The Paris Peace Conference reminds us not to ignore the players in history. It made a difference that Wilson was not a healthy man: in Paris he made concessions, to the Italians for example, out of sheer weariness. When he returned to the United States to try to get the Senate to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, with the League embedded in it, his natural stubbornness was exacerbated to the point where he refused all compromise with the moderate Republicans. As a result the Treaty was not ratified and the United States never joined the League of Nations. It mattered, to take another example, that Eleutherios Venizelos, the great Greek Prime Minister, managed to charm Lloyd George and persuade him that the ancient Greek empire in Asia Minor could be reconstituted. Lloyd George gave Greece the go-ahead to land troops at Smyrna and encouraged the Greeks to advance inland. The result was the mobilization of Turkish nationalism under Kemal Ataturk, the defeat of the Greek forces and the end of the centuries-old Greek communities throughout Turkey.


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