Tag Archives: World Order

US Policy towards Iran Must Address Hostage-Taking

The Iranian state is often portrayed as a potential partner – the sort of country with which the West could work, if only its worldview and ambitions did not clash so obviously with the wishes of the American-underwritten world order. Continue reading

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Did the League of Nations Serve Only British and French Interests?

The failure of the League of Nations was not due, in whole or in part, to its serving only British and French interests. Rather, it can be seen that the League was essentially misconceived, and it was burdened with a machinery and a world order which could not live up to its idealistic mission. It is clear that the League was in essence an optimistic project, not equipped to deal with the change described by James Joll in his Europe Since 1870;  David Thompson agrees with this assessment, and highlights the point at which ‘the assumptions [of the League] were disappointed’, where ‘there remained no cohesive force’ in order to effect its objectives, in his book Europe Since Napoleon. If anything, as Joll suggests, the League over-depended on Britain and France, therefore alienating the only two member states capable of acting with enough authority to rescue the League from the volatile and revisionist powers of the 1930s. Continue reading

Past and Present: Writing About the Collapse of International Order

Yesterday I published an essay which attempted to examine the failure of the League of Nations and the terrible consequences of that event. The subject itself is raw; it is not distinct – and cannot be made distinct – from the suffering of the First World War and the horrors contained within (and exacerbated by) the terrible conflagration which followed that fragile peace. Sally Marks refers to the geopolitical situation of the entire period in particularly visceral terms; it was, at least for her, an ‘illusion of peace’. As I have written before, there is a great deal of emotion invested in history. For some, the possessive is always justified – and used – in discussion of the past. It is ‘our’ history, ‘my’ story, ‘your’ heritage. This may be a rather nebulous linguistic point, but it does at least betray a kind of attachment – a deep and elemental attachment, one too complex to describe as glibly as I have just done – to the past which can transcend the quotidian and inspire people to relive old anxieties, fight old battles once again, and (to paraphrase Howard Jacobson) stand haughty upon the honour of their predecessors to demand satisfaction for some ancestral qualm or quarrel. Continue reading