Compare and Contrast the factors that helped and hindered attempts at collective security in the 10 years after each World War


From IBDP May 2013 History PAPER 2 TZ2
 Compare and Contrast the factors that helped and hindered attempts at collective security in the 10 years after each World War

                  Looking at the post-war periods (1919-1929 and 1945-1955) it becomes clear that the efforts and factors that helped and hindered the attempts made at collective security are directly linked to Germany. Hence, this essay shall analyse the attempts at collective security made, ye recognizing the significance of Germany indirectly conveyed by the given time frames within this question. Mainly economic and political factors influenced collective security, therefore the following essay is structured accordingly.
                  Beginning with attempts at collective security as a result of the First World War, one must clearly begin with the Paris peace treaties of 1919 and 1920. Clearly the Treaty of Versailles, being the most known amongst these, must be dealt with in more detail. Why is it that French Ferdinand Foch described it as: “This is not peace. This is an armistice for 20 years.”? Its significance is due to the fact that it dealt with Germany – the most difficult candidate to handle after the war: Was she to blame or not? How harsh should the consequences be? These were the questions that led to the main disagreements among the three leading discussers (French Clemenceau, British Lloyd George and American Wilson) who were aiming to prevent a proximate German revolt yet leaving room for it to rebuild itself, while simultaneously establishing conditions that would help collective security within the coming time. It is clearly the agreements of Versailles – dealing with Germany – that were most crucial in the influence on collective security in the coming years not the treaty of St. Germain dealing with Austria or Neuilly dealing with Bulgaria, yet which were also attempts at helping the establishment of conditions for collective security.
Clearly all attempts to help collective security 1919-1929 were related to Germany. The financial aid that it was supplied with was the only effort of the US in European aid through the Dawes Plan of 1924 and the Young plan of 1929. The political agreements also related to German such as the Rapallo treaty, where Germany itself attempted to help collective security  by improving its relationship with Russia through releasing tension from the imposed ideas of Brest-Litovsk. Just as the Locarno Treaty of 1925 focussing on Germany being treated equally, which is often seen as the ‘climax of fulfilment’ and a step towards world peace. The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 which renounced to the use of aggression in the solving of political conflicts was immediately signed by Germany which clearly focussed on previous German actions such as WWI and the Franco-Prussian war.
However, one could possibly argue that the highlighted focus on Germany was simply a result of the fact that it was blamed for the war and was forced to pay incredible reparations (articles 231 & 232 of the Versailles Treaty) and that these were not always the attempts to help collective security but attempts to support Germany. The really significant events affecting collective security were related to the League of Nations which Germany only joined in 1926! Events such as the plebiscite of the Aaland Islands of 1920 (helping collective security) or Corfu of 1923 (hindering collective security through showing the league’s and Europe’s weaknesses) are significant aspects of collective security between 1919 and 1929. On the other hand French historian André Le Breton would potentially argue that it was the Ruhr invasion of 1929 which in his words is “the key event of collective security in the interwar period”, that must be looked at more closely. It was an event clearly hindering collective security, but interestingly again is also directly linked to Germany and the Treaty of Versailles. This is because Le Breton refers to the invasion of 70,000 French and Belgian troops of the Ruhr area in January 1923 as a result of Germany not paying its reparation fees agreed upon in Versailles. One can certainly debate Germany’s affect on collective security yet one can see that all the events mentioned in the above are political or economic efforts made but frequently not aiming directly at affecting collective security, rather than aiming at a more directed and narrow purpose. The U.S. wanting to support the German recovery or the French wanting to punish Germany for not paying its fees has more selfish purposes, rather than being aimed at affecting collective security. However it can be agreed upon, that even if events affecting collective security were not based on Germany within the given time frame, it certainly played a very significant role in determining and affecting it.
As to collective security after WWII, the time frame therefore being 1945 to 1955 also initiates with a conference dealing with Germany – the Potsdam Conference of July to August 1945. Throughout this period it can be seen how Germany was seen as a “power vacuum” in Europe and how this was a clear factor affecting collective security after the war. When looking at the Potsdam conference, one must look at the Yalta conference of February 1945, yet it is important – especially when answering this question which clearly specifies that one must analyse 10 years AFTER each World War – that this conference was still held during the war. However it is so crucial and affected the following Potsdam conference so significantly that it must be considered as well, especially because it is often argued that it was the perspective change of the powers from one conference to the other, which mostly affected the conflicting relationships in Europe afterwards, obviously affecting collective security. The Yalta conference of February and the Potsdam conference of July and August 1945 discussed (as at Versailles, and in fact seen by some as the “Versailles of WWII”) the consequences Germany would have to deal with after WWII including reparations and its division into zones. Yet what can be seen is that within this time frame Germany was the source of a conflict between two “super powers” with very conflicting ideologies and policies: the democratic United States and communist Russia. The Iron Curtain Speech of March 5th 1946 in which Winston Churchill argued that “an iron curtain has descended” among Europe, the Russians reacted by claiming he had “declared war on the Soviet Union. Yet, meanwhile the USSR pursued its “Salami tactics” gradually taking over Eastern European countries until 1948: Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia and East Germany – clearly not encouraging collective SECURITY if not acting against it. The Truman Doctrine of March 1947 was the beginning of what the Russians called “dollar imperialism” as they began to financially support Western countries and as a result Stalin formed “Cominform” in October of the same year taking control over the economy of all Communist states. Hence one can see how the conflict of treating Germany after the war, being a significant ‘power vaccuum’, was a source of conflict catalysing a competition for power which completely hindered the development of collective security and led to the next war – the Cold War.
In conclusion, one can clearly see that Germany was the main source of conflict and debate within the two given time frames and therefore was one of the key factors helping and hindering collective security. In  the first it led to efforts helping it and therefore supporting collective security, while in the second it initiated an increasingly heated pursuit of power as it itself was a ‘power vaccuum’ and therefore encouraged the hindering of collective security. What one can definitely say is that it was the main factor affecting collective security within the two given time frames, as it affected the most of the political and economic efforts made.