Wednesday, October 04, 2017

What if …

Historian Michael Kazin, who has just published a book on the antiwar movement that Wilson betrayed in 1917-18, asked, in a New York Times op-ed on the centenary of the conflict, how it might have ended had America stayed out. Wrote Kazin:
If the Allies, led by France and Britain, had not won a total victory, there would have been no punitive peace like that completed at Versailles, no stab-in-the-back allegations by resentful Germans, and thus no rise, much less triumph, of Hitler and the Nazis. The next world war, with its 50 million deaths, would probably not have occurred.


  1. That is quite a big "IF" and not worth pondering: the past cannot be altered, so why alter the past? Hmmm.

  2. But the present can be adjusted. We read history in order to learn its lessons. Ferguson’s what if approach is an imaginative way of getting at those lessons.

  3. It might not have been dictated by the Allies, but there would have been a punitive peace: look at Brest-Litovsk, look at the annexations planned in the west by the German military. The men who preferred to blame civilians for an armistice they themselves demanded would not have bad their characters improved by victory. The shape of the next war of course would have been very different, but it certainly would have arrived on the more or less standard schedule.