The following is a cross-post from The Jacksonian Party, originally titled: Wilsonianism and the start of Transnationalism.
The following is a personal outlook paper of The Jacksonian Party.
"In the year from autumn 1916, all three of the major Allied powers (Britain, France, and Russia) had a change of government. In all cases, the new governments had very different ideas about the Middle East than had their predecessors. David Lloyd George became prime minister looking much more covetously at the Middle East. Shortly thereafter, Georges Clemenceau became premier of France. Historically, he had felt negatively about colonial expansion believing that France had overextended herself in the late 1800s making her vulnerable to the Germans. Perhaps most dramatic, the Russian revolution led to Russia pulling out of the war.- Part of a book review by Eric Brahm on David Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East.
To compound this, German attacks propelled the United States into the war on the side of the Allies. Woodrow Wilson's personal beliefs in self-determination drove him to support independence for the peoples of the Middle East. The ambiguity of language permitted the British to agree with Wilson, when in fact they intended to maintain a protectorate. In a parallel development, for a range of moral, religious, and political reasons, the British government adopted the Zionist cause.
As the Allied victory in World War I became more likely, at least in the Middle East, the dishonesty with which the Allies and their Arab allies, treated each other became apparent. Each sought to position themselves to gain the most in the Middle East after the war. This was to continue as the peace was being constructed. Britain's David Lloyd George attempted to play Woodrow Wilson's idealistic self-determination against French, Italian, and Greek desires for territorial gain in the former Ottoman Empire. Economic crisis and demands for demobilization by the rank-and-file and the public, however, sapped Britain's strength."
Yes, Woodrow Wilson did have grand aspirations for the Middle East! It would become self-governing, independent, have accountable government and all because the US would NOT fight there and would use the balm of trade with the help of the Allies, who really had *no* interest in the region...
Worked out so well, didn't it?
And what does a leading thinker have to say about the Middle East *today*? Well, let us turn to Steven Simon, with this part of a paper What Strategy for the Greater Middle East? (01 JAN 2004) at the Center for European Policy Studies:
Democratisation. If any of these elements of a strategy has priority, it must be democratisation. This is a project, of course, not a panacea. It has been observed that democracy is a cure for just one ailment – tyranny – and that there are both poor and illiberal democracies. The future may also hold Islamist, anti-Western democracies. Nevertheless, democracies predicated on rule of law entail accountability and a degree of transparency that reduce the opportunity for corruption and misallocation of resources, while giving people a stake in decision-making. Thus democratisation would serve two vital purposes. First, it would improve economic performance and provide a better climate for investment, thereby reducing the labour supply overhang that poses such a severe threat to stability. Second, it would give frustrated, even alienated, publics a sense of empowerment at home that would reduce their resentment of powers abroad.All emphasis mine, of course. Yes, democracy because it gives one economic advantage FIRST. Isn't that a lovely thing to have pop into one's head? Not that it can be used to secure freedom and liberty *from* government instead of having those administered *by* government? Empowerment is one thing, but the ability to be secure as a minority or have freedom of expression is an underpinning to have democracy that is responsive to people. When that is circumscribed and the ability to promulgate ideas amongst the population is put at risk, then there are problems no matter how much one owns.
What is an 'illiberal' democracy? A democracy that cannot afford basic liberty of individuals to have security from government and have basic freedoms assured by a system of law is *not* democracy. There are corrupt, crony run systems in which parties will view with favors to get into power, but the long term stability of those has looked to be even less than that of tyrants and dictators. And the first thing that happens when power shifts inside such arrangements is a move away from the freedoms already in-place and a slow slide to tyranny once more. Columbia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Somalia and Sudan are all points in which corrupt 'democracy' has created worse conditions, over time, because that corruption leads to a disenfranchisement of the people. From death squads to endemic terrorism to inability to manage government and to authoritarian rule are the slides of 'illiberal' democracy to something far worse. These are called 'failed States' and serve as havens for Transnational Terrorism, organized crime, and safe havens from exterior accountability for those on the run from their actions in other Nations.
There is something seriously wrong with a world-view that puts economic gain as the main reason for democracy. A bit further on this is continued:
Aid is not the whole story. Trade is a far better way to help these societies perform better. Assistance tends to perpetuate the structures that hinder democratisation and hobble growth. Trade would take the funds from corrupt, favour-dispensing regimes and put it in the hands of a commercial middle class, empowering civil society and helping to create the conditions for democratic transition. The United States has finally adopted this policy towards the Pakistani textile industry and – as a policy, if not a political matter – made pursuit of free trade arrangements an important part of its foreign policy. This is another area where the harmonisation of US and EU policies can pay real dividends.
Trade is the panacea, then! Yes, indeed, with trade one gets to put money and power directly into the middle class... unless, of course, the 'illiberal' democracy leaves the banks under control of the State to be raided like the National piggy bank whenever a charismatic and 'illiberal' ruler gets a need to arm up death squads and terrorists. Get the trade first and you will *support* democracy! And Pakistan has turned out to be the stellar performer in democracy having had such a wide slate of candidates that represents the full will of the people now... hasn't it?
What's that I hear? Strong man rule? Quashing of dissent because there are radical Islamists looking to overthrow the regime? Now I wonder how *they* are being funded.... could it have anything to do with tithes upon the middle class by Imams?
Notice that the exact same view of expecting the 'hands off, figure it out for yourself and don't bother us if you can't' sort of deal from 1917 hasn't gotten us to a splendid world of liberal democracies across the Middle East and a much, much safer world. Yes, just three years on in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban and we can see what a social revolution there is in Pakistan, recipient of our help and trade. Apparently they still have animosity against India, want Afghanistan to go away and fear an internal revolt because of the terrorists now utilizing the northern provinces and the Baluchs wanting independence. And with a strongman in power trying to keep the lid on things so that a nice little regional nuclear war doesn't turn Pakistan into a sea of nuclear fused glass. Yes that 'free trade' has 'supported democracy' of this 'illiberal' regime quite well, hasn't it? A few more years of this and the entire place might be one, nice, flat reflective surface.
