Woodrow Wilson, “Peace Without Victory” and War Message to Congress

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Woodrow Wilson, “Peace Without Victory” (22, January 1917) What kind of aims does the United States have, according to Wilson? How does he justify a prominent role for Americans in resolving a European war? What does the expression “peace without victory” mean? President Wilson decided to enter World War I in order to make the world "safe for democracy". According to him, American people have no business in resolving a European war and participating “in that great enterprise”. At the same time he communicates the message that Americans as a “new nation in the high and honorable hope” should “show mankind the way to liberty”. President Wilson states that “present war must be ended” and America’s participation is aimed by a concern of future peace. He describes it as “a peace that is worth guaranteeing and preserving, a peace that will win the approval of mankind, not merely a peace that will serve the several interests and immediate aims of the nations engaged”. Without America’s participation secure peace in Europe would be impossible, and a new balance of power would be created. Wilson also points out that balance of power in Europe should be substitute for a “community power; not organized rivalries but an organized, common peace…” He suggests that America would “guarantee the stable equilibrium of the new arrangement”. Also, to assure the stability of the peace in Europe “it must be a peace without victory”. Wilson was against “peace forced upon the loser” with it “humiliation…and a bitter memory”, because he believed that “only a peace between equals can last”. It was Wilson's hope that the various warring powers could agree to end the war without carrying out to the point where one side was clearly defeated and had no choice but to surrender. Fairly obviously, this hope was not ultimately realized. The Entente powers, who were the victors, enforced such harsh conditions on the Central powers (particularly Germany) that they essentially ensured World War...
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