American terms of peace were addressed to the Congress by President Wilson Woodrow nine months after American declaration of war with Germany. The terms of peace were dubbed as the fourteen point speech which became one of most important war aim during the Great War era. This was done in response to Lenin’s intervention for peace. The moderate terms given by Wilson had made an impact to the Central Powers only until they acknowledged an inevitable defeat. Woodrow ideally aimed to make the world “fit and safe to live in”.
The Fourteen Points can be categorized into five major conditions. The first condition was an “open covenant of peace”. These condition connotes no secret dealings, pacts, understandings or treaties be made between nations. Furthermore, diplomacy should proceed with transparency and in public view. The second condition was aimed for global economic freedom. He stressed the absolute freedom of navigation in peace or in war, with the exception of the territorial seas. Naval routes are essential for trade within the global scale.
Moreover, Woodrow stressed the need to repeal economic barriers and promote equality of trade. The third condition was aimed for global security. Woodrow stressed that armaments of nations should be under restriction. He stressed that “national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety”. Likewise, a “free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustments of colonial claims” should be agreed upon based on the interest of the population involved within the colony. The fourth condition was the territorial readjustment of the war aftermath.
Woodrow emphasized that occupying forces should evacuate Russia, France and Belgium. He stated that, “all French territories should be freed and invaded portion restored. ” In the fourth condition, the security of the sovereignty and the development of new nations were addressed. These new nations rose from the disintegration of Empires in Europe, such as the Ottoman Empire and the Austria-Hungary Empire. The final and the most important condition was the directive to form a “general association of nations”.
This association must function to mutually guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of great or small states alike. This fourteenth point became the basis for the formation of the League of Nations, in which, ironically, the United States never joined. The Points became the basis for the armistice concluded on November 11, 1918. However, Britain and France desire no bit of moderation for their terms of peace. Thus, the 14 Point Speech was subjected to modification and reinterpretation to come in terms with Britain and France.
The results became known as the Treaty of Versailles. The Germans, having had signed the Pre-Armistice Agreement on November 5, presumed that a peace treaty agreement would largely be shaped from the moderation of the Fourteen Points. The unmoderated proposals of the Treaty resulted in utmost bitterness on the side of the Germans. The Treaty of Versailles was extremely lopsided against the German. The Treaty puts the Germans as solely responsible for the war. Concisely, the treaty can be categorized into three major conditions.
The first condition for Germany was the territorial conditions. The Germans was “forbidden to maintain or construct any fortifications either on the left bank of the Rhine or on the right bank to the west of a line drawn 50 kilometers to the East of the Rhine”. Some German territories were renounced in favor of the Allies. Germany have given her rights and titles over her overseas possessions. The second condition for Germany was the reduction and demobilization of her military. Series of specific terms for these conditions should be met.
The restriction was that “the Army of the States constituting Germany must not exceed 100,000 men, including officers and establishments of depots”. The main goal for this condition was to restrict the capability of Germany to wage another aggression. Moreover, the army should exclusively function to maintain the order within their territory. The final and most degrading of the conditions were the reparations required by the Allies. In an appalling instructions, the Germans are compelled to “make compensation for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allied and Associated Powers.
” This brought intense hardship and bitterness to the German people. The two documents expressed the chaotic colonial global environment of that era. The 14 Point Speech tried to make a solution to an existing global problem. These problem traces its root from the colonialist and imperialistic culture of the western world. Western powers pursued their selfish dream to rule the world. Instead of justice, oppression and discrimination became the theme under the Treaty of Versailles. This mistake brought about another hatred in the world incomparable in history.
The moderation of the 14 Point Speech could have averted another World War. Nonetheless, it was in the imperialistic ambitions of world powers of that time that spark the fire of war.
The Fourteen Points. Obee’s History Page. 17 Apr. 2009 [http://web. jjay. cuny. edu/~jobrien/reference/ ob34. html] The Treaty of Versailles (1919). Obee’s History Page. 17 Apr. 2009 [http://web. jjay. cuny. edu/~jobrien /reference/ob18. html] Coffman, Edward. The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I. Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1998