Still, the stepping stones to Transnationalism were set early on, and the first one to do so would actually come to discount it as an idea! And, needless to say, his political opponents would pick it up and try to implement it. Ah, such is life in America. And from Theodore Roosevelt's autobiography (Chapter XV) we get why he initially looked at an International Court as a good idea:
It was under my administration that the Hague Court was saved from becoming an empty farce. It had been established by joint international agreement, but no Power had been willing to resort to it. Those establishing it had grown to realize that it was in danger of becoming a mere paper court, so that it would never really come into being at all. M. d'Estournelles de Constant had been especially alive to this danger. By correspondence and in personal interviews he impressed upon me the need not only of making advances by actually applying arbitration—not merely promising by treaty to apply it—to questions that were up for settlement, but of using the Hague tribunal for this purpose. I cordially sympathized with these views. On the recommendation of John Hay, I succeeded in getting an agreement with Mexico to lay a matter in dispute between the two republics before the Hague Court. This was the first case ever brought before the Hague Court. It was followed by numerous others; and it definitely established that court as the great international peace tribunal. By mutual agreement with Great Britain, through the decision of a joint commission, of which the American members were Senators Lodge and Turner, and Secretary Root, we were able peacefully to settle the Alaska Boundary question, the only question remaining between ourselves and the British Empire which it was not possible to settle by friendly arbitration; this therefore represented the removal of the last obstacle to absolute agreement between the two peoples. We were of substantial service in bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the negotiations at Algeciras concerning Morocco. We concluded with Great Britain, and with most of the other great nations, arbitration treaties specifically agreeing to arbitrate all matters, and especially the interpretation of treaties, save only as regards questions affecting territorial integrity, national honor and vital national interest. We made with Great Britain a treaty guaranteeing the free use of the Panama Canal on equal terms to the ships of all nations, while reserving to ourselves the right to police and fortify the canal, and therefore to control it in time of war. Under this treaty we are in honor bound to arbitrate the question of canal tolls for coastwise traffic between the Western and Eastern coasts of the United States. I believe that the American position as regards this matter is right; but I also believe that under the arbitration treaty we are in honor bound to submit the matter to arbitration in view of Great Britain's contention—although I hold it to be an unwise contention—that our position is unsound. I emphatically disbelieve in making universal arbitration treaties which neither the makers nor any one else would for a moment dream of keeping. I no less emphatically insist that it is our duty to keep the limited and sensible arbitration treaties which we have already made. The importance of a promise lies not in making it, but in keeping it; and the poorest of all positions for a nation to occupy in such a matter is readiness to make impossible promises at the same time that there is failure to keep promises which have been made, which can be kept, and which it is discreditable to break.It is one of those things that is looked at for *limited* arbitration in matters where both sides can *honorably* agree to letting a third party weigh the matter. If there are problems that are too important or where one party cannot be trusted to do this, then it should not be used. It is good for minimal decisions between Nations that are generally disposed to an agreement already. It is useless for those Nations that are not well disposed to each other or that will utilize such in bad faith to secure for themselves a better position, later.
The man who would take this up was one that wanted to avoid war at any cost, and spoke eloquently that America should be above these wars and help to mediate them because of her position that has no stake in conflict. Eugene Clyde Brooks would attempt to put 20/20 hindsight on Woodrow Wilson's actions and speeches, but he does give good accounting of them in Woodrow Wilson as President. This section begins one of the most important pre-election, pre-war speeches that was given, note the narrator is Mr. Brooks:
President Wilson warned the people against these agitators who were trying hard * to rock the boat. And later, on April 20, in an address to the Associated Press of New York, he took the occasion at a most critical time to remind the people of the United States once more that our whole duty for the present is to place "America First" and to think of her position in the world. So many people were thinking of Europe and the war that there was danger of America s safety fol lowing the thought of the people and falling into the hands of the belligerents. "I want to talk to you as to my fellow citizens of the United States, " he said. "For there are serious things, which as fellow citizens we ought to consider. The times behind us, gentlemen, have been difficult, because whatever may be said about the present condition of the world's affairs, it is clear that they are drawing rapidly to a climax, and at the climax the test will come, not only of the nations engaged in the present colossal struggle it will come for them, of course but the test will come to us particularly. "By being above it all and having such power, America could be *trusted* to be fair and impartial by Large Powers already at war. It is very strange that the man who castigated Roosevelt on helping Big Business would then start the Federal Reserve and then point out how powerful these very same Big Businesses *were*. He also has never heard of: 'A friend in need is a friend in deed.' America, as President Wilson put forward, would *not* do the things necessary to be a friend to ANYONE. Somehow this does not get one much applause nor admiration in the world, and generally gets disdain. Friends help friends when they are in tough spots and work through those together. That IS friendship, be it amongst individuals or Nations.
He then emphasized more forcibly than ever before the important position that this nation holds in the world today. The American people were living from moment to moment. They were enraged first at the conduct of England in seizing our vessels, and then at the acts of Germany in sinking our merchantmen. The President, however, was looking forward to a time when this nation, because of its neutral position, would be called upon to help bring order out of chaos, and thus lead the world back to paths of peace and honor.
"We shall some day have to assist in reconstructing the processes of peace," he continued. "Our resources are untouched. We are more and more becoming, by the force of circumstances, the mediating nation of the world in respect of its finances. We must make up our minds what are the best things to do and what are the best ways to do them. We must put our money, our energy, our enthusiasm, our sympathy into these things, and we must have our judgments prepared and our spirits chastened against the coming of that day. So that I am not speaking in a selfish spirit when I say that our whole duty for the present, at any rate, is summed up in this motto, America first. Let us think of America before we think of Europe, in order that America may be fit to be Europe's friend when the day of tested friendship comes. The test of friendship is not now sympathy with the one side or the other, but getting ready to help both sides when the struggle is over."
