On 8 January 1918, Woodrow Wilson, the president of the United States, set out his fourteen points to reform a world broken by the First World War. The US had entered the conflict the previous April as an associate power, and would be a major force in ending the war. Now, Wilson delivered his nation's blueprint for peace.
The president’s high idealism of open diplomacy, democracy, self-determination, disarmament and free trade was intended as an antidote to European imperial rivalry, nationalism and revolution. Yet within just over a year Wilson's plans were as broken and compromised as the world itself.
Graham Cross explores the story behind this famous speech that has come to define not only American war aims but also a whole tradition of national foreign policy. He also asks whether Wilson's aims were achievable or whether the president's idealism was foolhardy in the face of international diplomacy and domestic politics.
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