Knock, To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for A New World Order
Knock argues for the importance of domestic constituencies both in the US and
abroad. Specifically, Knock brings to light the important role that US
Socialists had on Wilson’s internationalism. Also emphasizes the importance of
other progressives and leftist. Does a good job of showing the important links
between domestic policy and foreign policy. In other words, these
constituencies believed that a progressive foreign policy would have an
important impact on creating a progressive domestic policy. Knock also
describes the impact that foreign constituencies had (or did not have) on
actual policies pursued by European governments. In any case, Knock does an
excellent job of showing that Wilson used his office to appeal to these
foreign peoples. In essence, Wilson is the first President to see use his
office in a way that went beyond appealing only to a domestic constituency.
Wilson and Wilsonianism are topics that seem to lead to “pro” or “anti”-Wilsonian
analyses. Where does Knock fall? (Truth in advertising-I tend to be
sympathetic of Wilsonianism as a theory, suspicious of leaders who claim to be
Wilsonian and use its rhetoric, and critical of Wilson’s policies towards
Latin America and Russia).
Do the foundational factors that Knock lists in Chapter 1 lead to a true
“community of nations” or only a “community” of western nations considering
that so many nations in the world both then and now do not have “Roman law” as
the basis of their legal system and are not Christian? Thus, did Wilson truly
believe in a community of nations when so many did not have those foundational
Does the fact that Knock states “There is some irony in the fact that Wilson
interfered in the internal affairs of neighboring states…on a scale to rival
Roosevelt and Taft” yet fails to deal with this “irony” have any impact on his
interpretation of Wilsonianism.
Does Knock overemphasize Wilson’s links to Socialism and Wilson’s
anti-capitalism? Knock acknowledges that Wilson was a political genius
(“political animal” is the term he uses). So historians would be wise to
differentiate between political rhetoric (especially in an election year—see
chapter 6) and actual policy results (and even intentions).
Is it fair to say that Wilson was ahead of his times?
tend to agree that one cannot understand foreign policy in the 20th
century without understanding Wilsonianism. However, which of the following—Wilsonianism
as mere rhetoric (cynical approach) or Wilsonianism as policy (optimistic
approach)—has had a greater impact? Or is it a combination of both?
1 – A Political Autobiography
disturbed by the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few (Progressive
tendency). He was a reformer.
International law as “organic development.”
foundational factors for a community of nations:
recognition of Roman law as the basis of Western legal system.
commerce in ideas and goods
most vital component was Christianity
by 1894 Wilson had already developed theoretical foundations for his
community of nations.
world how to “walk in the paths of liberty.”
Importance of moral responsibility.
had large impact on the peace movement. More so than they had on him.
exceptionalism. Unique amongst nations.
2 – Wilson and the Age of Social Inquiry
(New Freedom) as the middle choice candidate between a Roosevelt (New
Nationalism) moving to the left and Taft on the right. Wilson would destroy
monopolies and restore competition.
reform would be an important part of his platform.
Importance of the Socialist Party in 1912.
intentionally established a link between domestic and foreign policy.
Importance of Mexican Revolution.
Challenged his belief that democratic processes alone could bring about
necessary social and economic changes.
“special interest” would always attempt to hold back the future.
critical of the role that foreign “special interest” had in Mexico. Critical
of the “Big Stick” and “Dollar Diplomacy.”
cause of the problems in Mexico was economic and not social
This leads to foreign “special interest.”
sympathy should always be on the side of a people in revolt.
3 – Searching for a New Diplomacy
beginning of WW1 most Americans didn’t think they had anything to do with that
of “balance of power” thesis, which had dominated diplomatic relations between
the Allies and Central powers.
formulating ideas for a new diplomacy (based on equality and sovereignty of
states) and the Pan-American Pact was his attempt at experimenting with this
new diplomacy in the form of the Pan-American Pact was economically
advantageous for the US.
learning the importance of creating domestic foundational support of any
international policies he may pursue.