Apparently, however, high minded neutrality needed to be the driving force of America:
"The basis of neutrality," he spoke with renewed emphasis, "is not independence; it is not self-interest. The basis of neutrality is sympathy for mankind. It is fairness; it is good will at bottom. It is impartiality of spirit and judgment. I wish that all of our fellow citizens could realize that. There is in some quarters a disposition to create distempers in the body politic. Men are even uttering slanders against the United States, as if to excite her. Men are saying that if we should go to war upon either side, there will be a divided America an abominable libel of ignorance! America is not all of it vocal just now. It is vocal in spots. But I, for one, have a complete and abiding faith in that great silent body of Americans who are not standing up and shouting and expressing their opinions just now, but are waiting to find out and support the duty of America. I am just as sure of their solidity and of their loyalty and of their unanimity as I am that the history of this country has at every crisis and turning point illustrated this great lesson."The basis of being IMPARTIAL is fairness. The basis of NEUTRALITY is not getting involved in partisan conflicts, and stating support for no side in it. It is disdain for the conflict itself and that one has no business in being in such conflicts. Being Impartial means that you understand the stakes involved, that you do have your own opinions but that you set them aside when asked to judge something on equitable basis. That is why the US system of justice tries to get a fair and impartial jury, not a neutral one. Being Neutral is not being Impartial: it is having no stakes nor opinion when judging something. One can and, indeed, must bring good will to be an impartial judge. Neutrality is to have no stakes involved, seek no good will, to, indeed, put forth that only the basis of a conflict and its underpinnings matter and are to be weighed coldly, without favor to any side. And if one wants to be liked and admired, then Neutrality is sacrificed as you are no longer Impartial: you now have a stake in the result.
For good reason was President Wilson deemed one of the greatest orators of the 20th century. By making these two near things out to be the same, he attempts to put forth that they are the same, although the basis of ideas yield different results. Shortly thereafter he then puts forward the following:
"If I permitted myself to be a partisan in this present struggle, " he concluded, "I would be unworthy to represent you. If I permitted myself to forget the people who are not partisans, I would be unworthy to represent you. I am not saying that I am worthy to represent you, but I do claim this degree of worthiness that, before everything else, I love America."He did, indeed, love his Nation. He also forgets to put forth that the President *must* understand world affairs and BE partisan so that the Nation can survive. And now he points out that he is, by his unworthiness, and in his own estimation PARTISAN. In all that lovely speech, he cannot come out and say that he does favor something and have a desired outcome that is *not neutral* and *not impartial*. To try and establish an international basis for judging conflicts between Nations, President Wilson comes at it from a partisan position which he endeavours to hide through his verbal acumen.
Just two months down the road the Germans would sink the Lusitania and Theodore Roosevelt would have an article published on 11 MAY 1915, from which I will extract a part:
THE German submarines have established no effective blockade of the British and French coast lines. They have endeavored to prevent the access of French, British and neutral ships to Britain and France by attacks upon them which defy every principle of international law as laid down in innumerable existing treaties, including The Hague Conventions. Many of these attacks have represented pure piracy; and not a few of them have been accompanied by murder on an extended scale. In the case of the Lusitania the scale was so vast that the murder became wholesale.Here Roosevelt is looking at the actual international treaties which make up the laws of the sea. And we have seen, in our own era, attacks of Piracy by outlaws, called terrorists, which none dare call their actions by name. Even worse are those who go on about the COST of warfare as the COST of doing NOTHING is also high. Treaties are not entered into just to get mutual benefits: they have mutual costs associated with them for lack of upkeeping them. In the laws of the seas area the thing that is effected is trade, commerce, and the ability of individuals to move about on the high seas unmolested by *anyone*. Even after such breaking of Treaties and international law, President Wilson would do *nothing*, save plead with Germany to stop doing this. Breaking off 'diplomatic relations' was seen as a step just prior to that of going to war, and it was the ONLY diplomatic threat left. By setting the cost of war too high, innocents were killed in their hundreds.
A number of American ships had already been torpedoed in similar fashion. In one case the lives lost included those not only of the American captain, but of his wife and little daughter. When the Lusitania sank some twelve hundred non-combatants, men, women and children, were drowned, and more than a hundred of these were Americans. Centuries have passed since any war vessel of a civilized power has shown such ruthless brutality toward non-combatants, and especially toward women and children. The pirates of the Barbary Coast behaved at times in similar fashion, until the civilized nations joined in suppressing them; and the pirates who were outcasts from among these civilized nations also at one time perpetrated similar deeds, until they were sunk or hung. But none of these old-time pirates committed murder on so vast a scale as in the case of the Lusitania.
Our treaties with Prussia in 1785, 1799, and 1828, still in force in this regard, provide that "if one of the contracting parties should be at war with any other power the free intercourse and commerce of the subjects or citizens of the party remaining neutral with the belligerent powers shall not be interrupted." Germany has treated this treaty as she has treated other "scraps of paper."
But the offense goes far deeper than this. The action of the German submarines in the cases cited can be justified only by a plea which would likewise justify the wholesale poisoning of wells in the path of a hostile army, or the shipping of infected rags into the cities of a hostile country; a plea which would justify the torture of prisoners and the reduction of captured women to the slavery of concubinage. Those who advance such a plea will accept but one counter plea--strength, the strength and courage of the just man armed.
