Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points

Former United States President Woodrow Wilson took the courage to make a stand in ending a war that plagued the world into oblivion and distress during 1914.  World War I gave an everlasting impression how far a nation can go just to defend her territory, resources and people.  At the hype of this raging war, Wilson publicly declared in January 8, 1918 his Fourteen Points as a gateway for world peace and diplomatic alliances.According to Wilson, there was need for a common venue among nations to discuss and settle the effects of war. To achieve such, a mutual understanding should be forged among these nations as basis for the implementation and preservation of world peace[1].  Delivered during the 65th Congress Second Session in 1918, Woodrow’s speech on Fourteen Points included a proposal for the creation of the League of Nations and the importance of peace treaties[2].  In particular, the Treaty of Versailles was one of the treaties produced out from Wilson’s Fourteen Points.   Aside from matters relating to wars, Wilson also pointed out the importance of removing all economic barriers among nations in order to pursue a global economic development benefiting all nations that agree with it ( said nations will comprise Wilson’s proposal for a League of Nations).Despite the profound interest for global peace, Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” was not accepted well by some United States government leaders at that time.  According to them, the Treaty of Versailles will endanger the security and democratic rights of the Americans.  One of those who strongly opposed for the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles was former Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts[3].In his speech on November 6, 1919, Lodge declared that neither other nations nor treaties can dictate how Americans should decide for their country.  He emphasized on the role of US Congress in the decision-makings for United States policies, both internal and foreign affairs.  Lodge also paid specific attention to the provision of the treaty stating on a limitation of armaments among member nations.  According to him, it is only the United States that can decide how it will go about its armaments and other stuff relating to national defense.Aside from Lodge, former Senator William E. Borah of Idaho as well disagreed on the Treaty of Versailles.  In his speech, also addressed on November 19, 1919, Borah averred that said Treaty disrespects the democratic system which the United States has been upholding since the very beginning[4].  Borah said that the Treaty is in conflict with the freedom of the Americans to live for themselves, and be governed accordingly by the laws of their country (and not by any treaty).  He also mentioned on the citizens from other member nations wherein they also have the right to govern for themselves and not to be dictated upon by a rule of force by other nations.  He said on the Treaty of Versailles: “Your treaty means justice.  It means slavery.  It means war.”Aside from the abovementioned oppositions met by Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and the formation of League of Nations and Treaty of Versailles, there were still numerous arguments raised against it.  The Treaty of Versailles, as a matter of fact, was not passed for ratification in the US Senate[5].   However, there were still some who favored for it as they saw a brighter future with the League of Nations and the treaties forged under it.The conflicts and arguments as reflected in history about Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the League of Nations, and the Treaty of Versailles showed just one common denominator – protecting territories.  The Americans, both pros and cons over the issue, fought for one common ground and that was the security of United States.  In hindsight, Wilson and the rest who were in favor of the Treaty of Versailles chose to create alliances in order to protect the world from future wars; thus, this also means protecting United States territories from future attacks.  On the other hand, those who adversely reacted on the Treaty chose that United States should not mingle with foreign affairs in order to maintain its neutrality; thus, preventing future conflicts with other countries in the future.Meanwhile, time element also played a great role on how these leaders perceived the thought of making alliances with other nations to prevent future world wars.  It can be noted that the initial formation of the League of Nations came right after the end of World War I.  It is quite justifiable if some other people were hesitant in trusting other nations through an agreement or treaty after the devastating effects of a war.  Despite peace agreement was made, there were still fear among these people if such war will strike again.  If one will look into the League of Nations (as created right at the end of World War I) into a broader view, these were member nations that took great leaps in trusting other nations for the sake of a global peace covenant.  Therefore, it cannot be discounted that there were some people who just did not buy the idea of making alliances with other nations, as such saying that trust cannot be gained overnight.Wilson’s thoughts and proposals during that course of time obviously reflect the current strategy of the United States in terms of international affairs and relations.  United States is the most active country nowadays when it comes to diplomatic affairs and international alliances.  In his speech, Wilson highlighted that Treaty of Versailles as a “constitution of   peace, not a league of war”[6].   And through these alliances and humanitarian activities, United States has remained the most powerful country in the world.  Through reaching out to other nations, it enables to gain alliances that will be of great use not only in military warfare, but also in economic development.  The strategy of Wilson, though it also had its own loopholes, was able to sustain among the minds of the leaders nowadays – make peace, not war.  And this can be construed through unification of ideas, strategies, resolution and covenants under broad alliances among nations such as United Nations, European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the likes.Furthermore, Wilson’s Fourteen Points paved way to the strategy of good diplomacy. A great diplomatic relationship with other countries can bring out good and broader economic development.  According to Wilson, removing economic barriers can lead to a collective security among nations[7].  It can also benefit other developing nations that need assistance from rich countries to further boost their economic activities.Good diplomacy can also calm down emerging conflicts among nations which are just unavoidable nowadays.  Through diplomatic alliances, countries can sit down and discuss their respective issues and concerns so that agreements will be forged.  Thus, less chances of greater conflicts that might lead it to becoming an imminent threat to global peace and security.Thus, it can be said that the idea of Wilson’s Fourteen Points has been applied nowadays through diplomatic ties with other nations so as to prevent misunderstanding among countries and to ensure a continuous general peaceful climate around the globe.REFERENCES:DocumentsBorah, W (1919). Borah’s Speech Against Versailles Treaty. Congressional Record, 66th Congress, 1st Session LVIII (Part 9), 8781 ff.Lodge, H. (1919). Lodge Reservations to the Treaty of Versailles. Congressional Record, 66th Congress, 2nd  Session LIX  (Part 5), 4599 f.Wilson W. (1919). Presentation of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Official Publication of Mr. Wilson’s Files, Third Plenary Session of the Peace Conference.WebsitesThe Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from the U.S. Department State Web site: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/wwi/89875.htm.Wilson, W. (1918).   President Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from World War I Document Archive Web site: http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/President_Wilson%27s_Fourteen_Points.Wilson, W. (1918). President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918).  Retrieved March 10, 2008, from The Our Documents Web site: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=62.Wilson, W. (1918).  Speech on the Fourteen Points Jan. 8, 1918.  Retrieved March 10, 2008 from Modern History Sourcebook Web site: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook.html.[1] Wilson Woodrow Fourteen Points, “President Wilson’s Fourteen Points,” World War I Document Archive, http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/President_Wilson%27s_Fourteen_Points.[2] Woodrow Wilson, “Speech on the Fourteen Points Jan 8, 1918,” Modern History Sourcebook,  http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook.html[3] “Lodge Reservations to the Treaty of Versailles,” Congressional Record[4] “Borah’s Speech Against Versailles Treaty,” Congressional Record[5] Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, “The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles,” U.S. Department of State, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/wwi/89875.htm.[6]“Presentation of the Covenant of the League of Nations,” Official Government Publication[7] 100 Milestone Documents, “President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918),”  The Our Documents, http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=62.