Friday, August 1, 2014

Woodrow Wilson was wrong

The US President Woodrow Wilson, at the end of the first World War, to finish with the power of empires, proposed to implement the right of self-determination for all nations: a state for each nation. He became to our days a myth for several nationalist generations all over the world. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see Wilson’s mistake in the origin of many later problems: the expansion of Germany prior to the second world war, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, the wars in Israel…
The great Italian writer Claudio Magris summarizes in his book Danubio, all the problems of implementing Woodrow’s receipt, at least in the European continent. It is impossible to cut the map of Europe in separated nations, because national groups are mixed in each and every one of the corners of Europe.
The economist William Easterly in his new book “The Tiranny of Experts” explains the contraditions between looking for freedom for peoples and pursuing freedom for individuals: for example, Wilson wanted peoples’ self-determination but defended racial segregation at home.
In the XXIst century nation-states are a bad unit of analysis and of action. We need more institutional diversity tan that. Terry O’Rourke remarked that “Wilson's legacy proved to be a hodge-podge of simplistic and emotion-laden concepts, which Hitler successfully used to manipulate and divide Western opinion.”
Margaret MacMillan says that “The Paris Peace Conference was only partly about making peace settlements and about making a better world; it was also the focus of the hopes and expectations of nations trying to reconstitute themselves, in the case of Poland, who wanted their independence from an empire, in the case of the Baltic states, or who were new nations such as Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, or Kurdistan. Paris was in the six months between January and June 1919 the centre of world power, perhaps even a sort of world government. The peacemakers rapidly discovered that they were dealing with an agenda which kept on growing.”

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