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and M. Pichon for the French Republic and by President Wilson and myself
for the United States, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Balfour signing at the
same time a similar treaty for Great Britain. Though disagreeing with
the policy of the President in regard to this special treaty it would
have been futile for me to have refused to accept the full powers issued
to me on June 27 or to have declined to follow the directions to act as
a plenipotentiary in signing the document. Such a course would not have
prevented Mr. Wilson from entering into the defensive alliance with
France and Great Britain and might have actually delayed the peace.
Feeling strongly the supreme necessity of ending the existing state of
war as soon as possible I did not consider that I would be justified in
refusing to act as the formal agent of the President or in disobeying
his instructions as such agent. In view of the long delay in
ratification of the Treaty of the Peace, I have since doubted whether I
acted wisely. But at the time I was convinced that the right course was
the one which I followed.

In spite of the fact that my judgment was contrary to the President's as
to the wisdom of negotiating this treaty because I considered the policy
of doing so bad from the standpoint of national interests and of
doubtful expediency in view of the almost certain rejection of it by the
United States Senate and of its probable effect on any plan for general
disarmament, I was not entirely satisfied because I could not disregard
the fact that an argument could be made in its favor which was not
without force.

The United States entered the war to check the progress of the
autocratic imperialism of Germany. That purpose became generally
recognized before the victory was won. In making peace it was deemed,
therefore, a matter of first importance to make impossible a revival of
the aggressive spirit and ambitious designs of Germany. The prevailing
bitterness against France because of the territorial cessions and the
reparations demanded by the victor would naturally cause the German
people to seek future opportunity to be revenged. With a population
almost, if not quite, double that of the French Republic, Germany would
be a constant menace to the nation which had suffered so terribly in the
past by reason of the imperialistic spirit prevalent in the German
Empire. The fear of that menace strongly influenced the French policies
during the negotiations at Paris. In fact it was hard to avoid the
feeling that this fear dominated the conduct of the French delegates and
the attitude of their Government. They demanded much, and recognizing
the probable effect of their demands on the German people sought to
obtain special protection in case their vanquished enemy attempted in
the future to dispossess them by force of the land which he had been
compelled to surrender or attempted to make them restore the
indemnity paid.

Whether France could have avoided the danger of German attack in the
future by lessening her demands, however just they might be, is neither
here nor there. It makes little practical difference how that question
is answered. The important fact is that the settlements in favor of
France under the Treaty were of a nature which made the continuance of
peace between the two nations doubtful if Germany possessed the ability
to regain her military strength and if nothing was done to prevent her
from using it. In these circumstances a special protective treaty seemed
a practical way to check the conversion of the revengeful spirit of the
Germans into another war of invasion.

However valid this argument in favor of the two treaties of assistance,
and though my personal sympathy for France inclined me to satisfy her
wishes, my judgment, as an American Commissioner, was that American
interests and the traditional policies of the United States were against
this alliance. Possibly the President recognized the force of the
argument in favor of the treaty and valued it so highly that he
considered it decisive. Knowing, however, his general attitude toward
French demands and his confidence in the effectiveness of the guaranty
in the Covenant, I believe that the controlling reason for promising the
alliance and negotiating the treaty was his conviction that it was
necessary to make this concession to the French in order to secure their
support for the Covenant and to check the disposition in certain
quarters to make the League of Nations essentially a military coalition
under a general international staff organized and controlled by
the French.

There were those who favored the mutual guaranty in the Covenant, but
who strongly opposed the separate treaty with France. Their objection
was that, in view of the general guaranty, the treaty of assistance was
superfluous, or, if it were considered necessary, then it discredited
the Covenant's guaranty. The argument was logical and difficult to
controvert. It was the one taken by delegates of the smaller nations who
relied on the general guaranty to protect their countries from future
aggressions on the part of their powerful neighbors. If the guaranty of
the Covenant was sufficient protection for them, they declared that it
ought to be sufficient for France. If France doubted its sufficiency,
how could they be content with it?

Since my own judgment was against any form of guaranty imposing upon the
United States either a legal or a moral obligation to employ coercive
measures under certain conditions arising in international affairs, I
could not conscientiously support the idea of the French treaty. This
further departure from America's historic policy caused me to accept
President Wilson's "guidance and direction ... with increasing
reluctance," as he aptly expressed it in his letter of February 11,
1920. We did not agree, we could not agree, since our points of view
were so much at variance.

