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merchant marine The Treaty of Versailles




One of the greatest conflicts in the history of the world, that of World War II, changed the course of events in Western societies for the rest of the 20th Century.  Its effects are felt today even today with the final ascent of the United States as a superpower and the decline of Europe.  In fact, World War II was the final judgment concerning European domination of the world.  However, many have said that World War II was a continuation of World War I, a war which destroyed much of Europe, crippled its domination of the world with its ruinous economic ramifications, and created the lost generation of millions of wounded and dead soldiers.  These changes contributed to the downfall of European society.  John Maynard Keynes observes, Perhaps it is historically true that no order of society ever perishes save by its own hand. (1)  In fact, the victorious Allies of World War I condemned themselves to another world war with the Treaty of Versailles, particularly with respect to its effects on the vanquished country of Germany.  The conditions of the Treaty of Versailles and their inherent weaknesses set the stage in Germany for yet another world war.
French insistence upon crippling Germany influenced many of the conditions set forth in the treaty.  The chief aims of the French towards the disabling of the German state were concerned the disarmament of Germany, the demilitarization and occupation of Allied military forces in the German Rhineland and Saar Basin for fifteen years, the severe reparations, the cession of German territory. (2)  The Germans ultimately resented the harsh conditions of the treaty, promoting even more animosity between the two nations when plenty had already existed earlier.  Germany was forced to give up all overseas possessions, which the Allies administered as mandates. (3)  In addition, France resurrected Poland to dismantle Germanys eastern borders. (4)  This separated East Prussian from the rest of Germany by the Polish Corridor (5), which contained a large German population.  (6)  These conditions would later resurface as major issues in Hitlers Germany twenty years later.  Furthermore, Article 102 of the treaty established the town of Danzigas a Free City. (7)  The controversy surrounding this provision developed as a sensitive issue to the Germans since the population of Danzig was largely German.  To the Germans, these conditions added insult to injury.  Unfortunately, the treaty did not stop with these conditions.
The Treaty of Versailles has become infamous for the harsh reparations it imposed on Germany.  Perhaps even more notorious is the War Guilt Clause contained in the peace.  The War Guilt Clause, Article 231 in the treaty, arose out of a controversy during the negotiations in the spring of 1919 concerning the nature of reparations that would be collected.  It was argued whether or not to include war costs in the reparations to be levied or just civilian damages suffered.  Prime Minister David Lloyd-George of Britain and Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, unsure of whether or not war costs would be include, insisted that the treaty assert at least the moral right of the Allies to recover the cost of the war forced upon them by Germany. (8)  Lloyd-George maintained that if we do not exact it [war costs], it is not because it would be unjust to claim it (9)  This sentiment, though meeting opposition from President Wilsons delegation, resulted in the inclusion of Article 231 in the treaty.  The provision, after Germanys Weimar Republic delegates signed the treaty on June 28, 1919, bound the German nation to accept full moral responsibility for all damages to the citizens of the Allied countries and for the precipitation of the war itself. (10)  The provision blatantly ignored Austria-Hungarys culpability in the conflict, as that country was completely dismantled by a separate treaty.  
The effects of Article 231 were far-reaching.  Besides the obvious discontent such a provision would cause in any nation, German governments used it to rally their people against the Allies in combination with the controversial French occupation in the western regions of Germany, most notably Hitler in the 1930s. (11)  In addition, although David Lloyd-George supported the clause, Great Britain throughout the 1920s and 1930s showed their ironic guilt over the ... more

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BILLY BUDD

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were perfect.  They were innocent and ignorant, yet
perfect, so they were allowed to abide in the presence of God.  Once they partook of the fruit of
the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, however, they immediately became unclean as well as
mortal.  In Billy Budd, the author, Herman Melville, presents a question that stems directly from
this original sin of our first parents: Is it better to be innocent and ignorant, but good and
righteous, or is it better to be experienced and knowledgeable?  I believe that through this book,
Melville is telling us that we need to strike some kind of balance between these two ideas; we
need to have morality and virtue; we need to be in the world, but not of the world.
To illustrate his theme, Melville uses a few characters who are all very different, the most
important of which is Billy Budd.  Billy is the focal point of the book and the single person whom
we are meant to learn the most from.  On the ship, the Rights-of-Man, Billy is a cynosure among
his shipmates; a leader, not by authority, but by example.  All the members of the crew look up to
him and love him.  He is strength and beauty.  Tales of his prowess [are] recited.  Ashore he [is]
the champion, afloat the spokesman; on every suitable occasion always foremost(9).
Despite his popularity among the crew and his hardworking attitude, Billy is transferred to
another British ship, the Indomitable.  And while he is accepted for his looks and happy
personality, hardly here [is] he that cynosure he had previously been among those minor ships
companies of the merchant marine(14).  It is here, on the Indomitable that Billy says good-bye to
his rights.  It is here, also, that Billy meets John Claggart, the master-at-arms.  A man in whom
was the mania of an evil nature, not engendered by vicious training or corrupting books or
licentious living but born with him and innate, in short a depravity according to nature(38).
Here then, is presented a man with a personality and character to contrast and conflict
with Billys.  Sweet, innocent Billy immediately realizes that this man is someone he does not wish
to cross and so after seeing Claggart whip another crew-member for neglecting his
responsibilities, Billy resolved that never through remissness would he make himself liable to
such a visitation or do or omit aught that might merit even verbal reproof(31).  Billy is so good
and so innocent that he tries his hardest to stay out of trouble.  What then was his surprise and
concern when ultimately he found himself getting into petty trouble occasionally about such
matters as the stowage of his bagwhich brought down on him a vague threat from one of [the
ships corporals](31).  
These small threats and incidents establish the tension between Claggart and Billy, and set
the stage for a later confrontation.  They also force Billy to search for help.  The person he goes
to is yet another type of character presented in this book.  Red Whiskers.  Red Whiskers was an
old veteran, long anglicized in the service, of few words, many wrinkles, and some honorable
scars(31).  Billy recognizes the old Dansker as a figure of experience, and after showing respect
and courtesy which Billy believes due to his elder, finally seeks his advice, but what he is told
thoroughly astonishes him.  Red Whiskers tells Billy that for some reason, Claggart is after Billy,
but Billy cannot believe it because he is so innocent and trusting.  Through this situation Billy now
finds himself in, Melville has us ask ourselves a question:  Would it be right for Billy to heed the
advice of experience and wisdom and tell the captain about Claggarts conspiracy?  Or should he
instead keep his mouth shut and try to work things out himself?  
Being the good person that he is, Billy tries to forget about it and hopes that it will pass,
but it does not.  And that is where the fourth of these few characters comes in.  Captain Vere,
with his love for knowledge and books, and his settled convictions [which stood] as a dike
against those ... more

merchant marine

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