Note for a Planned Article
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)
From George Creel, Rebel at Large: Recollections of Fifty Crowded Years (1947), pp. 213-214 [see also]:
Never once throughout the war [WWI] did I have a doubt as to the wisdom and justice of our propaganda, preaching the Fourteen Points in particular with gospel fervor. True, we had said that it was the right of every people to choose the kind of government under which they wished to live, but all the same there was plain implication that the republican form was far and away the best. Why not? What more conclusive proof than the United States?
This complacence was jarred into small pieces by my close-up of Europe [in a 1919 visit]. "Self-determination" did not have the old rich, satisfying sound when seen in action.
Instead of seventeen countries, twenty-six had come into being, and the growth of an intense and aggressive nationalism added mean hates to the tragedy of chaos precipitated by the utter lack of any sound economic basis.
Whatever the faults of the Hapsburg dynasty, at least it assured the unity of the Danube basis, the indispensable keystone of European equilibrium. With this unity shattered, and the free movement and free trade shackled by the creation of new frontiers, Europe's progressive pauperization looked to be inevitable. Only Germany, the real criminal, had hope of finding profit in the muddled situation.