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

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

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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 i...


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...and incomplete" (Keynes pp. 4). Ironically this is just the thing Wilson had set out not to do. In the speech he delivered before he read out the Fourteen Points, Wilson said that there was "no confusion between the Allied powers, no uncertainty of principle and no vagueness of detail." Wilson goes on to say that the "only failure to make definite statement of the objects of the war lies with Germany and her allies," when in fact this failure of definite statement was also true of the Allied Powers. The Fourteen Points did accomplish something in that they set out terms for a treaty, but unfortunately the Points failed because they severely lacked in detail and succinct. Furthermore, if the Points had been written with the sole objective of peace and restitution and not ambition or revenge, the ultimate Treaty of Versailles may have led to a lasting peace in Europe.

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