In the teeth of these things, we earn as a nation measureless scorn and contempt if we follow the lead of those who exalt peace above righteousness, if we heed the voices of those feeble folk who bleat to high heaven that there is peace when there is no peace. For many months our government has preserved between right and wrong a "neutrality" which would have excited the emulous admiration of Pontius Pilate--the arch-typical neutral of all time. We have urged as a justification for failing to do our duty in Mexico that to do so would benefit "American dollars." Are we now to change faces and advance the supreme interest of "American dollars" as a justification for continuance in the refusal to do the duty imposed on us in connection with the world war?
Unless we act with immediate decision and vigor we shall have failed in the duty demanded by humanity at large, and demanded even more clearly by the self-respect of the American Republic.
That was the cost of Neutrality and of being Impartial.
This would not stop President Wilson from trying to implement Roosevelt's previous idea for a 'League of Peace', which had been limping along as an idea, but it would hit obstacles on its own, no matter who the backers were. This from Ohio History, Vol. 109 (pp. 33-36) [the 'Morgan' referenced is Arthur E. Morgan, an Ohio engineer later to be head of the TVA] on the Ohio branch of the League:
Outspoken leaders such as William Jennings Bryan, William E. Borah, and Theodore Roosevelt opposed Wilson's plans for a league of peace. The new opposition saw the league plan as an inappropriate foreign policy and a serious departure from the Monroe Doctrine. These leaders believed that participation in such a league would lead to unnecessary entangling alliances, would relegate the United States to a subordinate place in the foreign organization, and would result in great loss of American lives over matters that did not concern the country. Even though criticism came from each of the political parties, because of the President's growing affiliation with the League to Enforce Peace, Republicans became the chief opponents of the organization and its league idea.33This would still be pushed as a concept on the international stage after WWI, but the problems of being pacifist and leading to even *worse* international situations was one that hampered it from the start. The UN has demonstrated not only those problems, of Nations becoming preferred patrons able to criticize others continuously to no good ends, but also by becoming its own moribund bureaucracy and having no capability to actually be a meaningful participant in world affairs. When one speaks of 'entangling alliances' that is the sort of thing the Oil For Food program represents, or the latest incarnation of the Human Rights Council (or whatever that body representing dictators is named this week) - those are inappropriate entanglements with foreign governments that lead to dilution of US power. And it also leads to loss of accountability across the board for all involved as a 'neutral' third party can easily be corrupted by cash payments from a dictator.
As the debate continued, German U-boats pressed a relentless campaign against all ships passing through the war zones. As the submarine offensive intensified, it became clearer to Wilson that armed neutrality would not pro-tect American commerce. Further, by late March 1917, Wilson had lost all faith in the integrity, credibility, and good intentions of the German leaders. Wilson decided that waging war was the only way to establish peace, and with his recommendation to Congress, on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and its allies. Quickly, domestic war mobilization efforts increased as the nation prepared to enter the world war. As American forces arrived on the European fronts, politicians and the public struggled with the league of peace idea. With the United States fighting in a world war, the League faced the even greater challenge of not being labeled by its opponents as an "un-American" pacifist organization.34
To generate support for their principles, the state branches of the League to Enforce Peace renewed their efforts. In the Ohio branch, with the national organization's endorsement, Thompson hired professional fund-raiser L. L. H. Austin at a monthly salary of $250. Because of budgetary concerns Morgan opposed the hire, but with Thompson's authorization Austin spent the early months of 1917 in the Columbus area lecturing and creating interest in the league idea. To help raise new funds for the branch, Austin sponsored a banquet in April.35
Held on April 14 in Columbus, the banquet featured three prominent speakers but was poorly attended. Thompson expected an audience of more than 100 but only about sixty attended. Because of the sparse showing and depleted funds, a week later Thompson dismissed Austin. To make matters worse, Thompson admitted to Morgan that the state branch had not met his expectations and that without new interest and financial backing he would end his involvement with the League. With the lackluster success of the banquet, financial woes, and Thompson's announcement, in late April Morgan declared that the Ohio branch would "terminate" all activities until a more definite state organization could be established. Thus for the rest of the summer of 1917, the chapter remained silent.36
The Ohio branch's problems were similar to other chapters' difficulties. Criticism of the league idea abounded and detractors called the League a pacifist group seeking an immediate peace with hostile nations. In an effort to counteract this argument, the League's executive committee created and publicized a War Program, pledging itself to winning the peace by winning the war.37
What these early criticisms point out is that the utility of international bodies is strictly limited to those things that the participants *agree upon* or, as Roosevelt put forth, where the sides are acting honestly and above-board. The ability of corruption to manifest itself into an organization with low amounts of accountability and large amounts of cash is extremely high. Just look at the US Congress.
A major misstatement of the actual war proposal itself is that the US did NOT declare war on a German ally: The Ottoman Empire. President Wilson was quite pointed that only the aggressor Nation and NOT its allies should be gone after. This from his address to Congress on 02 APR 1917:
I have said nothing of the Governments allied with the Imperial Government of Germany because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honour. The Austro-Hungarian Government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified endorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the Imperial German Government, and it has therefore not been possible for this Government to receive Count Tarnowski, the Ambassador recently accredited to this Government by the Imperial and Royal Government of Austria-Hungary; but that Government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the Unites States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are not other means of defending our rights.This is refusing to go after the array of powers that the allies faced. This is not acting as a friend, nor ally, but as a highly partisan, impartial Nation that is not supporting the broader war effort of its allies. Thus, one part of an active alliance may act against another Nation to the benefit *of* the entire alliance, but by simply saying that 'we had nothing to do with those actions' they will be seen as *neutrals*.
Starting in 1917 the second way of looking at the international arena, that of taking up international institutions as a main form of trying to bring agreements amongst Nations would be running counter to the view where Nations are held accountable to their Treaties. The United States had problems with the 'League of Peace', 'League of Nations' and the current UN because they were seen then, and now, as diluting the power of Nations, large and small, to call for reciprocity in affairs amongst Nations. Yes, this is the beginning of "nuance", in which just because a Nation signs up to a Treaty that makes it an Ally of another Nation doesn't mean that a third Nation should ever take it seriously! Instead lets just put a 'neutral' or 'impartial' third party in the fray to decide just what a Nation has or has not signed up for. Let me know when you find an 'impartial' or 'neutral' Nation that actually can do that, for even the SWISS don't sign up for that sort of thing. Tends to get one in the cross-hairs of both sides.
