The Interwar Years (1919-1938)

Attempts at Reconciliation and Disarmament (1921-1930)

One reason that disarmament remained a nearly impossible goal for the League of Nations was its inability to persuade Britain and France to cooperate and act against their respective national interests. Britain was willing to support the vast reduction of land forces to a minimal level. However, France feared a German invasion on its borders and refused to accept any reduction in ground troops. France had no qualms about supporting drastic naval cuts, but Britain, an island nation, depended upon the navy for security, and refused to decrease naval strength. No arms agreement could be achieved while these powers refused to compromise. It took power politics and the presence of the United States to forge the little compromise that was reached.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was important not because of any practical application, but because it successfully articulated the hatred and fear of war that had developed in Europe as a result of World War One. The Soviet Union, not to be outdone, quickly adopted its own Eastern peace treaty, the Livitinov Protocol, which was signed by the Soviet Union and four other states. The concept of rival peace treaties conveys the contradictions and absurdity of inter-war politics.