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JC H2 History Tuition Online - Why was the United Nations Formed in 1945 - Essay Notes

Why was the United Nations formed in 1945?

Topic of Study [For H1/H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Safeguarding International Peace and Security 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme III Chapter 1: Formation of the United Nations

Re-examine how the United Nations was established in 1945. [Video by HISTORY]

Historical Context: The League of Nations
To understand why the United Nations was formed, it is imperative to examine the failures of the League of Nations. The US President Woodrow Wilson envisioned an international organisation that could resolve conflicts before war broke out. On 8 January 1918, President Wilson delivered his Fourteen Points speech that called for a stable world after World War I.

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.

Fourteen Points Speech, US President Woodrow Wilson, 8 January 1918.

Afterwards, Wilson negotiated with other Allied nations during the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919, particularly the United Kingdom, France and Italy (part of the “Big Four”). It concluded with the Treaty of Versailles that included the creation of the League of Nations. By 1920, 48 nations had joined the League of Nations.

THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES, In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war by the prescription of open, just and honourable relations between nations by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.

The Covenant of the League of Nations, 28 April 1919.

The League of Nations comprised of three organs: The Council, Secretariat and the General Assembly. The Council comprised of four permanent members (Japan, Italy, France and Great Britain) and nine non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly every three years.

Inadequate global representation: Membership issues
However, Wilson’s idealistic dream of a world of “peace without victory” was not realised. Unexpectedly, USA did not join the League of Nations because Henry Lodge (headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) claimed that signing the treaty could coerce USA from acting against its own interests. Without USA, the League was frequently obstructed by political deadlocks.

Other notable powers were also excluded from the organisation, thus exposing its weaknesses in ensuring political commitment. Russia was not permitted to join the League till 1934 due to its ideological alignment with Communism.

Although Japan was a permanent member in the League Council, the League opposed the member nation’s invasion of Manchuria in September 1931. As such, Japan withdrew in 1933. Likewise, Italy withdrew in 1937 and Germany in 1933.

Lack of enforcement: Collective security principle
Also, member nations were unwilling to protect others even though the Covenant of the League of Nations specifically outlined the importance of collective security.

Any war or threat of war, whether immediately affecting any of the Members of the League or not, is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations. In case any such emergency should arise the Secretary General shall on the request of any Member of the League forthwith summon a meeting of the Council.

It is also declared to be the friendly right of each Member of the League to bring to the attention of the Assembly or of the Council any circumstance whatever affecting international relations which threatens to disturb international peace or the good understanding between nations upon which peace depends.

Article 11, The Covenant of the League of Nations, 28 April 1919.

For example, Russia attacked a port in Persia in 1920. As such, Persia requested the League to intervene, but was rejected on the grounds that Russia was not a member and would not recognise its jurisdiction.

Similarly, when Benito Mussolini of Italy invaded Abyssinia, the Abyssinian Emperor Haile Selassie appealed to the League for help, the organisation did not respond to the invasion. In fact, Great Britain and France made a secret agreement (Hoare-Laval Pact of 1935) with Italy to allow the dictator to conquer Abyssinia.

The prelude to World War Two: German Reparations
The Treaty required the provision of reparations by Germany, given its involvement in World War One. For instance, the Treaty required Germany to pay 269 billion gold marks (amounted to $37 billion). Also, Germany was demilitarised as its army was reduced to 100,000 men and weapons were confiscated.

As a result of the large reparations, Germany experienced a large fall in industrial output. General prices skyrocketed, giving rise to hyperinflation in the 1920s. Later, it paved the way for the Great Depression.

Economic problems then became a rallying point for Hitler and his Nazi Party occupied 230 out of 608 seats in the “Reichstag” (German parliament during the 1932 elections.

Failure of Disarmament: Hitler’s militarised Germany
After Hitler assumed control of the German government, he withdrew Germany from the League of Nations in 1933. Additionally, Germany underwent rearmament, which was an outright violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1939, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland. As a result, Great Britain and France declared War on Germany, thus sparking off the World War Two.

Aftermath of the War: The formation of the United Nations
Following the disastrous conflict that engulfed the entire world, the United Nations was formed from the ashes of the League of Nations.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the lack of political representation was the main reason for the failure of the League of Nations [to be discussed in class]?

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How were Sino-American Relations - JC History Essay Notes

How were Sino-American relations during the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]: 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II: Cold War in Asia [1945-1991] – Superpower relations with China (1950-1979): Sino-Soviet relations

Examine how Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing, China have changed the Sino-American relations in the 1970s.

Superpower Relations with China in the 1950s and 1960s
Following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) victory during the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established. In view of the Cold War climate, the perceived ideological threat in East Asia, USA did not recognise this historical development.

At the same time, the Republic of China (i.e. ROC or Taiwan) was formed, which became a focal point of dispute between the United States and PRC. For instance, ROC was granted one of the Permanent Five (P5) seats in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Notably, the Soviet Union, an ally of PRC, boycotted the UNSC meeting during the Korean War, as a form of protest against this matter.

The absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries was arguably of no surprise to political observers.

Taiwan Straits Crises
In the 1950s, US foreign policy was focused on Taiwan as a pivot for containment in Asia. The Seventh Fleet was situated in the vicinity to protect the security interests of Taiwan from potential threats.

On 11 August 1954, PRC launched an offensive against Kinmen and Matsu. In response, the Eisenhower administration perceived this as an act of military aggression, possibly occupation. As such, the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in December 1954, which assured ROC that the US would provide military support should the former come under attack. This Treaty later shaped US policy of containment in East Asia till 1979.

In August 1957, the “Second Taiwan Straits Crisis” occurred, in which Kinmen and Matsu were shelled and a naval confrontation took place between ROC and PRC. Eventually, the heightened tensions had de-escalated and the Chinese bombardment ceased by October 1958.

Sino-American Rapprochement in the 1970s
In view of the Sino-Soviet Split that culminated in the Sino-Soviet Border Conflict in 1969, the US began to assume a different diplomatic stance towards PRC, albeit a friendly one.

Given that the US still perceived the Soviet Union as its greatest threat, the notion of establishing diplomatic relations with PRC as a strategic advantage to gain a leverage over its Cold War rival.

“Ping Pong Diplomacy” and the historic meet between Nixon and Zhou Enlai
On 10 April 1971, the American table tennis team was invited to Beijing, China. The friendly sporting event was considered unprecedented, given the strained bilateral relations ever since the PRC’s involvement in the Korean War of 1950.

In July 1971, the Nixon administration’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, made a secret visit to Beijing. Pakistan, an ally of China, facilitated the meeting.

On 21 February 1972, US President Nixon met Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing. Nixon also met Premier Zhou Enlai. More importantly, the visit concluded with the signing of the Shanghai Communiqué on 28 Feburary 1972.

The document signified the mutual interests of both USA and China in the normalization of bilateral relations. As such, USA agreed to recognise the “One-China policy” and reduced military support for Taiwan. Also, China occupied Taiwan’s position as one of the P5 members in the UNSC.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– To what extent do you agree that the Cold War rivalry was a major reason in shaping the Sino-American relations from 1950 to 1979? [to be discussed in class]

Following the assessment of the changing bilateral relations between USA and China, it is important to attempt History essay questions to review your conceptual application. Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we teach you to organise your content, develop your critical thinking skills and form persuasive and coherent arguments. Lessons are conducted with the aim of preparing you to answer essay and source-based case study questions effectively and feasibly within a given timeframe.

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