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Britain At The Paris Peace Conference - Essay Example

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Britain At The Paris Peace Conference

The overall outcomes of the Conference have been usually labelled as failure, but such view is not fully correct. On the one hand, the treaties signed during the Paris negotiations did fail to secure peace in Europe in the long-term. On the other hand, the problems facing the negotiating parties at that difficult time were too complicated and often defied effective solutions1. However, the fact that some nations participating in the conference benefited more than others from the conditions of peace can hardly be put in question. Analysis of the key provisions negotiated during the Paris Peace Conference convincingly demonstrates that Britain was one of the participants whom managed to have their requirements satisfied to an acceptable extent.
Although the common goal of the leaders involved in the Paris negotiations was apparently to restore peace and stability in Europe, the Conference immediately exposed serious disagreement between the Allies concerning how to threat Germany. The views were highly contradictory with the Big Three leaders balancing between the long-term political benefits of their countries, varying interests of their partners, and the public opinions of their nations. French Prime Minister Clemenceau perceived Germany as a potential threat to stability and peace in Europe, and a threat to security of his country. Therefore, France claimed that Germany was obliged to "cover the costs of restoration of invaded territories and repayment of war debts [and that] a long period of stiff repayments would have the added advantage of keeping Germany financially and economically weak"2. Such claim clearly demonstrated the reasonable fear of France that light penalties would result in rapid recovering and further strengthening of Germany.
The Fourteen points of President Wilson reflected his highly idealist and pacifist views on the political developments in Europe: perhaps that is why Wilson failed to convince the Allies accept his moderate position on the economic obligations of Germany. On the other hand, Britain was extremely concerned with the revival and further development of international trade which constituted the cornerstone of the country's economic potency3. Lloyd George understood that Germany ruined by excessively hard economic claims of France and other Allies would seriously undermine marketability of British goods in the European market: "While the British government saw 66 million potential German customers, the French government trembled at the prospect of 66 million German soldiers and possible invaders."4. The British representatives also viewed Germany as a potential "barrier-fortress against the Russians"5 and reasonably considered that only country with healthy economy tied by strongly trade-based relationships could effectively fulfil such mission.
Evidently, while none of the major players had his interests fully satisfied, the economic provisions of the Treaty of Versailles came closer to satisfying the requirements of British delegation. An exact monetary figure Germany was obliged to pay to the Allies never appeared in the Treaty, and despite the claims of Britain and Germany that the terms of reparations were still too harsh, the truth was "the Treaty of Versailles had left [Germany] largely intact, with a population almost double that of France, and ...Show more

Summary

The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 - 1920 was a fateful even that had never happened before and would hardly repeat any time in future. The Conference brought together the most influential people in the world whom determined the development of Europe and Americas for years to come…
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