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Wilson's Fourteen Points: A Path To Peace Or To Renewed Conflict

1106 words - 4 pages

Wilson's Fourteen Points: a Path to Peace or to Renewed Conflict

Wilson's Fourteen Points were a decent attempt at peace and restitution after the Great War; however, there were many inherent problems with the Wilsonian agenda. These problems were caused by many things, including Allied bias, American ambition, and Western European dominance. While trying to fix many problems in Europe, the Fourteen Points mainly concentrated on the things that were important to the Allied powers: France was bent on revenge, Great Britain was looking to further its power over the seas, and America was keen on becoming an even more powerful trade nation.

The Allied Powers made it very hard for Germany and Austria and the newly formed countries in Eastern Europe to carry out many of the things set down in the Fourteen points, in particular, the idea of self-determination that is evident in over half of the points. Reading the Fourteen Points might lead a person to believe that the Allies were in favor of all forms of self-determination unconditionally; in fact, just the opposite was true. They used "self-determination as a formula for rearranging the balance of power in their own interests" (Keynes pp. 2). Point Five of the Wilsonian agenda was a testament to this. It called for the "free, open-minded adjustment of all colonial claims." Essentially, what this did was allow countries to practice limited forms of self-determination, mainly by switching European rule from the more obvious direct control method, to indirect European control. Some countries were allowed independence, but those countries that were denied it became mandates; Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon are examples of the ladder. The main thing Point Five accomplished was that it allowed more colonial holdings to fall into Allied hands, especially those of Britain. The fact that the Allies used self-determination for their own interests is also the reason the people of Austria were not allowed to become a part of Germany. Allowing the union of Austria and Germany would only make Germany stronger, something France especially did not want. Self-determination was also used against Germany in other ways. By allowing Poland to become a country with access to the sea, Germany would be split in half, and former German territory would now be known as the Polish Corridor. Territory was also taken away from Germany to create the nation of Lithuania.

The war had other consequences for Germany besides loss of territory. Germany was punished tremendously by the Wilsonian agenda and, ultimately, the Treaty of Versailles. Although Germany was seen as the main aggressor in World War I, they were only upholding an alliance, as did every other European country involved in World War I. In losing the war, Germany was subjected to the harsh will of neighboring France, whose ego, still bruised from the Franco-Prussian War could now be healed. France used the Fourteen Points to try and "undo, what, since 1870 the...

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