George Clemenceau vs. Woodrow Wilson’s idealistic ideas
The Treaty of Versailles marked the end of the end of the First World War between Germany and the Associated and Allied Powers. Undeniably, the concerned parties had different goals and objectives concerning the peace conference even before the Versailles meeting taking place. However, some of these objectives were conflicting. The United States wanted peace that could last longer to be created; according to the French, Germany was to be penalized for their deeds, while the British wanted Germany to be constructed to become economically strong so that it could counter the dominance of France and Russia in Europe. As a result, no party achieved all its objectives as some kind of sacrifices had to be made, (Chipley, 2010). Notably, some of the key figures involved in the signing Versailles Treaty were George Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson.
Unlike Clemenceau, Wilson asserted that, a more reasonable way was could be the best to deal with Germany after the War. Wilson’s arguments concurred with those of George Lloyd who also was for a strong Germany. Wilson’s arguments were based on fourteen points that he gave, which can be summarized as follows. He argued that, rather than engaging in secret agreements, open agreements of peace should be made in order to avoid suspicion on one another. Besides, all the existing economic barriers were to be removed and equality of trade conditions be established among the concerned parties, (Jeff, 2001). The other proposal was that nations were to be disarmed to minimal levels, allowing for domestic safety. Additionally, all the French areas were to be freed and the portions that had been invaded the Germans restored. Lastly, a league of nations was to be established of which all the involved parties as well as other nations were to be members.
On the other hand, other parties observed Wilson’s points as being extremely idealistic. Clemenceau argued that, Germany had to pay for all the destruction it had made in France. Therefore, the best way that France could avenge itself was by completely crippling Germany economically, socially as well as politically, (Jeff, 2001). He also asserted that all the events of 1914 were caused by Germany. Unlike Wilson who proposed that all nations should be disarmed to the minimum levels, Clemenceau proposed that in order to avoid a repetition of the War, Germany should be disarmed completely as it was a threat to most European countries. Finally, besides severely punishing the Germans, they were also to compensate France for all the damages it caused in addition to returning all the territories that belonged to France.
Finally, initially Germany rejected the proposals that were made in the Treaty. However, it had to give in to the peace conditions as outlined by the victors. Some of the conditions were: dividing some of its territories to the bordering nations, surrendering all its colonies in overseas, as well as reducing it’s military to limit its ability of going into war again. Germany finally signed the Treaty when a new government took over under the leadership of Chancellor Gustav Bauer after the resignation of Philip Scheidemann, (Chipley, 2010).
Chipley, L.S. (2010). The Treaty of Versailles. New York: Inforbase Publishing.
Jeff, H. (2001). The Treaty of Versailles. Boston: Greenhaven Press.