That gets us a bit up to date on the origins of Transnationalism: an idea of President Theodore Roosevelt, which he discarded but others adhered to that is then picked up by President Wilson and put forward in his 14 Points speech as the way to help end war. It is *that* speech that every Leftist and Transnational Progressivist will point to so as to exonerate President Wilson of *any* incapacities he had shown in thinking about World War I, about the implications of international institutions and his 'good intentions' towards minorities and getting them into safe Nations in Europe and the Middle East. There is one major problem with giving the big, blanket warm 'n fuzzy to President Wilson on this:
He did not take part fully in the war and was seen as having done that and, thusly, lost any ability to push these points *anywhere*.
So many of those points would be violated in the inter-war years that it was ridiculous to think that they had any meaning to the other Nations of the world in that era. Instead we would get: private understandings between Turkey and the other powers for division of the minorities and the total breaking of the post war alignment concept so that Turkey could have neighbors it could 'manage' and not so well at that, the freedom of Navigation was upheld by *existing* Treaties which would be re-signed by many Nations and upheld just as well *after* WWI as before it, the removal of economic barriers was and still is resisted by many Nations for their own reasons and is something that cannot be imposed from above, guarantees on 'National Armaments' are a pipedream, especially when a Nation starts to develop newer and better arms that are not covered under older Treaties as they can have as many of those as they wish to have, adjustments to 'colonial claims' turned out to be partial and partisan leading to many problems over time.
That list goes on and on of the things that could not be done by any international body and was damned difficult to do BEFORE those were around on a perpetual basis. It would not have mattered if the US had signed on to the League of Nations as such organizations are not made to solve problems, but to continue them at a lesser level until folks get fed up and FIGHT ANYWAYS. Often they are used as a 'stalling tactic' so that a Nation can better position itself when it does decide to escalate to war. The US had no interest in the Ottoman Empire or the Middle East and one of the first major flare-ups after WWI was in Ethiopia. Also in China. Actually in quite a few far off places that Americans didn't give a damn about. Putting forth that America would have made the thing work flies in the face of the fact that the UN doesn't work today with the US involved.
Even worse is President Wilson's attitude just before declaring war, as seen in his Peace without Victory speech. Throughout that speech he invokes the phrases of the Declaration of Independence to put forward how meaningful it is that victory will not get peace. Let us take a look at the core proposition, however:
Fortunately we have received very explicit assurances on this point. The statesmen of both of the groups of nations now arrayed against one another have said, in terms that could not be misinterpreted, that it was no part of the purpose they had in mind to crush their antagonists. But the implications of these assurances may not be equally clear to all-may not be the same on both sides of the water. I think it will be serviceable if I attempt to set forth what we understand them to be.Yes, I do have problems with that in that the proposal is that there is ONLY humiliation in defeat. Apparently the idea of liberating a people under the yoke of tyranny and helping the people to stand up after a conflict had never crossed President Wilson's mind. Well, he was working with a pretty bloodthirsty group of Nations that did, in actuality, aim to destroy each other. Say what about that 'honesty between negotiation partners' sort of deal that Roosevelt talked about? Not a concern of President Wilson, obviously.
They imply, first of all, that it must be a peace without victory. It is not pleasant to say this. I beg that I may be permitted to put my own interpretation upon it and that it may be understood that no other interpretation was in my thought. I am seeking only to face realities and to face them without soft concealments. Victory would mean peace forced upon the loser, a victor's terms imposed upon the vanquished. It would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand. Only a peace between equals can last. Only a peace the very principle of which is equality and a common participation in a common benefit. The right state of mind, the right feeling between nations, is as necessary for a lasting peace as is the just settlement of vexed questions of territory or of racial and national allegiance.
The equality of nations upon which peace must be founded if it is to last must be an equality of rights; the guarantees exchanged must neither recognize nor imply a difference between big nations and small, between those that are powerful and those that are weak. Right must be based upon the common strength, not upon the individual strength, of the nations upon whose concert peace will depend. Equality of territory or of resources there of course cannot be; nor any sort of equality not gained in the ordinary peaceful and legitimate development of the peoples themselves. But no one asks or expects anything more than an equality of rights. Mankind is looking now for freedom of life, not for equipoises of power.
Secondly is that there can only be 'peace between equals'. Well, if you are in a dog-eat-dog world, then that is very true. Unfortunately he then goes on to talk about the 'state of mind' amongst Nations. Well, what if one Nation decides to start abusing this lovely, cooperative system for self-gain? You get the UN! Lovely, that. If all Nations acted rationally there would be no worries about warfare. A quick round of dice would solve the worst of problems pretty quickly. Unfortunately by wanting Nations to be rational as a basis for this cooperative peace concept, he puts forward that Nations act in a rational manner over time. You would think that World War I would belie that as it was going at that point in time.
Third is that the United States does, indeed, believe in the self-evident concept that 'all men are created equal'. That is, in actuality, something you cannot force down the minds of other people if they disagree with it. The proof of it lies in the demonstration of it and the persuasion to it so as to safeguard those rights internationally. Do note that such a thing is no guarantee that those rights will be universally held nor upheld, as each Nation may do as it pleases within its own borders.
Now as for trying to invoke the Declaration of Independence on an international basis, the original document should be looked at to see what the basis of its practice is, thus a quick extract of the major part of it:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.While this is a universal outlook, is it applied so that all people will benefit from it?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
That wording at the start is key, in that it puts forth that a people must recognize that they have these rights and this power unto themselves. When they recognize that they have this power they may then gather together to form government or change or abolish tyrannical government.