Yet, in spite of the divergence of our views as to the negotiations
which constantly increased and became more and more pronounced during
the six months at Paris, our personal relations continued unchanged; at
least there was no outward evidence of the actual breach which existed.
As there never had been the personal intimacy between the President and
myself, such as existed in the case of Colonel House and a few others of
his advisers, and as our intercourse had always been more or less formal
in character, it was easier to continue the official relations that had
previously prevailed. I presume that Mr. Wilson felt, as I did, that it
would create an embarrassing situation in the negotiations if there was
an open rupture between us or if my commission was withdrawn or
surrendered and I returned to the United States before the Treaty of
Peace was signed. The effect, too, upon the situation in the Senate
would be to strengthen the opposition to the President's purposes and
furnish his personal, as well as his political, enemies with new grounds
for attacking him.

I think, however, that our reasons for avoiding a public break in our
official relations were different. The President undoubtedly believed
that such an event would jeopardize the acceptance of the Covenant by
the United States Senate in view of the hostility to it which had
already developed and which was supplemented by the bitter animosity to
him personally which was undisguised. On my part, the chief reason for
leaving the situation undisturbed was that I was fully convinced that my
withdrawal from the American Commission would seriously delay the
restoration of peace, possibly in the signature of the Treaty at Paris
and certainly in its ratification at Washington. Considering that the
time had passed to make an attempt to change Mr. Wilson's views on any
fundamental principle, and believing it a duty to place no obstacle in
the way of the signature and ratification of the Treaty of Peace with
Germany, I felt that there was no course for me as a representative of
the United States other than to obey the President's orders however
strong my personal inclination might be to refuse to follow a line of
action which seemed to me wrong in principle and unwise in policy.

In view of the subsequent contest between the President and the
opposition Senators over the Treaty of Versailles, resulting in its
non-ratification and the consequent delay in the restoration of a state
of peace between the United States and Germany, my failure at Paris to
decline to follow the President may be open to criticism, if not to
censure. But it can hardly be considered just to pass judgment on my
conduct by what occurred after the signature of the Treaty unless what
would occur was a foregone conclusion, and at that time it was not even
suggested that the Treaty would fail of ratification. The decision had
to be made under the conditions and expectations which then prevailed.
Unquestionably there was on June 28, 1919, a common belief that the
President would compose his differences with a sufficient number of the
Republican Senators to obtain the necessary consent of two thirds of the
Senate to the ratification of the Treaty, and that the delay in
senatorial action would be brief. I personally believed that that would
be the result, although Mr. Wilson's experience in Washington in
February and the rigid attitude, which he then assumed, might have been
a warning as to the future. Seeing the situation as I did, no man would
have been willing to imperil immediate ratification by resigning as
Commissioner on the ground that he was opposed to the President's
policies. A return to peace was at stake, and peace was the supreme need
of the world, the universal appeal of all peoples. I could not
conscientiously assume the responsibility of placing any obstacle in the
way of a return to peace at the earliest possible moment. It would have
been to do the very thing which I condemned in the President when he
prevented an early signing of the peace by insisting on the acceptance
of the Covenant of the League of Nations as a condition precedent.
Whatever the consequence of my action would have been, whether it
resulted in delay or in defeat of ratification, I should have felt
guilty of having prevented an immediate peace which from the first
seemed to me vitally important to all nations. Personal feelings and
even personal beliefs were insufficient to excuse such action.



Having reviewed the radical differences between the President and myself
in regard to the League of Nations and the inclusion of the Covenant in
the Treaty of Peace with Germany, it is necessary to revert to the early
days of the negotiations at Paris in order to explain the divergence of
our views as to the necessity of a definite programme for the American
Commission to direct it in its work and to guide its members in their
intercourse with the delegates of other countries.

If the President had a programme, other than the general principles and
the few territorial settlements included in his Fourteen Points, and the
generalities contained in his "subsequent addresses," he did not show a
copy of the programme to the Commissioners or advise them of its
contents. The natural conclusion was that he had never worked out in
detail the application of his announced principles or put into concrete
form the specific settlements which he had declared ought to be in the
terms of peace. The definition of the principles, the interpretation of
the policies, and the detailing of the provisions regarding territorial
settlements were not apparently attempted by Mr. Wilson. They were in
large measure left uncertain by the phrases in which they were
delivered. Without authoritative explanation, interpretation, or
application to actual facts they formed incomplete and inadequate
instructions to Commissioners who were authorized "to negotiate peace."

An examination of the familiar Fourteen Points uttered by the President
in his address of January 8, 1918, will indicate the character of the
declarations, which may be, by reason of their thought and expression,
termed "Wilsonian" (Appendix IV, p. 314). The first five Points are
announcements of principle which should govern the peace negotiations.
The succeeding eight Points refer to territorial adjustments, but make
no attempt to define actual boundaries, so essential in conducting
negotiations regarding territory. The Fourteenth Point relates to the
formation of "a general association of the nations for the purpose of
affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial
integrity to great and small nations alike."

