The Peace Negotiations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about The Peace Negotiations.
tenacity refusing or merely failing to modify it.  Mr. Wilson’s mind once made up seemed to become inflexible.  It appeared to grow impervious to arguments and even to facts.  It lacked the elasticity and receptivity which have always been characteristic of sound judgment and right thinking.  He might break, but he would not bend.  This rigidity of mind accounts in large measure for the deplorable, and, as it seemed to me, needless, conflict between the President and the Senate over the Treaty of Versailles.  It accounts for other incidents in his career which have materially weakened his influence and cast doubts on his wisdom.  It also accounts, in my opinion, for the President’s failure to prepare or to adopt a programme at Paris or to commit himself to a draft of a treaty as a basis for the negotiations, which failure, I am convinced, not only prevented the signature of a short preliminary treaty of peace, but lost Mr. Wilson the leadership in the proceedings, as the statesmen of the other Great Powers outlined the Treaty negotiated and suggested the majority of the articles which were written into it.  It would have made a vast difference if the President had known definitely what he sought, but he apparently did not.  He dealt in generalities leaving, but not committing, to others their definition and application.  He was always in the position of being able to repudiate the interpretation which others might place upon his declarations of principle.



Another matter, concerning which the President and I disagreed, was the secrecy with which the negotiations were carried on between him and the principal European statesmen, incidental to which was the willingness, if not the desire, to prevent the proceedings and decisions from becoming known even to the delegates of the smaller nations which were represented at the Peace Conference.

Confidential personal interviews were to a certain extent unavoidable and necessary, but to conduct the entire negotiation through a small group sitting behind closed doors and to shroud their proceedings with mystery and uncertainty made a very unfortunate impression on those who were not members of the secret councils.

At the first there was no Council of the Heads of States (the so-called Council of Four); in fact it was not recognized as an organized body until the latter part of March, 1919.  Prior to that time the directing body of the Conference was the self-constituted Council of Ten composed of the President and the British, French, and Italian Premiers with their Secretaries or Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and two Japanese delegates of ambassadorial rank.  This Council had a membership identical with that of the Supreme War Council, which controlled the armistices, their enforcement, and other military matters.  It assumed authority over the negotiations and proceedings of the Conference, though it was never authorized so to do by the body of delegates.  The Council of Four, when later formed, was equally without a mandate from the Conference.  They assumed the authority and exercised it as a matter of right.

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The Peace Negotiations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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