Posts Tagged ‘League of Nations

10
Jan
09

On This Day, 1-10-2009: The League of Nations

January 10, 1920

League of Nations instituted

On January 10, 1920, the League of Nations formally comes into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, takes effect.

In 1914, a political assassination in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the most costly war ever fought to that date. As more and more young men were sent down into the trenches, influential voices in the United States and Britain began calling for the establishment of a permanent international body to maintain peace in the postwar world. President Woodrow Wilson became a vocal advocate of this concept, and in 1918 he included a sketch of the international body in his 14-point proposal to end the war.

In November 1918, the Central Powers agreed to an armistice to halt the killing in World War I. Two months later, the Allies met with conquered Germany and Austria-Hungary at Versailles to hammer out formal peace terms. President Wilson urged a just and lasting peace, but England and France disagreed, forcing harsh war reparations on their former enemies. The League of Nations was approved, however, and in the summer of 1919 Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Wilson suffered a severe stroke in the fall of that year, which prevented him from reaching a compromise with those in Congress who thought the treaties reduced U.S. authority. In November, the Senate declined to ratify both. The League of Nations proceeded without the United States, holding its first meeting in Geneva on November 15, 1920.

During the 1920s, the League, with its headquarters in Geneva, incorporated new members and successfully mediated minor international disputes but was often disregarded by the major powers. The League’s authority, however, was not seriously challenged until the early 1930s, when a series of events exposed it as ineffectual. Japan simply quit the organization after its invasion of China was condemned, and the League was likewise powerless to prevent the rearmament of Germany and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The declaration of World War II was not even referred to by the then-virtually defunct League.

In 1946, the League of Nations was officially dissolved with the establishment of the United Nations. The United Nations was modeled after the former but with increased international support and extensive machinery to help the new body avoid repeating the League’s failures.

“League of Nations instituted.” 2009. The History Channel website. 10 Jan 2009, 05:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6772.

On This Day

1776 – Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense.”

1861 – Florida seceded from the United States.

1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil.

1901 – Oil was discovered at the Spindletop oil field near Beaumont, TX.

1911 – Major Jimmie Erickson took the first photograph from an airplane while flying over San Diego, CA.

1928 – The Soviet Union ordered the exile of Leon Trotsky.

1951 – Donald Howard Rogers piloted the first passenger jet on a trip from Chicago to New York City.

1984 – The United States and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations for the first time in more than a century.

1990 – Chinese Premier Li Peng ended martial law in Beijing after seven months. He said that crushing pro-democracy protests had saved China from “the abyss of misery.”

2003 – North Korea announced that it was withdrawing from the global nuclear arms control treaty and that it had no plans to develop nuclear weapons.

January 10, 1946

First meeting of the United Nations

The first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convenes at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. One week later, the U.N. Security Council met for the first time and established its rules of procedure. Then, on January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.

In 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks conference in Washington, D.C., the groundwork was laid by Allied delegates for an international postwar organization to maintain peace and security in the postwar world. The organization was to possess considerably more authority over its members than the defunct League of Nations, which had failed in its attempts to prevent the outbreak of World War II. In April 1945, with celebrations of victory in Europe about to commence, delegates from 51 nations convened in San Francisco to draft the United Nations Charter. On June 26, the document was signed by the delegates, and on October 24 it was formally ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of other signatories.

“First meeting of the United Nations.” 2009. The History Channel website. 10 Jan 2009, 05:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=4666.

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15
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-15-2008: Articles of Confederation

November 15, 1777

Articles of Confederation adopted

After 16 months of debate, the Continental Congress, sitting in its temporary capital of York, Pennsylvania, agrees to adopt the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union on this day in 1777. Not until March 1, 1781, would the last of the 13 states, Maryland, ratify the agreement.

In 1777, Patriot leaders, stinging from British oppression, were reluctant to establish any form of government that might infringe on the right of individual states to govern their own affairs. The Articles of Confederation, then, provided for only a loose federation of American states. Congress was a single house, with each state having one vote, and a president elected to chair the assembly. Although Congress did not have the right to levy taxes, it did have authority over foreign affairs and could regulate a national army and declare war and peace. Amendments to the Articles required approval from all 13 states. On March 2, 1781, following final ratification by the 13th state, the Articles of Confederation became the law of the land.

Less than five years after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, enough leading Americans decided that the system was inadequate to the task of governance that they peacefully overthrew their second government in just over 20 years. The difference between a collection of sovereign states forming a confederation and a federal government created by a sovereign people lay at the heart of debate as the new American people decided what form their new government would take.

