New York Times Headlines: March 19, 1920
March 19, 2003 4:44 AM   Subscribe

Senate Defeats Treaty, Vote 49 to 35; Orders it Returned to the President (NY Times reg. req.) "America Isolated Without Treaty: Its Defeat, Washington Feels, Will Add to Our Unpopularity Abroad" (83 years ago today)
posted by boost ventilator (13 comments total)
The article doesn't go into much detail about the nature of why we did not declare peace with Germany for years after WWI. I'm not an expert on the period but I do know the peace terms were highly unfavorable to Germany and led to such resentment they started a second war. The Democrats in this case seem to be the ones against the Peace Treaty is it because it's not harsh enough, or too harsh?

BTW "isolationist" historically means the USA does not get involved with other countries affairs. It does not apply to the current events in Iraq where the USA appears to be isolated from the worlds opinion, two different things. If anything the USA is the exact opposite of isolationist right now. Just in case you posted this to draw a parallel.
posted by stbalbach at 4:56 AM on March 19, 2003

Hmmm.. harsh peace agreement, with sanctions that caused hardship for the losing country's population leading to another war later on? How can that be?
posted by Space Coyote at 5:30 AM on March 19, 2003

One of the big reasons why the US took so long to sign a peace treaty with Germany was because President Wilson only brought democrats (or was it Republicans...I forget the party) with him to the Versailles conference and the senate decided to make Wilson pay for it. Wilson was a big proponent for the league of nations and it was this blunder that led the US to reject the league of nations and helped lead the world into a second world war.
posted by Stynxno at 5:36 AM on March 19, 2003

The US also declined to ratify the 1925 Geneva Protocol on the use of chemical and biological weapons, the very basis of the U.N. resolutions we're relying on to justify our attack on Iraq now.
posted by hairyeyeball at 5:41 AM on March 19, 2003

Stynxno, what a huge exaggeration. The Senate didn't reject the Versailles Treaty because "Wilson only brought Democrats" to Paris. Henry Cabot Lodge might not be a hero of mine, but I have trouble accepting him acting for such petty reasons. Isolationist policy goes back to Washington, remember, and fear of tangled alliances. Of course Wilson is no hero either, between "Birth of a Nation" and his horrible decisions over the situations in China and Vietnam at Versailles.
posted by jbrjake at 5:51 AM on March 19, 2003

By rejecting the treaty, the US also withdrew its membership from the League of Nations, which had been Wilson's idea in the first place. Which makes rather pathetic the squeals of American pundits over the way that the UN might make itself 'irrelevant' in the same manner as the League, since they neglect to mention that the US's non-participation hamstrung that particular organisation from day one.
posted by riviera at 5:57 AM on March 19, 2003

Entangling alliances. A phrase I find myself using more and more in my personal life.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:40 AM on March 19, 2003

Fascinating how a complete ignorance of history can be such a virtue in modern politics.
posted by PrinceValium at 6:55 AM on March 19, 2003

jbrjake - you're right. I did exaggerate and I apologize for it. After spending some time on the web, it looks like the the love of isolation and the battle between lodge and wilson were the primary reasons why the US failed to ratify the treaty. Lodge was a firm believer in America becoming a leader in international politics but he wanted America to be an independent leader (through the build up of military forces sharing ideals similar to Teddy Roosevelt) and Lodge did not want to be entangled in Europe's problems that might differ from US interest.
Also, it looked like Wilson and Lodge really disliked each other and both had different views concerning the future of American Foreign Policy. Lodge wanted to stay away from the league of nations and Wilson wouldn't compromise. It also seems that not only was Wilson's lack of sending republican delegates with him to Versailles, but Wilson also ask the US to not elect republicans for the 1920 congress and when a republican controlled congress was elected, the republicans wanted to get Wilson back.
Wilson suffered a stroke campaigning for the Treaty of Versailles and died in 1924. Ironically, nine months later, Lodge died from a stoke.
posted by Stynxno at 7:46 AM on March 19, 2003

If anything the USA is the exact opposite of isolationist right now. -stbalbach

I think the word you're looking for here is: "neo-colonialism"
posted by goethean at 8:07 AM on March 19, 2003

The US has no intention of colonizing Iraq. That's what colonialism means, to send men, women and children to populate a land in a place that is still part of the mother country. Not sure what "neo" means in relation to colonies, as in modern colony?
posted by stbalbach at 9:05 AM on March 19, 2003

The historical results of colonialism rather than any strict definition of te English word are what he was referring to, I would venture to guess. Using up a country's natural resources with no regard for the victim country's sovreignty is nothing new.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:47 AM on March 19, 2003

I agree with the Senate. Why should we bother signing a peace treaty with Germany? We'll just have to declare war again in another twenty years!
posted by languagehat at 10:18 AM on March 19, 2003

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