tv The Presidency Woodrow Wilsons Vision for Global Relations CSPAN December 15, 2018 12:10pm-1:22pm EST
lawrence and other stops at c-span.org/cities tour. you are watching american weekend, every weekend on c-span three. >> congress created the wilson center in washington dc as the nation's memorial to president woodrow wilson. next on the presidency, the center host policy students to that policy experts to consider -- policy experts to consider how the 28th presidents global relations after world war i has fared over the last century. it's just over an hour. >> good afternoon. i'm the senior vice president of the wilson center. i would like to welcome those in attendance here at the center in washington, d.c., also a warm welcome to those watching on c-span. 50 years ago this month, congress passed legislation
creating the wilson center as the nation's official memorial to our 28 president. rather than erect a statue on the mall, congress created the wilson center as a living memorial whose mission is to serve as a bridge between academia and public policy. wilson, our only president with a phd, believe the policy maker could learn from a scholar and vice versa. the center for fills this bash fulfills this -- the center fulfills this mission through in-depth research and dialogue. to form actual ideas on global issues. 2013, wilson's inauguration as president. -- the centenary of wilson's inauguration as president. next month, marxists and kearny
-- next year marks the centenary of the end of world war i. and the first european trip by an american president to head the delegation to the peace conference. against this historical backdrop, and the celebration of the wilson center's 50th anniversary, we are returning this afternoon to wilson's legacy to two panels exploring the relevancy to the international and domestic record for today. ast historians rank wilson one of the sixth most important presidents. the three greats, washington, franklin, and -- washington, lincoln, and roosevelt. conference five years ago, michael case and said that wilson is full of contradictions . in some ways he may be the most cop located contradictory president we've ever had. one of the great wilson scholars ish us today has said wilson neither fondly remembered nor well understood by most americans.
our purpose today is to improve that understanding by looking , as wellilson's record as forward to assess this continuing relevance. we willirst panel explore the extent which the 28th president's vision is still applicable, given all the profound shifts in the system. panel, which will examine the domestic policy accomplishment and failures, delighted that we've assembled a of experts,d array including several prominent wilson alumni. we shed light on these important issues today, especially john milton cooper, who is a historian for his counsel organizing today's conference.
panel.turn to our first i will switch to a seat. world orderll the wilson and vision survive? we are fortunate to have with us a distinguished panel whose biographies have been distributed. the former high representative of the european union foreign affairs and security policy, a the european union's foreign minister. , she joins usted to chair the program at the wilson center. ceo ofl is president and the colonial williamsburg foundation. station identification is a great place to visit. go down and have the colonial experience there. he is also former director of policy planning at the state department.
and also a historian at the university of minnesota, he is the author of power without , woodrow wilson and the american internationalist experiment. of topsately jeffrey university, who was on the program, is unable to be with us today due to illness. we are going to conduct this in conversational format for a half hour or so. then we turn it over to the audience for your comments and questions. then with an obvious starting point. -- scholar,, middle wilson was a domestic scientist. as a president he's best known for his international -- wilson's vision was developed in a particular historical context.
