What was the success of Woodrow Wilson's 14 points?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Some of Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points were successful in that they were largely implemented after WWI.  They did not really succeed, though, because they did not prevent WWII from occurring.  

The first four of Wilson’s 14 Points were not really successful at all.  Countries did not all stop making secret agreements between themselves.  An example of this is the fact that the Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact included secret protocols dividing up parts of Eastern Europe between the two countries.  As we can see from the time between 1939 and December of 1941, freedom of the seas in times of war was not guaranteed.  Free trade was most certainly not established between all countries.  The colonies of the European countries were not allowed self-determination.  This means that the first four of the 14 Points did not succeed at all.

The other ten points did succeed at least to some degree.  Points V through XIII all have to do with restoring the national sovereignty of various peoples in Europe.  All of these things were actually done.  Of course, we can also argue that they did not succeed because they did not prevent conflict over such things as the status of Germans in parts of Czechoslovakia.  As for the last of the 14 Points, the League of Nations was created so we can say that point was a success.  However, the League of Nations was notable for its failure to carry out its mission.  It was never a very strong organization and it completely failed to prevent aggression such as the Italian invasion of Ethiopia or the Japanese invasion of China. 

In these ways, we can say that some of the 14 Points were successful in that they were actually carried out.  However, we can also say they were not at all successful because they did not prevent another major war from breaking out less than 25 years after the end of WWI.