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I mentioned Wilson in a post yesterday…

September 14, 2008

This ties into that a little bit:

With the trenches of Verdun slowly being camouflaged by newly growing grass, and the silence of peace settling into the ears of the men whom had filled those trenches, the world was desperate for what had happened – never to do so again. Pockets, once full of bullets, now started to be filled with money as the economies of the former allied powers lurched forward, benefiting from peace and reopened trade routes.


Society was exuberant, sensing that war should no longer plague the west, as what had just been fought had decided the eternity of all there was to decide. Utopian concepts of the mid to late nineteenth century had made their way from the musings of philosophers into the highest office in the United States. Woodrow Wilson was an optimist. Visions of the world maintaining peace through diplomacy, strengthened ties through mutually dependant economies, and a powerful world government fed his optimism. Not only could it be done, but his 14 points, a hardy nation defining list, was widely applauded, even if only four points were finally accepted into the Treaty of Versailles.


The Treaty of Versailles reflected the long history of war that France and Germany had had. The European powers were having wars every few decades, and the futile arrangement needed to be subdued, if not by bayonet, then by paper. ‘Ad victorem spolias’, as Caesar may have mused, seeing the massive debt that Germany was forced to pay to the Allied Powers.  The debt had a two-fold reasoning; a form of tribute, under the guise of reparation, and to disable Germany’s war making capabilities for the next half-century. The optimistic and lenient Wilson capitulated much to France’s Clemenceau, who wanted Germany to feel the weight of their submission. The harsh terms that were finally put forth to Germany, and accepted, kept an ember of war glowing in the broken heart’s of Germans.


An enduring concept was born during the short peace after The Great War, The League of Nations. President Wilson wanted a way to defuse international disputes before they led to substantial conflicts, and a permanent assembly of diplomats from around the world, with the power of sanctions could make it a reality.


All of this change, upheaval, and world realignment, gave a new look and feel of the future. The United States was well funded with the massive payments from Europe coming in from the debts they incurred to pay for their victory, and the economy of the U.S. grew at a staggering rate. With the minds of the people heady from wealth, and the certainty of peace guaranteed through treaties, isolationism once again was embraced by the majority. If any conflict were to arise, the League of Nations was there to prevent it from growing, and conflicts could not rise to the level of the Great War due to the military size restrictions placed upon the world powers.


Both the conservatives and the liberals had reason to believe a new world, more favorable to their views was emerging. Fascism in Germany and Italy was showing a way for enterprise and nationalism to unite countries in a common purpose, while Communism in Russia was forging a utopian path for the common man to dream of an equality never realized before.


Borders had changed, new politics emerged, men born under flags of Tsars, Emperors, and Kings now voted and debated issues, science was exploding, and all the western world was fooled into thinking that with all the changes, peace was assured. This was, of course, not to be. These treaties and changes were merely a gauze covering a fetid wound, an illusion of treatment, with the results of serious malpractice. International unity in the 1920’s was merely a unity in nationalistic isolationism slowly heating the coming conflict.

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