In other words this form of recognition is INTERNAL to a Nation and that attempting to impose it is as wrong-headed as trying to impose any other doctrine. If you believe that the truths are self-evident then ANYONE will see that this is true for themselves and craft something very close to this concept as presented here. If they do not, then they are free to have any form of government they wish inside their Nation and put up with it as long as they can tolerate it. President Wilson by trying to put this down as a lasting basis for peace in the international arena had his heart in the right place, but his head had forgotten that imposed values often gain resentment and that it is in the demonstration of the power of individual rights by using them to do good that makes them compelling. For President Wilson to actually *believe* the Declaration is true, he would not need to make it as a basis for a peace concept: if it is universal and self-evident then it will be adhered to without statement, and if it is *not* then nothing the US or any other Nation on this world can do will make it so.
To those people pointing at 'democracy can't be imposed', that is part of what they are getting at. The post-war affairs in the Philippines and WWII address this, or tried to in any event, by having Americans around after the conflict to stop opportunistic elements of society from coming to the fore and dominating them. Getting civil units of that society stood up in a way that had accountability to its people has more or less worked when America has invested the time and energy to do this thing known as: 'Show Me'. Folks from Missouri should know that slogan well, as it is the demonstration of intentions and beliefs by utilizing them and making good works that solidifies character and shows the depth of commitment to what is said. In the Philippines, Germany, Japan and lesser extent Italy, these Nations have had time and insurance of American presence to try and get something a bit better put down that can offer protection to its people and also have a degree of accountability. That can take decades to finally move from the saying to the adhering part, with the Philippines taking 90 years or so to finally get on with it and Japan taking it up a bit faster at just over 60 years. Germany appears to have become so dependent upon US military presence and the cash it affords to local communities, to no longer even understand what 'self-reliance' IS. And Italy... well... it is Italy, after all, and it is steadfast in its wide swings of government more than in a firm course of a Nation, but even in that the Italian people seem more or less contented in that indecision.
President Wilson could only see the barest glimmerings of that coming into WWI and was still aghast at the Imperial outlooks of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Austro-Hungary and the Ottomans. Empires are extremely 'illiberal' in their actions and the view by President Wilson to have colonies of these Empires divested was also good. The follow-up to that, however, is that when structured and orderly government from the outside is removed, it is not the continuation of ordered government that results but a reversion to chaos as 'rule by power' is removed. Without the necessary wide and deep understanding of the basis of freedom and liberty this thing known as 'rule of law' cannot be brought forth in that atmosphere. Only where a strong and traditional ethos of following laws was already present could that be attempted, and even with that it was no long-term assurance that it would stick.
What he did put forth, before WWI was a traditional American viewpoint on how to create liberty by holding commerce accountable to it. That is very clear, but in the enaction of things during and after WWI that would change. In that traditional view we see from him on a 14 JUL 1914 speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia found in President Wilson's Addresses at Project Gutenberg:
In one sense the Declaration of Independence has lost its significance. It has lost its significance as a declaration of national independence. Nobody outside of America believed when it was uttered that we could make good our independence; now nobody anywhere would dare to doubt that we are independent and can maintain our independence. As a declaration of independence, therefore, it is a mere historic document. Our independence is a fact so stupendous that it can be measured only by the size and energy and variety and wealth and power of one of the greatest nations in the world. But it is one thing to be independent and it is another thing to know what to do with your independence. It is one thing to come to your majority and another thing to know what you are going to do with your life and your energies; and one of the most serious questions for sober-minded men to address themselves to in the United States is this: What are we going to do with the influence and power of this great Nation? Are we going to play the old role of using that power for our aggrandizement and material benefit only? You know what that may mean. It may upon occasion mean that we shall use it to make the peoples of other nations suffer in the way in which we said it was intolerable to suffer when we uttered our Declaration of Independence.President Wilson pressed trade, and hard, seeking to eliminate tariffs and get freer trade going. That was, however, within the context of what that trade meant to press the ideals of America outwards via it. Freedom to have trade did not mean 'free trade' and that those Nations that did not afford their people the ability to have liberty and freedom should not be empowered by American trade. People must come TO freedom and understanding it and the responsibilities that it entails and then use those freedoms to promote furthering of freedom by acting in support of those responsibilities.
The Department of State at Washington is constantly called upon to back up the commercial enterprises and the industrial enterprises of the United States in foreign countries, and it at one time went so far in that direction that all its diplomacy came to be designated as "dollar diplomacy." It was called upon to support every man who wanted to earn anything anywhere if he was an American. But there ought to be a limit to that. There is no man who is more interested than I am in carrying the enterprise of American business men to every quarter of the globe. I was interested in it long before I was suspected of being a politician. I have been preaching it year after year as the great thing that lay in the future for the United States, to show her wit and skill and enterprise and influence in every country in the world. But observe the limit to all that which is laid upon us perhaps more than upon any other nation in the world. We set this Nation up, at any rate we professed to set it up, to vindicate the rights of men. We did not name any differences between one race and another. We did not set up any barriers against any particular people. We opened our gates to all the world and said, "Let all men who wish to be free come to us and they will be welcome." We said, "This independence of ours is not a selfish thing for our own exclusive private use. It is for everybody to whom we can find the means of extending it." We cannot with that oath taken in our youth, we cannot with that great ideal set before us when we were a young people and numbered only a scant 3,000,000, take upon ourselves, now that we are 100,000,000 strong, any other conception of duty than we then entertained. If American enterprise in foreign countries, particularly in those foreign countries which are not strong enough to resist us, takes the shape of imposing upon and exploiting the mass of the people of that country it ought to be checked and not encouraged. I am willing to get anything for an American that money and enterprise can obtain except the suppression of the rights of other men. I will not help any man buy a power which he ought not to exercise over his fellow-beings.
