A Peace to End all Peace

I can’t take credit for the pithy title of the blog post.  Its the title of a book subtitled , “The fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Modern Middle East”, by David Fromkin.  The middle east of course changed a great deal as shown in the map below, and so of course, did Europe.

In 1992 shortly after the end of the cold war, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union my brother Ed was living in Prague trying to get them to buy Apple computers.  It was very funny / sad to go into a bank there and then, to exchange money and watch all of the work still be done by hand on a ledger.  While I was there I stumbled into this sign and was sort of flabbergasted;

Its in the subway system somewhere.    Having “passed” my “advanced” history courses in HS I, like many, avoided history in college like the plague because I was convinced it simply amounted to looking up answers in the back of textbooks.  Thus I was a bit stunned to see an etching of a US president in a subway of what been behind the iron curtain for 50 years.  How did it get there and what did it mean?

Of course it was from this era that you have just read about.  Some members of the new government and citizenry of Czechoslovakia must have been so happy with their new country they erected this lovely sign.  I wonder how many Slovaks supported it.Interestingly it was not torn down or apparently defaced in any way in the decades of Soviet hegemony.

The entire face of Europe was new.

Look at all of those new nati0ns!  Imagine redrawing the map of the US and carving Texas  and California into a bunch of new states.  How many people would be happy with that?

As to the chapter Kissinger is pretty clear on not being keen on the ToV.  Why?   What exactly were its failings?  Do you agree?  If it was so egregiously bad why has Wilsonianism gone down as such an influential part of US foreign policy?

13 Responses to “A Peace to End all Peace”

  1. Vivien Bautista says:

    I thought it was interesting that Kissinger stated America was there because of its goals but it made total victory seem plausible yet America hated the idea of the balance of power. Instead America thought that the lack of self-determination was the cause of wars and that pursuing balance of powers created instability. In addition, Wilson’s idea of world order was based on the faith of man’s peaceful nature and the harmony in the world, which Europe hadn’t based their political theories on. Wilson’s policies and beliefs seemed to go against what the European leaders followed and believed in yet the leaders allowed America to continue establishing it’s influence, such as the 14 Point Plan.

  2. Sophie Mohammed, 3A says:

    Kissinger isn’t fond of the Treaty of the Versailles because compared to the settlements of the Congress of Vienna it’s incredibly lacking. At one point, Kissinger credits the success of the Congress of Vienna to the unity of the Allies. The Allies of the ToV weren’t unified… European allies were hesitant to speak up against the US because they were either exhausted or were still dependent on the U.S. The U.S did not fulfill th 14 points—How are you going to lobby for the League of Nations and then not actually be a part of it? They were applying a totally foreign international order based on morality and self-determination that Europe had never followed. No country achieved their objectives Germany wasn’t reconciled, France was still insecure, ans the US withdrew from the settlement. Also the Paris Peace Conference was a total mess there was really no structure…. Wilson kept getting distracted with territorial questions, 58 committes were created, could you imagine sitting through 1,646 meetings? Finally, the inclusion of article of 231 was incredibly damaging. To Germans it became known as the “War Guilt Lie”…. The ToV did the exact opposite of what it set out to do.

  3. Samantha Ayala-Lucio says:

    For the previous chapters we had read prior to this one, we had been reading the countless comparisons Kissinger mentioned always referencing Wilson. I sort of laughed at the idea of how Kissinger wrote this chapter on Wilson’s failure of the League of Nations and ToV. While reading your post I did wonder of the last question “If it was so egregiously bad why has Wilsonianism gone down as such an influential part of US foreign policy?” Personally, I do not think it was not all bad however, it was poorly planned by Wilson, therefore it did not work as expected and brought horrible consequences (WWII). However, now that diplomats and the country can reflect on past idea’s they can utilize good aspects of what Wilson used during his time and make the foreign policies better.
    I do agree that Wilson messed up because it was evident he was not an organized man but if he had thought out his ideas a bit longer he could have changed some things and possibly prevented the catastrophe that would later appear. For example, he could have had a main focus in his Paris Peace Conference and had not blamed the entire war on Germany and basically split it up. Lloyd George was smart in predicting that Germany being broken up would only result in chaos and eventually cause another war.