what did wilson mean when he spoke of peace without victory? we are going to turn to trade. play onk is a clever peas without victory, it's called power without peace. why don't you set a street as we try to increase our understanding of who wilson was and how his name has been used. >> thank you very much, thank you everybody for being here. thank you for tuning in. i'm going to start by answering your question by responding to the panel title. my answer is going to sound gloomier maybe them it is. it actually was never realized in the first place. i think one of the easiest way it isn't what it
wasn't. which is not to have -- not the pass any sort of judgments. the postwar architecture established in 1945 for all of its virtues was at the same time designed to entrench certain legal and political privileges for the united states to maintain installment position. that was as close to the opposite of wilson's vision as you could get. vision, which did emerge from his study of domestic political science, both in the united states and across europe, he was quite accomplished, was to substitute discussion for fighting. that's where -- that's what groups of peoples have done
across the planet for centuries in order to stabilize their societies in manage their affairs with the minimum of bloodshed and chaos. he didn't envision and was discussion. he envision and less government discussion that ended with a vote. ended, usually, not always, with winners and losers. with the process preceding it that was hopefully mutually educative, shaping the outcome may be in ways neither party had , and ined in the outset a way that preserved the process , did as little violence and processy bolstered the enough so the losers were invested in coming back to the
process the next time. that was his vision for the league of nations. there was no equivalent to the security council that wilson drew up. by the senateed and his european counterparts to write unanimity as the general voting role. cleverly inserted all sorts of workarounds for all sorts of issues. the --s too undermined undermined whole purpose of the leak. and endangering its peace. i don't think that kind of an order has been established. i think there are certain aspects of our international institutions and international
toiety that work desperately enact that sort of east coast. but they face sort of grave structural barriers that were intentionally built in. i will leave it at that. i have some opinions on self-determination. maybe we can get back to that. >> that's a good setup for us. when we think of wilson, typically he's referred to as an idealist. he's referred to as an architect of the liberal order. that's one of two schools of thinkts that help us about international relations.
reflected?mments democratic governance have mattered, just -- domestic structures mattered to wilson. we associate that if we per liveried democracies with market economies, that is a pathway to a international system that has lineage. the alternative model, often called realism, how do you achieve international peace? not replicate democratic governance but create a stable distribution of power between states? your comment reflected that at the end of world war ii we had this two track system. in the west it was this community of democratic states with market economies. in the east you have the authoritarian regimes.
the organization that kathy was central in involving the european union, you have this to track international system. there is debate about what wilson thought power should do to promote democracy. john milton cooper, a wilson biographer, he's pointed out that wilson did not write that the united states should make the world safe for democracy. he was an excellent writer. the world must be made safe for democracy. what does that formulation mean?
promotion, democracy to create a specific international order. i think most importantly for policy makers coming from countries with democratic governance, where shall we put our money where mouth is. both of you were involved in this. you had a host of experiences in eastern europe, you are there is secretary minister during the arab spring's. give us your take. think you have to begin by defining what you mean by democracy. acrossthe issues i came is that democracy in the eyes of people look at nations like yours or the u.s. or mine in britain and the european context, they see elections. they equate democratic election with action, rather than
understanding there's a huge -- margaret, who has been cited in our early conversations, writes elegantly about this sort of web of different organizations and structures that create the capacity to have elections is really what democracy is about. it took my country a long time. i often say to leaders in different countries that people like me couldn't vote. it's not a process of a straight line, it's a process that is complicated and difficult. the cherry and icing on the cake. the best way of organizing society to the benefit of people is to get people to understand what it means. it's important in the context of
the elections to make this point. often when you vote your not quite sure -- you are not quite sure what you're going to get. you may get all kinds of things. but the next time you vote you have the power to get rid of. -- thatthat's it significant and important for people to understand. democracies make a sure you have an effective opposition. many countries gone through democratic confirmation -- even down the road it is still winner takes all. you don't have a government in waiting being created at the same time, which is an important part of the democratic process. we need to promote democracy and all the senses >> in america the
governments awaiting the think tanks. >> thank you for inviting me. thank you for inviting me years ago. it was for the happiest years i can remember. you from a legal practice. >> you did rescue me. i want to congratulate everybody at the wilson center for 50 years of remarkable leadership. you really are the best think tank in the country, if not the entire world. i wanted to just acknowledge that. i wanted to do a wilson center to type of thing, which is to create a template of democracy promotion behavior. if we imagine what that might look like, i think it's easier to understand the actions of certain leaders.
one end of the spectrum of democracy promotion is in closing democracy by military intervention. there is no democracy pre-existing in the country, you impose it. and only slightly debt -- slightly less difficult is militarily intervening in the country and restoring democracy that had elapsed in the country. we saw that after the cold war, where it was restored. the other end of the spectrum is the united states shining city on the hill. what might be benign -- benign indifference. there's a wonderful quotes from thomas jefferson's first inaugural that sums it up. he says what he wishes for the united states going forward is peace, commerce and on his friendship with all nations and tangling and alliances.
