Was President Woodrow Wilson wrong in thinking a permanent peace was possible? Clearly the world was horrorfied by the casualties inflicted during World War I and President Wilson hoped to end the possibility of another global war through his 14 Points (Click 1918 Cartoon – Right). We know now that failed but why? For starters, think of the war propaganda posters you analyzed in class. In 1917, Wilson called for “peace without victory” so the victor’s terms are not “imposed on the vanquished” as it “would be accepted in humiliation.” Essentially he did not want to rub it in the losers face that they lost. But attitudes or stereotypes tend to linger, sometimes for generations, and war propaganda used to promote mobilization and combat pushed most people towards “vindictive peace” rather than Wilson’s noble suggestion. The propaganda often degraded rivals into sub-human species. Given their war experience, how were the French, for example, expected to accept anything less than a vindictive peace with their neighbor Germany and Austria? This is just one reason peace did not last following WWI.
I introduced my Dad to blogdom last night and we were discussing our class posts. He raised the point that although it is interesting to predict (as we did in class) what combat may look like in 2113 and what in 2013 may appear antiquated to future human-cyborgs. Why not, he asked, predict ways that by 2113 humans would not fight wars and that Wilson’s hope for a lasting peace and end to war could be achieved? Pretty interesting take on this subject! As a society, we are so wrapped up into the idea of war (movies, Call of Duty, toys) and our history of war that it is rare to take a moment and discuss ways to end war. We have touched on this in class how Civil War monuments, for example, glorify that war and perhaps its memory.We then compared CW monuments to the disturbing WWI memorial that shows a very different memory of war and it attempt to dissuade future generations from fighting.
Could Wilson’s plan work today? Familiarize yourself with Wilson’s 14 Points. FIRST: Skim through the 14 Roman Numerals (Points I-V and XIV could be most applicable) of the linked primary source document and decide which of Wilson’s points could be valid or adjusted today and used as a start for our own “Points for Peace.” (Of course, the countries and people involved have changed but the solutions expressed can relate today.)
SECOND: Decide what current issue needs to be overcome to eradicate war by 2113 and write at least one more point that resolves it just as Wilson had done in 1918. Areas of modern conflict include Nationalism, Imperialsim, Religious differences, Economic rivalry, governmental differences (Absolute leaders, Democracy, Communism), weapons of mass destruction, technology, others… You should then have at least 2 points in your post from which we will compile a list. Some ideas may be far fetched but predicting and problem solving can often be so. At this point we will consider anything and then debate in class how feasible it may be. An example to use: “All primary religious leaders will create a League of Faiths to meet regularly and discuss ways to resolve inter-faith disagreements, encourage understanding and toleration, highlight commonalities and alleviate extremism.”