In 1787, an extra-legal body met in seclusion during Philadelphia’s summer heat to create this new government. On March 4, 1789, the modern United States was established when the U.S. Constitution formally replaced the Articles of Confederation.

Between 1776 and 1789, Americans went from living under a sovereign king, to living in sovereign states, to becoming a sovereign people. That transformation defined the American Revolution.

“Articles of Confederation adopted.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Nov 2008, 10:36 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5524.

On This Day

1806 – Explorer Zebulon Pike spotted the mountaintop that became known as Pikes Peak.

1920 – The League of Nations met for the first time in Geneva, Switzerland.

1940 – The first 75,000 men were called to Armed Forces duty under peacetime conscription.

1965 – The Soviet probe, Venera 3, was launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. On March 1, 1966, it became the first unmanned spacecraft to reach the surface of another planet when it crashed on Venus.

1966 – The flight of Gemini 12 ended successfully as astronauts James A. Lovell and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean.

1986 – A government tribunal in Nicaragua convicted American Eugene Hasenfus of charges related to his role in delivering arms to Contra rebels. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was pardoned a month later.

November 15, 1957

Nikita Khrushchev challenges United States to a missile “shooting match”

In a long and rambling interview with an American reporter, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev claims that the Soviet Union has missile superiority over the United States and challenges America to a missile “shooting match” to prove his assertion. The interview further fueled fears in the United States that the nation was falling perilously behind the Soviets in the arms race.

The interview elicited the usual mixture of boastful belligerence and calls for “peaceful coexistence” with the West that was characteristic of Khrushchev’s public statements during the late 1950s. He bragged about Soviet missile superiority, claiming that the United States did not have intercontinental ballistic rockets; “If she had,” the Russian leader sneered, “she would have launched her own sputnik.” He then issued a challenge: “Let’s have a peaceful rocket contest just like a rifle-shooting match, and they’ll see for themselves.” Speaking about the future of East-West relations, Khrushchev stated that the American and Soviet people both wanted peace. He cautioned, however, that although the Soviet Union would never start a war, “some lunatics” might bring about a conflict. In particular, he noted that Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had created “an artificial war psychosis.” In the case of war, it “would be fought on the American continent, which can be reached by our rockets.” NATO forces in Europe would also be devastated, and Europe “might become a veritable cemetery.” While the Soviet Union would “suffer immensely,” the forces of communism would ultimately destroy capitalism.

Khrushchev’s remarks came just a few days after the Gaither Report had been leaked to the press in the United States. The report supported many of the Russian leader’s contentions, charging that the United States was falling far behind the Soviets in the arms race. Critics of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s foreign policy, particularly from the Democratic Party, went on the attack. The public debate concerning the alleged “missile gap” between U.S. and Soviet rocket arsenals continued through the early 1960s and was a major issue in the 1960 presidential campaign between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

“Nikita Khrushchev challenges United States to a missile “shooting match”.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Nov 2008, 10:46 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2485.

November 15, 1969

Second moratorium against the war held

Following a symbolic three-day “March Against Death,” the second national “moratorium” opens with mass demonstrations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Organized by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (“New Mobe”), an estimated 500,000 demonstrators rallied in Washington as part of the largest such rally to date. It began with a march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Washington Monument, where a mass rally and speeches were held. Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and four different touring casts of the musical “Hair” entertained the demonstrators.

Later, violence erupted when police used tear gas on radicals who had split off from the main rally to march on the Justice Department. The crowd of about 6,000, led by members of the Youth International Party (“Yippies”), threw rocks and bottles and burned U.S. flags. Almost 100 demonstrators were arrested.

The largest protest outside Washington was held in San Francisco, where an estimated 250,000 people demonstrated. Antiwar demonstrations were also held in a number of major European cities, including Frankfurt, Stuttgart, West Berlin, and London. The largest overseas demonstration occurred in Paris, where 2,651 people were arrested.

“Second moratorium against the war held,” The History Channel website, 2008, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1486 [accessed Nov 15, 2008]

13
Feb
08

On This Day 2-13-08: Dresden

1945: Dresden devastated

On 13 February 1945, hundreds of bombers launch a massive Allied air raid against the city of Dresden, Germany. Over a three-day period, 3,900 tons of explosives and incendiaries were dropped by 1,300 British and American aircraft, reducing much of the city to smoldering rubble and killing between 35,000 and 135,000 civilians.

Some Allied officials were against the decision to bomb Dresden as Germany was clearly on the verge of collapse, and Dresden was not a German war-production city. The planners of the attack claimed that by bombing Dresden they were disrupting important lines of communication that would have hindered the Soviet offensive in the east. However, many suspected that the raid was part of an ongoing effort to terrorize the German population and thereby force an early surrender.

