Wilson and the Peacemakers: Combining Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace and Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal

By Thomas A. Bailey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE

THE PERILS OF
IMPRECISION

I am disquieted to see how hazy and vague our ideas are. We are going to be up against the wiliest politicians in Europe. There will be nothing hazy or vaguel about their ideas." GENERALTASKER H. BLISS, December 18, 1918.


1

IT IS difficult to find an eyewitness who was not impressed by the indescribable confusion and disorganization at Paris. Wickham Steed, the eminent British journalist, says that a true history of the Conference will never be written because mere words cannot re-create the atmosphere of Paris in 1919. Harold Nicolson speaks of "that sense of riot in a parrot house."

The explanation is not far to seek. There were twentyseven Allied and Associated Powers, plus the five British Dominions, and each of the thirty-two was entitled to send delegates. The American contingent alone, counting various kinds of subordinates, totaled about 1,300. The British delegation occupied five hotels. And yet England, a century before, had sent only fourteen men to the great Congress of Vienna.

In addition to the official representatives, Paris swarmed with unofficial representatives of minority and other groups which had something to seek. Strange-looking men in strangesmelling garments walked the streets of Paris demanding recognition of some long-sought nationalistic aspiration.

There were Kirghizes, Circassians, Mingrelians, and Buryats, to say nothing of better known Koreans, Hindus, and Malays, from such far-away places as Tartary, Kurdistan, Samarkand and Bokhara -- men with patriarchal beards and scimitar·shaped noses, clad in turbans and flowing mantles.

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