Sunday, July 14, 2013

Was the Zimmermann Telegram a Fraud? Fourteen Points, Treaty of Versailles, and German Reparations

Was the Zimmerman Telegram a Fraud?

The posed question of the Zimmermann Telegram being a fraud is one that I had not previously considered, but is actually a plausible conclusion. We have seen false accusations and false flags multiple times in recent history that have generated war support from the American people and have justified, in many cases unilaterally by the United States, military actions (along with economic sanctions that can lead to military actions). The verification that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction is probably one of the most popular cases. [1]. What makes the possibility of the Zimmermann Telegram being a false flag even stronger is that President Wilson had already secured a second presidential term based on keeping the United States out of the European War.

According to history, the Zimmermann Telegram, supposedly intercepted and decoded in 1917 by the British, was a coded message issued by German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the German Minister in Mexico offering U.S. territory in return for Mexican support to the German cause. Looking at the text of the telegram, it seems to blatantly instigate two areas of American interests that would stimulate Congressional justification for American entry into the conflict, and more importantly stir up pro-war domestic support among the American people. The telegram opens by declaring that Germans “intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare” which would have blatantly violated the commitment of the Sussex Pledge that Germany had made to the United States in 1916 [2]. According to the telegram, Germany also offered Mexico “generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona”, territories that Mexico had lost to the U.S. during the Mexican War between 1844 and 1854[3].

It would seem that American (private sector) economic interests were already deeply intertwined with the British, and thus the French. As long as the triple entente states were in good shape during the conflict, the U.S. was able to silently support (and private sector profit) from the sidelines of the European war. The Russian Revolution of 1917 changed the balance of the war in favor of Germany and the Wilson administration required domestic public support to justify the war and in order to enter the war, especially after Wilson’s reelection campaign to stay out of the conflict. The American media was utilized and the “American press published news of the telegram on March 1. On April 6, 1917, the United States Congress formally declared war on Germany and its allies” [4].

I do not believe it is a far reach to consider the possibility that the Zimmermann Telegram was a fraud in order to generate pro-war support among the American people in order to obtain Congressional approval.

Notes:

[1] Diamond, J., J. Keen, & Associated Press Staff, “CIA’s final report: No WMD found in Iraq,” USA Today, October 7, 2004, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2004-10-06-wmd_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA

[2] Zimmermann, Arthur, Zimmermann Telegram, 1917, Public Domain, http://www.archives.gov/global-pages/larger-image.html?i=/education/lessons/zimmermann/images/decoded-message-l.jpg&c=/education/lessons/zimmermann/images/decoded-message.caption.html

[3] Zimmermann, Arthur, Zimmermann Telegram, 1917, Public Domain, http://www.archives.gov/global-pages/larger-image.html?i=/education/lessons/zimmermann/images/decoded-message-l.jpg&c=/education/lessons/zimmermann/images/decoded-message.caption.html

[4] National Archives, “Teaching With Documents: The Zimmermann Telegram,” http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/zimmermann/

Additional Resources:

U.S.-Mexican War, PBS History Series, Interactive Media Timeline Map, http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/timeline_flash.html

Fourteen Points, Treaty of Versailles, German Reparations

Studying the armistice at the end of World War I, one major element that has come to my attention is the sharp contrast between how Germany, as the alleged aggressor of this war, has been portrayed in U.S. schools and history books compared to the economic reality of the situation. It is generally understood by international relations students that the balance of European power, and the rise of Germany as an industrial power, leading into World War I, including the formation of the triple entente between Britain, France and Russia with the blockade on Germany, was the cause of conflict. The U.S. joined the side of the triple entente towards the end of the conflict based on accusations of German submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram, but imperialism really needs no excuse when it comes down to action.

President Wilson’s Fourteen Points Speech towards the conclusion of the conflict on January 8, 1918 was mere verbal rhetoric that candy coated imperial designs in my opinion, especially considering the fact that Wilson had won a presidential re-election based on keeping the U.S. neutral and out of the European war and the U.S. was never able to muster enough domestic popular or Congressional support to join the League of Nations.

I have almost completed a book entitled ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’ by John Maynard Keynes that clarifies the massive punishment that was inflicted on Germany after the war. Besides outrageous economic reparations monitored by a Reparations Committee made up of Allied state member representatives, reparations which Germany would not be able to uphold under a devaluated currency and considering that she was stripped of the bulk of her mercantile marine vessels, stripped of her foreign colonies, and most damaging, lost control of the coalfields and iron ore of the Ruhr, Upper Silesia, and the Saar which made Germany the first industrial power and an economic threat to the surrounding imperial European states. On top of the economic damage caused to Germany by accepting the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was required to demilitarize and acknowledge the War Guilt clause. The stage after the first conflict was set for a nationalistic movement.
Keynes, John Maynard. 1920. The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Public Domain. Accessed on July 8, 2013 from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15776/15776-h/15776-h.htm

Wilson, Woodrow. 1918. Fourteen Points Address. Public Domain. Accessed on July 8, 2013 from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/wilson14.asp


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