Tag Archives: Treaty of Versailles

The Course of Rearmament before the Second World War

After the First World War wrought its bloody course, the statesmen of Europe and the world began to come to conclusions about its origins. Many of these – well intentioned analyses to a fault – centred on the ideas of ‘power politics’, conceptions of militarism and imperialism, and the notion that arms races cause wars. The Anglo-German naval race of the early twentieth century, as well as its continental equivalents, was held to be the harbinger of future conflict. It was therefore determined that large concentrations of arms should be avoided; that nations should be disarmed – by force if necessary; and that another arms race could not be allowed to occur. All of these aspirations were to fail before the end of the 1930s. Not only did apparent instruments of international peace fail; they also were unable to prevent the coming rearmament, which was built upon a new and ultimately more volatile global order. Continue reading

Blessed are the Peacemakers? Review – Peacemakers (2001) by Margaret MacMillan

In many ways the Paris Peace Conference which followed the First World War represented a moment unlike any other in history. For less than a year, the leaders of victorious nations – many of which were also crippled by the conflict – came together to determine the fate of the defeated. These statesmen also acted, for a short but intense period, as what was in effect a world government, a situation entirely without precedent (as Margaret MacMillan notes in her compelling Introduction). But more than that, the Peace Conference was also the world’s ‘court of appeal and parliament, the focus of its fears and hopes’. It represented not just the prospect of a settlement of the most cataclysmic conflict the globe had ever seen; it represented the hope of a better world. Whether the peace treaties which were issued from this conference were vicious or short sighted (questions I have attempted to answer elsewhere) is superficially enough to convict or commend the peacemakers; but when trying really to understand them – their motivations and dreams and desires – and what made them act as they did, an altogether more holistic frame of reference is required. Continue reading

Were the Post-War Peace Treaties of 1919-1922 Vicious and Short-Sighted?

The peace treaties signed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference were certainly short-sighted, but they were not vicious, for while they did reduce nations such as Germany and Austria to dire economic situations, and fostered political climates which were counter to the interests of peace, they did so without the desire to cripple these countries; on the contrary, as evidenced by Lloyd George’s Fontainebleau memorandum, the victors wanted their former enemies to thrive and to serve as future trading partners. In matters economic, territorial and in the manner of the treaties themselves, too, the treaties were short-sighted but not vicious. The 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, however, was both vicious and short-sighted, compelling as it did the rebellion of Ataturk and the national crises which struck Turkey in the aftermath of its signing. But this itself serves to demonstrate how the Paris peace treaties were not vicious, for they did not resemble Sèvres in severity. Continue reading