it's often a treated to washington. those are the two polls. in between buys a tremendous menu of options for policy and countries. it does pick up on what kathy was saying. whether it is radio free entities, radio free europe and north korea, where there is covert support for democratic forces. the revolutions in georgia and ukraine, pointing -- appointing special envoys. education,g women's and powering people who don't have voices in their daily lives. and then the millennium challenge corporation. there is a whole range of democracy promotion.
when in fact there is a rich menu. the penning on the time, the institution, and the will of the american people we use. >> conditionality was used in the european union. how is that tool conceived in the european union context? >> those that wanted to join the european union, there was a set of conditions to be met. the economic move to a market economy and all of that. and democratic institutions that supported a democratic future. for those countries who are not wanting to join or that the eu never considered to be potential members, much more about
ensuring what they were clearly looking for, and democratic future. will put in search of helping them to create where they could and an encompassing all sorts of things you would put into that basket of possibilities. a kind of mixed menu depending on the circumstances. and the circumstances people find themselves in. one of the difficult elements of this is it's quite hard to stop people rushing away, thinking here's the moment, a democratic future. when they don't have all of these things in place. i can remember, for example, being in the square after the revolution in egypt, meeting
people who had gone to register their political party. it had 43 members at that. enormous.ial was the trouble was it was going to take quite some time until all of those parties evolved into something that looks like a sensible framework. but having a democratic dialogue in a huge country with a population that was watching what was happening in cairo. pathwayswill give us -- what people think about pathways to democratic governments as opposed to a more benign. highlight ato couple of wilsonian comments made by my colleagues. beginotation that you with, the world must be safe for democracy. ,f you read further, he says
"america must join that fight." "as butkey ending is, one of the champions of rights. -- of rights." we have to keep two things in mind. one, he was concerned about the relationships between states that more concerned about the relationships between states then he was the relationships in them -- than he was the relationships in them. he learned through trial and democracy asposing an outside power doesn't work. he had learned through the neutrality period that benign indifference does not work either.
in order to make incredible selections among the whole menu of options that you have, you have to somehow establish your credibility as an actor with a right to make those tough decisions. the league of nations was wilson's way to give this so far -- the so-called self-doubt democracies a credibility. if they had a way to make these tough decisions about their role in international politics that was deliberative, and at least partially open in its character, he truly felt success was a lot more likely. it is why i think it is very important to recall that wilson was not an advocate of self-determination. he was not an advocate of everyone in the world getting their own policy. he was an advocate of the
liberal structure. >> he has identified the short answer student quiz. people would write in national self-determined organization. world war i led to newly independent states from the austrian, hungarian and ottoman empire. but not everyone got a state. national self-determination is impossible to argue with in principle. but impossible to implement and practice. and how can this tension between principal and practice be managed? how should we think about who is entitled who can comment on cases they were involved with where national groups were asserting the right to estate. i would like you to come in at the end and set us straight about wilson -- about what wilson really thought about national self-determination, and how wilson conceived of managing this tension.
you are actually involved with the creation of the state in the balkans. the russians have come back afterwards and said we were unhappy with that precedent and ,aying that crimea and georgia they should be considered states. talk about your experience with -- and how as a practitioner you make these decisions between principal and practice. >> it is between self-determination and integrity. anyone who works around the u.n. will know that is a constantly shifting scene in discussion. in all our interests to hold it together. country is viable as
an independent state. spain. discussions in there are lots of conversations that actually run around the theme of should we actually separate from the country to which we are attached because we believe that we are different? you will see the responses of groups of state to try to deal the with that. the situation was different because it came from a terrible struggle, awful conflict that you can trace back in conversations with leaders to the battle of 1789. in my negotiations between the soviet, people would be very mindful of this long and difficult history between
peoples and the consequences that they believed for themselves. the creation of xhosa low -- the creation of it is still an ongoing thing because they are not a you and state. in the eyes of the people there, they are, as far as they are concerned, a country and they are recognized by many countries. the challenge then becomes for those to engage in how do you move a situation forward? how do you try and work to recognize that when you have an unresolved issue, it is very if -- it is very easy for it to translate. what you see in georgia, where i had a monetary mission network constantly to look at what was happening there, every day you saw that things were not moving. there was not really an opportunity to find a solution. my guess is that the work still goes on.
