Notes on supplementary reading

To End All Wars by Thomas Knock

Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order


This book plans on discussing the different ideas and events which revolve around President Woodrow Wilson, which helped to shape the United States. Most books focus on the Treaty of Versailles, but Knock sees the importance of examining the American origins of the League of Nations in a different way. One of the key aspects which helped to shape Wilsonís views was two groups, progressive internationalists and conservative internationalists. Progressive internationalism evolved within the context of American neutrality, during the first two years of World War I. The Progressive Era was the age of socialistic inquiry, and Wilson leaned to the advice of the American left and liberal left. The leftist groups promoted the New Diplomacy in the US; Wilsonís formula for a new world order, also social and economic justice at home. In the beginning, the League began to take on a partisan and ideological complexion. Wilson desired a "community of nations" Ė a new world order maintained by procedures for the arbitration of disputes between nations, general disarmament, self-determination, and collective security. His priorities changed with the US entering the war; during this time Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge led the partisan opposition to Wilsonís league idea.

Chapter 1 Ė A Political Autobiography Ė gives background information on Woodrow Wilson.

Chapter 2 Ė Wilson and the Age of Socialist Inquiry

The campaign of 1912 was a remarkable one, with the candidates creating one of the best fields of all time. Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive, but moved towards the left after handing over the office to his protťgť William Howard Taft. Roosevelt was disappointed in how Taft ran the government; when the time came for the next election though, he was unable to wrestle the Republican presidential nomination away from a conservative Taft, who had control over the party machine. Roosevelt, who was liberal, went elsewhere to gain the nomination he so desired, and set up the Progressive Party. Rooseveltís idea was "New Nationalism", the corporate structure should be accountable to the public through a new system of federal supervision and regulation; his party is known as the labor party. The Democratic Party needed a candidate, and were looking closely at William Jennings Bryan, who was a progressive but not as extreme as TR was. Woodrow Wilson made a name for himself by landing the governorship of New Jersey in 1910. He was able to push through the New Jersey legislature a package of timely reforms Ė workmenís compensation act, laws to regulate public utilities and railroads, the direst primary, corrupt-practices legislation. Wilson became the ideal candidate for the Democratic Party, and received the presidential nomination of Bryans. The last candidate was from the Socialist Party, Eugene Debs; who was a strong candidate for the age of reform was also according to Frederick Jackson Turner, "the age of the socialist inquiry".

Foreign policy was discussed in the 1912 election but was not heavily debated or considered a major concern. Each candidate had different views on the topic. President Taft indicated towards his futile exertions for a reciprocal trade agreement with Canada and arbitration treaties with the European powers. Eugene Debs viewed foreign policy as irrelevant with regard to the working class interests. Rooseveltís platform was based on advocating free passage through the Panama Canal for American shippers. The Democratic Party was supporting the independence for the Philippines. Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 election, and made this statement as the President-elect, "It would be the irony of fate if my administration had to deal chiefly with foreign affairs." Little did he know what was to be in store for him.

Wilson made two very important political friendships which aided him in his decision making. First was Colonel Edward Mandell House who became the Presidents trusted counselor; independently wealthy, his desire was to influence the course of history. Second was Wilsonís Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan who exerted a very strong influence on foreign policy. His most important accomplishment was in 1913-14, which was a series of "cooling-off" treaties, which included Great Britain, France, and all but two Latin American countries. His idea was that countries should submit any dispute between them, and this dispute should be investigated by an international commission. The countries which are under dispute must forgo hostilities until a report is filed. Not many people believed in this new treaty. Wilson said the war might have been averted if the treaties had been implemented. Bryansí treaties lead to Wilsonís first step toward the formulation of an internationalist foreign policy.

