Georges-Henri Soutou

Emeritus Professor, Sorbonne Université Member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques

The Paris Conference of 1919 Between the Traditions of European Congresses and the “New Diplomacy

Abstract: The conflicting combination of Old and New Diplomacy imparted to the Versailles treaty, through numerous compromises, a flexibility which tends to be overlooked and which was meant also to gain time in face of quite rabid Allied public opinion in 1919. Many provisions could be modified (reparations for instance), many delays could be shortened (as the occupation of the Rhineland). The treaty could be implemented harshly, as in 1921–1923, or more leniently, as after Locarno (1925). It was one of the few great international treaties which contained the means for its revision. It is not true that all the disasters of the 1930s were implied by the treaties, even if their legacy was much more short-lived and less successful than that of the Vienna Congress.

Keywords: Versailles treaty, Woodrow Wilson, George Clemenceau, “New Diplomacy”, Concert of Europe