Compromises with France
The Four, having weathered several crises without a break, were coming to grips in April with issues on which it seemed possible that the victorious alliance would split. Five months had passed since the conclusion of the armistice. While American and British idealists had forced the Peace Conference to give much of its time to measures designed to secure peace among all nations, serious threats had arisen to that community of nations which had emerged from the wartime entente.
The malaise into which public opinion had fallen seeped into the journal of the assistant chief of the American press bureau. "So far the Peace Conference has failed magnificently," he wrote. "It has not brought the peace and the new world order for which all humanity cries out.... People everywhere are becoming impatient, almost belligerent, at the continuation of discussions that seem to lead nowhere. The question that is posing itself, especially in France, is that most tragic of all questions, 'Have we really won the war?' The statesmen ... are united in promises of results.... They have made similar promises before, always unfulfilled and perhaps worse, unfulfilled without explanation. At the moment ... the obstacles before an agreement are stupendous.... Yet failure ... would bring about a period of chaos and disruption unparalled in history." Some Americans who hoped for the emergence of "a diplomatic commander-in-chief who might save the peace as Foch had saved the war" thought Woodrow Wilson "the one man in the world" who could fill this role. 1.
In the early weeks of April the anxiety of Great Britain about its sea power had been to some extent allayed. However, Wilson's deep commitment to the peace of the entire world required him to deal with other issues that an expedient politician might wish to dodge. The essential claims of France, Italy, and Japan were still unsatisfied. These major powers, proud and willful, had essential purposes that were too provocative of strife to be entrusted by the Council of Four to advisory bodies. Their claims were considered by the inner council, and a series of crises arose.
The question of the security of France's eastern frontier came to a settlement after Wilson's recovery from illness. Clemenceau was weighing two alternatives in talks with his advisers: France acting alone on the left bank, or France brought back to the frontier of 1814 and allied with America and England. Refusing to commit himself to various policies that were espoused by prominent Frenchmen, Clemenceau was tenaciously exerting the leadership of his beloved country that he felt no one else could exercise so well as he, and that it was expected he would lose as soon as a peace was concluded. On March 25 he gave warning in the Council of____________________