4 – The Political Origins of Progressive and Conservative Internationalism
Throughout first 18 months Wilson had done little to cultivate public opinion
for a league.
for peace and new frontier provided common ground for liberal reformers,
pacifist, and socialist.
movements liked foreign and domestic policy. Peace was essential to the labor
movements, women’s rights, etc.
socialists seem to have a huge impact on Wilson. On the other hand,
conservative internationalist (CI) would have little influence on Wilson b/c
they didn’t concern themselves with economic causes of war, disarmament,
self-determination, or democratic control of foreign policy. Yet, by ignoring
this domestic group he was setting himself up for failure later.
self-restraint in trying to stay out of the war made him something of a hero
in progressive internationalist (PI) eyes.
believed, in the issue of preparedness, that big business, munitions makers,
big navy advocates, etc., in pushing the issue were looking to thwart social
and economic progress at home and abroad.
5 – The Turning Point
Wilson working towards implementing the Pan-American Pact (he would fail).
Wanted this to provide a model for the Euro’s.
did seem to understand the linkage between domestic and foreign policy
(although its clear he also had blind spots).
point Wilson is finally making his ideas clearer to the American people and
discusses all the attempts made by the Wilson administration to mediate
amongst the European powers. And the problems that they faced.
of General Pershing chasing Pancho Villa all over northern Mexico. Knock
doesn’t really deal with Wilson’s interventionism (he does mention it on pg.
uses some circular logic to defend these interventions by arguing that Wilson
believed Pan-American Pact was necessary in order to prevent the causes of
such interventions. Perhaps this was an ingenious attempt by Wilson to ensure
Latin American support. We will intervene in your affairs until you ratify
this treaty (which in itself could be described as intervention) which will
prevent us from intervening in your affairs.
6 – Raising a New Flag: The League and the Coalition of 1916
revises the date when partisanship entered into debates over the league.
Instead of 1918 congressional campaign it was the 1916 presidential
campaign Wilson explicitly linked reform and foreign policy.
starts initiating an extremely progressive program that alienates and
motivates his opposition.
the burden of military preparedness on the wealthy.
Endorses a foreign policy of progressive internationalism “far in advance”
of even the Socialist Party.
Endorses the Progressive Party platform and pushes the enactment of child
labor laws, worker insurance against accidents, and eight hour day.
emphasizes Wilson’s critiques of capitalism.
campaign finally started the educative process for the American public. It
also alienated many people, which would impact the future.
election Wilson accomplished what he had set out to do and won a good
proportion of the former Progressive Party vote and Socialist vote.
begins to have an impact on European publics although Euro leaders are opposed
to much of his plan.
7 – “All the Texts of the Rights of Man”: Manifestoes for Peace and War
without victory.” Important in creating a functioning league. Euro’s not
thrilled with this proposition.
Zimmerman letter and sinking of American ships more radical elements of the
PI’s spoke for majority of Americans.
belligerency gets US a place at the table.
8 – “If the War Is Too Strong”: The Travail of Progressive Internationalism and
the Fourteen Points
war the obstacles to creating a League took on new twists and intensity.
Beginnings of opposition in the Senate.
Growing influence of CI’s.
into war had an impact on PI’s (a “fearful toll”).
Divergence between America and allied objectives.
refused to take any internationalist, conservative or progressive, into his
confidence during the war. Alienates everyone.
was much in the wartime policies of the administration that had progressive
liberties become an issue and socialist and other progressives bare a good
deal of the brunt of attacks. Again, Wilson will alienate both of his flanks.
Bolsheviks and Brest-Litovsk.
9 – Waiting for Wilson: The Wages of Delay and Repression
specificity when it came to the League was problematic.
Throughout the book Knock makes excuses for some of Wilson’s questionable
decisions. The last few lines on 156 are just one of his attempts to absolve
Wilson of intervening in Russia. However, Knock acknowledges the damage
(domestically) that the intervention caused for him. David Fogglesong’s book
entitled America's Secret War against Bolshevism : U.S. Intervention in the
Russian Civil War, 1917-1920 is a good, admittedly more critical, analysis
of Wilsonianism as well as the beginnings of “secret” interventions in foreign
the peoples of Europe over the heads of their rulers.” --> would have to do
this in the US as well.
