The Making of a Peace
NOT FOR A MOMENT did it occur to Clemenceau to resign or even to delegate any of his power after the Armistice. Victory, as he well knew, settles nothing; at most it creates a situation in which certain things may be settled. His country would have as much need of him during the coming year as she had had during the last: perhaps more. He spent the whole of November 12th at work in his office, giving instructions to his ministers for preparing the Peace Conference.
Clemenceau's view of the cause of war was perfectly simple: German aggressiveness was the cause. His view of the cure was equally simple: Germany must be made incapable of further aggression. The method of securing German incapacity must be to establish strategic frontiers, military alliances and the permanent disarmament of Germany. The problem, therefore, was how to get treaties embodying these means drafted and accepted. Clemenceau realized that this would involve three struggles: first, to get the Allied and Associated Powers to agree on a draft; second, to get the Germans and their ex-allies to sign; third, to get the parliaments of France, Britain and the United States to ratify and implement the treaties.
The state of public opinion in the victorious countries left Clemenceau with no illusions about the simplicity of the task of peacemaking. "Yes, we have won the war," he said to Mordacq, "and not without difficulty. But now we have got to win the peace, and it may well be more difficult still." There was an unreconcilable and unconscious contradiction in the mind of the man-in-the-street on whose consent and support the success of the settlement would ultimately depend. On one plane of his mind the ordinary man wanted a peace based on a moral ideal, a peace that would make not only a safer world but a better world, a