Aims of the participants and peacemakers: Wilson and the fourteen points

1.1.1 Aims of the participants

The United States:

  • Woodrow Wilson gave a speech to Congress in January 1918 in which he presented his aims for a peace settlement. These aims became known as Wilson's 14 points.
  • The aims were idealistic. Wilson wanted to create world peace by eliminating what he thought had caused the war. 
  • Freedom of navigation
  • Democracy and national self-determination
  • Free trade
  • Stop treaties that were being made in secrecy 
  • General disarmament
  • Create the League of Nations
  • Wilson wanted to make Germany pay to some extent for causing the war and establish a period of probation after which Germany would be able to join the League of Nations. 


  • Had suffered disastrous losses during the war and feared that Germany would attack again in the future once it had rebuilt a strong economy. Georges Clemenceau was premier of France.
  • Wanted to weaken Germany by placing many restrictions on it
  • Extensive demilitarisation of Germany
  • German territorial reductions 
  • Reparations to weaken the German economy and also to pay for the damage Germany had caused. 
  • The Rhineland to be taken from Germany and to be set up as an independent state
  • Take the Saar region from Germany as financial compensation
  • Controle Luxemburg and Belgium
  • Regain Alsace-Lorraine which had been by Germany in 1871
  • Make the West area of the Rhine a French puppet state incase of future German attack
  • Wanted a guaranteed agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom to form a firm alliance in case of a future German attack. 


  • Promises were made by politicians in the December 1918 General Elections about making Germany pay for all the loss and damage it had caused. 
  • Germany to pay extensive reparations
  • Stop Germany from tacking control of Europe
  • Stop Germany from becoming a potential source of conflict
  • Get ride of the German fleet
  • Germany to return the territories it had taken during the war
  • Self-Government for the nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and for the non-Turkish people within the Ottoman Empire
  • The creation of an independent Polish state
  • However, Britain wanted to rebuild a strong economy by restoring European relations and trade. Unlike France, Britain wanted German economic recovery as Britain would benefit greatly from the trade with Germany who before 1914 was a very important buyer of British goods.
  • Wanted to keep the balance of power within Europe stable 
  • Did not want France to expand beyond Alsace-Lorraine and did not support France in the domination of Europe
  • Did not want to form a guaranteed alliance with France. Believed in freedom of action
  • Only wanted to intervene if the balance of power was threatened


  • Wanted the territories that had been promised to it in the Treaty of London
  • These included South Tyrol, Trentino, the Dodecanese Islands and Trieste
  • Did not take into account national self-determination
  • When Italy was denied these territories it walked out of the Versailles Conference. 


  • Wanted to be recognised for its dominant position in China
  • Wanted possession of the former German territories in China and the Pacific
  • Wanted to secure a larger empire for security and economic strength
  • Did not support self-determination
  • Wanted to be one of the major powers
  • Wanted racial equality in the peace settlement