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Posts Tagged ‘Clemenceau


“Peace treaty”: Paris, 1919; (Nov. 14, 2009)

I watched a documentary on the French channel TV5 this Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. The documentary was relating and commenting on the 5 months that dragged on before the most lousy “peace treaty” was finally signed to end WWI.

The chiefs of the main 5 nations who won in the First World War sat around in Paris to discuss how to partition the world.  The government chiefs were: USA (Wilson), Britain (Lloyd George), France (Clemenceau), Italy, and Japan.  Germany had ceased fire; the Kaiser, “Emperor Guillaume“, is settled in the Netherlands.  Turkey is declared defeated as ally to Germany.

Every delegation from all over the world, when allowed, was given 10 minutes to expose his case and demands.  Ho Chi Minh (from Viet Nam) was refused an appointment; he will later defeat the French in 1954 and then the US forces in 1973.

Wilson wanted to discuss establishing a world organization of State of Nations to prevent further military escalations; the other four leaders were trying hard to convince Wilson that they are not against this idea but there are more urgent matters to resolve at this junction.

The four other leaders wanted to redraw world’s borders; cartographers spent 5 months redrawing borders.  Wilson wanted the people to decide and vote for their destiny; the other four leaders tried hard to educating Wilson on pragmatic procedures.

In the meantime, Communism was spreading everywhere in Europe and the USA.  The “Spanish flu” had decimated 20 millions in Europe and America (it was called the “Spanish flu” simply because it was the Spanish press that divulged this scourge that States were trying to keep under cover).

Soldiers were returning from the war front at the pace of 100,000 each month; I see one-legged soldiers hoping around in a baseball game and their companions laughing and having good time. Soldiers were returning home to experience famine, miseries, and desolate institutions to take care of business.

The world’s “five leaders” are smoking cigars and pipes and looking mightily serious. Lloyd George wanted 300 billions in gold for war reparation from Germany; his financial counselor, the famous Keynes, is steadfastly suggesting agreeing on 10 billions for material damages on the ground that Germany could barely pay even that amount; Lloyd George had plenty of time to get practical at this stage.

Wilson does not want any reparations and the other four leaders are fuming because it was not the US that lost millions of dead and injured soldiers and civilians in the war.

Clemenceau wants

1. to recover the Alsace and Loraine in addition to

2.  La Sarre region, rich in coal production, in Germany, in order to exploit for 15 years as war reparation.

The Italian President just wants a port on the Adriatic Sea as an advanced post to check any resurgence of hostility but the other leaders adamantly refused his wish.

A Germany delegation of over 110 individuals arrives in Paris to deal a peace treaty.

The train is made to stop first in Verdun where 450,000 soldiers on both sides died. This delegation is typing reams of legal papers claiming that they are not the only culprit for starting the war.

The vanquishers have no time to read the German side of view: they want Germany to admit that it is the sole bad party and that it had lost the war. The Germans are upset: why discuss a peace treaty if the other party has already made his mind?

The German delegation refused the humiliating peace deal and the war was on the verge of resuming.  The German sank their merchant marine in order not to be captured by the allies.

Clemenceau is furious because he could not convince Lloyd George to jointly board these ships to avoid sabotage.

By now, Wilson is totally worn out and more hawkish than even Clemenceau. In the last 5 days before the refusal of Germany to sign the humiliating peace treaty Lloyd George had second thoughts: if Germany is completely humiliated then any demy-god would take power and start another war.

Lloyd George also needed to trade goods with a strong Germany. What Keynes suggested as reasonable reparation of 10 billions in gold is fine with Lloyd; Germany does not need to admit that it lost the war.

The problem was how to convince Wilson after manipulating him for five month on pragmatic politics. Wilson is adamant: Germany has to understand that it lost the war; period!  The German Chancellor resigned and another peace delegation arrived in Paris and signed the treaty in Versailles. Wilson could go home to face major downturns.

The Italian President lost the election and could not attend the peace signing ceremony: Mussolini was on the rise.

The American Congress refused the plan of Wilson for establishing the Society of Nations.

China and Japan were not satisfied; Japan will invade China in 1935 and capture Korea as a colony.

While the leaders in Paris were discussing dividing the world into mandated colonies, Wilson’s concept of people deciding on their future destiny by vote went down the drain as the months eroded his determination into “pragmatic” attitudes.

Clemenceau got just what he asked La Sarre. and Poland recaptured a region in Germany with the Danzig port.

The Middle East people want independence from Turkey that lost the war. No problems.

Turkey is to lose the eastern region for an independent Armenia, the western region for Greece, including the city of Izmir, and the southern region under French mandate. The army of Mustapha Kemal “Ataturk” will recapture all the lands taken out of Turkey, including the Syrian land of Antaquia and Iskandaroun.

Hussein of Mecca has many children. One of them by the named of Faissal is appointed King to Syria and Lebanon. Another by the name of Abdullah is appointed King to Jordan. A third is appointed King to Iraq, I think: I am confused.

