Tag Archives: Paris 1919

The Frontiers of Humanity

Here is yet another chapter that was left out when THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE was published. Max is beginning to wonder what he was thinking when he agreed to eliminate these chapters. At the time they were written, Max saw them as important to move the flow of the narrative in a direction that would give the reader a feeling about what was going on in Paris in 1919 when the nations of the world were trying to gather themselves and continue to live in the 20th century.

Max is thinking of pulling all these absent chapters together and publishing them under the title – THE AUTHOR GUILT CLAUSE

 

 

THE FRONTIERS OF HUMANITY

France’s anxiety was at fever heat – the Peace Conference had been convened for four months, but the deliberations of the Supreme Council had been clothed in mystery; there had been no word on the most important issue of all: the fate of the despicable Hun; and now at last a memorandum from the British Prime Minister that called for mild treatment of the hated Saxons.

ZZZZZ

When nations are exhausted by wars which leave them tired, bleeding and broken, it is not difficult to patch up a peace that might last for 30 years. What is difficult is to draw up a peace which will not provoke a fresh struggle. Injustice and arrogance displayed in the hour of triumph will never be forgotten or forgiven. Therefore, I strongly advise against transferring German rule to some other nation.

The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution; there is a deep sense of discontent, anger, and revolt; the whole existing order in its political, social, and economic aspects is questioned by the masses of the population from one end of Europe to the other. We peacemakers must be conscious of the danger that if we fail we could throw the population throughout Europe into the arms of the extremists. The greatest danger I see in the present situation is that Germany may throw in her lot with Bolshevism whose dream is to conquer the world by force of arms.

If we are wise, we shall offer to Germany a peace which will be preferable for all sensible men to the alternative of Bolshevism, and in the forefront that once she accepts our terms, especially reparation, we will open to her the raw materials and markets of the world on equal terms with ourselves. We can not both cripple her and expect her to pay.

We must make the League of Nations into something which will be both a safeguard to those nations who are prepared for fair dealings with their neighbors, and a menace to those who would trespass on the rights of their neighbors.

Finally, I believe that until the authority and effectiveness of the League of Nations has been demonstrated, the British Empire and the United   States ought to give France a guarantee against the possibility of a new German aggression.

           

Summary of Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s Fontainebleau memorandum  – March 25, 1919

ZZZZZ

Woodrow Wilson loved it. Lord Northcliffe, baron of the British Press, and blood enemy of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, was all over it like a fire department at a blazing building; he enlisted 370 members of the British Parliament to send a telegram of screaming protest to the embattled Lloyd George. Clemenceau was outraged – Germany, the savage aggressor, saved by imprudent pity? Never!

French newspapers battled rivals for the honor of posting the most angry headline.

the Journal des Debats roared:

The Frontiers of Humanity Must Be Made Inviolable

ZZZZZ

Easter (April 20) will be here before the Armistice is completed and instead of a full resurrection, the World will have a new Calvary to climb, for the League of Nations is not, and never will be, an adequate guarantor of French security.We French have the right to reparations, both material and moral. Material reparation means payment by Germany of not only pensions and damages, but also war costs. Any other solution would be the most monstrous injustice in the history of the human race. Shall a people who has been invaded and martyred be made to pay? It would be like the victim paying the assassin under the pretext that the latters’ resources must be safeguarded.

Moral reparation is simply protection against future aggression, for did not President Wilson himself  say, “French frontiers are the frontiers of humanity.”

French Chamber of Deputies Senator Cheron expressing the voice of general alarm:

ZZZZZ

Peggy Schooner and Ed Frederick soaked up the April-in-Paris sunshine on a park bench in the Jardin des Tuilleries while reading from a stack of French newspapers.

Peggy held up Le Figaro for Ed’s inspection –“What do you think of their motto?” She asked, then read it in French and translated to English “Without the freedom to criticize, there is no true praise.”

Ed smiled in response, “Freedom of the press – the hallmark of Democracy; my paper’s motto is “All the news that’s fit to print.”

“Chicago casts all modesty aside,” said Peggy, “the Tribune calls itself ‘the World’s Greatest Newspaper.”

Ed smiled again and recalled, “my favorite newspaper motto comes from Nevada – the Mason Valley News – ‘The Only Newspaper that gives a damn about Yerington.’”

