Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World, 1913-1921

By Arthur S. Link | Go to book overview

Chapter Five

WOODROW WILSON AND
WORLD ORDER

KURT WIMER

In a discussion of "Woodrow Wilson and World Order," it is tempting to concentrate on Wilson's contribution to an international organization during the later phases of the war and the establishment of the League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference. A treatment thus conceived is likely to cover familiar ground. The record of Wilson's contribution to the establishment of the League has been told—and well told—by many scholars, above all, the dean of the Wilson scholars, Professor Arthur S. Link. 1 Rather than repeat what has already been established, this study will concentrate on Wilson's blueprint for a new order at the time when he made his fundamental decision. Wilson made up his mind about basic aspects of his new order shortly after the outbreak of the war; he formed the important elements of his subsequent policy early during the period of neutrality. The President determined to make a war such as the one that had broken out in Europe impossible in the future. To be sure, Wilson adjusted his tactics to the realities of the situation and admitted that, in the war‐ torn world, he had to be "very careful to suit my action to the developments." 2 But his decisions during the autumn of 1914 were basic and firm and found expression in domestic policies as well as in relations with belligerents and neutrals.

A brief discussion of some of Wilson's personal characteristics and method of making decisions is helpful for an understanding of his design for a new order. Before he made a decision on a crucial issue, Wilson was eager to get all available evidence on the subject. He

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