Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points
The opinions and aims of Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George- the leaders of the ‘Big Three’ countries (France, U.S.A and Britain respectively) - at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 all differed.
Woodrow Wilson, the President of the U.S.A, was an idealist, and a reformer. He believed that all nations should co-operate to achieve world peace. He published ‘the Fourteen Points,’ in 1918 ten months before the armistice with the view to attaining this. Indeed, the fourteen points became the basis for the terms of the German surrender as negotiated at the Paris Peace Conference.
Georges Clemenceau, ‘the Tiger’, Prime Minister of France, had different ideas. He wanted to crush Germany in punishment. However he was a realist and knew he would be forced to compromise on some issues. He continued to demand that Germany be weakened as much as possible.
The Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Lloyd George was an able politician and a realist. He wanted Germany to lose its navy and colonies, as he believed they threatened the British Empire. He was of the opinion that punishing Germany too hard may lead her to seek revenge in the future and escalate another war.
This background information on the main players at the Paris Peace Conference and their different aims and objectives is fundamental to our understanding of the controversy surrounding the 14 points. The fourteen points are
- No secret treaties.
- Free access to the seas in peacetime or wartime
- Free trade between countries
- All countries work towards disarmament
- Colonies to have a say in their own future.
- German troops to leave Russia
- Independence for Belgium
- France to regain Alsace-Lorraine
- Frontier between Austria and Italy to be adjusted
- Self-determined for the peoples of eastern Europe(they should rule themselves)
- Serbia to have access to the sea
- Self-determination for people in Turkish Empire
- Poland to become an independent state with access to the sea
- League of Nations to be set up.
To take each in turn: -
No secret treaties- by this Wilson meant that there should be no private understandings but that diplomacy should proceed in public view. He believed that the secret promises and alliances within Europe was one of the main causes of the war, and a prohibition on them would prevent it happening again. Clemenceau and Lloyd George also had similar views on the matter.
‘Free access to the sea during peace time and wartime.’ By this Wilson meant absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas outside territorial waters, in peace and in war, excepting when and where seas…