Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe
Larry Wolff


Contents and Abstracts
chapter abstract

This introduction lays out the problem of mental mapping in relation to Wilson's principles of international relations and the settlement achieved at the Paris Peace Conference with regard to Eastern Europe. It reviews some of the recent literature on Wilson and the peace conference. Vaslav Nijinsky's perspective on Wilson is cited.

1 Woodrow Wilson, the Eastern Question, and the End of the Ottoman Empire
chapter abstract

This chapter argues that Wilson's earliest interest in Eastern Europe dated back to his student years in the 1870s and the moment of the Eastern Crisis, when Gladstone denounced the Ottoman empire for the Bulgarian massacres. Wilson's strong identification with Gladstonian moralism in international affairs and strong antipathy to the Ottomans preceded, and eventually conditioned, his evolving hostility to the Habsburg monarchy during World War One. Ottoman subjects, allegedly suffering "indescribable agonies" under Turkish government, partly inspired the Wilsonian war on behalf of oppressed peoples, and the Fourteen Points speech proposed "autonomous development" for the Ottoman nationalities. He learned more about Ottoman affairs through the work of Colonel House's Inquiry team. At the peace conference he actually contemplated the hypothetical possibility of American mandates for Armenia and for Constantinople.

2 "This War of Emancipation": The Wilsonian Deliverance of the "Enslaved" Habsburg Peoples
chapter abstract

This chapter traces the gradual evolution of Wilson's perspective on the Habsburg monarchy over the course of the war, from his early attempts as peace broker seeking a separate peace with Emperor Karl in Vienna, to his Fourteen Points speech proposing "the freest opportunity to autonomous development" for the Habsburg nationalities, to his eventual commitment to the abolition and displacement of the empire. He came to understand his own position in relation to Lincoln's Civil War: Wilson was fighting a war of "emancipation" on behalf of "enslaved" peoples, who included, above all, the subject nationalities of the Habsburg monarchy. His evolving hostility to the Habsburgs was shaped by leaders of the national movements like Masaryk, by American correspondents like the American clergyman George Herron, and by Inquiry experts like Walter Lippmann and Archibald Cary Coolidge.

3 Wilsonian Friendship: Personal Sympathy and Geopolitical Transformation
chapter abstract

This chapter considers how Wilson's mental map of Eastern Europe was shaped by personal and sentimental ties to political figures from the region, including Ignacy Paderewski and Tomáš Masaryk, and how these ties were articulated as Wilsonian friendships for entire nations. His mental map was marked as much by the emotional dynamics of friendship and "sympathy" as by any of his vaunted international principles. At the same time Wilson was preoccupied with the postwar political vacuum, puzzling over how those empires could be replaced at Versailles by a functionally interlocking set of national states, as in the creation of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland. He sought a reconciliation of the tensions between Italy and the new Yugoslav state, while fearing the formation of a "Slavic bloc" influenced by Russian Bolshevism and hostile to Western Europe.

4 National Majorities and National Minorities in Wilsonian Eastern Europe
chapter abstract

This chapter discusses how Wilson came to appreciate that self-determined national majorities were inevitably accompanied by defensive national minorities. Thus minority rights emerged as the complementary principle to national self-determination. American Jewish leaders lobbied Wilson on behalf of the Jewish minority within the new Polish state, while the Polish-Ukrainian struggle in eastern Galicia and the Polish-Soviet war posed the question of Ukrainian minorities in Poland. A folkloric delegation of Tatra Mountain goatherds in Paris drew Wilson's attention to the problem of a Polish minority within the Czechoslovak borders. Wilson was initially enthusiastic about using plebiscites to adjudicate sovereignty in territories with mixed populations, and to minimize minority populations, but came to appreciate the mechanism's potential weaknesses, considering the case of Silesia. Archibald Cary Coolidge, assisted by his protégés Robert Kerner and Robert Howard Lord kept Wilson and the peace conference informed about circumstances in Eastern Europe.

Conclusion: The Dynamics of Wilsonian Mental Mapping
chapter abstract

This conclusions analyzes the dynamics and consequences of Wilsonian mental mapping in shaping the president's perspective and the proceedings of the peace conference. Freud's perspective on Wilson is cited. The epilogue considers Wilson's post-Paris relations with, and perspectives on, Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Czechoslovakia, continuing into the post-presidential years of the early 1920s.