Wilsonís priority during the beginning of his term was the New Freedom, which he was able to make a breakthrough in October 1913. Congress enacted the Underwood-Simmons bill, the first downward revision of the tariff since the Civil War. The next major issue which demanded Wilsonís attention was the problems occurring in Mexico; Francisco Madero seized the government from the current dictator, Porfirio Diaz. A counterrevolution was encouraged by Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson. On behalf of the old regime, General Victoriano Huerta staged a coup díetat, ordered Maderoís execution, and declared himself ruler. Wilson refused to recognize Huerta, he fired Ambassador Wilson, imposed an arms embargo, and created a plan to pacify the situation Ė the US would mediate between the Huertistas and the Constitutionalists in order to ensure a free election. Unfortunately, Huerta seized the entire Chamber of Deputies and declared Mexico a dictatorship. In January 1914, the Constitutionalists headed by Venustiana Carranza (First Chief) and Francisco Pancho Villa (his lieutenant) asked of Wilson three things: recognition as the legitimate government, the right to purchase arms in the US, and a minimum amount of advice from Wilson. Although Wilson did not recognize their government he lifted the embargo, and stated that he preferred a group of revolutionaries and that the real problem in Mexico was not a political but economic one. He felt that Mexico should be left "to her own salvation". Wilson was against intervention, even if it meant that some Americans should lose money, property, and lives. In later years, Pancho Villa and Carranza split, Wilson eventually siding with Villa; many Republicans did not like the way in which Wilson handled the Mexican conflict, including Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts who disagreed completely with Wilsonís views.

John Reed plays an important role for he was a chronicler of the Mexican Revolution. Reed rode with Pancho Villa, writing about him and agrarian reform. Wilson followed Reedís career, and granted him an exclusive interview. He wrote that Wilson was "more interested in principles than in policies", and that American sympathy should always be on the side of the people in revolt. Wilson never permitted Reed to print the interview, but it helps to give one an insight as to how Wilson thought about the issues surrounding Mexico.

Chapter 3 Ė Searching for a New Diplomacy

Wilsonís main concern was to keep the United States out of the war, and set upon a course of neutrality. A critical part of his foreign policy was to mediate, in order to try to end the war. Wilson had already begun contemplating the beginning points for a league of nations: no national conquest, equality of states, self-determination, and munitions must be manufactured by the state. In 1915, the Union of Democratic Control (UDC) brought forth a possible solution to the current crisis. Their manifesto was the first important synthesis of the so-called New Diplomacy. One key element that was recognized by Wilson was the fact that a league of nations would not work unless countries stopped resorting to the use of their armaments when a dispute erupted, arbitration was necessary in order to keep the peace.

Wilson first saw the Pan American Pact in 1913, but it did not become very important until late 1914, when he saw an opportunity to use it two fold. It would guarantee the friendship and cooperation with Latin America that Wilson had been pushing for; the pact, if successful could be seen by Europeans as a positive sign to move in the direction of mediation. The Pact was well received by Brazil and Argentina, unfortunately Chile held the Pact in limbo because it was slow to respond formally. The reasons for this being the on-going boundary dispute between Chile and Peru, Ambassador Eduardo SuŠrez-Mujica said of Chile that it should not "tie its hands and condemn itself to any limitation of sovereignty for reasons of an altruistic nature", and according to the Enrique Villegas, the foreign minister "The treaty, if skillfully exploited, would tend to erect a United States tutelage over Latin-America and might lead to commercial and political absorption by the US of smaller, weaker Latin-America countries."

Wilson was trying to build a new regional political system theoretically based on the principles of equality and sovereignty of the states. This was mainly for the sake of security and peace, but he was also promoting economic components through the New Freedom diplomacy and Pan-Americanism. This would benefit the US, as well as improve the political economies of Latin-America. Much to Wilsonís dismay, the European governments were not as willing to come to any sort of terms with regard to disarmament or American mediation.

Chapter 4 Ė The Political Origins of Progressive and Conservative Internationalism

According to Wilson, one of his chief responsibilities was to give purpose and direction to public opinion, especially during times of change and stress. During the first eighteen months of the war, Wilson justified and maintained neutrality, as public reaction the British blockade and German submarine warfare called for. He was also cultivated public opinion on the question of a league of nations.

