THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN
"The German colonies were to be disposed of. They had not been governed; they had been exploited merely, without thought of the interest or even the ordinary human rights of their inhabitants." WOODROW WILSON, July 10, 1919.
WILSON ATTENDED the formal sessions of the Conference for about five weeks before returning to America for a brief interlude. During this period he fought two great and successful battles: one for the mandate principle, the other for riveting the League of Nations into the treaty of peace. If his reputation as a negotiator rested on these two achievement, it would be much higher than it was at the end of the Conference. Henry White believed that Wilson's mistake was not in going to Paris but in returning after he had won these two initial engagements. This may be doubted, but even if true Wilson was not one to put his personal reputation above the responsibility of making an enduring peace.
We have already observed that peacemaking was essentially a desperate race against the rising tide of anarchy and Bolshevism sweeping in from the east. Yet it is significant that the negotiators became involved at once and for many weeks to come over two problems that had only indirect relevance to the immediate task of restoring peace to Central Europe.
The natural tendency, of course, is to do the easy and pleasant things first, especially when overwhelming problems loom in the offing. The pleasantest job of all, and the one which seemed to present no great problem, was dividing the booty. The expectant delegates were there with whetted knives and whetted appetites, and the first cry was, "When do we eat?"
Upon one thing they all agreed, and this was very important,