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Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points Essay

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2020


The 14 points developed by President Woodrow Wilson was meant to usher in a new era of peace and stability, however, the main problem with their implementation was due to:

  1. The nature of states.
  2. The fact that they were dependent on the negotiating power of Wilson.
  3. The League of Nations being a defunct entity that had no real power.

The Nature of States and the 14 Points

First and foremost, it is important to note that under the realist perspective, states are the primary actors in international relations that fall under the directive of “self-interest”. What this means is that states tend to pursue goals that benefit them rather than pursue or agree to goals that would benefit other states (Walsh, 11).

Coupled with the realist perspective that the international system is anarchic with only other countries being able to regulate the actions of states, this means that without a controlling force in action, states would not pursue a multilateral goal. This is important to take note of within the context of the 14 points since the states that were supposed to adhere to it did not (Sharp, 28). The compromises that were brought up clashed with the expansionist policies of other states resulting in the 14 points having no effectiveness in the long term.

Negotiating Power of Wilson

Another of the flaws inherent in the 14 points was the fact that they were inherently dependent on the negotiating power of Wilson. Unfortunately, due to a stroke, he was unable to continue their adequate implementation which resulted in the various countries involved going back to their previous practices. What was necessary was to establish some sort of means to ensure that the 14 points could be implemented regardless of Wilson’s involvement or not. However, this was not done due to a lack of foresight on the part of Wilson resulting in the eventual international destabilization that lead to the onset of World War 2.

When looking at Wilson, it can be seen that his capacity to bring nations together bore a striking resemblance to the actions done by Francois Mitterrand and the “Peace of Mitterrand” that occurred in Europe due to his diplomatic maneuvering. However, after the death of Mitterrand, all that he had worked for had become undone (Throntveit, 477). This shows that some means of perpetuating ideals and policies must be done regardless of the death of the person that established them.

The League of Nations being a Defunct Organization

The inherent problem with the creation of the League of Nations is the fact that it held no real power. This is why it can be described as a defunct organization since it had no way of actually enforcing the various agreements that the states who were a member of it agreed to (Walsh, 11). As such, despite the fact that it was created as a direct result of Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points, it could not live up to the purpose that it was envisioned to be.


Based on what has been presented it can be stated that without the capacity for some larger entity to enforce the cooperation that was needed to bring the 14 points into fruition, it simply would not have been possible for their tenets to be upheld. The death of Wilson signified the end of everything that the 14 points were supposed to be with the end result being the start of World War 2.

Works Cited

Sharp, Alan. “Dreamland Of The Armistice.” History Today 58.11 (2008): 28-34. Print.

Throntveit, Trygve. “The Fable Of The Fourteen Points: Woodrow Wilson And National Self-Determination.” Diplomatic History 35.3 (2011): 445-481.Print.

Walsh, Brian. “Wilson’s Fourteen Points.” Cobblestone 19.3 (1998): 11. Print.

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