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The Risk of Running into Peace

The Risk of Running into Peace
The Risk of Running into Peace

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns were stilled in what was afterward the bloodiest war in history. A century after it is well worth remembering that although the armistice finished a world war, in addition, it set the table to the next, because of this misguided idealism of its writer, President Woodrow Wilson.

The Allies had no military reason to prevent the fighting. The German military was severely defeated in a string of conflicts and has been flowing homeward in confusion. The French and British were at the stage of fatigue after four Decades of continuous slaughter, but Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, desired to flip the German retreat into a rout. His forces had shot a bloody nose at the Argonne Forest, however they were fresh–and growing numbers. From the beginning of 1919 Pershing anticipated to have over a million guys in the area. Completing Germany’s defeat, even progressing to Berlin, could place the U.S. at a position to dictate final peace conditions. Germany’s unconditional surrender would enable America to form Europe in a way that would assure Americans soldiers want never expire there again.

However, Wilson demurred. The president entered the war “peace without victory” His goal was to make a new world order. When the German authorities sent a note to Wilson on Oct. 4 requesting an armistice, he saw a chance to accomplish his intentions without further bloodshed.

He was flattered that the Germans requested for peace terms according to his own Fourteen Points, which he had declared in late 1917 because America’s war goals. They included”open covenants of peace, openly arrived at,” a decrease in world armaments, along with the organization of a League of Nations. Convinced that Germany was ready to behave in the spirit of democracy and peaceful coexistence, Wilson suggested an armistice. On Oct. 20 Germany officially accepted Wilson’s terms, with the proviso that Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicate his throne.

Wilson did this all over the minds of the French and British, however, the cessation of hostilities attained their intentions too. France wished to occupy the German lands of Alsace and Lorraine as a safety buffer; Britain needed the German royal fleet interned. All this may be accomplished through discussions after an armistice. No more British and French boys could die in a war nobody had ever desired.

So on Nov. 8 French, British and German representatives met to negotiate with the formal armistice. Three days after the fighting ceased, though there were casualties on Nov. 11 compared to 26 decades after on D-Day.

Just one military boss dissented in the armistice agreement: Gen. Pershing. Although ultimately he bowed to his commander in chief and his fellow Allied generals, he never gave up his view that complete military success was the secret to lasting peace. “We never actually allow the Germans know who won the war,” he said at 1923. “They’re being told that their military was stabbed at the back, betrayed, their army hadn’t been defeated. The Germans never thought that they were defeated. It might need to be performed all over again.”

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It had been. The armistice spared Germany that the last defeat it’d earned. Its military stayed battered but intact, along with also the”stab in the back” myth took deep root in the interwar decades. It finally led to the rise of Adolf Hitler, who recognized the Jews because of the perpetrators of this betrayal. America and the entire world would need to fight another, even bloodier war, to prove him wrong.

In “Casablanca,” Maj. Heinrich Strasser disparages Rick Blaine as a “blundering American.” Capt. Louis Renault responds,”Yes, I had been with them when they blundered into Berlin.” This was sarcasm: The Americans never attained Berlin in 1918. If they had, the 20th century could have seemed really different–and Americans could have heard much sooner the lesson Pershing’s protégé Douglas MacArthur said best: “There is not any substitute for success.”


About the author


Gene Weingarten

Founder & Director

I am old and cranky. I write "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. With my son Dan and David Clarke, I write the daily newspaper comic strip Barney & Clyde, about a friendship between a billionaire and a bum. I am working on a book about the events of Sunday, December 28, 1986, a date chosen at random by picking numbers out of a hat. Yes, it's an insane idea, and yes, I can use all the tips I can get.

To get in touch with Gene for news reports he published you can email him on [email protected] or reach him out in social media linked below.

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