The disaster at Versailles is as much President Wilson’s failure as it is any other’s.
We watched Mr. Wilson’s triumphal entry into Paris. Plain people by hundreds of thousands acclaimed the embodiment of their hope that slavery to arms was at an end, and that a new era, dominated by a new vision, was at hand. Beside that welcome, the pomp and pageantry of thundered salutes or pennoned lancers in escort seemed tawdry and pale. We stood on the portico of the Crillon and said, “God preserve him; there goes the hope of the idealism of the world.” This peace is Mr. Wilson’s act and deed. It was not forced on him after diplomatic battle and defeat. The sins of omission are deliberate; those of commission are in many eases his considered choice. In many instances the men who actually worked with him fought to the end for their idea of the Wilsonian principles, to find their work nullified by the attitude of Mr. Wilson himself. They saw the famous Fourteen Points become stock jests in the Paris music halls. After the treaty was revealed in its full iniquity, some of them resigned; others protested within the American Commission. Three weeks later an opportunity was afforded not merely to correct the more glaring injustices, but to rebuild the structure upon the basis of good faith and fair dealing contemplated when the negotiations began. It was Mr. Wilson’s choice to keep the treaty as it stood. Now it is for him to answer.
Every oppressed nationality found in the American flag a sign of justice. It was to the American Commission that representative after representative came. The Korean delegates, speaking for a country which in the past few months had paid a toll of blood and tears to Japanese tyranny, asked the right to present their case. Their wrongs were manifest and their cause just, yet Mr. Wilson gave them no assistance, and joined in preventing them from having even a day in court. The Egyptian nationalists, entitled in law to a hearing as part of the defunct Ottoman empire, and entitled in right as representing a movement of which even the British Empire could afford to take cognizance, were not even received by him. When they applied to the Americans in the delegation of which Mr. Wilson was head, the matter was taken up again; whereupon Mr. Wilson drew from his desk a secret agreement, made months before with the British Foreign Office, to recognize the British sovereign rights in Egypt, foreclosing in the privacy of the chancelleries the Egyptian right even to plead its cause. The Irish delegates received scant courtesy; it is yet to be learned whether a similar secret agreement had foreclosed their right. When Italy claimed a solid block of German population in the Austrian Tyrol, Mr. Wilson, over the protests of men in his own secretariat, allowed the claim. When German Austria proclaimed its desire to unite with the new Germany—its only opportunity for legitimate independent existence—the right was denied. It remained for Mr. Wilson in his homecoming speech to explain the brutal truth, that the “self-determination” clause was not principle but propaganda, to stir up peoples “hitherto under bondage to the power that victory had shattered.” Even their liberation is not Mr. Wilson’s act; revolution and popular uprising, not the justice of Paris, were the guarantors of their claims.