Woodrow Wilson embraces the Russian call for "no annexations or indemnities" in early 1917

Futurist

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May 2014
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#1
What if US President Woodrow Wilson would have embraced the Russian Provisional Government's call for a peace with "no annexations or indemnities" in early 1917 shortly after the US would have entered WWI? Specifically, I am thinking of having Wilson propose a compromise peace without any indemnities while also holding plebiscites in various areas in order to determine their future fate.

Obviously Britain, France, and Italy would have refused to heed Wilson's call in regards to this--but then Wilson could refuse to send US troops to Europe or to give US loans to the Entente--with him arguing that the US wants a just peace to WWI rather than an imperialist peace.

Anyway, how do you see this playing out?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,084
#2
What if US President Woodrow Wilson would have embraced the Russian Provisional Government's call for a peace with "no annexations or indemnities" in early 1917 shortly after the US would have entered WWI? Specifically, I am thinking of having Wilson propose a compromise peace without any indemnities while also holding plebiscites in various areas in order to determine their future fate.

Obviously Britain, France, and Italy would have refused to heed Wilson's call in regards to this--but then Wilson could refuse to send US troops to Europe or to give US loans to the Entente--with him arguing that the US wants a just peace to WWI rather than an imperialist peace.

Anyway, how do you see this playing out?
Would have been poltical sucide for Wilson. The US ecnomy was dirven by the Entente. It;s also hard to launch a war and then back pedal to reasonableness. Wilson desperately needed justify his intervention he was elected on keeping the US out of the war. To Enter the war aganst Germany than draw equivalence between the Central Powers and the Entente is a very difficult political act. Wilson would have been replaced by a more gung ho less idealistic president.

The Germans would not have accepted such a peace offer in 1917.

Almost all annexation would have either been supported by plebicites pretty heavily or been the subject to facts on the ground. The Eastern euopean settlement was unfolding on the ground. Whats the US going to do invade eastern Europe and impose a settlement?

No indeminities would have lead pretty much to the Entente powers renouncing their war debts to the USA.
 

Futurist

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May 2014
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#3
Would have been poltical sucide for Wilson. The US ecnomy was dirven by the Entente. It;s also hard to launch a war and then back pedal to reasonableness. Wilson desperately needed justify his intervention he was elected on keeping the US out of the war. To Enter the war aganst Germany than draw equivalence between the Central Powers and the Entente is a very difficult political act. Wilson would have been replaced by a more gung ho less idealistic president.
Are you suggesting that this would have caused the US Congress to impeach Wilson?

The Germans would not have accepted such a peace offer in 1917.
Because the German government would have ignored the Reichstag Peace Resolution?

Almost all annexation would have either been supported by plebicites pretty heavily or been the subject to facts on the ground. The Eastern euopean settlement was unfolding on the ground. Whats the US going to do invade eastern Europe and impose a settlement?
No. That said, though, the facts on the ground were relatively favorable for the CPs in early 1917. Germany and A-H were still intact and still had forces on enemy territory.

No indeminities would have lead pretty much to the Entente powers renouncing their war debts to the USA.
Yeah, that's definitely a good point.

I do wonder, though, whether without USW the US would have been able to find another way to enter WWI to prevent Britain and France from collapsing due to a lack of US credit. Thoughts?
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
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#4
Are you suggesting that this would have caused the US Congress to impeach Wilson?
maybe they would have continued the war regardless of the President.

A Predidnet entering a war then pretty much calling for peaceful resolution after entering the war. It;s a big flp flop.

Because the German government would have ignored the Reichstag Peace Resolution?
When did the German government start paying attention to the Reichstag? It was just irrelevant.


That said, though, the facts on the ground were relatively favorable for the CPs in early 1917. Germany and A-H were still intact and still had forces on enemy territory.
1917 the German High Command (which is the only force the really matters at that piont, Not the Emperor, not the Reichstag, only revolution would change that) was fully committed to victory regardless of how infintestimally small the chance of victory was, and throw in most of 1918 as well. Realism. Strategic sense. Diplomatic skill. All absent from German high command in both world wars.