the challenge when you have these issues that have gone beyond the the desire of separation, and actually becoming a reality on the ground, is how do you try to move it on and resolve it, rather than leave it. the reason that matters is because in conflicts of the country's play, the use them to present other things -- prevent other things from happening. you're unable to get economic growth, development and all the things that people need, and you are unable for the people of that country to take their place in any institutions, or in a regional context. for mean, one of the most important things onto the
discussion now is trying to make sure that we move all the countries forward into what should be their european future. >> i see a contrast between the two bushes, and you see her the george w. bush administration. in 1991, george h.w. bush and james baker tried to hold you together. after two thousand three, the 2003, the george w. bush administration wanted to hold iraq together and many have argued we are pushing hard for it. how do you view this tension between principal and practice and the cases you were involved in? >> it is still an ongoing issue.
it's really quite a collection. and on to the recent past. and whatever we want to call eastern ukraine. challenge is the same concept that cap you identified with a little differently. these from the military realm into a diplomatic process. that's really the challenge the states have to improve the situation. as long as there is fighting on , it is going to be problematic to really reach any type of resolution that is satisfactory. and to accept a motive that is less than perfect.
perhaps that's what wilson was really looking after this afternoon. how do you get them to stop shooting and start talking to there's no way to solve these tensions really. >> the wilson center is an aspect -- international, domestic. tony smith had a new book on theon, trying to reclaim trying to reclaim
this and to have the attributes and the activism the activism that has been attributed to it. you are close to that view in terms of issues of democracy promotion and implementation of national health determination? >> yes, i think we read the long cold war time differently. i think we are in sympathy as far as the need to inject, the need to find a better mix of boldness and humility's in u.s. foreign policy. which is another way to say, to think of, maybe some empathy, at least cognitive and -- cognitive empathy. i think in that regard we are more in sync. i want to respond to the quotation that you started with. these have been very well chosen. i think self-determination is completely possible to argue with that principle. i think the united states is an extended argument against the
principle of ethnic self-determination. that was the history and the culture that informed wilson's thinking. he was a civic nationalist. he was very blind in the application of his civic nationalism as i'm sure we will talk about later this afternoon in terms of who was incorporated in that civic circle. but, i think the principle that he demoted was civic -- wilson promoted was civic nationalism, which is, it is much more important for everybody to learn to contain their differences ideally, even work through them, but at least contain them an interest in a -- and invest in a structure in which they can interact and manage their affairs productively then to take this route where we are hiving off into tribes. that is an infinitely replicable approach. there will always be differences when you have people working in groups.
