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Why did the League of Nations fail?

Author

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  • Jari Eloranta

    () (Department of History, Appalachian State University, 224 Joyce Lawrence Lane, Anne Belk Hall, Boone, NC 28608, USA)

Abstract

Why did the League of Nations ultimately fail to achieve widespread disarmament, its most fundamental goal? This article shows that the failure of the League of Nations had two important dimensions: (1) the failure to provide adequate security guarantees for its members (like an alliance); (2) the failure of this organization to achieve the disarmament goals it set out in the 1920s and 1930s. Thus, it was doomed from the outset to fail, due to built-in institutional contradictions. It can also be modeled and analyzed as a potential military alliance. The results are fairly conclusive: The League of Nations did not function as a pure public-good alliance, which encouraged an arms race in the 1930s.

Suggested Citation

  • Jari Eloranta, 2011. "Why did the League of Nations fail?," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 5(1), pages 27-52, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:5:y:2011:i:1:p:27-52
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11698-010-0049-9
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    League of Nations; Disarmament; Military spending; Alliance; Arms race;

    JEL classification:

    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • F53 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative

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