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Angel Portillo

Why Today Matters

Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears in the Tuesday Midweek edition of Carroll County News. He can be reached at aporae@gmail.com.

Opinion

July 10: The day the Senate voted 'No'on a vital treaty

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The first cataclysmic event in the world would be considered the famous "Great War" or most popularly known as World War I. The four years of intense warfare from 1914 to 1918 would prove that the world was a very vulnerable place to live in. The United States, as one of the strongest nations in the world sought to bring the warring nations together and prevent them from fighting again. As a result, the Allied Powers, or "Big Four," composed of Italy, France, Great Britain, and the United States, constructed the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919 to keep the warring countries linked together, so that they could work together politically, militarily, and economically. This would help bring peace, not just in Europe, but for the world as well.

The date of July 10, 1919 is a crucial, however, because this was when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson would deliver the finished Treaty of Versailles to the Senate in order for them to approve it. The Senate's decision proved to be important for world politics.

The Treaty of Versailles, receiving its name from the precious castle in France where it was created, listed the punishments for the German nation, who was blamed for causing the war. It placed limitations on its military and it was charged with a bill of 132 billion gold marks, which even today is an insane amount of money. Well, these two clauses seemed to please France and Great Britain who wanted to see Germany pay dearly.

Wilson had a different perspective, and he didn't see the need for nations to overpower other ones, like in this situation where Germany was being bullied by two of the winning powers. He proposed that instead, there should be a coalition of countries in order for peace to remain.

This brought forth the proposition of the Fourteen Points, which asserted that the European nations would give up their colonies held around the world. Furthermore, it asked the European nations to work together and in a certain way intertwine their economies and trading regulations. A very important point of was the establishment of the League of Nations, which was the baby form of the United Nations (the organization I wrote about two weeks ago).

On paper, this looked perfect! Peace would be acquired and we would never expect to see the world in chaos again. But well, it was too good to be true, and on July 10, 1919 when Wilson presented this to the Senate to approve the treaty, they rejected it.

This decision made by Congress to not sign the Treaty of Versailles is one of the factors that contributed to the emergence of more wars on the world stage. It was not the only reason, but by leaving the other Europeans isolated, it left a deep resentment in Germany, which a little more than a decade later rose after a miraculous recovery. World War I had another name, and this one was "the war to end all wars." I hate to say that this last name was an inappropriate one, and instead it should have been: "the war that led to all modern wars."

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Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears on Tuesdays.

aporae@gmail.com