Peggy laughed loudly and gave Ed an appreciative whack on the back. The two allowed themselves the luxury of a light-hearted interlude, but they knew that what they had to do was anything but funny. Their job was to report the news of what the Peace Conference was or was not accomplishing, and after seemingly endless delays and diversions the conference was at last coming to the primary task – what to do about Germany.

“The Fontainebleu Memorandum has broken the dam,” said Ed. “Lloyd George and Wilson have come out for moderate terms.”

“Yes,” Peggy agreed, “but I don’t think they were prepared for the avalanche of opposition to moderation that crashed down upon them.”

“This is true,” Ed agreed, “but President Wilson is immune to such opposition – he is permanently and irrevocably locked into his positions – the fourteen points and the League of Nations; nothing can change his mind.”

“I’m sorry to say this, Edward, but our President is a fool. In a world that cries for diplomacy, he is an uncompomising wall of granite.”

Ed hesitated to criticize a man he thought of as a friend, but Peggy’s barbs were beginning to connect. “House, Lansing, and Baker have counselled compromise,” he said.

“I think he only accepts advice from God,” Peggy said, then added, “which apparently he receives on a regular basis.”

“And then there is the Fiume – Shantung contradiction,” said Ed. “He awards Fiume to the Yugoslavs on the basis of his point five – colonial claims must be based on the interests of the populations concerned – then ignores the point in awarding a large piece of Chinese territory to Japan.”

Peggy was quick to pick up on Ed’s thought. “It was all about his sacred League of Nations,” she said, “Japan threatened to quit the League and form a triple alliance with Germany and Russia to oppose the League – Wilson caved in to Japanese demands. And becaue of the Fiume decision, the Italians have gone home to Rome in a fit of anger.”

“Orlando and Sonnino have been received in Rome as National heroes,” Ed said, “imagine if they had succeeded.”

Peggy nodded, “I can imagine that Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau are happy to be without the Italians – a big three is easier to manage than a big four.”

“Speaking of the Italians,” said Ed, “I have news from my New York colleagues on this Fiume issue, and for Wilson it’s not good – his number one antagonist in the U.S. congress, Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, believes that Italy should have military and naval control of the Adriatic and so supports Italy’s claim to the port of Fiume.”

“Why isn’t Lodge here in Paris as part of the U.S. delegation?” Peggy asked. “Doesn’t Wilson understand that nothing he agrees to at the conference will be anything but fantasy if he can’t get support from his legislature?”

Ed was not ready to give up on Wilson. “And yet,” he said, “for all his difficulties, backsliding, mistakes, misunderstandings, and contradictions, I believe it is right and proper that he should be here.”

Peggy was not so sure. “No,” she exclaimed, “your precious Wilson should have remained in Washington, his presence here is a distraction; historians will not treat him kindly. And let us not fail to note that the peace treaty is being written by anonymous technicians whose labors will be touted as the work of statesmen.”

While Ed pondered that observation, and searched for an appropriate response, Peggy abruptly changed the subject to a train of thought she had been considering ever since they had returned from Munich.

“Ida Tarbell was too hard on Rockefeller,” she said.

Ed blinked; where did that come from? Ed was startled at the abrupt change of subject. “Rockefeller?”

“He founded the University of Chicago, you know.”

Ed shook his head; he did not know.

“The eternal conundrum,” mused Peggy, “if great wealth is accumulated by unfair means and used for charitable purposes, is it morally justified?”

“The allied powers in charge here would certainly think so,” said Ed, “It makes me wonder: is that the ultimate purpose of this conference? To ensure that the Rockefellers of the world are safe from the “poisonous” claims of any system of government designed to share the wealth of nations with the population of nations?”

“You may be onto something there, Edward,” said Peggy. “Most certainly the  United States, Great Britain, and France are dedicated to that purpose. And what about Germany? As we have seen in Munich, thousands of Germans are prepared to fight for a people’s government where the poor are elevated in society to a level, if not equal to the rich, at least high enough to escape the degradation of grinding poverty. The Allies call this hope, “poisonous”. The great irony of the Great War is that the contending forces  agreed on this issue; the post-war story is yet to be written, it may involve civil war in Germany. Pity the common folk.”

Caught up in thoughts of irony and poison, Ed was startled when Peggy once again seemed to change the subject.

“He’s here, you know,” she said, then added, “Junior is here.”

“Junior?” Ed questioned.

“John D. Rockefeller, Junior; he’s here in Paris; I saw him at one of Baker’s press conferences.”

“Do you know him?” Ed asked.

