framed by the major powers in the interwar period.

By looking at the Sino-Japanese dispute in East Asia and at the Italo-Ethiopian conflict in Africa, this paper argues that the breakdown in enforcement of collective security was ultimately produced by three main causes.

The first is a series of problems intrinsic in the formalization of collective security by the League of Nations, namely a loose legal and conceptual formulation and vague terms of enforcement.

A second cause is broadly ascribable to the socio-political, economic and security circumstances of the international system between the First and Second World Wars as brought about by the 1929-1933 financial and economic crisis.

The third and weightiest cause is a deep contradiction at the level of how individual countries here the focus will be on Italy, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France and the United States understood collective security. The latter point needs qualification.

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Collective security, as it was framed by the major powers in the interwar period, was a concept in part oxymoronic and in part empty: A brief contextualization of the concept of collective security will help in setting the discussion.

Article 11 is extremely relevant as it encapsulates the idea of collective security as was invoked both by the Chinese in their appeal to the League of Nations after Japanese aggression and by the Ethiopians after the Italian mobilization against them. Reference to article 11 by both the Chinese and Ethiopians rested on the premise that their nations had been attacked.

  1. For now suffice it to remark on a crucial fact. Its clauses were therefore apt for meeting the eventuality of traditional, officially-declared wars, but inapt for dealing with the kind of sudden, camouflaged attacks staged by both Italy and Japan [9].
  2. Refractive an introduction to the comparison of manchurian crisis and the abyssinian crisis and inadvisable Sky descends its chutzpah intermits and becomes mundane. For now suffice it to remark on a crucial fact.
  3. Willem's chart competing, his Riesling transport corrodes subversively. Penguin Books Ltd, 1977 Marder A.

Even though it took Italy to resort to war against Ethiopia before the League took a clear stance on the Italo-Ethiopian dispute, it did so at last with the proposed imposition of economic sanctions. The inconclusive outcome of this policy will be explored later.

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For now suffice it to remark on a crucial fact: This indicates that they not only attributed legitimacy to the organization and what it stood for, but also that they believed adherence to collective security would be a viable security policy for their countries. In what follows reasons will be given for why these hopes proved misplaced. One of the main reasons why collective security proved unworkable lays in a series of problems intrinsic to the formulation of collective security by the League of Nations.

More specifically, in drafting the articles of the Covenant its architects had to reconcile internationalist principles and ideals with the preservation of national freedom of action: Looking more closely at the formulation of Article 16 of the Covenant helps understand why the League proceeded as inconclusively as it did in its policy of economic sanctions towards Italy: Quoting article 16 at length shows the distinction drawn in the Covenant between economic sanctions and military action, and lack of stringent obligations as far as the latter are concerned.

Crucially, as Dinstein argues, this formulation forbids one from speaking of a veritable collective security system [8]. An example of the internal failings of collective security as framed by the Covenant can also be found in the Manchurian crisis.

As Northedge points out, the Covenant, like all other arrangements to preserve peace, had been designed with the First World War in mind. Its clauses were therefore apt for meeting the eventuality of traditional, officially-declared wars, but inapt for dealing with the kind of sudden, camouflaged attacks staged by both Italy and Japan [9].

The unworkability of collective security resulted from a second set of determinants beyond the problems specific to the formulation of the concept. From the day of the Japanese aggression in Manchuria on 18 September 1931 to the date of the establishment of Manchuguo as a puppet state under Japanese control in 1932, the major world powers were not able to react effectively to Japanese action.

ABYSSINIA & MANCHURIA Lo – to attempt an exam question on the crisis’s of the League of Nations.

Part of what impaired them both in their resolve and in their concrete efforts was the financial and economic crisis that from 1929 brought them to their knees and diverted their attention and resources away from Manchuria and Ethiopia towards their national troubles.

Just two days after the beginning of the Manchurian crisis Britain was forced to abandon the Gold Standard. The United States was also plagued by the economic depression, a situation which eroded the basis of congressional and public support that would have otherwise been available to Secretary of State Stimson [10]himself eager to get involved in the resolution of the Sino-Japanese dispute as per his own words in The Far Eastern Crisis: France was also coping with domestic economic problems and was at any rate less well equipped to deter Japan than either Britain or the US would have been with their naval power endowment and presence in the East Asian region.

The financial crisis undermined the workability of collective security in at least two ways: The serious economic distress produced by the crisis, and the further problems caused by the global wave of protectionism that ensued, created a fertile ground for the transformation of liberal societies into militaristic and fascist ones. Had Japan not been suffering from a substantial decrease in trade with both the US and China, the latter to the advantage of the US, especially due to a sharp fall in the price of silk on which its export-intensive economy relied heavily and through which many a Japanese peasant made a living, it is not clear that the militarists would have acquired as much power as they did.

In the case of the Italo-Abyssinian crisis, it can be hypothesised that the financial crisis and protectionism disrupted the system of economic interdependence that would have otherwise incentivized Mussolini not to risk antagonizing economic partners to pursue his aims in Africa.

However, the crisis substantiated the propagandistic, demagogic argument that the problems of Japan and Italy lay abroad and should be solved by acting forcefully abroad.

In the introduction, the third cause of the failure of peace by collective action has been anticipated as residing in a deep contradiction at the level of how major powers understood collective security. National security and other interests proved impossible to reconcile with the idea of collective security because national aims and ambitions, when not openly contradicting the principle of security for all by all, did not coincide with it.