even if they start out thinking they are all on the same team. , self-determination was an option, in a sense where one people have so violently -- where so many people have so violently oppressed others that it really seemed that there was no way to root the types of institutions that kathy and mitchell have been talking about. poland being the example. it needed its own state because pawn by son a many powers. or to prevent future wars, or because facts on the ground, austria, hungary, wilson accepted all of them in the states that were spun out of the austrian empire because they had constituted themselves a states by the time the war was over. it is important to recognize that his general principle was finding structures and processes
just as have been noted to bring people together and to work through, or at least manage their differences. as we know in this country, these differences are sometimes impossible to resolve. we deal with that in this country every day. >> that phrase, "peace without positions,n policy you come up with the deal in northern ireland. with issues even involved the notion that both sides have to have some stake in in -- in the outcome. you cannot have an imposed kind of peace. i surmise that wilson would have regretted how versailles got implemented and put it on top of the global depression to the rise of fascism in germany and the roots of the pathway to world war ii. >> i title the book "power
without victory" because i think he saw the united states had chosen to protect its sovereignty and to choose a path to power rather than peace. it was without victory because, look at what happened a generation later. >> you have into sedated. sort of nationalism and sovereignty that are linked, opens the door to my last question, which has two components to it. meanwhile, all of you can please be thinking of your smart questions, or even short comments that you will put question marks at the end of. >> my professor told me, there are no smart questions. >> or you make a comment and say, do you agree with me. i have seen that tactic at the wilson center. they, who was involved in
state department policy planning staff, academic of princeton, observed that, "we live in a house that wilson built." she met the global order has a foundation of international institutions and body global -- and body in -- embodying global norms, including for human rights. wilson's vision, the democratic governance that by a commitment to collect the security would create a specific international system. that vision was substantially realized. most dramatically in europe or -- in europe, in the first half of the 20th century was a giant death machine. and the second half of the 20th century created unprecedented peace and prosperity. that was the vision. since the end of the cold war, of policymakers and academics -- of what policymakers and academics worry about traditionally which is the threat of interstate conflict
between major powers. during the cold war, with notable kind of near close call it the cuban missile crisis and berlin, the risk of interstate conflict has been low since the end of the cold war. let's discuss, before turning over to the audience, to -- two challenges to that order. one from within and one from without. the first is, within the democratic community itself, one sees the trends in america and in britain. in britain with brexit and in america with the rise of the administration of whose moniker is "america first," kind of a turning inward. inward, and linked to a sovereignty with controlling outcomes on a national basis. in eastern europe, you have worry some rising authoritarianism in certain third world countries, and
authoritarianism abroad. you know the countries i am talking about. let's start with you on that. much of your career is based on an aggregate level. you worked in britain as a politician, but your portfolio and foreign policy was the most aggregated level. how you view that is the challenge within the democratic community now. >> these questions are really hard. can i just say that. let me start from a brick in -- from a britain perspective. you have to differentiate that, for aitain , --e set of reasons took a decision to leave the european union. but no politician in britain and in the mainstream at least has
ever suggested that britain should turn its back on the rest of the world, indeed it is trying to create its global britain foreign policy. it is very engage with nato, very engage with the u.n. and the security council. nobody talks about ending any -- ending any kind of trade agreement. we have people running around the world trying to work out how many trade deals we can get in as short amount of time as possible. it is not from a british context, in inward looking act of itself. it is an act that one can argue takes britain further away from being able to be the global actor because it takes away the most obvious collaboration and there are no issues that you consult alone anymore. wh you have to collaborate. a collaboration with structures britain played an important role
in. and also got its issues under the table whenever it wanted to. you could argue that it is in inward looking consequence, but it was not, for many people anyway, in inward looking act. it was, we don't want to be told what to do by someone else, but we want to have our own trade deals be our own global act or. -- actor. what you see in europe as a consequence of all sorts of things that are happening. it would take a lot longer. let me just pick up one or two. one is, for eastern european nations who have not in part of the growth of the eu from the 1950's onward, they are still relatively new in this organization. and arguably have a perception
in a view of europe. it is not necessarily the same as the view held by the longest standing members of the european union. they also know that alliances look, on a monday morning, can disappear by the end of tuesday afternoon. they know -- >> via twitter? >> via all kinds of means. it was part of the sovereign union the disappeared. sense that as nations they want to see their own versions of strong governments. there are challenges that come back to brussels. a very successful one.
it galvanized people to have a common enemy in that sense. there are lots of different things going on. i think you have to look at on a individual basis. consequence of different things happening over the years that come together. >> there is much discussion that with these changes that are in a sense response to consequences of globalized nation and how countries are changing. terrorism is a threat we shouldn't lose sight up -- sight of. that narrative needs to be defended now more than ever. quo. plug for the status framework was essential for
what followed after a long period of global conflict. mitchell has -- >> we all labored in his shadow. containment,gy of which was essentially an answer to what do you do when states will not -- authoritarian states will not go along with the preferred american strategy, which is integration. our grand strategy is we want to integrate the system. we have two authoritarian states currently.
