Courtesy Reuters

The Non-Political Achievements of the League

THE anxious drama of the political and economic crises that have convulsed the world during the past twenty years has tended to detract attention from many of the more prosaic yet profound changes that have taken place in the organization of international life. For these changes the League of Nations, more than any other institution, has been responsible. The place which that institution deserves in the history of our time will doubtless be the subject of controversy for decades to come. Some students will feel that it was doomed to failure by the very form of its constitution or by its political environment; others that it might have succeeded if only certain events had turned out differently -- if, for instance, the United States had not withdrawn at the start, or if the Allied Governments controlling its destinies had been more positive in conciliating Germany, or if the League Powers (with the United States) had been more firm in putting down aggression when it first occurred in Manchuria or Ethiopia, or finally, if the so-called Have-Not Powers had been content to wait till the operation of the natural forces of history had given them the new resources they desired.

But however widely opinion may differ concerning the accomplishments of the League as a whole, there is unanimity of judgment as to the value of its technical and non-political work. Unhappily, that work has been obscured by the more exciting events of postwar history. It is one of the lesser tragedies of this tragic period that few people know and appreciate the great progress which has been made on the humble level of what might be called the world's daily business. The League's own reverses, particularly in the Disarmament and Economic Conferences and in the Manchurian and Ethiopian disputes, have distracted attention from its solid but less conspicuous successes. This is the more regrettable because, by distorting our understanding of events since 1919, valuable clues as to what the future may hold in

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