A School History of the Great War - Chapter 14
Questions of the Coming Peace
THE armistices of September to November, 1918 (pages 148, 149, 151), put an end to hostilities, but did not end the war. Formal treaties, to provide for a lasting peace, cannot be made in haste. The armistices were so framed as to insure the complete military victory of the Allies without further bloodshed; they contain many concessions by the Central Powers, but few or none by the Allies, save only the cessation of fighting.
The Armistice with Germany. - The armistice of November 11 was for thirty days only, but was extended from time to time. Under it, Germany withdrew her troops from invaded countries - Belgium, France, Alsace-Lorraine, Luxemburg; also from all of Germany west of the Rhine, and from certain important areas east of that river. No devastation or injuries were to be committed by the retiring troops. The upkeep of Allied and American armies of occupation in the Rhine land was to be paid by the German government. Germany was to release all Allied and American prisoners of war and civilians. She surrendered immense amounts of cannon, machine guns, ammunition, railway locomotives and cars, airplanes, and other property; all her submarines and the best of her other war ships; Allied, American, and Russian ships in her hands. She also agreed to withdraw her troops from Austria-Hungary,
Roumania, Turkey, and the lands that were Russian before the war. She renounced the recent treaties with Russia and Roumania (pages 137, 138). The Baltic Sea was opened to Allied and American commerce; but the blockade of Germany continued.
Peace Problems. - There are two kinds of problems which must be solved by the American people before permanent peace conditions can be established. One group of problems is composed of international questions, largely pertaining to the European states, but in which the United States is vitally interested. The other group of problems relates to the restoration of our people and industries to a peace condition. On some points these two groups of problems are closely related and cannot be settled separately. Some internal questions will have to be viewed in the light of world affairs; and some international problems must be given solutions which will have influences within our own country. Ignoring the overlapping of the two groups, we shall study the problems of peace in this chapter under two headings:
(i) national problems; (2) international problems.
I. NATIONAL PROBLEMS
Among the many internal problems which the country must face at the close of the war, and to which every American should to-day be giving his earnest thought, the following are specially important.
Getting the Men Home. - Even while engaged in the task of getting every available man to the fighting
line in Europe, the American authorities found time to think of the return movement. It will be a great undertaking, requiring many months, to see that each man reaches American shores and after his dismissal is safely sent to his home town.
The Care of the Wounded. - During the war the greatest pains were taken by the medical officers of the army, and by the Red Cross agents, to bring immediate relief to the brave wounded men, and to nurse them carefully back to health. But many of them have sacrificed an eye or a limb, or have received wounds which will prevent their engaging in their. previous occupations. It is the high duty of the nation to save such men from a life of pain or of enforced idleness. . It should not permit them to subsist by charity, or even pensions. The wounded man, crippled for life in his nation's service, will be educated in a vocation which will occupy his mind, make him independent, and render him a respected and self-respecting member of his community. This great educational work has already been started, courses of study have been put into operation, and positions in various industrial plants have been guaranteed to the men after the training is completed. The nation will perform its whole duty to its heroes.
The Reconstruction of Industry. - The war has called into existence great plants for the manufacture of the specialties needed in warfare. Such factories must, after the close of the war, be made over and set
to the task of creating goods for the days of peaces Machinery will be reconstructed, agencies for the sale of goods must be established, and foreign trade sought as a possible market for the enlarged production.
The Reorganization of Labor. - American working people, whether they be managers of plants or workmen at the machine, have been wonderfully loyal too the nation during the war. They have shifted their work, their homes, and their aspirations to meet the needs of the war. When peace returns all this talent and skill must be turned into other channels. This we hope can be accomplished without unemployment on a large scale, and without any loss of time or pay. But it will require great directing ability, and a friendly attitude of employees and employers toward each other.
Financial Reconstruction. - The finances of the government, of corporations, and of business men have been greatly changed during the course of the war. There may never be a complete return to the old conditions. But it is certain that peace will create problems of finance almost as serious as those of war.