Beginning in 1915, several small groups became very influential to President Wilson, in his decision making. These groups all had one thing in common, their goal was peace; for this reason they sought out the president in order to help influence him. The quest for peace was the common ground among liberal reformers, pacifists, and socialists; peace was essential to change Ė the survival of the labor movement, the abolition of child labor, and womenís rights. These were the progressive internationalists; their rational was to bring about a negotiated settlement of the war; for if the US got involved in the war it would destroy all their liberal causes as well as the moral fiber of the nation.

Jane Addams played an extremely important role in the on-goings of progressive internationalism. She established the Womanís Peace party in January 1915, which was the first of its kind to be directly engaged in political action. Wilson paid a lot of attention to these women activists; their organization was very popular, for they were received by the top officials in Europe. They made a very big contribution to shaping Wilsonís thoughts during the first year when the New Diplomacy was starting to be formed.

One party that suffered greatly during this time was the Socialist Party. Their foreign socialist relations (France and Germany) had put their won national views above that of internationalism. France and German socialistsí had chosen to go to war rather than try to work out the issues which plagued their countries.

The conservative internationalists were a larger group of people; they were legalists seeking stability rather than change in international relations. Senator Elihu Root of New York and William Howard Taft considered themselves legalists; they viewed world peace through the scope of international law. Root argued that conflicts between major powers could be solved through the growth of international legal precedents established by the world court. The conservative internationalists founded the LEP, League to Enforce Peace; this organization wanted representatives from all nations to sit for a tribunal meeting periodically to discuss and change international law. Also, members must submit any justifiable disputes to be settled, in order to prevent battles or wars.

Wilson felt differently towards the conservative internationalists than he did the progressives; he kept the conservatives at arms length because it was of Republican association and Taft was at the head of the LEP. The conservatives differed from the progressives in that they did not concern themselves with the economic causes of the war, disarmament, self-determination, and especially not with democratic control of foreign policy. Wilson did not think that collective security and arbitration was enough in itself to prevent future wars; he agreed with the progressives and wanted peace while the conservatives wanted the Allies to win the war. According to progressive internationalists, the League of Nations symbolized the convergence of other dreams and purposes; the ultimate goal (of both the progressives and Wilson) being a lasting peace that would accommodate change and advance democratic institutions and social and economic justice.

Many conservatives could not identify with the aspirations of liberals, pacifists, and socialists. Conservatives didnít fight for the underdog, they believed that some people were meant to be on top (rich), and the rest of society was supposed to be poor; they felt that the progressives were trying to overturn the natural order of things. Conservatives considered the defeat of Germany essential, and did not agree with Wilsonís neutral policy.

By mid-1916, though Wilson was not concerned with the two different internationalist groups, but whether or not the US was militarily ready. When he was first in office, he announced that it was not necessary to have a large standing army; this view goes directly against Henry Cabot Lodge who felt that it was important always have one. Americans began to worry after the sinking of the Lusitania and the Arabic, what was to be done about it. In response to this, Wilson demanded that Germany cease attacks on unarmed passenger vessels without warning and providing for the safety of those on board. The Republicanís (Taft, Roosevelt, Lodge, Root) all considered themselves patriots, that Wilson should make sure that the US is prepared. According to them, the Democrats were a party of submission, "too proud to fight". Preparedness was key, and Wilson now saw this as a necessary precaution. This alarmed progressive internationalists greatly, for they did not believe in fighting but only peace. In response to Wilson, the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM) was established in April 1916; it was careful though to strike out only at militarism and not Wilson directly. Progressives also flooded the White House at different times to make sure their voices were heard; they wanted peace but not at any cost, mediation was another key aspect presented to Wilson. In the end, Wilsonís view was not to get involved with the actual settlement, his only concern was with the maintenance of peace after the war.