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Justifying Frances Demands during the Two World Wars - Essay Example

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It is only customary in the international system for states to meet and draft treaties to re-establish a state of peace after a war. Treaties are binding and should be observed by all contracting parties. Hence, states involved in drafting them are careful, yet aggressive, in ensuring that their interests are protected, and their demands, as much as possible, are met…
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Justifying Frances Demands during the Two World Wars
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"Justifying Frances Demands during the Two World Wars"

Download file to see previous pages Given her diminished state, France's demands in treaties following each of the two world wars in the 20th century is of no surprise. Thus, as this essay will argue, France's demands during World War I and World War II are essentially similar, and based on similar justifications - the fear of a German threat, worsened by the concern that her allies will not come to her aid, and the inevitable need to embark on economic reconstruction after the war - all of which shaped France's stance during post-war negotiations.
In January 1919, the victorious powers after World War I, led by President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, and Britain's Prime Minister Lloyd George began negotiations for what will later be known as the "Treaty of Versailles." The main goal of the treaty is, at the very least, to ensure the stability of the international system after the war (Treaty of Versailles, Article 1). ...
Thus, what justifications did France have for such demands

First, it is of no surprise that France, after both World War I and World War II will demand guarantees for its security justified by the fear of a possible German attack. In the case of World War I under the Treaty of Versailles, this fear is based on the fact that towards the end of the war, France is in no position to defend itself from an attack, be it Germany or another country because of the massive destruction left by the war rendering France defenceless. As Pitman Potter points out, "in case of a German attack, there can be no doubt of the reality that of the fear of such an attack on the part of the French" (1919: 666). In addition, with regard to the territorial arrangements along the Rhine, France's fear is justified because Rhine is a strategic location for France against a German invasion (Finch 1933: 727). However, what is unique about France's fear of Germany, at least after World War I is based on France's historical experience. As Potter notes,
Though the need for French fear of a repeated German attack seem slight from this distance, the state of feeling in France - even in Government circles - is determined more by the facts of 1870-1914 than by the facts of 1918-1919. (Potter 1919: 665)
Where during such time, France has experienced, and is still experiencing, a significant decline in its population compared to Germany. According to a census comparing French and German military manpower, the military manpower of the two countries began to display a steadily widening gap after 1870, despite the increasing rate of immigration in France such that by 1911, there existed a 3 million gap between the two countries in favour of France (Population Index 1946: 75). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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