When looking back on how President Wilson actually carried out that ideal, however, we are left with a different view of where those ideals would lead. This from Clark University's Prof. Simon Paysalian's overview of his work on the Armenian Genocide:
A humanitarian disasterThe reports from the Ottoman Empire had been coming in since the start of WWI, with missionaries and a few reporters, plus State Dept. officials getting word back, but slowly through the Syrian desert. Trade, then, had no bite to it as President Wilson talked fine words about having responsibility associated with trade, but refused to do the one thing that would make that work: back it up with action.
Almost one hundred years ago, also in the Middle East, the United States was confronted with this same question. At the start of WWI (1914-1918), the (largely Muslim) Ottoman Empire aligned itself with the Central Powers and declared a Jihad (Holy War) against the Allied Powers.* Ostensibly threatened by the desire of some of its ethnic Christian Armenians for an independent state, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began in 1915 to carry out a deliberate genocidal plan to annihilate the Armenian people across the empire. It is estimated that during the genocide (1915-1923) more than one million Armenians were killed outright or died as a result of disease and starvation resulting from the forced deportations.
A policy of avoidance
In a recent book chapter, historian Simon Payaslian recounts how the United States government, while informed by its diplomats in the Ottoman Empire of the threat to the Armenian population, chose not to intervene in this humanitarian disaster.
Payaslian argues that reason for this policy was the U.S. government's reluctance to risk a long-standing trade relationship with the Ottoman Empire. From the early 19th century, American economic interests in the Ottoman Empire increased, and by the end of that century a growing number of companies such as Standard Oil, Singer Sewing Machine, and the American Tobacco Company had expanded their businesses in the region. The U.S. need for oil became more pronounced as oil became the favored alternative to coal. The value of U.S. -Ottoman trade rose from $8.3 million in 1900 to $82 million in 1920.
The desire to maintain friendly trade relations was complemented by President Woodrow Wilson's policy of non-interference and neutrality during the first half of WWI. Wilson hoped to serve as mediator and peacemaker between the Central and Allied Powers. Taking action against Turkey over its Armenian policy would have compromised that neutrality. Wilson also did not want to stir up a controversy that might have polarized public opinion and jeopardized his chance of re-election in 1916.
Finally, the presence of Americans in Turkey as missionaries and diplomats made the administration further reluctant to take any action against Turkey, as military action might have jeopardized the safety of American citizens.
Too little, too late
Although world media publicized the atrocities, Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916, later maintained that the Ottoman government deliberately obscured details of the events taking place among its Armenian population. Nonetheless, in 1915 Morganthau was sufficiently alarmed to urge that the U.S. at least administer relief to deportees being driven into the Syrian desert. The result was the formation of the Committee on Armenian Atrocities and the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief.
Even after Wilson was re-elected and declared war against Germany and Austro-Hungary in 1917, the U.S. continued to show reluctance to engage Turkey in any substantive way over the treatment of Armenians. Although the Ottoman Empire had joined with the Central Powers, Wilson maintained that Turkey was a victim of German manipulation.
The cumulative response of the Wilson administration during this period was to condemn the Ottoman atrocities, but limit government action to the supply of humanitarian aid to survivors of the genocide. By then, for hundreds of thousands of Armenians, it was too late.
Americans who go overseas, throughout the 19th century and even to this day, put their lives on the line and must weigh their activities as free people. Venturing forth means that one takes a calculated risk in that venture with no guarantee of its success or that one will even survive it. The 19th century is rife with Americans dying in conflicts, plagues, internecine ethnic strife, and succumbing to the vicissitudes of war. And then there are the things we did OVERSEAS. Using the lives of Americans who had taken a calculated risk to put forth their beliefs and the earnest holding of them is cowardice in the extreme. Americans have been risking their lives to form this Nation, uphold the beliefs that all men are created equal and that this is best demonstrated by Americans, as individuals, putting the proof of that when they wanted to do so. That proving is taking a gamble, a risk, to show just what free people can DO.
By breaking that link between what he says and believes and what he does, President Wilson started the de-linking process between accountable trade and unaccountable free trade. That de-linking process and putting hopes into international institutions that have no accountability to people, may have started out with fine ideals, but the inability to understand that ideals need demonstration even and especially when they hurt the Nation economically must be done. That is the greatest backing America can give: to show that we mean and demonstrate liberty and freedom even when we hurt ourselves because of the damned stupid choices we have made to trade with tyrants and dictators.
President Wilson complained that Theodore Roosevelt, the man who started 'Trust Busting' spoke only words about wanting to see American Industry used in support of freedoms for the individual. To this, Roosevelt responds in his autobiography:
Mr. Wilson says of the trust plank in that platform that it "did not anywhere condemn monopoly except in words." Exactly of what else could a platform consist? Does Mr. Wilson expect us to use algebraic signs? This criticism is much as if he said the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence contained nothing but words. The Progressive platform did contain words, and the words were admirably designed to express thought and meaning and purpose. Mr. Wilson says that I long ago "classified trusts for us as good and bad," and said that I was "afraid only of the bad ones." Mr. Wilson would do well to quote exactly what my language was, and where it was used, for I am at a loss to know what statement of mine it is to which he refers. But if he means that I say that corporations can do well, and that corporations can also do ill, he is stating my position correctly. I hold that a corporation does ill if it seeks profit in restricting production and then by extorting high prices from the community by reason of the scarcity of the product; through adulterating, lyingly advertising, or over-driving the help; or replacing men workers with children; or by rebates; or in any illegal or improper manner driving competitors out of its way; or seeking to achieve monopoly by illegal or unethical treatment of its competitors, or in any shape or way offending against the moral law either in connection with the public or with its employees or with its rivals. Any corporation which seeks its profit in such fashion is acting badly. It is, in fact, a conspiracy against the public welfare which the Government should use all its powers to suppress. If, on the other hand, a corporation seeks profit solely by increasing its products through eliminating waste, improving its processes, utilizing its by-products, installing better machines, raising wages in the effort to secure more efficient help, introducing the principle of cooperation and mutual benefit, dealing fairly with labor unions, setting its face against the underpayment of women and the employment of children; in a word, treating the public fairly and its rivals fairly: then such a corporation is behaving well. It is an instrumentality of civilization operating to promote abundance by cheapening the cost of living so as to improve conditions everywhere throughout the whole community. Does Mr. Wilson controvert either of these statements? If so, let him answer directly. It is a matter of capital importance to the country that his position in this respect be stated directly, not by indirect suggestion.Yes a 'New Freedom', sounding very much like a way to get back to the older freedom of tyranny and enshrining power to an elite group or class, be it in industry, business or politics. Government to assume the power of the marketplace and require only certain divisions within it and to control industry leaves little input by the people and their choices to affect such industry. And when such is used overseas to ensure that industry and business is not held accountable because a little thing like fighting a war to oppose an ally of a declared enemy might just hurt the economy a tad... well... trade trumps rights, it appears. The Right of a Nation to oppose its enemies and fight *for* something better.
