In an address to Congress on January 8th, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson set forth his famous Fourteen Points, a concise articulation of American war aims and Wilson’s proposed basis for an honorable and lasting peace. Two days previously Prime Minister David Lloyd George had presented His Majesty’s war aims at a closed-door meeting with the leaders of the Labor Party. Here’s a newspaper report detailing what he said:

‘Having first declared that it was not a war of aggression against Germany or the German peoples or the disintegration of their state was not one of the objects for which the allies were fighting, he proceeded to mention the fundamental issues for which Britain hand her allies were contending.

First among these was the restoration of Belgium and reparation for the injuries inflicted.  Next came the restoration of Serbia, Montenegro, and the occupied parts of France, Italy, and Roumania.  France must have Alsace-Lorraine, and to this end, said the premier, the British Nation would stand by the French democracy to the death.

The question of Russia was touched upon and Mr. Lloyd George said that Britain, as well as America, France and Ital, would have been proud to fight by the side of the new Russian democracy.  But Russia could only be saved by her own people.  He declared an independent Poland an urgent necessity for the stability of western Europe.

Roumania is to be protected and the British and other allies are with Italy in her desire for complete unison of the people of the Italian race and tongue.  Of Austria-Hungary he felt that while the breaking up of the kingdom was no part of the allied war aims, it was impossible to hope for the removal of the causes of unrest in that part of Europe unless genuine self-government was granted the Austro-Hungarian nationalities.

The Turkish empire, within the homelands of the Turkish race, with Constantinople as its capital, may be maintained.  But the passage between the Mediterranean and Black Sea must be internationalized and neutralized and, in the British view, Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine are entitled to recognition of their separate conditions.

The Colonies Question

The matter of the German colonies all of which are now in the hands of the allies, will be placed before a conference, whose decisions, however, must consider the wishes and interests of the inhabitants – the future administration must be acceptable to the various tribes.

The premier made brief reference to the violations of international law, committed by Germany; with special emphasis on the sea, and the peace conference, he declared, must not lose sight of the outages suffered by British and other seamen and the services they had rendered.

Limit Armaments

The three Cardinal points of the British terms, as enunciated by the British prime minister are:

Re-Establishment of the Sanctity of Treaties

Territorial settlement based on the right of self-determination or the consent of the governed.

The creation of an international organization to limit armaments and diminish the probability of war.

No British statesman since the beginning of the war has given such a detailed and explicit statement of Britain’s war aims as contained in the premier’s address, which was delivered before the man-power conference of the labor leaders in Westminster Hall.’

 

 

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official from Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.