What Happened at Potsdam

By Black, Conrad | New Criterion, October 2015 | Go to article overview

What Happened at Potsdam


Black, Conrad, New Criterion


Michael Neiberg's Potsdam is an interesting but somewhat over-ambitious book. (1) Its principal arguments seem to be that the Potsdam Conference of 1945 occupied a place in history that was almost analogous to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and that it was rather successful. While this book is enjoyable, I don't really agree with these main arguments. At the end of World War I, Woodrow Wilson officially classified Great Britain, France, Italy, and, before the Bolshevik Revolution, Russia as "associate powers" to facilitate his pursuit of a non-vengefiil peace. He had to threaten to make a separate peace with Germany to get the British, French, and Italians to accept a truncated version of his Fourteen Points as a basis of negotiation. Months of the Paris Conference were taken up with argument over the creation of the League of Nations, and Wilson was not accompanied by any colleagues from the Congress, and, in particular, from the Senate, which was in the hands of his Republican opponents and where a two-thirds majority would be required to ratify a treaty.

In 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been a fairly senior official in the Wilson Administration, secured the co-founding by the Big Three plus China and France of the United Nations and had equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans in the American delegation to the founding meeting in San Francisco. Even before he had arranged to be nominated to a third term in 1940, he had brought the United States closer than in any time in its history to a coalition government. He had brought in a former Republican secretary of state, Henry L. Stimson, as secretary of war, and a former Republican vice-presidential candidate, Frank Knox, as secretary of the navy. By 1945, Republicans also held the senior posts in the State Department (Edward Stettinius, James Dunn, Joseph Grew, Nelson Rockefeller), and the senior intelligence director (William Donovan at the Office of Strategic Services) and the ambassadors to Great Britain and China (John G. Winant and Patrick Hurley) were also Republicans.

Roosevelt did not have the woolly-minded theories of Wilson about pacifism and open covenants, but he did note Wilson's achievement, ephemeral though it was, of being the first person in history to inspire the masses of the world with the vision of enduring peace and to propose an institution that would involve all countries in international governance. His purpose in advancing the United Nations was more elaborate than Wilson's and less idealistic. He had concluded that unless the United States was engaged in Western Europe and East Asia, there was a danger that those regions would be overrun by anti-democratic forces hostile to America and that America's security could be endangered every generation. He intended the United Nations as a means of reassuring the isolationists in America that the world was a less dangerous place than it had been, by associating the United States with its wartime allies in enforcing the emergent peace, as the United Nations would have much greater powers of direct intervention than had been intended for or exercised by the League of Nations. Roosevelt also considered that the United Nations would be useful for disguising from the world the fact that it would now almost be ruled by the United States. The United States would emerge from World War II with half the world's economic product, and, as it was hoped when Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 and confirmed at Potsdam three months later, the United States would have a world monopoly of atomic power, especially its military applications. The other four founding powers of the United Nations--Great Britain, France, China, and the USSR--would all be heavily dependent on American financial assistance and, except for the USSR, military assistance.

Potsdam does not mention the European Advisory Commission, which was set up at the foreign ministers' meeting in Moscow in the autumn of 1943 and which designated Allied occupation zones in Germany. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

What Happened at Potsdam
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.