A League of Nations or United Nations Cannot Maintain Peace and Stability in the World

At the conclusion of the First World War, idealists developed the concept of the League of Nations as a mechanism that could prevent the outbreak of future wars and avoid the kind of devastating and horrific conflagration the world had just experienced.  It soon became obvious however that such a League of Nations was unable to maintain the peace, and that a nation which perceived its best interests to be served through war and conquest could act with impunity to plunge humanity into another conflagration.  Witness the rise of Germany and the Second World War.  After the conclusion of this subsequent event, the nations of the world once more determined that the founding of a United Nations would be a suitable mechanism to sustain the peace.  Unfortunately, this body has proven unable to establish world peace and, while we have not seen the outbreak of another world war, there have been numerous chronic conflicts, smaller wars and proxy wars by representative client states or groups for the major world powers behind the scenes.

Sri Aurobindo provides an understanding of why such a League of Nations concept is unable to fulfill the role envisioned by the idealists in this regard:  “To rely upon the common consent of conflicting national egoisms for the preservation of peace between the nations is to rely upon a logical contradiction.  A practical improbability which, if we can judge by reason and experience, amounts to an impossibility, can hardly be a sound foundation for the building of the future.  A League of Peace can only prevent armed strife for a time.  A system of enforced arbitration, even with the threat of a large armed combination against the offender, may minimise the chance of war and may absolutely forbid it to the smaller or weaker nations; but a great nation which sees a chance of making itself the centre of a strong combination of peoples interested in upsetting the settled order of things for their own benefit, might always choose to take the risks of the adventure in the hope of snatching advantages which in its estimation outweighed the risks.  (The subequent history of the League of Nations, which had not been formed at the time of writing, has amply proved the inefficacy of these devices.)  Moreover, in times of great upheaval and movement when large ideas, enormous interests and inflamed passions divide the peoples of the world, the whole system would be likely to break to pieces and the very elements of its efficacy would cease to exist.”

“The creation of a real, efficient and powerful authority which would stand for the general sense and the general power of mankind in its collective life and spirit and would be something more than a bundle of vigorously separate States loosely tied together by the frail bond of a violable moral agreement is the only effective step possible on this path.  Whether such an authority can really be created by agreement, whether it must not rather create itself partly by the growth of ideas, but still more by the shock of forces, is a question to which the future alone can answer.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pp  211-212