Was World War I
an avoidable debacle ?
When Did President Wilson First Express These Fourteen Points?
On January 8, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress. There he proposed the Fourteen Points, which served as the basis of the armistice signed with Germany later that year.
Who Drafted These Fourteen Points? What Was the Intent?
As part of President Wilson’s Peace Program, the Fourteen Points were compiled by a group of foreign policy experts in the United States. These Fourteen Points formulated the ideological justification for the USA’s entry into World War I. President Wilson reassured Americans of the moral and idealistic ends that the United States sought to achieve by fighting the Great War. World peace, collaboration, and cooperation were outcomes that the president sought to achieve.
What Were the Fourteen Points?
A summary of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points:
1.No secret international pacts or alliances to be forged
2.Freedom to navigate the seas both in peace and war times
3.End to international trade barriers
4.Reduction in armament of all countries to the greatest extent possible
5.Impartial settlement of colonial claims balancing the interests of both the local populace and colonial powers
6.An evacuation of Russian territory to provide Russia the freedom to develop its own political setup and garner international support.
7.The evacuation of Belgium and restoration of Belgium’s sovereignty.
8.The liberation of France and restoration of France’s territorial claims over Alsace-Lorraine.
9.Redrawing Italy’s borders “along clearly recognizable lines of nationality” and allowing Italians to live in Italy
10.Provision of self-determination to the people of Austria-Hungary
11.Provision of self-determination to the Balkan states; assuring the states autonomous development
12.Guaranteeing a Turkish government for the Turkish people of the Ottoman Empire, while also assuring the non-Turks of autonomous self-governance. Opening up the Dardanelles to ships of all nationalities.
13.An independent Poland with access to the sea
14.An international confederation to protect "mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small nations alike."
Why were the Fourteen Points significant?
President Woodrow Wilson’s speech and the Fourteen Points served as a significant tool for the propaganda of peace and ethics, and more importantly to motivate the Allied troops. The Fourteen Points formed the basis of the armistice signed between the Central Powers and the Allies and the surrender of Germany.
President Wilson’s European counterparts, Georges Clemenceau, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, and David Lloyd George, were, however, skeptical of the Fourteen Points. Consequently, the Treaty of Versailles was radically divergent and contained none of the idealism envisioned by President Wilson.
Read President Woodrow Wilson's Congressional Speech, January 8, 1918