Wilson sent a delegation to gather field intelligence on the wishes of the people. Clemenceau and Lloyd George had another plan: they partition the Middle East between them.

France is to have mandate on Syria, Lebanon, and “Antaquia” in Turkey that Syria claimed to be part of its lands.  England is to have mandate on Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. There were barely 5,000 immigrant Jews in Palestine at the time.

Clemenceau sent a French army to depose King Faissal and govern his “mandated people”.

Mount Lebanon is split from Syria and more lands are attached to Lebanon so that it might have the illusion of agricultural “self-sufficiency”.

Background to the Near East Dilemma; (Part 1, May 16, 2009)

Note:  This essay is of two parts.  The first part lay down the background story and issues; the second part will explain in details the positions of the various Syrian political parties and intelligentsia of the period during and after the First World War.

The year 1919 was critical for the Near East (Levant) and the entire Arab World.

At the time, Syrian was the name of the populations comprising the current States of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and current Jordan.

Before that date, the Syrians were called Turks because they held a Turkish (Ottoman) passport.

After almost a century, the people in this region are reaping the consequences of the resolutions of the League of Nations that met in Paris for many months to divide the spoils of the First World War.

Jean Dayeh is an author and a veteran journalist investigative reporter; he published recently “Jubran Tueny Sr. and the Century of Renaissance” in the Near East.  The manuscript contains two great chapters on the case of the Syrian dilemma and the Palestinian/Zionism problems.

From old published articles and replies by different daily journalists, thinkers, and politicians Dayeh explained the premises for the confusion and disunity in the Syrian societies of Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and the current Syrian State; the ideological and political divergences prevented an alternative resolution for populations that were just getting out of the hegemony of the Ottoman Empire that lasted over 5 centuries.

During the war, the British encouraged the Shereef of Mecca Hussein al Hashemy to join the allies for fighting against the Ottoman Empire.  The British promised Hussein of Mecca mandate over Syria and Iraq.  In the same time, Britain and France had a more real politics plan for the Near East.  The diplomats of the two nations Sykes and Pico agreed in 1916 to divide the region so that France would have mandate over Syria and Lebanon and Britain mandate over Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.  Britain Foreign Affairs Balfour had promised the Zionist movement a State in Palestine.

The sons of Hussein were appointed Kings; Faisal on Syria and Abdullah King on the newly created State of Jordan by Britain.  “King” Faisal entered Damascus as the Turkish army withdrew.  A nucleus of a new Syrian army was formed; the soldiers had to swear allegiance to the King of Mecca and agree to fight in the Arabic Peninsula if duty called.

The flag of Mecca was raised in Damascus and postal stamps and coins left no doubt as to the plans of the King of Mecca to joining Syria in an Arab Nation.  The worst part is that Faisal had promised the Zionist movement during the meetings of the League of Nations in Paris that if the Jews become majority in Palestine then they could form a confederate State with the Arab Nation.

It is to be noted that the concept of waging war, then and now, that only those parties or nations that effectively participated in the war were eligible to divide the spoil.  The Syrian population did not have an army to fight and they were suffering famine and calamities due to locust invasion and the perpetual requisitions of the Turkish army in foodstuff and coerced soldiers.

President Woodrow Wilson of the USA was suffering of critical health problems during the Paris Convention and died shortly after; thus France and England decided on the Middle East spoil.  Nevertheless, the USA sent a fact-finding commission King-Crane to comprehend the wishes and desires of the Syrian populations.

England and France declined to join the commission because they had already decided on the spoil and their armies were on the ground in the Near East and pressured the populations to be biased.  With all the political pressures of France and England, a few Christians in Mount Lebanon preferred a French mandate, a few Palestinians opted for a British mandate, many were in favor of a USA mandate but the vast majority of Moslems and Christians wanted an independent State with Faisal as King in Damascus.

The Christian Maronite Patriarch Howayek hurried to Paris for the convention and harassed Clemenceau to decide on a Greater Lebanon by adjoining many parts to Mount Lebanon in return for a French mandate. Clemenceau dispatched an army in 1920 and defeated the small Syrian army in Mayssaloun.  King Faisal was sent packing to reign as King in Iraq.

By 1920, the Zionist movement managed to lure a few Jews to establish agricultural colonies.  Tel Aviv was the main coastal colony.  The Jewish Diaspora had felt the impossibility of establishing a Jewish state and money was trickling.  The Jews in Tel Aviv went on a rampage and confiscate the Zionist money in order to buy food; and the Rothschild delegate in Palestine was ordered to stop payment on land purchased for new colonies.

Nevertheless, the Zionist movement refused hopeless Jews visa exit out of Palestine.  The Palestinian government, under British mandate, had permitted to add Hebrew names to the English and Arabic administrative institutions. Things have changed since then.




November 2022

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