  4. Monserrat says:

    The methods used in the hall of Versailles was not the ones we would have used today. Similarly to those of the Congress of Vienna. There was no sense of moral gathering, even though Wilson believed there was, just the similar idea that Germany was the cause of the war. I thought it was unfair to all the other countries and families who were brought into the war, especially in Germany, and then were never returned of their loved ones just money. 15 million Germans were left after the war, makes you wonder how before all these people were able to live on such small grounds, these 15 were divide to Hungary Slovaks and Polish, now that it seemed independence. Wilson was never even sure his League of Nations would work so at first was hesitant to join he couldn’t convince the American people that joing the league wouldn’t bring American back to its “evil” roots. Out of all this ore war fuss one good thing finally happens France was returned Alasce Lorraine. Hallelujah, I just kept hearing Kissinger talk about how badly frame wanted this. It’s also important to notice that at this time France was finally recognized as equal and with the help of Russia, when Poland wasn’t independent, was protected on the east. Oh by the way if California was split I wouldn’t like it hit I’d make sure I would go to the part with the weather. (SD)

  5. Alexander Monta says:

    The treaty of Versailles has always been known as one of the biggest failures in history, and I think this is in part due to the inclusion of Article 231, which established Germany as the sole cause of the war. This could also be the reason that in part led to the later foreign policy of appeasement. Right after war, everyone was convinced of Germany’s evilness, and created the War Guilt clause, but when moods died down, people started to feel bad for the Germans, realizing that it wasn’t only Germany’s fault for the war. This created somewhat sympathetic sentiments towards Germany, which led to the eventual rearmament of Germany, without dispute although it clearly stated in the Treaty of Versailles that German military was to be kept to a minimum.

  6. Stephen Hager says:

    Kissinger showed extreme disapproval for the Treaty of Versailles, because it really was a complete failure. It left Germany in shambles and forced Germany to repay the allies for the damage that “it had single handedly caused.” As a result, it left Germans angry and in a position to desire another war. Additionally, it essentially failed to form any proper way of keeping Germany in check, further enabling Germany to engage in future military action. As for Wilson, I think that he went down in history in such a positive light because he did stand for many things that were arguably good in the long run. His 14 points were a well thought out series of priorities, and, had they been carried out completely, they may have successfully carried out what the Treaty of Versailles tried to do. The problem was Wilson’s later reluctance to act on these points and their incompatibilty with European ideals and priorities.

  7. Sid Cunniff says:

    What amazed me was that France alone knew just how weak it had becone in comparison with Germany. No other country, especially the US, was prepared to believe it. In 1880, “the French had represented 15.7% of Europe’s population. By 1900, that figure had declined to 9.7%. !920: France had a population of 41M and Germany 65M. Germany had rose and passed by France in comparison with numbers. In 1850, France had been the “largest industrial nation on the Continent.” By 1880, Germnay had once again exceeded that of Frnace by producing more steel, coal, and iron. By 1913, Frnace produced 41M tons of coal, while Germany produced 279M tons. How Germany dominated over Frnace Economically is just amazing. They grew fast, making themselves more confident to dominat the world.

  8. Elizabeth Kenyon says:

    Kissinger most likely considers the Treaty of Versailles as less effective as the Congress of Vienna because of the times of peace after the Congress of Vienna. When the Treaty of Versailles went into effect, the nations were more concerned about themselves and after the treaty, there wasn’t a time of peace as long as there was after the Congress of Vienna. The powers of the nations at the Congress of Vienna ruled their countries by legitimacy and at the Paris Conference, only one monarchy was left in Europe, Great Britain. Even though both the Treaty of Versailles and the Congress of Vienna aimed at creating a Germany that was not too powerful to dominate France, during the Napoleonic Wars, France was the aggressor then in WW1, Germany was the aggressor. Perhaps, if the Treaty of Versailles had broken up Germany into smaller states and recreate another German Confederation, as the Congress of Vienna had done, the Treaty of Versailles might have been more successful. Although, there would probably be just enough German angst to get back what it once had and that would lead to WW2. Which is basically what happened in reality. European nations felt guilty because of Article 231, or the guilt clause, that they essentially let Germany take back all of its once conquered land until the German invasion of Poland when WW2 begins.