neither of them was offering a revolutionary alternative fission -- alternative fission. putin has given up on the west and integrated 150 million russians. china has succeeded by integrating into the system. they want to do it on their own terms. should we think about whether these two great powers that have been outside the system can either be integrated , and i noted that the realist, this big debate about whether we are heading for a world war i type crackup, how do you see these issues? >> thanks
for that softball there. limit get the answer in a roundabout way. russia has 40 million fewer people in pakistan. it's just interesting. part of thinking longer-term is to think about how we hold the fort with those 150 million russians. and try to prepare for the day when russia may be willing to have a different kind of conversation. proposed is if you really wanted -- if we really wanted to help ourselves we change our immigration policy 100,000 coming over to the
united states. you can see what happened at that policy memo. there are ways to think about how to contain managing -- if i can go back to the first me there is as to crisis of confidence in the world order. i live outside of washington. it reminds me what financial analysts say about company stock valuation. there may be some underlying volatility. you look at the world order today. even in the united states.
american support for alliances, american support for globalization. this is a year and a half after president trump was elected. president trump did something at least everybody in the administration has wanted. be hitting aso well. to see where all the overwrought anxiety is. we know the president is disruptive. he uses his language that offends at times. the fundamentals, what type of
system could be so undone in a i think somelf? perspective on that is called for. i think in my mind it gets back to woodrow wilson and the value of human rights and democracy -- and democracy and promotion. neither for the record did president obama. trump does have two values that i think are really important to recognize. powerful assertion of sovereignty, whether it is make america great again, slow slogan. you see it, you hear it, you feel it whenever he talks about foreign policy or foreigners in general. the second has not been focused on. it is a question of fairness. that is my term, not his. i
think he sees defense spending by our european allies by a question of fairness. i think he sees trade deals is unfair to the american workers. we have been taken advantage. whether it is trade, tears, intellectual property theft on the part of china, these are problems we have known for a long time, that he is calling them out because he is saying there are fundamentally unfair. why have they persisted for so long. i would argue that we collectively as a nation, led by people here in washington, decided to make an accommodation to certain countries during the cold war. after the cold war we decided to make an accommodation to china because we bet on their integration. when it did not look like it would pay off, he got up and give a speech about stakeholders to remind them about the bet. here we are 10, 15 years and it does not look like it will pay off for us in
the way we thought. the president, in the most charitable does charitable perspective i can give comment is trying to reset, to recalibrate what that basic bargain is. what does the new world order look like? she just wants a better bargain for the united states because the accommodation, while worthy, notable and resulting in peace between great states for so many years, we have moved on to a different place. >> there is much to be said for that perspective. another wilson along, john, says the key to american success in post-world war ii was channeling american interests through institutions and norms, which made american power less threatening, more legitimate to others, and accounts for this conundrum he wrote about. why didn't the whole world seek to balance american power in the 1990's
when we were the sole superpower? the answer has to do with this embedded quality of power. we have real historians in the room and one on the panel. talking about the pendulum or aspect of american policy. the characterization you made has been there. there is nothing you cannot argue with, it is really in the context of it reaching the point where some of the framework begins to undermine the framework. >> the word you didn't use that i think john used was legitimacy. our power has been legitimized because it has been powered into international
organizations where we can force a rules-based order. based on process, we don't prejudge but everyone gets a fair shake or there is a danger with the presidents rhetoric. we are just a year and a half into this presidency and i am hoping that it will get better. nafta, president broke it up but reconstituted it. nato is still together despite the article five statement. again, it is very difficult not to get distracted or demoralized by some of the statements. it is hard to know what israel real and what is not. you wake up one morning and you just don't know. -- it is hard to know what is real and what is not. you wake up one morning and you just don't know. >> you have been to china, what is your take on the authoritarian great powers? whether the order can be accommodated within it. >> i imagine for people in
