-
RSS Become a Fan

Recent Posts

A question of values
"The circle time parade of changes" (2)
"The circle time parade of changes" (1)
Survivor's guilt
Wounds, visible and invisible

Categories

American Society
Connections
Culture
Current Events
Environment
Fiction and Life
Friendship
Good an Evil
History, Research, Writing, Fiction
Horses
Language
Life and Death
Life in Aiken
Literary Criticism
Popular Music
Retrospectives
U.S. History
War and Peace
World War I
Writing Groups
powered by

Clio's Temple

"Peace without victory"

On this day in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson called for "peace without victory" in World War I. It was a last forlorn hope to fulfill the campaign promise on which he had recently won a narrow re-election victory: "He kept us out of war." In less than three months from this speech, the U.S. was nonetheless at war.

Even discounting the benefit of hindsight, it would seem logical for such an appeal to have won a more receptive audience among the leaders of warring Europe. Why didn't it? This can never be known for certain, but almost certainly one factor was the common belief that only victory could redeem the rivers of blood that both sides had already shed. Great Britain believed that its naval blockade of Germany would force the Germans to sue for peace. France was planning yet another ill-fated offensive that would assuredly throw "Les Boches" out of France. Germany's armies were entrenched in seemingly impregnable positions on the Western Front, while Austria-Hungary was shielded from invasion from the south by the granite wall of the Julian Alps.

The Allied Powers would shortly have occasion to rue their dismissal of Wilson's initiative. The overthrow of the Romanov dynasty in Russia lay only five weeks in the future. It was this (perhaps more than anything else) that motivated the Germans to believe that unrestricted submarine warfare would tip the balance in their favor. That proved to be the fatal miscalculation that forced Wilson's hand.

What is perhaps more remarkable is that Wilson persisted in his hope that a peace without imposing vindictive terms on the losers might lay a foundation for a lasting international order. His actions have gained much criticism over the ensuing decades, much of it justified. Yet when we consider the long-run cost of a peace that was achieved without victory followed by a deeply flawed peacemaking process, his actions look much better in posterity's eyes than do those of many of the critics.

6 Comments to "Peace without victory":

Comments RSS
dissertation writing help on Thursday, April 04, 2013 4:57 AM
I had no idea the plagiarism among these easy essay sites was so pervasive, but to illustrate how a single essay gets copy/pasted from this site to other sites all over the internet, consider one of my long time favorite essays, Cows and Whales, an essay by a Japanese student who wrote the essay when I was teaching in the US. 
Reply to comment
 
Steve Gordy on Thursday, April 04, 2013 1:02 PM
As far as I know, this entire post is my own work. I have neither given nor received help in writing it. Thanks for the comment!


casino highroller on Saturday, May 11, 2013 4:34 AM
In less than three months from this speech, the U.S. was nonetheless at war.
Reply to comment


Steve Gordy on Saturday, May 11, 2013 4:22 PM
Quite true. The same poor timing (willful or not) was to bedevil Lyndon Johnson when, shortly after promising the American people that American troops wouldn't be sent to fight in South Vietnam, he went back on his promise. This was one of those things that gave rise to the phrase "credibility gap."
Reply to comment


travel to lhasa tibet on Saturday, May 18, 2013 9:30 PM
I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it'll improve the value of my web site :)
Reply to comment


free couple sex cam on Saturday, May 25, 2013 7:06 AM
That proved to be the fatal miscalculation that forced Wilson's hand.
Reply to comment

Add a Comment

Your Name:
Email Address: (Required)
Website:
Comment:
Make your text bigger, bold, italic and more with HTML tags. We'll show you how.
Post Comment
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint