John Maynard Keynes, the great Cambridge University economist who revolutionized macroeconomic theory, was Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s economic advisor at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. Keynes repeatedly urged that all war debts be reduced or eliminated, but he didn’t succeed in swaying anyone to his point of view, not even Woodrow Wilson. Keynes was disgusted with the final treaty as he felt it was morally and economically unsound. He returned home and promptly wrote a book called The Economic Consequences of the Peace. You can read an excellent article about Keynes and his Versailles experience by clicking here.
Over fifty years ago, when I was training at the U.S. Army Engineer center, we actually had a section of training, as I recall known as “Field Forts”, where we were exposed to the principles of constructing trenches and dugouts, as if the army was going to fight another war like the Western Front, which at the time was fifty years (and three subsequent wars) in the past. This isn’t as surprising as it sounds, though; in Basic Training we were instructed in the “art” of bayonet fighting, even though the little bayonet for the M-16 rifle was mostly good for opening C-Ration cans.
In the previous post we spoke of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, which opened for business on January 10th, 1920. From the start it wasn’t the group that Wilson had envisioned: former enemies Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey plus Russia were not admitted to the club. All joined later and some dropped out later. Many scholars believe that the League was doomed to failure from the start. Click on this link to read an engrossing article on this subject.
On the evening of April 3rd, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson, who was in Paris for the Versailles Treaty negotiations, became suddenly and dangerously ill. At first his doctor thought that he’d been poisoned. Wilson had a high fever and bad cough for five days, during which time the same doctor told the outside world that Wilson had a bad cold. When Wilson returned to the conference he was visibly weakened, seemingly exhausted. As time passed at least two lingering after- effects manifested themselves: first, an apparent neurological disorder as Wilson became paranoid in petty ways, suspecting the French of spying on him, and second, likely due to debility, when he returned to the conference he caved in on all of his 14 points then still in contention excepting number XIV (a League of Nations), which Clemenceau and Lloyd George disdained to give him. Read more about this by clicking here.
This is a new feature-length documentary film about Gen. John J. Pershing produced by The Pacific Film Foundation and the National Society of Pershing Rifles. For more information click here.