After reading Mr. Wilson's book, I am still entirely in the dark as to what he means by the "New Freedom." Mr. Wilson is an accomplished and scholarly man, a master of rhetoric, and the sentences in the book are well-phrased statements, usually inculcating a morality which is sound although vague and ill defined. There are certain proposals (already long set forth and practiced by me and by others who have recently formed the Progressive party) made by Mr. Wilson with which I cordially agree. There are, however, certain things he has said, even as regards matters of abstract morality, with which I emphatically disagree. For example, in arguing for proper business publicity, as to which I cordially agree with Mr. Wilson, he commits himself to the following statement:"You know there is temptation in loneliness and secrecy. Haven't you experienced it? I have. We are never so proper in our conduct as when everybody can look and see exactly what we are doing. If you are off in some distant part of the world and suppose that nobody who lives within a mile of your home is anywhere around, there are times when you adjourn your ordinary standards. You say to yourself, 'Well, I'll have a fling this time; nobody will know anything about it.' If you were on the Desert of Sahara, you would feel that you might permit yourself—well, say, some slight latitude of conduct; but if you saw one of your immediate neighbors coming the other way on a camel, you would behave yourself until he got out of sight. The most dangerous thing in the world is to get off where nobody knows you. I advise you to stay around among the neighbors, and then you may keep out of jail. That is the only way some of us can keep out of jail."I emphatically disagree with what seems to be the morality inculcated in this statement, which is that a man is expected to do and is to be pardoned for doing all kinds of immoral things if he does them alone and does not expect to be found out. Surely it is not necessary, in insisting upon proper publicity, to preach a morality of so basely material a character.
There is much more that Mr. Wilson says as to which I do not understand him clearly, and where I condemn what I do understand. In economic matters the course he advocates as part of the "New Freedom" simply means the old, old "freedom" of leaving the individual strong man at liberty, unchecked by common action, to prey on the weak and the helpless. The "New Freedom" in the abstract seems to be the freedom of the big to devour the little. In the concrete I may add that Mr. Wilson's misrepresentations of what I have said seem to indicate that he regards the new freedom as freedom from all obligation to obey the Ninth Commandment.
But, after all, my views or the principles of the Progressive party are of much less importance now than the purposes of Mr. Wilson. These are wrapped in impenetrable mystery. His speeches and writings serve but to make them more obscure. If these attempts to refute his misrepresentation of my attitude towards the trusts should result in making his own clear, then this discussion will have borne fruits of substantial value to the country. If Mr. Wilson has any plan of his own for dealing with the trusts, it is to suppress all great industrial organizations—presumably on the principle proclaimed by his Secretary of State four years ago, that every corporation which produced more than a certain percentage of a given commodity—I think the amount specified was twenty-five per cent—no matter how valuable its service, should be suppressed. The simple fact is that such a plan is futile. In operation it would do far more damage than it could remedy. The Progressive plan would give the people full control of, and in masterful fashion prevent all wrongdoing by, the trusts, while utilizing for the public welfare every industrial energy and ability that operates to swell abundance, while obeying strictly the moral law and the law of the land. Mr. Wilson's plan would ultimately benefit the trusts and would permanently damage nobody but the people. For example, one of the steel corporations which has been guilty of the worst practices towards its employees is the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bryan's plan would, if successful, merely mean permitting four such companies, absolutely uncontrolled, to monopolize every big industry in the country. To talk of such an accomplishment as being "The New Freedom" is enough to make the term one of contemptuous derision.
From this era would come the slow change and new method of thought, where trade and international businesses to trade would be seen as 'freeing' no matter what such businesses actually did to individuals. This would lead to the Transnational Right as it has come about today.
We would also get an ideal that international institutions should have pre-eminance over Nation States and that Nations needed to be ruled over so as to bring peace and equality. That is the Transnational Left known as Transnational Progressivism, that seeks to dissolve Nations and put an informed Elite in place to administer rights and freedom, just like President Wilson wanted to apportion market share.
These two have left us bereft of speaking the name of what terrorism is, because it has consequences and puts the US as judge for its own actions and commerce. And allows them to physically assault peoples and erode Nations so that they will become the new ruling Elite. And the fight that President Wilson skipped out on now haunts us to this day because he would not back up his words to cause some harm to *industry* and *economy* to further the cause of liberty and freedom. And the payment for that money is more blood until that balance is set right once more. Not just for peoples, but for our outlook on what liberty and freedom mean to us... and when we are willing to back that up to the death so that it may survive.
Welcome to the 21st century.
Let us hope we can unlearn some of the ideals of the 20th century that are now the cause of our problems.