It was a punitive peace, filled with malice and free of magnanimity. It was a victory as unchristian as it was uncharitable, enacted by moralists and enforced by militants: an affront to all who sought to preserve what was pragmatic and true; who could no more imagine the dissolution of Christendom than they could foresee the rise of the crooked cross of German tyranny; who could no more envision the collapse of the Russian Orthodox Church than they could picture the crimes of the Russian Communist Party; who could no more accept a president’s Fourteen Points than they could reject a prophet’s Ten Commandments.
And yet, such were the economic consequences of the peace. Such was the result of Woodrow Wilson’s rhetoric against the unrealistic realism of England and France, where the latter managed to temporarily reverse history by decorating Paris in ermine and gold, while desecrating the bones not of a single Pomeranian grenadier but of millions of Prussian soldiers. Such was the result of Wilson’s foreign policy, which was as foreign to Americans as it was farcical to Europeans.
Never had a historian been so ignorant of history. Never had a Presbyterian, who also happened to be president of the United States, been so devoted to the letter of the law and so diffident about the spirit of justice. Never had a politician been so pious in his words and so pitiful in his deeds, refusing to compromise with his fellow Americans while agreeing to capitulate to his supposed allies. Never had a speaker been so addicted to the sound of his own voice—never had so many been so dependent on the eloquence of a single voice—while his opponents were deaf to his demands and incredulous toward his beliefs.
We continue to live in Woodrow Wilson’s world in which the right of self-determination is a writ of self-destruction; in which might—with its iron will to conquer—enslaves innocents, placing even the most mild critics in irons; in which the survivors of this worldview, despite their dwindling numbers, bear the signs—they bare their arms to show the numbers tattooed on their skin—due to the evils unleashed by tyrants.
Let us hope we never elect another president of such goodwill.
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