The 1st world war is one of the most bitter experiences that ever happened to mankind. With the consequences of the 1st world war, the leaders of Europe wanted to establish long lasting peace in the world. As a result of that, the Paris Peace Conference was held in 1919 with the participation of victorious allies.
The next question is, what is Idealism? In simple terms, Idealism always deals with the ideas in the mind rather than reality. On the other hand, Idealism is an approach practiced in international politics that advances certain moral goals and ideas.
For example, most of the idealists wanted to build a peaceful world order based on their idealistic mindset. They suggest many ideas to make the world a better place.
Most importantly, Idealism suggests that International Organizations are a good tool to establish peace in the world.
As mentioned earlier, Europe needed a long lasting peace after a terrible world war. As a result of that, they tried to find a way to establish peace. But according to my point of view, the peace effort taken by Europe after the 1st world war is a failure because of its nature as an Idealistic.
In this post I’m going to show you the failures of the idealistic peace effort after the 1st world war.
1. Germany as the Culprit
We all know that the background for the 1st world war began with the French- German rivalry and lately with German expansion . German was scared that France would punish it because German occupied the Alsace- Lorraine area that belonged to France.
Even though Otto von Bismarck in Germany wanted to Isolate France to be protected from a future war, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany wanted to expand Germany around the world. This led to a terrible world war that spreaded around all the continents.
In the aftermath of the world war, most of the countries in the victorious alley wanted to punish Germany, while imposing a war reparation and to limit Germany militarily and geographically. Most of the countries including France wanted to lock Germany so that it could not rise again.
But it is impractical to conclude that imprisonment of Germany would bring peace to Europe. The failure of this assumption was confirmed with the outbreak of the 2nd world war. High war reparation, economic suppression made Germany even more arbitrary.
According to many experts, the world needed to find solutions for French Germany rivalry rather than punishing Germany.
2. Rearranging Europe
The Paris Peace conference which was held to establish peace after the 1st world war wanted to rearrange Europe based on Sovereignty of the Nations which means there should be free states for each nations while developing their constitutions is upon them.
In simple terms, Europe needed to be rearranged on the basis of Nationalism and Democracy.
Establishing democracy is very familiar with countries like the United Kingdom because it has a long term culture and foundation about democracy. But the countries which had a dictatorship rule can not easily practice democracy.
On the other hand, establishing sovereign states based on Nationalism is not practical. Rearranging Europe on the basis of Nations can not be done because there are many nations within a particular land. For example, after the colonization process of Africa, we can not make new states on the basis of one state for one nation in Africa. Because there were many types of Nations in a single land.
The assumption of rearranging Europe on the basis of Nationalism and Democracy was not practical and it was confirmed with the mushrooming of autocratic governments around the world such as Italy under Benito Mussolini and Germany under Adolf Hitler.
3. Establishing League of Nations
The Paris Peace Conference wanted to create an Intergovernmental Organization to maintain peace in the world. Most of the idealists have faith in Intergovernmental organizations.
However we need to understand that the League of Nations is a combination of the countries that had different views, agendas and perspectives. As a result of that, it’s hard to achieve a common objective with the participants that had different views.
US President Woodrow Wilson wanted a peaceful world order while French Prime minister Georges Clemenceau wanted revenge from Germany. So the League of Nations is completely a failure since the beginning.
Also, if we have a common enemy, we can fight together. But after defeating the common enemy, we try to achieve our personal agendas. During the war, allied powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, USA) wanted to defeat Germany. But allied powers did not use the League of Nations to establish peace. They wanted to achieve their personal agendas.
Secondly, the most powerful countries like the USA did not participate in the League of Nations even though the USA President Woodrow Wilson suggested it. This is one of the greatest failures of the League of Nations.
Also, after 20 years of establishing the League of Nations, the 2nd world war began. It shows the inability of the League of Nations to maintain peace in the world.
As an overall, even though the League of Nations was established to maintain the peace in the world, it was not practical due to the internal issues
In this post, I discussed the idealistic peace effort after the 1st world war. The reason that I named the peace effort as idealistic is because it was not practical and only an imagination. As for my perspective, the peace effort after the 1st world war is another power struggle which means most of the powerful countries tried to confirm their power and achieve their agendas.
Due to its nature as idealistic, the peace effort after the 1st world war was completely a failure.
You can also check my previous article about the nature of the trade war as a power struggle between major powers.