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    CompletedAugust 27, 1928, at Paris

    SignatoriesInitially, 15 countries, including the United States, Great Britain,

    France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Japan, andPoland; ultimately, virtually every nation in the world

    OverviewDrafted by France and the United States on the initiative of Frenchforeign minister Aristide Briand, the Kellogg-Briand Pact (alsocalled the Pact of Paris) was an agreement to renounce war as aninstrument of national policy and marked the high point of thepost-World War I Wilsonian faith in paper treaties and stylishpromises, all of which came to an end with the outbreak of themost destructive war in history, World War II.

    Historical BackgroundIn the wake of the TREATY OF VERSAILLES (1919), notonly did thespoils but the anxieties ofWorld War I fallto the victors. Because of war debts, the UnitedStates-whose bankers held paper on much of theworld-enjoyed much leverage with the League ofNations, despite the refusal of the Senate to ratify thetreaty. Because France had suffered so disproportion-ately,it enjoyed a kind of moral largesse, behind whichit could hide its somewhat greedy vindictivenesstoward-but greatest of all, its fear of-the defeatedbut mostly undamaged Germany. The British, who alsohad suffered immensely in the war, mainly wished towithdraw safely by maintairting something like the oldbalance of power in Europe.

    These three had a difficult time with the questionof reparations, that is, the question of who was to payfor all the damage in the war. Neither the Americans(who in many ways simply wanted their money) northe British (who wanted to repay their war debts butcould not see how to do so without collecting repara-tions from a postwar Germany economically strongenough to make them) could accept the French posi-tion, which was to collect from Germany sufficientreparations to repay their debts and rebuild their coun-try but at the same time punish the Germans bydestroying not just their military but their economy.

    This-or so the Americans and British would argue-made the paying of reparations unlikely if not impossi-ble for Germany. At the same time, the British andAmericans did not see why France had to keep such alarge, expensive army on hand if Germany was basi-cally disarmed and broke. The French responded thatthey were worried about the future, not the present.

    The French had already felt the effect of the Britishdisenchantment when they sought London's support ina joint security pact that would guarantee the demili-tarization of the Rhineland when France ceased tooccupy the region. Instead, the British demandedFrench concessions on reparations in return. TheFrench were alarmed


    between Germany and Russia and the restoration ofdiplomatic relations. To top it all off, Germany's post-war hyperinflation threatened to wipe out the value ofwhat ever reparations she might pay.

    Seeing a German plot to ruin France, the French,with help from Belgium, occupied Germany's indus-trial Ruhr Valley. They began to negotiate directly withthe industrial giants of Thyssen, Stinnes, and Kruppthe Rhine-Ruhr accords called the Inter-Allied ControlCommission for Factories and Mines, which placed theRuhr under a mandate of an international committeeof experts. And France still made it clear that it wouldnot proceed with the evacuation of the Rhinelandcalled for at Versailles unless its government couldshow its people something in the way of securitybeyond the restrictions of the peace treaty on Germanarmaments and the size of its military.

    The exhaustion of France and Germany from thestruggle in the Ruhr and the growing desire of Ameri-can bankers and British diplomats to reconcile the twocountries created the conditions for agreements onreparations, industrial cooperation, and security. TheDawes Plan, which cleared the way for a vast influx ofcapital in exchange for the French evacuation of theRuhr, the ending of sanctions on the Rhine, and apledge from France never to impose new sanctions onGermany without the unanimous consent of the Repa-rations Committee, addressed the major issue. By thetime the London Conference ofjuly and August 1924,which produced the plan, had ended, however, theFrench had still achieved nothing new in the realm ofsecurity.

    Indeed, the League of Nations, led by EdvardBenes of the Czech delegation, had pushed disarma-ment and collective security at French expense-or sothe French believed. France did, however, enthusiasti-cally support the improved Geneva Protocol for thePacific Settlement of International Disputes, whichcalled for all states to submit disputes to a world courtand dubbed any state refusing to do so an aggressor,ipso facto, subject to League sanctions by a two-thirdsmajority. With the Frenchar least nominally commit-ted to collective security, their security worries werefinally addressed in the LOCARNO TREATIES. Althoughthe Herriot government had fallen in April, French for-eign minister Aristide Briand stayed on to carrythrough the negotiations at Locarno, Switzerland, thatfall. At the conference, Briand met and embraced theGerman foreign minister, and the two swore to put thewar behind them once and for all. In October theysigned the series of five treaties, designed to pacifypostwar Europe.

    The Locarno Pact promised a new era of reconcili-ation. Germany entered the League of Nations andcame to Geneva pledging to work for freedom, peace,

    and unity. Briand basked in the glory of being thestatesman most associated with "the spirit of Geneva."Soon, in January 1927, the League removed the Inter-allied Military Control Commission from Germany.Suddenly, the foreign offices in London and Washing-ton asked why the French, despite all their pleas ofpoverty when war debts came up, still kept the largestarmy in Europe. Behind the mask of goodwill, itseemed, the French clung to their faith in a militarydeterrent to Germany, even when this isolated themwithin the League's Disarmament Commission. Ger-many, now that she was in the League, began demand-ing equal treatment, and the British and Americanswere listening.

    That was when Briand came up with the idea for atreaty under which all nations could "renounce theresort to war as an instrument of national policy." Hop-ing to divert the attention of their old Allies from thethorny problem of the relative size of the French andGerman armies, or at least to allay U.S. suspicionsabout French defense spending, Briand enlisted theAmerican secretary of state, Frank Kellogg, in drawingup his treaty to end all treaties.

    TermsThe Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed on August 27, 1928,and eventually subscribed to by virtually every nationin the world, was hailed as an epoch-making steptoward universal peace. However, the pact made noprovisions for enforcement and was completely uselessin stopping undeclared wars.ias the Japanese invasionof Manchuria demonstrated in 1931. Moreover, it wassubject to four major reservations: the pact was not tobe effective unless it secured universal adherence oruntil some other further agreement had been con-cluded; each country retained the right to defend itself;if a single nation violated the pledge, all other nationswere thereby released from it as well; the pact wouldnot interfere with French treaty obligations under theLeague of Nations or the Locarno Treaties.

    [The Heads of State of the United States, Belgium, Czechoslova-kia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and Poland ... 1

    Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the wel-fare of mankind; persuaded that the time has come when a frankrenunciation of war as an instrument of national policy shouldbe made, to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations nowexisting between their peoples may be perpetuated;

    Convinced that all changes in their relations with oneanother should be sought only by pacific means and be theresult of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatoryPower which shall hereafter seek to promote its national inter-

  • ests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished bythis Treaty;. Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the othernations of the world will join in this humane endeavor and, byadhering to the present Treaty as soon as it comes into force,bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions,thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a commonrenunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;

    Have decided to conclude a treaty, and. . have agreedupon the following Articles:

    Article iThe High Contracting Parties solemnly declare, in the names oftheir respective peoples, that they condemn recourse to war forthe solution of international controversies and renounce it as aninstrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

    Article iiThe High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solu-tion of all disputes or conflicts, of whatever nature or of what-ever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shallnever be sought except by pacific means.

    Article iii[Ratification] ...

    This Treaty shall, when it has come into effect asprescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long asmay be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of theworld ....


    ConsequencesThe agreement marked the high-water mark of thepostwar faith in good intentions as long as they werewritten down somewhere. The problem was that noneof the postwar agreements-not the reparation prom-ises, not the industrial accords, not the weapons limi-tations, not the arbitration agreements-had anysticking power in a world falling apart economicallyand rife with fear and suspicion from previous times.Noble in aspiration, the Kellogg-Br