international order. The League would also ensure, in Wilson's view, reform, not revolution, in the international system. In 1917, the victory in Russia of the other great advocate of self-determination, Lenin, by violent means, further strengthened Wilson's resolve to have a League. 24
At Paris Wilson found in the British prime minister, David Lloyd George, and the French premier, Georges Clemenceau, two leaders more interested in the traditional resources of power politics and national interests than in his idealistic vision of a better world. The forsaking of empire and the sacrifice of the advantages of victory were not part of their diplomatic repertoire. In order to achieve his beloved League, the president had to make significant concessions on other aspects of his peace plan, including a provision requiring Germany to pay reparations, a clause specifying Germany's guilt in initiating the war, and a compromise of the commitment to self-determination resulting in the mandate system.
The irony (or tragedy), of course, was that the U.S. Senate never ratified the Versailles Treaty. Having disdained the participation of senators in the peace negotiations, President Wilson was the first to learn that "Wilsonianism," while speaking to deep sentiments in the American psyche, succeeds only when broad political support is coupled with an overwhelming sense in public opinion that America's national interests are also served by the moral impulse. The United States could see no need to remain involved in the interstate affairs of Europe. The League system went on without U.S. participation, much less U.S. leadership, and ultimately foundered on the rocks of economic depression, nationalist revanchism, ideological politics, and a new round of aggression and international violence. The Wilsonian effort to create a workable organization to maintain the peace would have to await another war and another president. Perhaps Wilson's plans were flawed; perhaps they were too early; perhaps they were too novel for his time.
Wilson and his admirers were bucking resilient historical practice. For most of history public order had been maintained by hierarchical imperial administrations whose dominance was punctuated by periodic____________________