Peace Conference of 1919. It re-examines a crucial problem that arose after the First World War: the tension between the immense expectations that notably Wilson’s vision of a transformative “peace to end all wars” had raised – on a global scale – and the actual outcomes of what became the most complex peacemaking process in modern history. And it seeks to show that what actually dominated this process was an unprecedented struggle – the struggle of American and European political leaders, and non-governmental actors, to negotiate for the first time the terms and rules of a transatlantic order. This endeavour has to be illuminated in a new way because it proved formative for modern international politics and had multiple global implications. For it not only determined how the League of Nations was established but also how principles of “collective security” and “self-determination” gained a novel, though ambivalent relevance; and it gave rise to the crucial new hierarchies and double-standards that came to characterise the system of Versailles. The talk thus aims to cast fresh light on the question of why it ultimately proved impossible in 1919 to lay foundations for a more integrative and legitimate peace and what consequences this had for 20th-century international history.
Patrick Cohrs has been Associate Professor of History and International Relations at Yale University since 2012. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2002 and held fellowships at the Center for European Studies and the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Before moving to Yale he pursued research as Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford, and taught at Humboldt University Berlin. He is the author of The Unfinished Peace after World War I. America, Britain and the Stabilisation of Europe, 1919–1932 (Cambridge University Press, 2006). Currently he is working on an international history of the transformation of the transatlantic order in the 20th century, which is also his main project at the Institute for Advanced Study.