After the war I meant, with reference to imposing a settlement.. Once Germany accpted the armstice. Eastern euorpe was decided more by facts on teh Ground than lines drawn in the Paris peace conference. It;s all well for Wilson to adopt teh no annexation position, and somehow get the Entente to adopt it. But at teh peace ste=tlement it has to be enforced somehow to make any difference to history. And there is a limit to what can be imposed on Eastern Europe.


Yeah, that's definitely a good point.

I do wonder, though, whether without USW the US would have been able to find another way to enter WWI to prevent Britain and France from collapsing due to a lack of US credit. Thoughts?
Well the US could deny credit to the Entente, and take an Axe to the US ecnomy. The US was reliant if teh credit continuing as the Entente was.
 
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Futurist

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#5
maybe they would have continued the war regardless of the President.

A Predidnet entering a war then pretty much calling for peaceful resolution after entering the war. It;s a big flp flop.
Wilson could claim that the US is willing to fight against German imperialism but not on behalf of Allied imperialism. In other words, the US will support pushing Germany back to its ethnic borders but won't support having the Allies take territory that they can't claim on ethnic or historical grounds.

When did the German government start paying attention to the Reichstag? It was just irrelevant.
Agreed. :(

1917 the German High Command (which is the only force the really matters at that piont, Not the Emperor, not the Reichstag, only revolution would change that) was fully committed to victory regardless of how infintestimally small the chance of victory was, and throw in most of 1918 as well. Realism. Strategic sense. Diplomatic skill. All absent from German high command in both world wars.
Agreed. :(

After the war I meant, with reference to imposing a settlement.. Once Germany accpted the armstice. Eastern euorpe was decided more by facts on teh Ground than lines drawn in the Paris peace conference. It;s all well for Wilson to adopt teh no annexation position, and somehow get the Entente to adopt it. But at teh peace ste=tlement it has to be enforced somehow to make any difference to history. And there is a limit to what can be imposed on Eastern Europe.
If Russia avoids going Red, then it can help enforce the post-WWI peace in Eastern Europe in this scenario, no?

Well the US could deny credit to the Entente, and take an Axe to the US ecnomy. The US was reliant if teh credit continuing as the Entente was.
Good point.
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
9,084
#6
Wilson could claim that the US is willing to fight against German imperialism but not on behalf of Allied imperialism. In other words, the US will support pushing Germany back to its ethnic borders but won't support having the Allies take territory that they can't claim on ethnic or historical grounds.
That is more or less what he did. All terroritory Germany lost was justified on ethnic or pragmatioc grounds (Danzig and sea access for Poland etc) and well and truely signaled in his 14 points.

This hand wringing about Versallies if just theere wa smore idealism it would have all been perfect. Well People are involved it was not going to be perfect. Germany was never going to accept that it lost the war. Arguably the mistake was the armstice.
 
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Futurist

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May 2014
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#7
That is more or less what he did. All terroritory Germany lost was justified on ethnic or pragmatioc grounds (Danzig and sea access for Poland etc) and well and truely signaled in his 14 points.

This hand wringing about Versallies if just theere wa smore idealism it would have all been perfect. Well People are involved it was not going to be perfect. Germany was never going to accept that it lost the war. Arguably the mistake was the armstice.
Do you think that the Allies should have pushed deeper into Germany before offering an armistice to the Germans?
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
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#8
Do you think that the Allies should have pushed deeper into Germany before offering an armistice to the Germans?
No they should have never have offed an armistice. unconditional surrender, marching under the yoke. victory parade through Berlin You know explicitly Germany lost the war.

The US might have lost enough men to actually care about the result.
 
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Futurist

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#9
No they should have never have offed an armistice. unconditional surrender, marching under the yoke. victory parade through Berlin You know explicitly Germany lost the war.

The US might have lost enough men to actually care about the result.
Are you sure that more US losses wouldn't have simply made the US even more isolationist after the end of WWI, though?