Henry Cabot Lodge, an ardent opponent of the Treaty of Versailles, once said “if you tangle her in the intrigues of Europe, you will destroy her powerful good, and endanger her very existence.” Referring to America’s ties into Europe, Lodge was a politician who simply disliked President Woodrow Wilson as a person and his idealistic ideas. After the Great War had ended, President Wilson and the leaders of France, Britain, and Italy joined together in hopes of creating stability for the future of Europe. The Treaty of Versailles was created, and one of the many provisions in it forced Germany to accept sole responsibility for the causing the war and forced them to pay reparations to various countries. (Clare, John) The treaty established new nations while shifting the boundaries of others. A League of Nations was outlined in the treaty, which would provide a forum for nations to discuss and settle their grievances without having to resort to war. But when the treaty was initiated without the support of the United States, the treaty fell short of its goal of creating a long lasting peace. One of the reasons why the United States didn’t support it was because it stifled a country’s self-determination, the ability for a country to make its own decisions without interference from others. The treaty posed a grave threat to self-determination in the United States as well as other countries and territories in the world.
The Treaty of Versailles would’ve drawn America away from its isolation and into affairs with Europe had it had signed it. If the United States accepted the treaty, it would then be joining the provision for joint economic and military action against aggression. One such incident that proved this was the Mukden Incident, when tensions between Japan and China grew over territory affairs. The League should have responded by placing economic sanctions on Japan. None of these actions was undertaken. The threat of economic sanctions would have been almost useless because the United States was not a League member. (Wilde, Robert) Any economic sanctions the League had placed on its member states would have been ineffective, as a country excluded from trading with countries of the League could simply turn and trade with the United States. Thus, it is evident that the Treaty of Versailles specifically would’ve stopped the US from trading with a country with a sanction if it had been part of the League of Nations—but since it wasn’t, the United States kept its self-determination and right to trade with whoever it wanted. The Treaty of Versailles would’ve also posed a threat to the United States’ self-determination because if they had joined, the League of Nations would seem to nullify the Monroe Doctrine, which stated the US would be free from all “restrain, legal or moral, of foreign powers”. (AFR) The Treaty of Versailles would’ve imposed obligations or restrictions on the United States would’ve created interventions of the League in internal affairs, and would’ve imposed sanctions of any kind that the US would’ve had to follow. Treaty of Versailles would’ve greatly affected the United State’s self-determination, as they would have no choice but to follow the League.
Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations was created, but Germany was not invited to join. Self-determination for Germany was non-existent once the Treaty of Versailles was formed, as its interests in and views on world affairs were no longer taken under consideration. The Germans, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, were under foreign rule of the League of Nations, as seen in the example of the Sudetenland, which was given to Czechoslovakia despite its vast German population. (O’Brian, Joseph) It is evident that the treaty destroyed Germany’s self determination because this German displacement would give Hitler reason to invade countries in search of self-determination. The treaty also stifled self-determination because it assigned Germany what seemed like impossible reparations, which resulted in the invasion of the Rhur Valley by the French in 1923. (O’Brian, Joseph) In addition, the treaty gave suppressed independence by the league giving Germany no industry to rebuild the economy with and giving Germany's territory away and reducing their population. Ultimately, the Treaty of Versailles left Germany no choice but to support leadership from a strong fascist leader like Hitler.
Also, the treaty ignored the claims of colonized people for self-determination, as shown in the case of Southeast Asia. The majority of Southeast Asia was a French colony called French Indochina. Ho Chi Minh, a young Vietnamese man, wanted a constitutional government that would give the Vietnamese people the same civil and political rights as the French. But to his dismay, the Treaty of Versailles disregarded their claims of a new government. In another incident, before the Great War, many Poles were under German rule, but because of the treaty, many Germans were under Polish rule. (Trueman, Chris) These two events showed that the Treaty of Versailles did the converse thing it was supposed to do. Instead of letting these two territories decide what their own outcome, the Treaty of Versailles instead muffled their own future decisions. The Treaty of Versailles, in the case of the French Indochina, overlooked their claims and the treaty didn’t initiate any action to assist them. In the case of the Germans, the treaty eradicated their decision-making by setting new national boundaries which were pre-determined without their input.
In conclusion, the treaty posed a grave threat to self-determination in the United States as well as other countries and territories, such as Germany and Indochina. The Treaty of Versailles, because of this, had adverse effects in the future which culminated into the second Great War. The Treaty of Versailles unfairly took away too much from Germany while giving sovereignty to the “victors” of the war. The Treaty of Versailles brought new postwar international problems that eventually would lead to the Second World War. And, all the while, it rejected and ignored self-determination for other countries and territories of the world.