The hopes at the end of the First World War for a new era in international relations and an end to war had been based on the concept of ‘collective security’, of which the twin pillars were disarmament and the League of Nations. The developments of the first few years of the 1930s seriously undermined these hopes. The long-awaited Disarmament Conference had failed to reach an agreement on land armaments limitation. Despite the Washington and London conferences, agreement on naval limitation was by no means complete. Germany was firmly under the control of a regime which had openly expansionist aims and was blatantly rearming. The messages emanating from the other major fascist state, Italy, were somewhat confusing, but Mussolini’s constant incitement of the Italians to warlike attitudes, his glorying in the instruments of war, the savage nature of the Italian reprisals on the rebels against their rule in Libya and their fomenting of discord in Yugoslavia led some foreign diplomats to see Mussolini as ‘one of the chief existing dangers to European peace’.1 While the hopes for disarmament and for a growing commitment to peace were disappointed in Europe, the League had also failed to curb Japanese aggression in Manchuria.
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- The End of Collective Security
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