china, beijing and moscow, they are looking to see what will happen next. the problem with -- in a sense where we are now, especially where the u.s. is, you have an outcome. particularly, the nation of the administration is that the go for outcomes. they don't necessarily follow the process. they expect it elsewhere that the u.s. will be the ones following the process and leading to an outcome. it is very challenging. i imagine that they will be trying to work out exactly what this means. it may seem, whatever it feels like, he felt like it has been here for a long, long time. it is early days if you are studying them from afar to establish patterns
and rhythms and process. i think that is probably what they are busy doing right now. >> we will go to the audience to give them an opportunity to weigh in on these contemporary issues. i think it was in one of your courses, you would put that in quotes and then put discussion next to it or it -- it. -- to it. >> i think i will be able to echo and push back a little bit on some of the previous comments. i think we can learn to lessons from our study of wilson in our contemporary moment. the first is, he realized back in, well,
certainly 1917, but i think earlier than that. before there was twitter, before there was the internet, before there were cyber attacks. the four there was air travel. he realized that sovereignty is an illusion. there is no absolute sovereignty. even then, affairs were two interrelated, interconnected, you cannot control your own destiny as a nation alone anymore than any individual in society, no matter how powerful they can control their own destiny outside of society. i think i go too far sometimes in may be denigrating the postwar order that mitchell finds so resilient. certainly, something is better than nothing and there have been wonderful
successes. -- successes since 1945. i think that brings us to the other lesson that wilson can lend to us. which is that wilson should have compromised. not for the sake of compromise, but to at least launch the experiment. to launch something bold, even if it was not exactly as he had hoped. i think his vision, his house would have been built sooner, stronger, better amenities, would be a must danger of falling down, were sacked by vandals. i think even with a flawed head start we would be further along in this experiment of international organization in its broadest sense than we are. i do think mitchell is right. there is a crisis of confidence. one of the things we can learn from wilson is how powerful promoting norms and values really can be. and
how important. but the confidence only matter if the will is there. i think there is more than just a crisis of confidence in this country. i think there is a crisis of will. we have, for many decades wanted, i we want to maintain a rules-based order. but to kathy's point, often not played by the rules. or at the very least, written the rules with very little input from other players. i think this bit on integration that we made at the end of the cold war would have paid out more handsomely had we really been focused on fairness and not just our own advantage.
>> the floor is now open for questions. if the speakers would identify themselves. >> michael davis, a new fellow curator wilson center. i am just wondering on mitchell's point about fairness and the point was just made, is there a problem for trump -- there is a lot of support for sovereignty around the world. isn't the point -- the problem that trump has is that fairness is the opposite of what he thinks it is? that the u.s. is the most privileged country on earth, that controls the rules of the earth, that controls the rules of the game. a controls the currency of the world. pretty much the richest country on earth. if i were from any of the other countries, i would say the u.s. is unfairly privileged. that is the closing point that was just made here.
isn't that the difficulty in selling this trump mission on the furnace? >> there is some question about how benign it is. >> i think one response to that is that the united states has earned its privilege over the years by what we have done. how hard we have worked, how he integrated millions of people from around the world. our values, our market system when we were spending three and four percent. he didn't think that was fair. he thought tariff barriers were imposing on american goods whereas we were
welcoming those country's goods. it's easier to start a business if you're a foreign national than any other country around the world. so i think those are the fairness issues. do we have structural advantages? absolutely. there's no doubt about it. some of them earned and some of them with the benevolence of providence as thomas jefferson would say. in terms of fairness, the president says our international arrangements as not benefiting us. i think we made those willinging, knowingly after the coal war and with china and the president is saying it's time to rethink that right now. show >> i'm john cloud. and i would like to get back to the house that wilson made. and ask y'all
what you think about what to me i believe is the longest lasting legacy of wilson, which was that -- and he wasn't alone in this. but he was a member of a tiny group of white men and the occasional white women like gertrude bell who felt enentitled at versailles to draw lines on maps and create so much of the sources of instability in the modern world in the case of europe, they redrew the lines and invented companies and has been talked about before created cultural winners and losers which is a direct trigger to world war ii. in the case of the european colonies, they largely refused to make any changes in any of the colonial lines, which reference to self-determination of whatever. and in the case of the ottman empire, they carved it out with white men straight lines, made these states, gave them names like iran, iraq,
