Thu, May 3, 2018

The Treaty of Versailles: America and the Unintended Global Consequences of the Peace of 1919

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On November 11, 1918, the American people released a collective sigh of relief. News of an armistice with the German-led Central Powers led Americans to believe their war was over. In 1919, the Allies and the Central Powers concluded the Treaty of Versailles, a document whose impact still influences world affairs today. On Thursday, May 3, at 7:15 PM, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA will host Dr. Michael Neiberg of the U.S. Army War College, as he speaks about the subject of his recent book, The Treaty of Versailles: A Concise History. Dr. Neiberg will tell the story of the enormous challenges the men in Paris faced, as they attempted to piece swaths of ruin back together after the terrible impact of World War I. He will also describe the consequences the treaty negotiations had on the immediate post-war years and the legacy the war left for the American people.

The conventional narrative of American entry into World War I has gone largely unchallenged by scholars. It implies the American people did not support the war and that President Woodrow Wilson had to lead them into a global crusade. Dr. Neiberg's recent book makes a more dispassionate analysis, and shows that by spring 1917, the American people concluded their years of neutrality made them less safe, not more. They were, as a group, willing to fight a European war in order to remove the threat Germany posed, but they had little interest in their President’s grand schemes for a New World Order. Thus when the Germans signed an armistice on November 11, 1918, the American people thought their war was over. Their President disagreed, setting up debates over the role the United States should have in the post-war world.

Dr. Michael S. Neiberg is the inaugural Chair of War Studies at the United States Army War College. His published work specializes on the First and Second World Wars, notably the American and French experiences. The Wall Street Journal named his Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I (Harvard University Press, 2011) as one of the five best books ever written about the First World War.