The Great War
The Legacy of the Great War
After reading William R. Keylor’s The Legacy of the Great War, I realized the important events that pertain to the international relations. Until our present day there has not been so many great leaders come together to address issues such as: politics, economics, and social settings in Europe. This is the beginning of the problems in European civilization.
The Paris Peace conference had a total of twenty-seven countries with their highest representatives and aides who devise a peace settlement. For two months they had redrawn the map of Europe with political and economical arrangements. It took another six months for the leaders who defeated the Central Powers to decide which rules that would govern the postwar order. The Central Power leaders are also known as the Big Four who was: President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, and Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando of Italy. After all the peace makers of the treaties was creating the fire for the Second World War in 1939.
During the Peace Conference there was two themes that was very critical. The first is that each victorious European ally had betrayed the new diplomacy of President Woodrow Wilson and therefore deprived the postwar international order of its moral
justification. The second theme is the Carthaginian settlement, which the victors virtually dismantled Germany of all of its power economically and military.
When the Peacemaking conference began, President Wilson promised Poland a “free and secure access” to the Baltic Sea. (p.19) The port of Danzinger had an overwhelmingly German population there with different religious practices. With self-determination Wilson balanced antithetical considerations. He already promised Poles a free port, and France also wanted to weaken Germany by giving Poland territory. The outcome of the German-Polish Frontier is a free international port in the hands of Polish control.
After the war the French wanted to destroy the German economy. The French wanted control of the German coalmines. But Wilson would not agree. He was looking out for the Germans economically. Premier Clemenceau called Wilson pro-German which obviously hurted the President. (p.29) With this going on President Wilson was self-determine to do his best for the redrawing of Europe. Most leaders in France believed the way to weaken Germany without hurting it economically was to move Germans under rule of other nations. Most of these small states have never set up a stable government for themselves and adding large amount of Germans to their native lands could be dangerous. This is one way how Wilson and his delegates were violated.
One of French main goals in the Peace Conference was security from the Germans in the future. The only way for this is if the Americans and British take charge, and give the Germans a punch and never let them get up again. Germany is the strongest country on the continental Europe. The Germans have the Rhineland, which is a shield
against aggression. On April 22, 1919 Wilson and George came up with a French security formula. The pledge to defend France against any German aggression, and German disarmament, reduction of the German army to 100,000 men, demilitarization of a zone fifty kilometers east of the Rhine. (91) The French wanted the Rhine River for an allied military base at the four main crossings. Wilson would not allow this, because it would break his national self-determination.
During the Carthaginian Peace settlement, John Maynard Keynes published a book called “The Economic Consequences of the Peace.” According to Keynes he is a hostile critic of President Wilson and his Fourteen Points peace treaty. (122) With Keynes facts I believe he was totally correct. The treaty ignored the economic problems that Germany faced. Germany is economy was built on coal and iron. After the treaty the coal could not be mined or delivered to other countries. Also, seventy-five percent of the iron ore came from Alsace-Lorraine, which the French reclaimed after WWI. With the cutback of coal and iron Europe was even more unsettled then it was.
I believe that Germany was responsible to pay for the war damages. Since they started the war