Dresden had been famous for its historic buildings and artwork until it became the victim of the single most destructive air raid of the European war.

http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk/site/this_day_in_history/

1633 – Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for trial before the Inquisition.

1635 – The Boston Public Latin School was established. It was the first public school building in the United States.

1900 – The Anglo-German accord of 1899 was ratified by Reichstag, in which Britain renounced rights in Samoa in favor of Germany and the U.S.

1920 – The League of Nations recognized the continued neutrality of Switzerland.

1920 – The National Negro Baseball League was organized.

1935 – In Flemington, New Jersey, a jury found Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty of the kidnapping and death of the infant son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. Hauptmann was later executed for the crimes.

1945 – During World War II, the Soviets captured Budapest, Hungary, from the German army.

1945 – During World War II, Allied aircraft began bombing the German city of Dresden.

1960 – France detonated its first atomic bomb.

1971 – South Vietnamese troops invaded Laos. They were backed by U.S. air and artillery support.

1984 – Konstantin Chernenko was chosen to be general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee, succeeding the late Yuri Andropov.

1990 – In Ottawa, the United States and its European allies forged an agreement with the Soviet Union and East Germany on a two-stage formula to reunite Germany.

2000 – Charles M. Schulz’s last original Sunday “Peanuts” comic strip appeared in newspapers. Schulz had died the day before.

I think there are many times when it would be most efficient to use nuclear weapons. However, the public opinion in this country and throughout the world throw up their hands in horror when you mention nuclear weapons, just because of the propaganda that’s been fed to them.
Curtis Lemay

They sowed the wind and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.
Arthur Harris

10
Nov
07

On This Day: 11-11 Veterans Day

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918 The Great War as it was known then, World War I as it is known today, ended.  The great European dynasties fell, millions of people died, and Communism was born.  The war would officially end the next Summer with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.  The treaty was terribly punitive and contributed to causing World War II.  One of the first mistakes made was forcing German Kaiser Wilhelm to abdicate his throne before the Allies would negotiate.  A German provisional government, which was resented by most Germans, negotiated the harsh treaty.  Adolf Hitler would later exploit that resentment during his rise to power.  US leadership learned from this mistake and at the end of World War II allowed the Japanese to keep Emperor Hirohito.

President Woodrow Wilson negotiated the end of The Great War for the United States.  He took with him his now famous Fourteen Points.  He wanted these fourteen points negotiated into the Treaty of Versailles as a condition of US acceptance.  A copy of that document appears below.  Article XIV would lead to the establishment of the League of Nations, which was the predecessor of the United Nations. 

The Europeans absolutely refused to consider Article V:

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

As an interesting historical sidebar, President Wilson was approached at Versailles by a young waiter of oriental descent who very much wanted to discuss Article V, which is now known as the “Right to Self-determination”.  In other words the indigenous people of a place have a democratic right to determine who rules them.  Wilson rebuffed the young waiter, who then left France for the Soviet Union where he was indoctrinated into Communism.  He then returned home to begin an epic struggle against the imperialist powers that occupied his homeland.  Who was that waiter Wilson rebuffed?  History knows him as Ho Chi Minh.

8 January, 1918:
President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points


(Delivered in Joint Session, January 8, 1918)


Gentlemen of the Congress:Once more, as repeatedly before, the spokesmen of the Central Empires have indicated their desire to discuss the objects of the war and the possible basis of a general peace. Parleys have been in progress at Brest-Litovsk between Russsian representatives and representatives of the Central Powers to which the attention of all the belligerents have been invited for the purpose of ascertaining whether it may be possible to extend these parleys into a general conference with regard to terms of peace and settlement.The Russian representatives presented not only a perfectly definite statement of the principles upon which they would be willing to conclude peace but also an equally definite program of the concrete application of those principles. The representatives of the Central Powers, on their part, presented an outline of settlement which, if much less definite, seemed susceptible of liberal interpretation until their specific program of practical terms was added. That program proposed no concessions at all either to the sovereignty of Russia or to the preferences of the populations with whose fortunes it dealt, but meant, in a word, that the Central Empires were to keep every foot of territory their armed forces had occupied — every province, every city, every point of vantage — as a permanent addition to their territories and their power.It is a reasonable conjecture that the general principles of settlement which they at first suggested originated with the more liberal statesmen of Germany and Austria, the men who have begun to feel the force of their own people’s thought and purpose, while the concrete terms of actual settlement came from the military leaders who have no thought but to keep what they have got. The negotiations have been broken off. The Russian representatives were sincere and in earnest. They cannot entertain such proposals of conquest and domination.The whole incident is full of significances. It is also full of perplexity. With whom are the Russian representatives dealing? For whom are the representatives of the Central Empires speaking? Are they speaking for the majorities of their respective parliaments or for the minority parties, that military and imperialistic minority which has so far dominated their whole policy and controlled the affairs of Turkey and of the Balkan states which have felt obliged to become their associates in this war?