It is hardly worth while to say that the Fourteen Points and the four
principles declared in the address of February 11, 1918 (Appendix V), do
not constitute a sufficient programme for negotiators. Manifestly they
are too indefinite in specific application. They were never intended for
that purpose when they were proclaimed. They might have formed a general
basis for the preparation of instructions for peace commissioners, but
they omitted too many of the essentials to be considered actual
instructions, while the lack of definite terms to-be included in a
treaty further deprived them of that character. Such important and
practical subjects as reparations, financial arrangements, the use and
control of waterways, and other questions of a like nature, are not even
mentioned. As a general statement of the bases of peace the Fourteen
Points and subsequent declarations probably served a useful purpose,
though some critics would deny it, but as a working programme for the
negotiation of a treaty they were inadequate, if not wholly useless.

Believing in the autumn of 1918 that the end of the war was approaching
and assuming that the American plenipotentiaries to the Peace Conference
would have to be furnished with detailed written instructions as to the
terms of the treaty to be signed, I prepared on September 21, 1918, a
memorandum of my views as to the territorial settlements which would
form, not instructions, but a guide in the drafting of instructions for
the American Commissioners. At the time I had no intimation that the
President purposed to be present in person at the peace table and had
not even thought of such a possibility. The memorandum, which follows,
was written with the sole purpose of being ready to draft definite
instructions which could be submitted to the President when the time
came to prepare for the negotiation of the peace. The memorandum

"The present Russian situation, which is unspeakably horrible and
which seems beyond present hope of betterment, presents new problems
to be solved at the peace table.

"The Pan-Germans now have in shattered and impotent Russia the
opportunity to develop an alternative or supplemental scheme to their
'Mittel-Europa' project. German domination over Southern Russia would
offer as advantageous, if not a more advantageous, route to the
Persian Gulf than through the turbulent Balkans and unreliable
Turkey. If both routes, north and south of the Black Sea, could be
controlled, the Pan-Germans would have gained more than they dreamed
of obtaining. I believe, however, that Bulgaria fears the Germans and
will be disposed to resist German domination possibly to the extent
of making a separate peace with the Allies. Nevertheless, if the
Germans could obtain the route north of the Black Sea, they would
with reason consider the war a successful venture because it would
give them the opportunity to rebuild the imperial power and to carry
out the Prussian ambition of world-mastery.

"The treaty of peace must not leave Germany in possession directly or
indirectly of either of these routes to the Orient. There must be
territorial barriers erected to prevent that Empire from ever being
able by political or economic penetration to become dominant in
those regions.

"With this in view I would state the essentials for a stable peace as
follows, though I do so in the most tentative way because conditions
may change materially. These 'essentials' relate to territory and
waters, and do not deal with military protection.

"_First._ The complete abrogation or denouncement of the
Brest-Litovsk Treaty and all treaties relating in any way to Russian
territory or commerce; and also the same action as to the Treaty of
Bucharest. This applies to all treaties made by the German Empire or
Germany's allies.

"_Second._ The Baltic Provinces of Lithuania, Latvia, and Esthonia
should be autonomous states of a Russian Confederation.

"_Third_. Finland raises a different question and it should be
carefully considered whether it should not be an independent state.

"_Fourth_. An independent Poland, composed of Polish provinces of
Russia, Prussia, and Austria, and in possession of the port
of Danzig.

"_Fifth_. An independent state, either single or federal composed of
Bohemia, Slovakia, and Moravia (and possibly a portion of Silesia)
and possessing an international right of way by land or water to a
free port.

"_Sixth_. The Ukraine to be a state of the Russian Confederation, to
which should be annexed that portion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
in which the Ruthenians predominate.

"_Seventh_. Roumania, in addition to her former territory, should
ultimately be given sovereignty over Bessarabia, Transylvania, and
the upper portion of the Dobrudja, leaving the central mouth of the
Danube as the boundary of Bulgaria, or else the northern half. (As to
the boundary there is doubt.)

"_Eighth_. The territories in which the Jugo-Slavs predominate,
namely Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, should
be united with Serbia and Montenegro forming a single or a federal
state. The sovereignty over Trieste or some other port should be
later settled in drawing a boundary line between the new state and
Italy. My present view is that there should be a good Jugo-Slav port.

"_Ninth_. Hungary should be separated from Austria and possess rights
of free navigation of the Danube.

"_Tenth_. Restoration to Italy of all the Italian provinces of
Austria. Italy's territory to extend along the northern Adriatic
shore to the Jugo-Slav boundary. Certain ports on the eastern side of
the Adriatic should be considered as possible naval bases of Italy.
(This last is doubtful.)

"_Eleventh._ Reduction of Austria to the ancient boundaries and title
of the Archduchy of Austria. Incorporation of Archduchy in the
Imperial German Confederation. Austrian outlet to the sea would be
like that of Baden and Saxony through German ports on the North Sea
and the Baltic.