“I know him by sight,” Peggy answered, “he was the commencement speaker when I graduated from the University of Chicago. At the press conference he was sitting next to Ida Tarbell.”

“That’s odd,” said Ed, “I thought she didn’t like him.”

Ed was thinking of Ida Tarbell’s famous book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, published 15 years earlier; a highly detailed exposè of  John D. Rockefeller’s unethical business practices that had damaged many small companies, including that of her father, in the nascent oil business of Western Pennsylvania. Junior Rockefeller’s father, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, had called her “that poisonous woman.”

“President Wilson likes her,” said Peggy, “two years ago he appointed her to the Women’s Commission of the Council on National Defense and recently as a delegate to his Industrial Conference.”

“So why is she sitting with Rockefeller?”

“This is not the same Rockefeller,” Peggy answered. “This is the son of the founder, he’s a different animal – he doesn’t have to worry about making money, his job is figuring out the best way to spend it. Rockefeller Senior was not only a shrewd, if unethical, businessman, he also understood the capitalistic system as well as anyone alive – the bottom line is you invest your money well and live off the interest. The British aristocracy could not exist without this system; Rockefeller took note and formed the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Medical Research, the General Education Board, and probably a few others nobody knows about.

Ida Tarbell exposed Senior’s shady methods, but she also took note of his impeccable organizational skills, and she clearly doesn’t blame Junior for the sins of his father.”

Gertrude Bell – A Lady For All Seasons

The WAR GUILT CLAUSE is available at pre-publication prices and directly from the author – the official release date by Tate Publishing is in October – the publishers put a 115,000 word limit on the manuscript which meant that some large sections, important to the author, had to be eliminated; a piece about Gertrude Bell was one. It is reproduced below.

BELL OF ARABIA

Special to the New York Times and to the Times of London

By Wickham Steed

February 1, 1919

Gertrude Bell is a lady of great accomplishment, a treasure of the British Empire. Educated at Queens’ College, London, then at OxfordUniversity where she graduated with first class honors in modern history, she is, by any measure, the country’s prime source of information, to say nothing of influence, in all things pertaining to the Arab world of the Middle East. She speaks eight languages – English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. She has ridden camels with the Bedouins in the Arabian desert and dined on sheep’s eyes with tribal sheikhs; she has gained the respect and the trust of Arab leaders all over the desert, with the added advantage that, being a woman, she was allowed access to the women of the desert where she often learned what really drove the sheikhs. Move over “Lawrence of Arabia”, make way for “Bell of Arabia.”

When the Great War broke out in 1914, Gertrude Bell was widely recognized as one of Britain’s leading experts on the Middle East, and when Turkey came in on the side of the Central Powers, her expertise was quickly put to good use. In 1915, she became the first woman to work for British military intelligence, and the only woman to be part of the British mission in Mesopotamia. In 1916, she was part of the British delegation in Basrah, Iraq when Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the legendary representative of the House of Saud, was given a dazzling display of British military power and technology, not least the image of the bones of his hand under a Roentgen ray. The intent was to impress him and encourage him to continue his support and collaboration in confronting the Ottoman Turkish forces which have controlled the Middle East for four hundred years.

In 1917 Gertrude Bell published a thin volume called THE ARAB WAR where, among other things, she cautioned that the tribes of Iraq, with their complex social and political traditions, have advanced but little in seven hundred years, and anyone tasked with shaping their destinies should be prepared to be wearied by words signifying nothing.

I could not resist the opportunity to inquire of her views on Zionism. She admires the Jews, and is in agreement with Foreign Secretary Robert Cecil who said that a national home should be found for “the most gifted race that mankind has seen since the fifth century Greeks”, however not in Palestine; when pressed for her views by General Clayton, head of all British Intelligence in Cairo during the war, and one of her mentors, she opined that Arabs and Jews could not live together peaceably side by side. For Gertrude Bell, Palestine for the Jews is an impossible proposition.

In Paris, Miss Bell will meet with T.E. Lawrence and Prince Feisal to plot strategy for Feisal’s appearance before the Supreme Council on February 6. Lawrence has alerted her of Feisal’s intent: he would present his case for Arab independence but if the Arabs must live under a mandate, his preference is that it be American. Miss Bell at present supports Feisal’s hope for an independent Iraq, but in her own mind she is conflicted by the knowledge of the profound differences between the people of northern, central, and southern Iraq/Mesopotamia. Miss Bell cares deeply about these wild, untamed Arabs and freely confesses that there are times when she wonders to herself if she is more Arab than English.