Tag Archives: Woodrow Wilson

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.”

Blind Tigers

Another chapter omitted from the published WAR GUILT CLAUSE

Max got caught up in what was happening at home in Brooklyn while Wilson was in Paris thumping for a world peace that would include the nations of the world organized into a League charged with problem solving – economic, religious, political, geographic, extraterrestrial (just kidding {sort of}. In Brooklyn saloons the big worry was  prohibition of the sale of beer, bourbon, gin and all that.

BLIND TIGERS AND ALL THAT

“So it begins,” Otto Frederick, with his friends at the Eagle Saloon, folded the newspaper he had been reading and began the discussion. “Forty plans for the League of Nations to be considered – they are stalled before they can begin.”

Otto did not find it necessary to say he was talking about the Paris Peace Conference. Pat Cady, Bill Hartz, Joseph Koenig, and Debs Green, the other men at the table, put down their papers and began to express their thoughts.

“They will not meddle with the Monroe Doctrine,” said Bill Hartz to laughter from the group. Hartz was echoing an item in the New York Times report on the conference.

“They are charged with adjusting the destinies of the world, perhaps we should join them,” said Joseph Koenig.

“Can we trust our sainted President to do the right thing?” Bill Hartz, no friend of Wilson, had the answer to his own question . . . “why is he obsessed with this idea of a League of Nations? He is more concerned about the world out there than he is about the world here at home.”

Pat Cady had other things on his mind, once again sparked by information gleaned from the morning newspaper. “Only six more states needed to ratify the prohibition amendment,” he said, “drink up gentlemen, it may be our last chance.” He raised his glass for a toast. “To Blind Tigers,” he said.

It was a reference to a practice that had developed in a Dry county somewhere in Indiana – the appearance in a legitimate business store window of a stuffed tiger with glass eyes to alert thirsty customers that an illicit saloon (a speakeasy) was somewhere in the neighborhood.

“But see here, Cady, there may still be hope.” Otto Frederick pointed to an item in the Times. “The distillers convention in Chicago informs us that fifteen states have laws that require a vote of the people to approve what their legislators have mandated when the issue is amending the U.S. constitution. Can we hope that the people are wiser than their elected representatives? The distillers have elected a guy from Peoria to lead their organization and press their case. There are ominous signs that such prohibition will be disastrous for the nation – the criminal elements in our society are licking their chops over the whole idea – ways to profit are blossoming in the greedy minds of crooks from Maine to California.”

“Maybe there is hope for us here in New York,” said Cady, “it appears that our state senate opposes the amendment; this raises the question, if the amendment becomes law, is a state that voted against it required to enforce it?”

While the group pondered that sticky question, Debs Green called attention to another item in the Times that he found troubling: the report of a pogrom in Ukrainia.

“Again, they are killing jews,” he said. “What are we to do?”

Otto Frederick spoke for the group who all looked at Green sharply to see if he was sober. This was a group that discussed issues; no matter how dire a situation, they were never inclined to do anything about it.

“Green, my friend,” Otto said, placing a hand on Green’s arm, “it is not our place to do anything. We are prepared to discuss it, to be sure, but do something? No. So let us discuss: did I not read somewhere that what is being called ‘the Bolshevik Revolution’ is the result of  a Jewish conspiracy?”

Green threw up his hands in dismay. “Churchill has written in the London Herald  that Bolshevism and Zionism are competing for the soul of the Jewish people. This is an educated man, possibly a world leader, how can he write such nonsense?”

Green was referring to Winston Churchill, currently the British Secretary of State for War and Aviation, one of the British plenipotentiaries at the Paris Peace Conference. The Ballboys knew about Winston Churchill.

“What can you tell us about the Jewish soul?” Otto Frederick asked.

Green smiled, “Of one thing I am sure,” he answered, “whatever it is, Winston Churchill may be the last person to know of it.”

 

Nations United, League of – Whatever – Hail to the duc

The idea of Nations uniting for peace and tranquility has been around for more than 400 years as near as I can tell – the first outrageous proposal may have been the one proposed by the French duc de Sully in 1601. He wanted to call it “the very Christian Council of Europe” ; it would be composed of 15 roughly equal European states with a common army – imagine that. It was also called “The Grand Design, a Utopian plan for a Christian Republic.” Nice try, duc.

In 1859, another Frenchman, Jean Henri Dunant, while visiting in Italy, happened upon the village of Solferino, where a  battle in the Austro-Sardinian war had produced more than 40,000 dead and wounded. The experience inspired Dunant to publish “A Memory of Solferino” in 1863, a book that led Gustave Moynier, a Geneva, Switzerland lawyer to help organize an “International Committee for Relief of the Wounded” that became the ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1876. The World War One role of the ICRC in saving lives, exchanging prisoners, enabling communication between combatants and families, maintaining troop morale, and more, can not be minimized. It was part of the late 19th Century movement toward global Internationalism led by men like the South African Jan Christian Smuts.

Smuts must have been a role model for Woodrow Wilson; it was Smuts who wrote the covenant of the League of Nations that Wilson insisted be included in the Treaty of Versailles, and that was seen by many as the first great flaw in the Treaty .

The War Guilt Clause wrestles with these issues, then moves on to the question of how did the civilian war survivors on both sides view the Treaty of Versailles?

Wilson’s Obsession – The League of Nations

Woodrow Wilson, is the only U.S. President with an earned doctorate – Ph.D. in Government and History, Johns Hopkins University, 1886. To say Wilson was a stubborn man would be like saying the Washington Monument is an obelisk. “Let them compromise,” became a mantra with Wilson – he knew better, and in the end it cost him dearly.

A month after the fighting on the Western Front ended in November, 1918, Wilson went to France to prepare for the Paris Peace Conference that would convene in January, 1919; his reception in Paris, London, and Rome was tumultuous; he was the conquering hero, the first international recognition that the United States was a GREAT NATION, and he was here to fashion a peace for the world. Sadly, it would end badly . . .  “A Peace to End All Peace,” said the title of David Fromkin’s 1986 book,

Max Blue in The War Guilt Clause, follows the peace conference through the eyes of correspondent Ed Frederick, and a bright-eyed, spiky Midwesterner with a pen of her own – Peggy Schooner, who enters Ed’s life at the first Paris press conference with the words “Wilson has it all wrong – the League of Nations is not the first priority – a peace treaty with Germany is.”

Wilson had it horribly wrong but was blind to see. He would not be swayed from his bull-headed insistence that the Covenant of the League of Nations must be included in the introduction to what became the Treaty of Versailles.

Here in 2013, it is widely seen that partisan politics is crippling the United States efforts to bring a better life to its citizens. In 1919, bitter hatred for a Democrat President, may have been worse :

Republican Senator William Borah of Idaho – “The Treaty of Versailles represents the most complete moral breakdown in the history of treaty writing.”

Democratic Senator James Phelan of California – “The President has achieved a great triumph; the Treaty of Versailles is a greater boon to mankind than the Magna Charta or the American Constitution.”

It remained for the much maligned future U.S. President, Herbert Hoover, to pen a phrase that might represent A Thought For All Seasons: “We are sadly in need of an idealism that transcends partisan politics – one rooted in principles beyond mere party allegiance.”