The “Sanctions” Controversy: First Stage 1. Speculation and Uproar
INEVITABLY there was speculation about the possible application of coercive measures by the League of Nations, and some discussion of the hypothetical questions involved. Indeed, it might well be said that it was for a few weeks during this phase that controversy on the subject was most vigorous, and even that it was decisive for the crisis as a whole. Be that as it may, the debate was strikingly one-sided, short and sharp. The most vocal side fought, so to speak, a “preventive war,” and resorted to it at the first threat of serious danger. However genuine their anxiety may have been, the evidence suggests that there was little real, though undoubtedly a good deal of superficial, justification for it. When people write loosely and ambiguously of “firm,” “strong,” “resolute,” “coercive” action, and at the same time allude to “boycott,” “blockade,” and even “war,” they could hardly have been surprised if they were taken to mean much more than in fact they did.