What Did The Treaty Of Versailles Do To Germany’s Military – The terrible precedent of Trump’s Treaty of Versailles. The last time America withdrew from its international security agreement, it led to the most destructive war in history.
Jeremy Suri, Chair Emeritus of Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
- What Did The Treaty Of Versailles Do To Germany’s Military
- Treaty Of Versailles: Definition, Terms, Dates & Wwi
- The Reacting Consortium
- Treaty Of Versailles And President Wilson, 1919 And 1921
- Ww1: Does The Peace That Ended The War Haunt Us Today?
- The Treaty Of Versailles, A Truce That Led To Another War
- Peace At Last
What Did The Treaty Of Versailles Do To Germany’s Military
Copy of the original Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images/Foreign Policy Illustration)
Treaty Of Versailles: Definition, Terms, Dates & Wwi
President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the seven-nation deal to end Iran’s nuclear program — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was largely developed by his own country — is a repudiation of traditional American diplomacy. But it also echoes a failed American precedent. With the Iran deal, the United States is repeating its withdrawal from the Treaty of Versailles, a move that ultimately led to the most destructive war in history.
The United States was responsible for negotiating and implementing some of the most enduring multinational diplomatic agreements of the 20th century, including the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944, the UN Charter of 1945, and the North Atlantic Treaty of 1945. 1949 and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. Each of these agreements, concluded by numerous countries with different interests, contributed to a peaceful, open international system that benefited the United States and its allies by binding all parties to long-term commitments regarding their safety. Each of these agreements would not have been possible without US support and compliance. More than any other nation, the United States has been the author and implementer of the liberal world order that makes capitalism and democracy as we know them possible.
But the Treaty of Versailles is a dark stain on this history. Building on President Theodore Roosevelt’s pre-World War I proposal for a League of Peace, President Woodrow Wilson led efforts to create a multi-national settlement at the end of the war that would ensure a “lasting peace.” The League of Nations was a central part of the treaty, an international body that included all nations to settle disputes between them, encourage cooperation, and punish aggression.
The infamous rejection of the Treaty of Versailles by the US Senate in November 1919 and again in March 1920 destroyed this dream. Citing US war weariness, anti-British sentiment and mistrust of complex diplomatic deals, Republican and Democratic lawmakers used their opposition to the settlement to score partisan points. Especially for Republicans who challenged Wilson, it proved politically profitable to stoke domestic fears of external entanglement. Separation walls sounded safer than new shared ties with former warring parties. Of course, it was the other way around.
The Reacting Consortium
American isolationism delegitimized the Treaty of Versailles. Why would other societies invest in the deal if one of its leading proponents, also a developing world nation, refused to participate? Many observers appreciated the domestic politics behind the US withdrawal from the treaty, but it only deepened the long-standing perception that the United States was an unreliable partner. Why should others tie their hands if the United States acted as a free rider? In the decade after World War I, U.S. actions encouraged unilateral actions by other powerful players, especially Japan, Germany, and the newly formed Soviet Union.
The leaders of these “revisionist” countries characterized the Treaty of Versailles as an unjust “victor’s justice” — a continuation of the imperialist aggression practiced by Great Britain and France for more than a century. As late as 1922, Germany and the Soviet Union used this criticism to justify military and financial cooperation in Eastern Europe, which strengthened both governments and disrupted the terms of settlement in the region. The US withdrawal from the treaty gave these claims more credibility, and for this reason the ideas of collective security and liberal internationalism remained very unpopular in Europe, Asia, and North America throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
These conflicting circumstances harm Americans. Not being a member of the League of Nations, with no other alliances, the United States was unable to exert an international influence comparable to its size and wealth. Economic sanctions, popular with President Herbert Hoover in response to Japanese expansion, were difficult to implement without coordination among the various powers. International arbitration, repeatedly promoted by the United States in China, could not be enforced when there was no international body capable of consistent enforcement. And when fascists invaded their neighbors, countries that defended the existing order, including the United States, negotiated in ad hoc and mostly ineffective ways. Appeasement has become a lowest common denominator strategy in the world with limited multilateral coordination.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized that the short-sighted unilateralism of the United States contributed to an even worse World War II. Before the United States entered the conflict, he emphasized multilateral commitments, advocating a broad program of the “four freedoms” and signing the Atlantic Charter in 1941. The United States won World War II and then emerged victorious in the Cold War because Roosevelt and his successors in both parties led the postwar multilateral order after 1945, not after 1919.
Treaty Of Versailles And President Wilson, 1919 And 1921
And no one doubted that international agreements signed by presidents of one party would be implemented by successors on the other side of the aisle. Ronald Reagan, for example, criticized SALT II and the Panama Canal when he was running for president, but upheld both when in office. Reagan understood that international cooperation transcended partisanship and that a global leader must keep his word.
Through the United Nations, Bretton Woods, NATO, and the Helsinki Act, Washington increased its sources of political, military, and economic power to contain and defeat communist adversaries. The United States cultivated more national power and international support than ever before. It was the most responsible and influential actor in the Cold War.
This is no longer the case. Since September 11, 2001, American military power has been challenged and found wanting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and many other places. China has become an economic competitor, often turning the global capitalist system to its advantage against the United States. And Washington has alienated the allies it needs, perhaps more than ever, to support its commitments around the world as well as its voracious consumers at home. Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, opposed by most of its allies, the United States has repeatedly upended the liberal international order it created, acting in ways that previous presidents would have considered deeply irresponsible. And after Trump’s rejection of the Iran deal, the world once again has reason to wonder, as after Versailles, whether the United States will abide by other security agreements (including NATO) that it has developed and promoted.
Another world war is unlikely in the near future, but we should expect more conflict, more violence, and more defeats for an isolated United States. A chaotic world will increase the insecurity of the United States and leave it with fewer sources of influence against its competitors, such as China, and revisionist threats, such as Russia. Violation of multilateral agreements reduces US influence in established institutions, alienates those who might help Americans, and emboldens those who want to harm them. This makes the United States an enemy of the international order; it is not only irresponsible, but also defeatist.
Ww1: Does The Peace That Ended The War Haunt Us Today?
Jeremy Suri holds the Mack Brown Chair in Global Affairs Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University’s Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
A worker adjusts the lighting above a tourist map of Ukraine at the Ukraine stand at the ITB International Travel Fair in Berlin on March 4, 2014.
Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Rankin participates in Australia-India naval exercises on September 5, 2021, off Darwin, Australia.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron at the House of the People’s Assembly in Beijing on April 6.
The Treaty Of Versailles, A Truce That Led To Another War
A large crowd waves Turkish flags in front of a billboard honoring Kemal Kilicdaroglu on the side of a residential building.
It seems only an act of God can depose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Perhaps the February 6th earthquake was just that.
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