Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World, 1913-1921

By Arthur S. Link | Go to book overview
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Chapter Four



Since the late fifties, a remarkable development in the study of Wilsonian foreign policy during the First World War and the Paris Peace Conference has taken place. The authors, obviously taking their cue from contemporary political developments, have "rediscovered" the political significance of the ideological elements in Wilsonian foreign policy. This recognition that ideology is an independent and vital factor in the formulation of American foreign policy is closely related to a change in the focus of interest. Whereas research in the years between the wars and the first few postwar years was naturally concentrated on relations with Germany, a new generation of historians felt themselves attracted to what they considered much more pressing problems of communism and revolution. Bolshevik Russia, therefore, became a matter of the highest concern to these authors. A methodological reorientation has also accompanied this change of interest: foreign policy is no longer regarded as an isolated phenomenon but is analyzed in interplay with domestic policy. 1

The most important and the most representative of these new interpretations is undoubtedly Arno Mayer's Political Origins of the New Diplomacy, which to me represents the first real breakthrough in this trend of Wilsonian research. Mayer analyzed the European political situation and showed how, during the war and culminating in 1917,

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