The Russian representatives have insisted, very justly, very wisely, and in the true spirit of modern democracy, that the conferences they have been holding with the Teutonic and Turkish statesmen should be held within open, not closed, doors, and all the world has been audience, as was desired. To whom have we been listening, then? To those who speak the spirit and intention of the resolutions of the German Reichstag of the 9th of July last, the spirit and intention of the Liberal leaders and parties of Germany, or to those who resist and defy that spirit and intention and insist upon conquest and subjugation? Or are we listening, in fact, to both, unreconciled and in open and hopeless contradiction? These are very serious and pregnant questions. Upon the answer to them depends the peace of the world.

But, whatever the results of the parleys at Brest-Litovsk, whatever the confusions of counsel and of purpose in the utterances of the spokesmen of the Central Empires, they have again attempted to acquaint the world with their objects in the war and have again challenged their adversaries to say what their objects are and what sort of settlement they would deem just and satisfactory. There is no good reason why that challenge should not be responded to, and responded to with the utmost candor. We did not wait for it. Not once, but again and again, we have laid our whole thought and purpose before the world, not in general terms only, but each time with sufficient definition to make it clear what sort of definite terms of settlement must necessarily spring out of them. Within the last week Mr. Lloyd George has spoken with admirable candor and in admirable spirit for the people and Government of Great Britain.

There is no confusion of counsel among the adversaries of the Central Powers, no uncertainty of principle, no vagueness of detail. The only secrecy of counsel, the only lack of fearless frankness, the only failure to make definite statement of the objects of the war, lies with Germany and her allies. The issues of life and death hang upon these definitions. No statesman who has the least conception of his responsibility ought for a moment to permit himself to continue this tragical and appalling outpouring of blood and treasure unless he is sure beyond a peradventure that the objects of the vital sacrifice are part and parcel of the very life of Society and that the people for whom he speaks think them right and imperative as he does.

There is, moreover, a voice calling for these definitions of principle and of purpose which is, it seems to me, more thrilling and more compelling than any of the many moving voices with which the troubled air of the world is filled. It is the voice of the Russian people. They are prostrate and all but hopeless, it would seem, before the grim power of Germany, which has hitherto known no relenting and no pity. Their power, apparently, is shattered. And yet their soul is not subservient. They will not yield either in principle or in action. Their conception of what is right, of what is humane and honorable for them to accept, has been stated with a frankness, a largeness of view, a generosity of spirit, and a universal human sympathy which must challenge the admiration of every friend of mankind; and they have refused to compound their ideals or desert others that they themselves may be safe.

They call to us to say what it is that we desire, in what, if in anything, our purpose and our spirit differ from theirs; and I believe that the people of the United States would wish me to respond, with utter simplicity and frankness. Whether their present leaders believe it or not, it is our heartfelt desire and hope that some way may be opened whereby we may be privileged to assist the people of Russia to attain their utmost hope of liberty and ordered peace.

It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow nor or at any other time the objects it has in view.

We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us. The program of the world’s peace, therefore, is our program; and that program, the only possible program, as we see it, is this:

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end. For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this program does remove. We have no jealousy of German greatness, and there is nothing in this program that impairs it. We grudge her no achievement or distinction of learning or of pacific enterprise such as have made her record very bright and very enviable. We do not wish to injure her or to block in any way her legitimate influence or power. We do not wish to fight her either with arms or with hostile arrangements of trade if she is willing to associate herself with us and the other peace- loving nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and fair dealing. We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples of the world, — the new world in which we now live, — instead of a place of mastery.

Neither do we presume to suggest to her any alteration or modification of her institutions. But it is necessary, we must frankly say, and necessary as a preliminary to any intelligent dealings with her on our part, that we should know whom her spokesmen speak for when they speak to us, whether for the Reichstag majority or for the military party and the men whose creed is imperial domination.

We have spoken now, surely, in terms too concrete to admit of any further doubt or question. An evident principle runs through the whole program I have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak.

Unless this principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of international justice can stand. The people of the United States could act upon no other principle; and to the vindication of this principle they are ready to devote their lives, their honor, and everything they possess. The moral climax of this the culminating and final war for human liberty has come, and they are ready to put their own strength, their own highest purpose, their own integrity and devotion to the test.





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