IntroductionThe Treaty of Versailles was one of the most monumental treaties of the early 20th century and was influential in dissolving World War I.
World War I began in 1914 and provoked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. World War I was one of the most obliterating wars in the history of the modern world. The loss experienced in France, Belgium, Poland, and Serbia was catastrophic since those were the areas that experienced the most fighting (Keylor, 2013).
The war assembled the world’s hegemonic powers into two opposing alliances. The French Third Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Italy, and the United States of America represented the Allies. On the other hand, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria represented the Central Powers. Even though Germany was not the only agitator of World War I, they were held responsible in the Treaty of Versailles. The primary research conducted for the purpose of this paper pertains to the board, the distribution of power negotiated between France and Germany as the United States acted as a third party. Using the win set as a model, what did Germany and France stand to gain and lose during The Treaty of Versailles?Research Method and DesignIn order to critically evaluate and analyze the board within the context of The Treaty of Versailles, qualitative research methods will be utilized. Texts pertaining to the formation of the Allied Powers will be examined in order to understand why and how countries such as France, the United States of America, and Germany acted and how they formulated their decision-making and eventually developed the Treaty of Versailles. The topic of this paper is based on the board so certain elements such as the win set model, the distribution of power, etc.
will be analyzed using liberalism and realism as theories. Literature ReviewWilson and LiberalismPresident Woodrow Wilson is one of the key influential actors in the theory of liberalism. Leon Boothe, author of Woodrow Wilson’s Cold War: The President, The Public, and the League Fight, 1919-1920 argued that Wilson compromised his original Fourteen Points while negotiating the Treaty of Versailles. This sentiment is similarly expressed in International relations between war and revolution: Wilson Ian diplomacy and the making of the Treaty of Versailles by Anievas where the consensus is that Wilson’s program would need to acquire a liberalism aspect in international affairs (Anievas, 2014). While the book focuses primarily on Wilson’s fourteen points, the doctrine was used to draft the Treaty of Versailles and framed the peaceful propaganda utilized by the Allies. Before the end of World War I, United States President Woodrow Wilson drafted Fourteen Points Few points found in Wilson’s fourteen points were expressed in the Treaty of Versailles while other points were rejected.
In order to achieve the outcome of the Treaty of Versailles, Wilson had to compromise his Fourteen Points and focus on Third-Party Intervention with Georges Clemenceau of France, David Lloyd George of Great Britain, and Vitorrio Orlando of Italy; his negotiating team. The United States as well as the other actors participated in a mediation by group of states. A monolithic model of a negotiation team would involve a chief leader and team members with a specific expertise such as legal, economic, military, etc. However, each country had its own interest.
For example, Clemenceau of France was willing to negotiate the Treaty of Versailles with the intention that Germany would be forced to return Alsace Lorraine, a territory between Germany and France to the French. The negotiating team that participated in the Treaty of Versailles was more of a heterogeneous model because each country had their own interest. In liberalism, some actors may advocate for gain by seeking material or immaterial policy gains. Win set ModelWithin the win set model created by Robert Putnam, each negotiator had something to gain and to lose or something that they were willing to give up in exchange for something that they wanted to gain.
“Although the metaphor might imply two distinct stages negotiation and ratification – the expectation is that the ‘ shadow of ratification ‘ will influence the negotiations; negotiators will avoid accepting agreements that they anticipate would be unacceptable domestically (Narlikar, 2010, pg. 27).” By drafting the Treaty of Versailles, each country would have the opportunity to combine their interests to counter German forces from emerging as a leading power as well as combating traditional forms of imperialism historically found in the international system (Alexander, 2014). While Wilson wanted to focus on peace, his ally France’s premier Georges Clemenceau wanted to focus on reparations for the damages caused in World War I by Germany to France.
Wilson had an audience back home that seemed to favor isolationism and did not want to engage in another war. Clemenceau on the other hand, a large population of Frenchman that wanted to be vindicated of the grievances they experienced during World War I and partly wanted Germany to be shamed for the part that they played. Even though Germany did not have the finances to pay the reparations, Clemenceau was concerned about Germany’s potential expeditious recovery and the fear of a new war. When Clemenceau arrived at the negotiating table, he had expectations that were not expressed in Wilson’s fourteen points. Clemenceau aimed and executed his intention on receiving territory that had been lost to Germany in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War. If the underlying principles for negotiations are power, trust, equity, and stakes, then France was successful in their negotiations. While some see the distribution of power leaning towards the United States of America during these negotiations, it can be argued that France held a large amount of power during these proceedings. Without France, The Treaty of Versailles would have been pointless.
Additionally, while Wilson may have intended to make his Fourteen Points the entire framework for the Treaty of Versailles, he had to contend to France who had a lot to lose during these proceedings but more importantly, a lot to gain. Distribution of PowerStarkey, Boyler, and Wilkenfield characterize The Distribution of Power as polarity and believe that an anarchic system is a direct correspondence to World War I. The Treaty of Versailles would mark the beginning of a multi-polarity system where “a diffusion of military power and political decision making among a small group of relatively equal units; isolation practices among major powers (Starkely, Boyler, and Wilkenfield, 2015). From the Allies perspective, Germany was the main agitator and the balance of power needed to be shifted outside of the favor of Germany. In Dispatches from the Weimar Republic: Versailles and German Fascism, Price and Rose discuss the fate of Germany during the Treaty of Versailles. Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France believed that the Treaty of Versailles was not peace; it was an armistice for twenty years (Price and Rose, 1994, pg. 44). From the general public’s point of view, Germany did not lose the war on the front line nor had the army lost the war.
Germany’s fundamental problem was geographical and strategic. Germany is located in the center of the European continent and to the west and the east of Germany laid a realm of possibility of potential enemies. From Shepley’s perspective, author of Britain, France, and Germany and the Treaty of Versailles, regardless of the fact that Germany would comply with the demands to rid themselves of Kaiser, Germany was still punished (Shepley, 2011). Germany was required to conduct wartime trials against the Kaiser. According to the win set model, Germany relieved itself of Kaiser in hopes of gaining leniency from France, Italy, the United States, and Great Britain.
However, Germany lost its status as a world power.