.. of the United States (Lafeber 314). Lodge grouped Wilson and Jefferson together in their mutual willingness “to keep peace .. at all hazards” (Widenor 203). While Lodge may have been correct in his argument that Wilson needed to back up American neutrality with some use of force, Wilsons interpretation of American neutrality leading up to World War I kept America from war as long as possible without compromising American national interests of trade and security.
The rivalry between the two politicians escalated with Wilsons introduction of his 14 Points for Peace after World War I. As Wilson negotiated with other leaders of the Entente Powers after the war, the President had to contend with fierce skepticism over the Points at home, particularly from Lodge and his fellow Republicans (Lafeber 321). Lodge countered the 14 Points with a Republican challenge, as the Senate leader clearly had more than enough votes to prevent ratification of the Points. Wilson, realizing he lacked the necessary support at home to get American approval of the 14 Points, returned to Europe to find a way to force the Senate to accept his proposals (Lafeber 321-322). When Wilson resumed talks with Entente leaders in February 1919, he was only able to get US interests protected a necessity for Senate approval through massive concessions to Britain and Japan (Lafeber 321).
For Britain, Wilson had to concede on Point 2, concerning freedom of the seas, to gain their approval. Wilson also had to concede to make Germany responsible for war reparations and to prevent the country from demilitarizing to gain French approval of the Fourteen Points (Lafeber 321). With his health in rapid decline and frustrated with the weakened version of his 14 Points, Wilson returned home tired but with a renewed dedication not to compromise on the Senate floor. While Wilson attempted to install his foreign policy ideology into other countries by means of his 14 Points, Lodge tried to rally support for his foreign policies primarily through gathering opposition to the 14 Points. In Lodges mind, the 14 Points would “weaken the Monroe Doctrine, derogate from the Congresss constitutional power to declare war, or permit [American] international control over such matters as immigration.” (Widenor 316) Lodge, who was not totally closed off to the idea of a League but would prevent at all costs infringement on American power abroad, actually suggested a dual-League system.
Such a system would have a League for the Western Hemisphere primarily the Americas and one for Europe (Widenor 316-317). Wilson, already impatient from his European ordeals, hastily rejected a “halfway” version of his proposal. Historian William Widenor, in his book Henry Cabot Lodge and the Search for American Foreign Policy, interjects the idea that Lodge had “no true feelings” for the 14 Points and the League of Nations. Instead of arguing against both on the basis of foreign policy issues and their implications for the United States domestically, the author asserts the possibility that Lodge could have rejected Wilsons masterpiece simply because it was Wilsons (Widenor 324-325). On Lodge, “it has even been suggested that he raised issues like the fate of Shantung chiefly to make points against Wilson, to show up the flaws in the armor of the great moralist (Widenor 324). If Lodge did act out of spite against Wilson and his 14 Points, the result of a newly-intensified personal rivalry was an intentional act made by Lodge to take power away from the President.
A more likely scenario, however, was that Lodge truly believed that the 14 Points would severely compromise the United States influence internationally. While Lodge and Wilson conceived an “idealistic” role for America in the post-war era, Lodge believed Americas “individuality” was a quality only America should strive to maintain not something for a President to try to enforce on other countries. As Widenor supports, “Lodge believed that America had evolved a special, historical individuality and a unique system of values which were .. the product of propitious circumstance. .
. Though he was prepared to go to great lengths to defend and preserve that individuality, he did not, like Wilson, attempt to secure its universal acceptance. (Widenor 326)” Lodge saw these 14 Points in particular, the”heart of the Covenant (Lafeber 325)” of Article 10 dealing with resolution of international conflicts between members of the League of Nations as a form of pre-emptive US intervention abroad (Widenor 325, 328-329). Lodge was”thoroughly disgusted” with this concept, and while his foreign policies were not isolationist (Widenor 318), his foreign policy ideology conflicted with Wilsons over the issue whether America should be “policeman of the world”. The fierce political rivalry between Wilson and Lodge established the precedent for future rivalries between elected political officials within the United States during the twentieth century.
The rivalry addressed for the first time the role of Americanism in foreign policy and whether the United States has innately superior qualities that entitle it to its large international influence as a world superpower. Similarly, the twentieth century has been dominated by the question of Americas role internationally as a “police” watchdog or more concerned strictly with national interests and Wilson and Lodges rivalry was the first to address the issue in detail in a twentieth-century context. Woodrow Wilson and Henry Cabot Lodge, with their seriousness toward achieving their ideological goals within the government, propelled America into a Golden Age of superpower status and the luxury of being a strong enough nation to police the globe. While the role their distaste for one another played in their foreign policies came into question, their mutual hatred made both of them work harder than they normally would have to achieve political success. That spirit of competition between rivals pushing for smarter governmental policy hopefully will continue to be the benchmark of continued American foreign policy success. Bibliography Hunt, Michael H.
Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy. New Haven: Yale UP, 1987. Lafeber, Walter. The American Age: U.S.
Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad from 1750 to the Present. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1994.
Paterson, Thomas G. and Dennis Merrill, eds. Major Problems in American Foreign Relations Volume 1: To 1920. 4th ed. Lexington, Massachusetts: D.
C. Heath and Company, 1995. Widenor, William C. Henry Cabot Lodge and the Search for an American Foreign Policy. Los Angeles: U of California P, 1980.