In 1918 the First World War came to an end and the warring parties gathered in France to iron out the terms of its conclusion. America’s president, Woodrow Wilson, made the journey overseas armed with a plan that he believed could create a lasting peace and lessen the chances for future war.
He presented his Fourteen Points to those in attendance and basically his ideas were chewed to pieces by the hungry dogs at the peace table. What resulted was the Versailles Treaty that significantly punished Germany with terms that guaranteed another major war would take place. Wilson’s desire for creation of a world peace keeping body was accepted and the League of Nations was created.
Ironically Wilson returned to the US to face a maelström of opposition to everything he had fought for. The war was over and in America there was little interest in remaining involved in world affairs. America withdrew into the cocoon of isolationism and the US Senate refused to sign the Versailles Treaty or become a member of the League of Nations.
Today the US, after years of meetings and hard negotiations, has reached a tentative agreement with Iran over its development of potentially dangerous nuclear technology. A photograph of President Obama walking down the steps of Air Force One and the caption, “Obama’s hard sell on Iran begins now,” made me reflect back on what Wilson faced in 1918.
America has a choice. It can take a chance and accept this agreement and continue working with the Iranians to strengthen a peaceful relationship following decades of hostility or, it can reject it and permit our relationship to continue to roil and fester as it has and is.
The consequences are important. Just as our decision in 1918 helped guarantee the outbreak of World War Two what we do regarding Iran could again contribute to a major war that we easily could get sucked into.
It is crucial that America’s political leaders set aside their party differences and take a truly objective look at what is at hand and make a decision based on reality and not political gamesmanship.