What are the important points of Wilson's Fourteen Points, and how successful were they in trying to bring a lasting peace after World War One?
Each of the Fourteen Points represented an idea that Wilson saw as necessary to structure the postwar order in such a way as to reduce the likelihood that another war would break out. The first said that "open covenants of peace" should follow World War I, which was intended to stop the kind of backroom haggling that often characterized peace conferences, and to keep nations from privately conspiring against each other in the future. Freedom of the seas and free trade were also both understood as measures that would help stop embargoes, blockades, and struggles for "spheres of influence" around the world. Arms reductions sought to reduce the risk that heavily-armed nations would blunder into war with each other. The bulk of the Fourteen Points were aimed at redrawing territorial lines in Europe to comport with the ethnic groups that lived there, respecting the sovereignty of smaller nations like Belgium and dividing up the Ottoman Empire and Austrian Empire. Finally, the Fourteen Points reflected a belief among many diplomats that a League of Nations was necessary to mediate in international disputes. Wilson was successful in establishing some of the Fourteen Points, but not others, and America's failure to ratify the League of Nations, and therefore to join it, was an especially important failure. The spirit as well as the letter of the Fourteen Points were not respected at the Paris Peace Conference.