Wilson and the Peacemakers: Combining Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace and Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal

By Thomas A. Bailey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

THE GREAT BETRAYAL

"If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields."
JOHN MCCRAE


1

WILSON HAS been savagely denounced for having made commitments at Paris which the American people were ultimately unwilling to honor.

The truth is that only the President was in a position to make such pledges for the nation, and that the assurances which Wilson gave were in line with his war addresses, which the people either had warmly applauded or had seemingly accepted. Wilson erred not so much in making, commitments -- for commitments of some sort had to be made-as in assuming that the same high degree of wartime idealism would continue indefinitely after the signing of the peace.

But whoever was at fault, the unwillingness or inability of the United States to carry through the promises made in its behalf was catastrophic.

(1) One result was a betrayal of the League of Nations. The newly formed organization was crippled at birth when this nation, the most powerful of its sponsors, left it an orphaned waif on the international doorstep. With the United States in a position to hamstring the boycotts of the League -- the League's most potent economic weapon -- the other countries had little faith in what they were doing. While preaching peace they prepared for war. They could not hope to carry through a successful disarmament program as long as the United States would have no traffic with them. Under the League ideal there were to be no neutrals: either one was for

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