  9. Sonia Asitimbay says:

    Kissinger said, that the ToV was impractical and to punitive to enforce. Though it made Great Britain, France and Italy satisfied, they were still demoralized and their countries, especially France, were destroyed. So I think Wilson has gone down as a hero in history for two reasons. 1. He boosted the victors morale by bringing a message of permanent peace, not just to Europe but to the whole world through the League of Nations. 2. The notion of asking people how they want to be ruled and looking at their common language and culture instead of the countries ruler determining their interests, was revolutionary.

  10. Maya Isabel Conde-Kalmijn says:

    I feel Widrow Wilson went down in history even when, according to Kissinger he failed to stick to his Fourteen Points and failed to keep promises about the League of Nations due to a disconnect between himself and the Senate, because had spent so much time abroad, he believed in everyone’s moral sense. According to Kissinger, he and the United States were aligned to a very moralistic political system, as opposed to Europe’s “Realpolitik”. He believed that if all the countries got together under one organization, they would be able to keep peace and end all wars, but because of his disconnect with the US people deemed his ideas on the League of Nations as far as unconstitutional, because it implied that the League of Nations could drag the US into war automatically, as oppose to Congress declaring war.

    I feel like over and over again Kissinger is saying that the Paris Peace Conference was a “free for all” and that it did not have an organized enough agenda to get anything really done, and for this reason alone, the Treaty of Versailles was, not effective. All the nations were only looking out for their personal interests, not looking at the bigger picture, the way the had in the Treaty of Vienna. Over and over he makes this parallel to demonstrate how poorly executed the Paris Peace Conference really was. To me, this seems a bit ironic, in trying to end all wars, the treaty created a bigger one and threw all of Europe into a bigger mess, Germany and Russia resenting it all and systematically convincing themselves that each and every agreement made in this treaty was for their demise.

  11. Emily Perlman says:

    The main thing that I noticed in this reading was that Kissinger talks most of the time about the weakness of France compared to the power of Germany at the end of World War I. I’d never really heard this before. All you hear about when discussing the end of World War I is how weak Germany was from the war and how that caused World War II. Yet Kissinger focused a lot more on France’s demands for protection from the powerful Germany. What? Doesn’t that contradict everything we’ve learned? I know Kissinger touches on the idea of a weak Germany on the very last page when talking about Article 231, but what I thought happened was that Germany was already weak compared to the other countries, and the reparations they had to pay was just the icing on the cake. Guess not.
    I also was a little upset that I read 20 pages on all these crazy negotiations (1,646 meetings!) about a conference that led to a treaty that didn’t pass. And Kissinger only devoted two sentences to telling us that it failed. I mean, really?

  12. Olivia Sanchez says:

    One thing I found interesting was that the other nationas were trying to “squeeze” Germany, thus restricting it’s abilities tremendously. Although the war was over, every country surrounding Germany was terrified of them gaining too much power and taking control of Europe. France, specifically, was very worried, for they had no barrier to protect them. Because of that, France fought very hard to try and take back the Rhineland, not so much to show their “superior power”, but to ultimately protect themselves from what they believed to be an uncontrollable Germany. With the ToV, Germany was to surrender 13% of their prewar territory, reduce their army by 100,000 volunteers, forbidden to posses submarines, aircrafts, tanks, or any other form of superior weaponry. Reading all of this, it’s extremely ironic, for I’m already aware that Germany comes back several years later as the dominant force of Europe, despite all of these limitations.

  13. Victor Mohler says:

    As said by Kissinger in this chapter, that he is in disagreement with the treaty of Versailles. But what I think that he was in disagreement with the treaty is because all the other countries just said that Germany was at fault for everything that had happened from beginning to end. When in reality it was a whole mess of events that caused the war and other countries were at fault for some of the other events

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