Legislative Changes. Our legislative bodies, particularly the Congress, will be called upon to pass many laws to aid the country to resume its peaceful life and occupations. All of the problems mentioned here, as well as many others, will require the enactment of new laws. We shall need congressmen and state legislators of wisdom, patriotism, and special knowledge to act intelligently for the people on these problems. The
international settlements mentioned below also may require the action of the Senate upon treaties, and the action of both houses where laws are necessary to carry out our international agreements. The war has called for statesmanship of the highest order; the coming peace will make equal demands upon the wisdom and sell-control of our statesmen and politicians.
II. INTERNATIONAL PROBLEMS
President Wilson, on January 8, 1918, addressed Congress in a speech which was designed to set forth the war aims and peace terms of the United States. Every American should be familiar with the terms of this "fourteen-point speech." Each one of the terms advocated by the President is given below in the President's own words, and a short explanatory paragraph is added to each.
~.1. 1.Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
The President here speaks against the underhand diplomacy and secret alliances which have been a feature of European history in the past. By this practice a few diplomats and monarchs made whatever treaties they wished, not presenting them for ratification to the people's representatives, and yet binding every individual citizen to abide by the terms adopted. Such secret provisions have often been agreed to simply
upon the whim or the ambition or the likes and dislikes of the rulers. They have sometimes been opposed to
the true interests of the nations involved. They are undemocratic, and are not in accord with American ideas.
2. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, out-side territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.
Since 1793 the United States has stood for the freedom of the seas and the right of neutrals to carry on their trade in time of war as well as in time of peace. Germany's violation of our rights as a neutral by her submarine warfare was one of the causes of our taking -up arms against her. By territorial waters the President here means the waters within three miles from shore, which are universally held to be under the complete control of the adjoining state. By international covenants are probably meant such covenants and guarantees as those mentioned in points 14, i, 4, i ii, 12, and 13.
3.~. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
Economic barriers are mainly restrictions upon trade and commerce. These restrictions take various forms; they may be prohibitive customs duties, or excessive port, tonnage, and harbor charges; they may -
be trade agreements granting favors to the citizens of one country and not to those of another. The President urges the establishment of an equality of such trade conditions.
4. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
The President here touches one of the most important p4blems of the coming peace. This has often been called a war against war; it has been said that it will be the last war. The sentiment which leads to such statements has its origin in a hatred of militarism. Great armaments were created because of the danger from Prussian militarism; and great armaments will still be necessary unless "this intolerable thing" is crushed or "shut out from the friendly intercourse of the nations." When it is crushed, some adequate steps must be taken by each state to reduce its armaments, on condition that all other states do the same. But many problems will face the world's statesmen in preparing a plan for guaranteed disarmament. How large a force will each nation need to maintain its "domestic safety"? How shall we be sure that Germany will not break her promise, as she has so often done in this war? How shall we be sure that Germany, or perhaps some other state, will not again secretly prepare for a war while others remain unprepared?
5. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict
observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
In the opening chapters of this book we have seen how colonial rivalry was one of the causes of the World War. The President urges that the settlement after the war shall be "free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial." He introduces here the democratic principle that the interests of the populations in the colonies shall have equal weight with the just claims of the European states. Such a principle probably will mean that few if any of Germany's colonies can be returned to her, because her colonial management has been neglectful of the interests of the subject peoples.
6. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing, and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.
No restatement of the President's words on this subject is necessary. The Russian revolution is one of the most important results of the Great War. How can tile future welfare of Russia be best secured?
7. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.
The evacuation of Belgium followed the military victories of the United States and her associates. The restoration of Belgium will be difficult to effect. It implies relief to her suffering and starving people, the return of the many exiles to Belgium, the erection of new homes for them, the reorganization of industry and transportation, and the repair and rebuilding of her historic edifices. Where will the funds come from for such work? Germany, the aggressor, surely should bear a part or all of the cost.
8. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in i8~i in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.
Here the President urges the same treatment for the occupied lands of northern France as for those of Belgium. The devastated lands must be reclaimed, the inhabitants cared for, and adequate means provided -by which they can earn a livelihood. Further, he advises the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France. Such action not only will right the wrong done to France in 1871, but also it will take from Germany much of the iron-producing areas which have made it possible for her to prepare and carry on this war, and which might permit her to get ready for a yet more dreadful war in the future.
