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An Era of Naval Disarmament: The 1922 Five Power Treaty Michael Slagh HH104: Naval History 29APR2005
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An Era of Naval Disarmament: The 1922 Five Power Treaty The Five Power Treaty of 1922 ended the race of naval armament when it was signed on 6 February 1922 . The fundamentals of the treaty were an agreement to get rid of a large number of battleships and cruisers as well as to create a ten-year period in which the signatory powers would build no new capital ships . President Warren G . Harding sent a formal invitation on 11 August 1921 to Great Britain , Italy , Japan , and France which had objectives for an international naval conference . The two main objectives were distinct , including limiting armament and answering Pacific and Far Eastern questions , namely an increasingly militant Japan . 1 There were also economic concerns , as delegates had to please the legislators who were unwilling to spend more on shipbuilding . The ideology adhered to the American policy of negotiating at a conference , which would have worldwide repercussions . President Harding had faith in the long lasting effects of the treaty . “This conference has wrought a truly great achievement…[it] will mark the beginning of a new and better epoch in human progress . 2 His faith was warranted at the time , but due to the all-encompassing nature of the treaty there were a few unpredictable consequences . 1 Quincy Wright, “Notes on International Affairs,” The American Political Science Review, Vol. 16, No. 2 (May 1922), pp. 285. 2 Arthur Holcombe, “The Future of the Washington Conference Treaties,” The American Political Science Review, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Jun 1932), pp. 439. 2
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In 1917 , disposing of Germany’s Pacific empire was a major source of friction between the countries involved in World War I . As the countries contemplated a German loss , covert agreements were made that only amplified the pressure . “Britain secretly agreed in 1917 to support Japan’s claims to German islands…in return for Japanese support of the British empire’s acquisition of Germany’s much smaller south Pacific holdings . 3 The agreement was not a secret as time passed , but it was not intensely publicized . Nevertheless , it increased international tensions and there was no certain solution . It was clear , however , that the roles of international navies would increase with the expansion to islands in the Far East and elsewhere . After World War I , the U . S . sought a new postwar balance of power in the Middle East . America helped to turn the tide in the first World War , and as a result U . S . international influence changed completely . “Whereas the end of the war saw decreased American interest and influence in Europe , after the Armistice the United States found itself the leading Western power in the Far East .
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