Da Compiègne a Versailles: gli USA e la sfida della pace

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] From Compiègne to Versailles: the USA and the challenge of peace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


[Autom. eng. transl.] The end of the First World War poses a difficult challenge for the United States. From the spring of 1918, their troops had begun to make an important contribution to the Franco-British military effort, first in the defensive battles following the German spring offensive, then in the 'one hundred-day' push that it would bring - in early November - the collapse of the enemy front. At the same time, the country's diplomatic profile had grown, especially after the wording of the 'Fourteen Points' (8 January 1918). Called into question as guarantors of a 'peace without victory', after the signing of the November armistices, the Washington authorities would, therefore, find themselves in the uncomfortable condition of having to define a position that took into account on the one hand the need to conduct a policy 'realist' towards their European counterparts, on the other hand of the ambitions nurtured by President Wilson and his entourage to completely reform the system of pre-war international relations. The task would have been more difficult than expected. Arriving in Paris with a rich theoretical background but a limited knowledge of European sensibilities, of the balance of power and the motives that pushed the various actors, the US delegation would have struggled to adapt to the dynamics of the Old Continent. This would have led to violent tensions, which in turn would have conditioned the ability of President Wilson (who had taken over the leadership of the delegation) to achieve the results he had expected. The consequences would have been on the one hand a loss of negotiating capacity and a tightening of the US position on the issues of principle, on the other a growing centralization of the decision-making process in the person of the President. Wilson's internal weakness (which in the 1918 elections had lost the congressional majority that had hitherto supported him) would have aggravated this state of affairs, exposing the fragility of its consensus base in the eyes of the interlocutors. In the clash between Wilson and the Italian delegates on the Adriatic issue these issues clearly emerge. The President's attempt to circumvent the deadlock the negotiations had reached through a direct appeal to public opinion ('Declaration on the Adriatic question', 23 April 1919) led to the temporary abandonment of the Peace Conference by the President of the Council , Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sidney Sonnino, without favoring an effective release of the situation and, indeed, further undermining the problem. Nevertheless, the impact of Wilson's initiatives would have been lasting. In November 1920, the Treaty of Rapallo defined the border between the Kingdom of Italy and the newly-established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (from 1929 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), de facto revoking the provisions of the Treaty of London and confirming the geopolitical order of the post-Habsburg Adriatic prefigured by the US President and that he had been unable to realize
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] From Compiègne to Versailles: the USA and the challenge of peace
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationL’Italia e la Grande Guerra. Il 1918. La vittoria e il sacrificio. Atti del Congresso di studi storici internazionali, Roma, 17-18 ottobre 2018
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Prima guerra mondiale - Stati Uniti


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