syria, lebanon, trans jordan, etc., which have then become the source of incredible instability up to this very day and who knows how far into the future. >> thank you. i'll take that. [laughter] this will again, gets back to the importance of the league in wilson's -- in wilson's vision. he was under -- and the folly of equating self-determination with his vision. he was under no illusions that paris was going to get things right. the league was so important to him because he knew at the end of a conflict like this, and that in future conflicts -- and as the world evolved, there were going to be mistakes that would need to be adjusted. one of the reasons he was -- to say he was a supporter
of the mandate system is a simplification. he had to make some compromises on the structure of the mandate system. but one of the reasons he -- he -- one of his hopes for it was that even though against his wishes it had left several colonial territories in the hands of imperial powers, it was now written into international law and structures were in place to hold the conduct of those powers accountable to international scrutiny. it was -- it was both enormitive and practical if the will was there and if the league was strong, assault on the very idea of empire. and i think that's something that we have to keep in mind. were the mandates well-drawn? no, i would say not. wilson actually had very little
influence on drawing most of those lines. but i think it's -- it's crucial to remember that wilson himself knew this settlement was going to be imperfect. and that's why a deliberative league with -- he actually did try very hard to make sure that the assembly and not just the council had a lot of voice in that league. could address these difficulties and flaws as they became more apparent over time. >> former short-term scholar. i too would like to ask about versailles because there was some much enthusiasm when president wilson sailed to europe. it's extraordinary to
read the literature on how much hope was placed upon him and yet, it diminished so rapidly. my question is, how would you assess his performance at versailles? was he completely outdone by these wiley europeans? and i have a question about he can cose -- the czechoslovakia. that really upset the whole dissolution of the austrian empire. >> i'll take that one again. i actually think if you read the negotiations at paris, it is really difficult to make the argument that wilson was anything but the most accomplished negotiator there. it is -- it is very easy to look back on -- let me start even
further back. wilson's greatst mistake from february 1918 up until the end of the war to refuse to clarify his post war plans. he had good reasons for it. he knew that any statement he made would -- while he was distracted just be a banner out here for republicans -- his republican opposition to take potshots at. he wanted to hold his cards close to his vest. his other reason was that he recognized the shape of the settlement and reflect the ground at the armistice. and in some ways your czechoslovakia example is a case in point. that was a defacto situation that was brought to him. unfortunately, what that allowed people all around europe to do is invest their own individual or tribalistic vision -- invest his
rhetoric with their own individual tribalistic vision. and -- and that happened in the united states as well. people who thought that he must mean this or that. he must mean a free ireland. he must mean a free india. he must mean this or that. and he never corrected anybody or -- he made the choice to remain -- to remain vague rather than very clearly tell people, no, this was going to be messy. and there are going to be trade-offs for everyone involved. and this is the worst catrass fi that has befallen the people in decades or ever perhaps -- the worst catastrophe that has befallen the people in decades or ever perhaps. without getting into a discussion of the league. imagine if the united states joined the league of nations. the european powers
didn't want a league of nations. they had to accept a league of nations. and wilson made sure that that was the very first order of business at the conference, that everything else at the conference depended on getting that done. they didn't want a mandate system. they wanted to take over germany as colonies. and the pieces of the ottman empire. wilson didn't get a perfect mandate system through, but he made sure there were international oversight in his vision with a stronger league with america working as a partner. -- to slowly dismantle colonialism across the world. none of this is to say that he was racist and blind and applying his principles selectively. he was a master negotiator. he knew when he had
an advantage. more importantly he knew when he did not have an advantage. many of the things that wilson has taken to task for -- it's hard to see how he could have made different decisions. he needed japan in the league of nations. they refused to give up the shandon peninsula. the best he could do is extract a promise that they would give it up later. and in fact, within five years -- five years, they kept their promise. so i think he accomplished an amazing amount at paris. and many, many people disagree with me. [laughter] >> i'm afraid our time is up for this panel. please join me in thanking them. [applause] thank you.
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