9.~. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
We have seen how a considerable area inhabited by
Italians was not freed from Austrian rule when the
Italian kingdom was founded. This territory, called
Italia Irredenta (unredeemed Italy), and this population, by its own desire and by natural right, belong to
Italy and should be brought within the nation.
10. The peoples of Austria- Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.
Within the Austro-Hungarian boundaries are several nationalities which have been subjected to the oppressive rule of peoples different from themselves. Their attempts to obtain home rule or independence have been crushed. America now wishes to secure for these
peoples the opportunity to establish governments for themselves. As we have already seen, our country in 1918 formally recognized the independence of one of these peoples - the Czecho-Slovaks, or inhabitants of Bohemia and neighboring districts. Moreover, in a note to Austria-Hungary, October i8, 1918, President Wilson stated that conditions had changed since January 8, and intimated that both the Czecho-Slovaks and the JugoSlays should be given independence.
11. Roumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated, occupied territories restored, Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea, and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.
We have here a comprehensive plan for the settlement of the Balkan jealousies, which have disturbed Europe for many years. Evacuation and restoration is here proposed, as in Belgium and France. Serbia, always thwarted by Austria in her hopes for a port, is to be given access to the sea. Friendly counsel shall be given the Balkan peoples to aid them in establishing their governments along the lines of nationalities and of historic sympathies. All the countries of the world should unite to guarantee and protect the safety and independence of the governments established in the Balkan region.
I 2. The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.
The horrible rule of the Turks over subject peoples must cease. The Turks, as well as all other peoples, should be allowed the right of self-government. But their subject peoples must also be protected in their lives, property, and occupations, and given an opportunity to establish self-government when they desire it. The Dardanelles strait must be taken out of the power of the Turks, and placed under the control of the associated nations.
13. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.
A nation composed of Poles would imply the union of parts of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, since all of these three countries took part in the infamous partition of Poland in the eighteenth century. Access to the Baltic Sea would be necessary for the prosperity and independence of the new state. But such access
could be gained only across territory which Prussia has held for a century and a half. The associated. nations would guarantee the independence of Poland in the same way that they would protect Belgium, Serbia, and the other states erected upon the principle of national self-government.
14. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
This is the most important of the President's suggestions. Without some form of a league of nations it will be impossible to adopt and carry out the other terms of the President's program. International guarantees, so frequently mentioned in his proposals, imply some means by which the countries of the world can act together for their common purposes. Restoration of devastated lands, disarmament, new democratic governments, freedom of commerce, - all of .these things will remain nothing but rainbow hopes unless the large and small nations of the world unite for their realization. A League of Nations, more or less regularly organized, must be formed if. the democracies of the world shall be made safe from future wars of aggression.
Suggestions far Study. - i. Why are waters within three miles of shore considered as territorial waters? (See War Cyclopedia, "Marine League.") What is meant by freedom of the seas? What is meant by the phrase "free ships make free goods"?
2. Make a map of Europe showing what it would be like if all of President Wilson's points were approved at the peace conference.
3. Are there any reasons why every nation should give up its colonies and permit them to be independent states? 4. Why is it dangerous as well as wrong to permit Germany to retain her control over the territory taken from Russia? 5. What was the "wrong done to France (by Germany) in 1870"? 6. What is autonomy? Name the peoples of Austria-Hungary who wish autonomous development, or complete independence. 7. Find some ways by which Poland and Serbia can get access to the sea.
8. Do you think it will take a longer or a shorter time to bring the soldiers home than it did to send them to France? Why?
9. What is meant by rehabilitation of the wounded? Find some ways in which other nations have made their maimed soldiers sell-supporting. io. How is it likely that Constantinople will be controlled after the war? ii. How would the league of nations enforce its decisions? (See President Wilson's second point.)
References. - War Cyclopedia (C. P. I.); McKinley, Collected Materials for the Study of the War; War, Labor, and Peace (C. P. I.); Conquest and Kultur (C. P. I.); The War Message and the Facts Behind It (C. P. I.); American Interest in Popular Government Abroad (C. P. I.).