Knocks argument that Wilson’s “Fourth Liberty Loan Address” brought an end to
the war a sound one?
10 – “The War Thus Comes to an End”
Opposition to president and League. Republicans argue that democrats had and
were using the war to attack the free enterprise system instilling fear in the
business community. Also, they attack Wilson by arguing that unconditional
German surrender was essential and anything less was unpatriotic.
faced similar attacks from the allies. However, Wilson argued that a harsh
finally to the war would undercut the League. In the end he was forced to
capitulate to many of the allied demands. Wilson tries to find a middle ground
between unconditional surrender and peace without victory.
alienation of the conservative internationalist led by Taft le them to go on
elections returns a Republic majority --> Wilson guilty of a number of
political gaffes. Never say that the peoples vote will either confirm or
reject your past leadership before an election!!! B/C if you lose, there isn’t
much to work with.
emphasizes that one of the major causes of Wilson’s failures in these years
was due to his failure to nurture the domestic constituency as he had done in
his own re-election campaign (Progressives and Socialists).
to bring Senators to the peace negotiations was a mistake. It seems that at
some point this political genius lost his political acumen.
had done a great deal to make the League an important concept in the minds of
millions could not be ignored, even if he faced many failures in attempting to
11 – The Stern Covenanter
Europe the masses viewed Wilson as a hero. However, there were problems
translating this public opinion into political capital that Wilson could use
to influence allies.
process of watering down the league begins as countries try to create a
compromised community of nations that is most beneficial to each nation
involved in the talks (small states versus large states, colonies, etc.).
course, upon returning with the treaty the signature of the Senate was
necessary for approval and the Senate --> Thus more watering down of the
treaty (especially since the Senate was in hostile hands).
attempt to insert progressive ideas into treaty such as safe and fair working
conditions and racial and ethnic equality.
end the treaty was far more conservative than anything Wilson wanted.
12 – “A Practical Document and a Humane Document”
Trusteeships --> How to deal with colonies?
argues that even though league was under attack from everyone, Wilson still
managed to maintain a great deal of the international progressivism that the
leagues was based upon. Undoubtedly, the league was revolutionary even in its
needed to face the reality that it would be difficult to create an “ideal”
League simply b/c of the fact that it would be hard for countries who had
inflicted the most destructive terror in history upon each other for the
previous years to build a peace based on Wilsonianism. They did not and could
not trust each other at that moment.
end they created a more “practical” document, but it was still a revolutionary
13 – “The Thing Reaches the Depth of Tragedy”
Wilson would face the “less than ideal” conditions at home in his attempt to
pass this “practical” document with its “idealistic” foundations!!!
League and: sovereignty, Monroe Doctrine, etc.
“compromised” treaty alienated his left flank for giving up too much and
angered his right flank for not going far enough in protecting American
interests. Combined with his political mistakes (no Senators at Versailles,
repression years, mid term election mistakes, Wilsonian silence and stuborness,
etc) the treaty was doomed.
Wilson called a Socialist by businessmen and a fascist by leftist.
Isolationist, unilateralist, and “globalist” --> Extremely divided environment
14 – Wilson’s Fate
Europe the allies would now “take the treaty hostage” and force concessions
out of Wilson that essentially undercut the treaty. Germany would be dealt
with harshly. Colonies would maintained.
events of course would further alienate PI’s at home.
Internationally, PI’s felt that Wilson had given too much away. Combined with
the fact that Wilson did nothing for Progressives domestically his progressive
support was evaporating into hostile lightning.
end Wilson was playing the symbolic role of “Bolshevik” and “fascist” for his
“Stubbornness thesis” versus “sickness thesis” for Wilson’s unwillingness to
take “half a League.” Of course, Knock favors the sickness theory. Regardless,
in the end the US fails to ratify it.
important than isolationism was the battle over what type of internationalism
the US would pursue.
importance of Wilsonianism in history: as rhetoric, as policy, etc.