« ПретходнаНастави »
transported to Europe in the spring and summer, the plans of Foch could not have been completed. We have the testimony of the Allied chiefs in June that without American man-power they faced defeat. It is equally obvious that without the 1,390,000 American troops which, by November, had appeared on the fighting line, the autumn of 1918 would not have witnessed the military triumph of the Allies.
THE PATH TO PEACE
The armistice of November 11, 1918, resulted directly from the military defeat of German armies in France, following upon the collapse of Turkey, Bulgaria, and Austria-Hungary. But there were many circumstances other than military that led to Germany's downfall, and by no means of least importance were the moral issues so constantly stressed by Wilson. His speeches had been carefully distributed through the Central Empires; they had done much to arouse the subject peoples of Austria-Hungary to revolt for their freedom, and also to weaken the morale of the German people. The value of Wilson's "verbiage drives" was questioned in this country. Abroad, his insistence upon a peace of justice was generally reckoned a vital moral force in the political movements that supplemented the victories of Marshal Foch. Jugoslavs consented to cooperate with their Italian enemies because they felt that "Wilson's justice" would guarantee a fair court for their aspirations in the Adriatic; Magyars and Austrians threw down their arms in the belief that his promise to "be as just to enemies as to friends" secured a better future than they could hope for through the continuance of the war; the leaders of the German Reichstag demanded the Kaiser's abdication in November, under the impression that Wilson had laid it down as a condition of peace.
From the time when the United States entered the war it was obvious that Wilson placed less emphasis upon defeating Germany than upon securing a just peace. Military victory meant nothing to him except as the road to peace. In his first war speeches the President, much to the irritation of many Americans, insisted that the United States was fighting the government and not the people of Germany. "We have no quarrel," he said, "with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship." In his Flag Day address he was careful not to attack "Germany" but only "the military masters under whom Germany is bleeding." Certain effects of this attitude were to be seen in the Reichstag revolt of July, 1917, led by that most sensitive of political weathercocks, Matthias Erzberger, which was designed to take political control out of the hands of the military clique. That crisis, however, was safely survived by Ludendorff, who remained supreme. President Wilson then returned to the attack in his reply to the Pope's peace proposals of August. "The object of this war is to deliver the free peoples of the world from the menace and the actual power of a vast military establishment controlled by an irresponsible government. . . . This power is not the German people. It is the ruthless master of the German people. . . . We cannot take the word of the present rulers of Germany as a guarantee of anything that is to endure, unless explicitly supported by such conclusive evidence of the will and purpose of the German people themseves as the other peoples of the world would be justified in accepting."
There was serpentine wisdom in these words, for their very vagueness attracted German liberals. Wilson did not demand a republic; he did not insist upon the Kaiser's abdication, for which Germany was not then prepared; all that he asked was a government responsible to the people, and more and more the Germans were demanding that themselves. Furthermore, he again laid stress upon the fact that the Germans need not fear vengeance such as the Allies had threatened. "Punitive damages, the dismemberment of empires, the establishment of selfish and exclusive economic leagues, we deem inexpedient." The appeal was fruitless in its immediate effects, for the political party leaders were still dominated by the military; but ultimately, in conjunction with a dozen other appeals, its influence acted like a subtle corrosive upon the German will to conquer. Still less successful were the attempts to win Austria away from her ally by secret diplomatic conversations. In these neither President Wilson nor his personal adviser, Colonel House, placed great confidence. They had been undertaken by the French through Prince Sixtus of Bourbon, and in August, 1917, Maior Armand of France discussed with the Austrian emissary, Revertata, possible means of bringing about peace between Austria and the Allies. Lloyd George enthusiastically approved this attempt to drive a wedge between Austria and Germany, was anxious to send Lord Reading as intermediary, and, upon the refusal of the latter to undertake the mission, actually dispatched General Smuts to Switzerland.