Sunday, July 5, 2009

Versailles 1919 - Rear Vision

A watershed moment for modern history is the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, better known as Versailles, for the name of the treaty which set the terms for peace with Germany. It is widely accepted this peace lay the ground work for the Nazi rise to power and World War II. It is also not far-fetched to see in the peace treaties in Paris 1919 the origins of the Cold War.

Australia's ABC Rear Vision took on the peace conference and went even a step further to show how this conference drew the national borders we know today and triggered many of the international tensions, hot spots and wars we have today, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel/Palestine. While the top dogs of the conference, Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson did the high level setting of terms, a series of subcommittees had numerous specialists working on the new borders, sometimes with plenty of knowledge of the real situation on the ground, sometimes with very little. Invariably they set borders where they had never been before setting aside older, cultural and natural boundaries, attempting to create spheres for nation states - the high ideal of the time.

The tragedy as it comes out in the podcast is that while the spirits were high and the hopes were for ever-lasting peace, the enterprise was bound to fail. The gap between what was politically necessary for France and Britain especially, acceptable for Germany, but also for 'winners' such as Japan and Italy was impossible to bridge. And the idea of imposing a grid for nation states in realms where no such creature had ever existed, seemed laudable, but was unfeasible. Failed states were created before we coined the term.

More Rear Vision:
Iran 1953,
Coffee,
Fiji.
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