Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO

By Roland N. Stromberg | Go to book overview

II. Wilson and the League of Nations

The Drafting of the Covenant

AS LATE AS March, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson remarked that "the United States would never ratify any treaty which put the force of the United States at the disposal of any such group or body" as the projected League of Nations. Of the earnest men laboring so hard for the League to Enforce Peace, often against rather discouraging obstacles, the President entertained a considerable suspicion and some contempt, referring to them as "woolgatherers."1 He had never given any serious thought to international organization prior to the war, and after the war broke out in 1914, his chief energies were long devoted to stopping the war by American mediation. From time to time, he delivered a sentence or two on the subject of a league, as did nearly everyone else; these were usually cryptic or vague. There is, in brief, no more remarkable legend, among all the legends that surround the personality and mind of Woodrow Wilson, than that he was the chief seer and prophet of the League-collective-security idea. Though at the Paris Conference he was to give unsparingly of his energy in that cause, he had come to it quite late and, unfortunately, not very well prepared. He availed himself little of the counsel of those in this country who had studied the question most.2

There is also a rather persistent legend, which could hardly be more false, that the League was an American idea ( Wilson's) that had to be rammed down the throats of reluctant Europeans. Despite the valiant labors in America of the Taft-Lowell group, served by its devoted Holts and Marburgs, the British unquestionably contributed more to the provenance and development of the League idea, from the Bryce proposals of 1914, which really began it all, to the Phillimore Report of 1918, which served as the chief basis of the final Covenant. There was evidently a livelier discussion in England, while American

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Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • I - Peace by Force? 3
  • II - Wilson and the League of Nations 22
  • III - America and World Peace in the 1920's 46
  • IV - The United States and the "Rape of Manchuria" 66
  • V - The Collapse of European Security: 1933-36 87
  • VI - Neutrality, Collective Security, and War: 1937-40 109
  • VII - American Entrance into the War 137
  • VIII - The Four Policemen 156
  • IX - The Second Failure 186
  • X - Collective Security in the Nuclear Age 213
  • XI - Concluding Analysis 230
  • Postscript 249
  • Notes 253
  • Bibliography 279
  • Index 293
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