"_Twelfth_. The boundaries of Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece to follow
in general those established after the First Balkan War, though
Bulgaria should surrender to Greece more of the Aegean coast and
obtain the southern half only of the Dobrudja (or else as far as the
Danube) and the Turkish territory up to the district surrounding
Constantinople, to be subsequently decided upon.

"_Thirteenth_. Albania to be under Italian or Serbian sovereignty or
incorporated in the Jugo-Slav Confederation.

"_Fourteenth._ Greece to obtain more of the Aegean littoral at the
expense of Bulgaria, the Greek-inhabited islands adjacent to Asia
Minor and possibly certain ports and adjoining territory in
Asia Minor.

"_Fifteenth._ The Ottoman Empire to be reduced to Anatolia and have
no possessions in Europe. (This requires consideration.)

"_Sixteenth_. Constantinople to be erected into an international
protectorate surrounded by a land zone to allow for expansion of
population. The form of government to be determined upon by an
international commission or by one Government acting as the mandatory
of the Powers. The commission or mandatory to have the regulation and
control of the navigation of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus as
international waterways.

"_Seventeenth._ Armenia and Syria to be erected into protectorates of
such Government or Governments as seems expedient from a domestic as
well as an international point of view; the guaranty being that both
countries will be given self-government as soon as possible and that
an 'Open-Door' policy as to commerce and industrial development will
be rigidly observed.

"_Eighteenth._ Palestine to be an autonomous state under a general
international protectorate or under the protectorate of a Power
designated to act as the mandatory of the Powers.

"_Nineteenth._ Arabia to receive careful consideration as to the full
or partial sovereignty of the state or states established.

"_Twentieth_. Great Britain to have the sovereignty of Egypt, or a
full protectorate over it.

"_Twenty-first._ Persia to be freed from all treaties establishing
spheres of influence. Rigid application of the 'Open-Door' policy in
regard to commercial and industrial development.

"_Twenty-second._ All Alsace-Lorraine to be restored to France
without conditions.

"_Twenty-third._ Belgium to be restored to full sovereignty.

"_Twenty-fourth._ A consideration of the union of Luxemburg to
Belgium. (This is open to question.)

"_Twenty-fifth._ The Kiel Canal to be internationalized and an
international zone twenty miles from the Canal on either side to be
erected which should be, with the Canal, under the control and
regulation of Denmark as the mandatory of the Powers. (This last is

"_Twenty-sixth._ All land north of the Kiel Canal Zone to be ceded to

"_Twenty-seventh._ The fortifications of the Kiel Canal and of
Heligoland to be dismantled. Heligoland to be ceded to Denmark.

"_Twenty-eighth._ The sovereignty of the archipelago of Spitzbergen
to be granted to Norway.

"_Twenty-ninth._ The disposition of the colonial possessions formerly
belonging to Germany to be determined by an international commission
having in mind the interests of the inhabitants and the possibility
of employing these colonies as a means of indemnification for wrongs
done. The 'Open-Door' policy should be guaranteed.

"While the foregoing definitive statement as to territory contains my
views at the present time (September 21, 1918), I feel that no
proposition should be considered unalterable, as further study and
conditions which have not been disclosed may materially change
some of them.

"Three things must constantly be kept in mind, the natural stability
of race, language, and nationality, the necessity of every nation
having an outlet to the sea so that it may maintain its own merchant
marine, and the imperative need of rendering Germany impotent as a
military power."

Later I realized that another factor should be given as important a
place in the terms of peace as any of the three, namely, the economic
interdependence of adjoining areas and the mutual industrial benefit to
their inhabitants by close political affiliation. This factor in the
territorial settlements made more and more impression upon me as it was
disclosed by a detailed study of the numerous problems which the Peace
Conference had to solve.

I made other memoranda on various subjects relating to the general peace
for the purpose of crystallizing my ideas, so that I could lay them in
concrete form before the President when the time came to draft
instructions for the American plenipotentiaries charged with the
negotiation of the Treaty of Peace. When the President reached the
decision to attend the Conference and to direct in person the
negotiations, it became evident that, in place of the instructions
customarily issued to negotiators, a more practical and proper form of
defining the objects to be sought by the United States would be an
outline of a treaty setting forth in detail the features of the peace,
or else a memorandum containing definite declarations of policy in
regard to the numerous problems presented. Unless there was some
framework of this sort on which to build, it would manifestly be very
embarrassing for the American Commissioners in their intercourse with
their foreign colleagues, as they would be unable to discuss
authoritatively or even informally the questions at issue or express
opinions upon them without the danger of unwittingly opposing the
President's wishes or of contradicting the views which might be

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Online LibraryRobert LansingThe Peace Negotiations → online text (page 12 of 21)