This gap provided the strongest disincentive from embracing collective security as an ideal and enforcing it as a practice. I shall begin my analysis of this disincentive by looking at the aggressors. Italy and Japan could hardly embrace the notion of collective security, despite both countries being signatories of the treaties and conventions that upheld the principle most prominently the Treaty of Versailles, the Washington Treaties and the Pact of Paris.

Collective security was framed in such a way that discouraged challenging the status quo and especially prohibited doing so in an aggressive manner. Although nominally in the circle of great powers, since the signing of the Peace Treaty of Versailles in 1919 resentment had been mounting in both Italy and Japan over the second-class treatment they had received from Britain, France and the United States.

Indeed, Italian and Japanese frustration did not merely stem from disregard of their concrete interests, but also from a more general sense of being treated as inferior: But it was not merely revisionism that made Italian and Japanese foreign policy incompatible with the principle of collective security: The other major powers did not enforce collective security as a practice, whilst subscribing to it in theory and in words.

French national priorities were such that the protection of the Chinese and Ethiopians only ranked beneath other concerns. In the case of the Manchurian crisis, the French were busy with surviving the impact of the financial crisis and did not see a dispute far off in the Asia as superseding much more pressing European economic and military security concerns.

In the case of the Abyssinian crisis, the issue at the top of the French foreign policy agenda, i. Britain was the other architect of the Hoare-Laval plan, which attempted to accommodate Italian imperialist ambitions so as not to antagonize Rome whilst preserving French and British interests in Africa.

Being France and England the pillars of the League of Nations, it is not surprising that the incongruity in their understanding of national versus collective and European versus collective security ultimately undermined the practical adherence of the League to its cardinal principles. As to the British stance during the Manchurian crisis, London saw it in its interest to go no further than to bandwagon with the US limited policy of non-recognition. As Northedge points out, it was only when British interests rather than Chinese interests were directly affected during the Shanghai crisis that Britain leaped into action, only to step back again once those narrow interests were secured [19].

Whereas European powers saw Manchuria as geographically remote, within the US, greater physical proximity translated in heightened concerns about regional an introduction to the comparison of manchurian crisis and the abyssinian crisis.

Manchurian Crisis 1931-1933

Despite the American isolationist stance in the interwar period, there was awareness at the level of government of the high stakes the US had on the developing East Asian balance of power and on the need to keep Japanese expansionist ambitions in check. In the end, however, the internal contradiction between this awareness and isolationism meant that US foreign policy was only tentative and inconclusive, with the lukewarm reaction of non-recognition of Manchuguo epitomizing this attitude.

In the same vein, the US had enough stakes in the Abyssinian crisis to allow for its involvement, but not enough stakes to justify decisive action. Whereas for France, Britain and the United States collective security merely episodically overlapped with their respective limited foreign policy priorities, German foreign policy interests were best served by the weakening of the world peace system.

This essay has provided three main explanations for the breakdown of collective security during and after the Manchurian and Abyssinian crises. Whilst all of these explanations are needed to make sense of the unworkability of collective security in the 1930s, the third cause has been presented as the weightiest in virtue of an existing hierarchy between the explanations provided.

Weaknesses intrinsic in the formulation of collective security, whilst impairing the efficient application of the principles of the covenant, did not doom it to fail. I would argue that the loose formulation of collective security did not so much prevent its efficient application, but rather allowed for its inefficient application.

  1. Indeed, Italian and Japanese frustration did not merely stem from disregard of their concrete interests, but also from a more general sense of being treated as inferior.
  2. Leicester University Press, 1988 Parker R.
  3. Both the Manchurian and the Abyssinian crises represented instances of the failure of collective security as it was framed by the major powers in the interwar period. As Northedge points out, the Covenant, like all other arrangements to preserve peace, had been designed with the First World War in mind.
  4. Just two days after the beginning of the Manchurian crisis Britain was forced to abandon the Gold Standard. Hoover Institution Press, 1976 Braddick H.
  5. Both the Manchurian and the Abyssinian crises represented instances of the failure of collective security as it was framed by the major powers in the interwar period.

Making this distinction is crucial in understanding the causality behind the failure of collective security: In the same vein, reference to the financial crisis helps explaining the incentives for aggressors to challenge the concept of collective security and the reluctance of the other major powers to devote scarce resources to its defence, but this is only a superficial explanation.

As mentioned in the essay, the lack of concrete proaction on the part of the major powers in defence of Chinese and Ethiopian interests was replaced by prompt mobilization when their perceived interests were directly at stake.

This essay has therefore identified a third causal explanation as preeminent in explaining the failure of collective security, i. This gap translated in an incentive to challenge collective security at worst, as in the case of the aggressors, and in a disincentive to embrace it as an ideal and enforce it as a practice at best, as in the case of the other major powers.

Government Printing Office, 1932 Selassie H. US Government Printing Office, 1943pp. US Government Printing Office, 1931-1941pp.

Italy, Ethiopia, and the League of Nations Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1976 Braddick H. Cambridge University Press, fourth edition, 2005 Knox M. Cambridge University Press, 2000 Knox M. Penguin Books Ltd, 1977 Marder A. Routledge, 2009 Northedge F. Its Life and Times 1920-1946, Worcester: Leicester University Press, 1988 Parker R. Government Printing Office, 1932p.

Cambridge University Press, fourth edition, 2005p. Northedge, The League of Nations. Leicester University Press, 1988p. Stimson, The Far Eastern Crisis: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1936p. Penguin Books Ltd, 1977p. Hoover Institution Press, 1976p.