“The scholar expert, today has a status and role both commonplace and indispensable. This was not always so: the change began with US participation in the First World War, when professional historians from the most respected universities in the country were brought into government service as technical experts and advisers.” (4)
Woodrow Wilson and the American Delegation arrived in Paris on Friday the 13, 1918 to large, inspired crowds. The Anglo-American mission hidden within the red, white and blue bunting and obligatory sloganry. Wilson is welcomed a hero even before the final act as the onlookers, and well-wishers, are hopelessly lost, caught up in the undertow of a classic Bernaysian ‘creation of circumstance’. Wilson’s hero’s welcome in Paris in fact largely due to the work of the very father of propaganda himself, Edward Bernays and the Committee on Public Information, the first propaganda arm of the US government.
Wilson aided also by George Creel, the figure head of the CPI, and Wilson’s close friend and future biographer Ray Stannard Baker, the famous socialist muckraker, was the head of the Press Bureau in Paris. Helping to both secure the progressive message and stifle any internal criticisms, together they helped establish the president as a saviour even before he arrived, the public hopeful Wilson was bringing with him to Paris a new heaven on earth. He became, “the spokesman of the moral and spiritual forces of the world” and the goal going to Paris, admitted by Bernays himself many years later, was to make Wilson a “God-head symbol.”
Although verifiably false today, these slogans remain as the generally believed reasons for the Great War. One-hundred-year-old headlines now considered poorly aged propaganda, yet here we are, their children of the future, some four generations later, finding ourselves in an historically unique position to both, bear witness to, and cast final judgement on, the long-term results of the Great War and the peace talks that followed.
When they left New York, the Inquiry were a group of obscure social science professors, but by the time the conference got under way, they were intelligence chiefs, the technical experts guiding many delegations at the peace talks by what they called a “unity of aim”. Each division chief was handpicked for both his particular field of study and his progressive liberal leanings, the entire conference itself was presented within a framework of self-determination, social equality and reform, the Germans not even invited, allowing the victors to control the present, the past and the future. The Inquiry, by usurping the authority of the State Department would play a leading role in Paris by: redrawing the boundaries of central Europe, authoring all five peace treaties and the conferences primary achievement, the first international governing body, the Covenant of the League of Nations.
“The call for cooperation on the basis of social justice has not yet been fully met. Labor and capital have not worked out their antagonisms, but never before in all the long history of its social adjustment had the nation been more alert to the fact that only by the practice of social justice can the nation achieve prosperity.” America, James T. Shotwell, America Faces the Future.
Each Inquiry member led their own division within the territorial and economic section of the American Delegation. Each having very limited involvement with the work of the other, the men of the Inquiry were compartmentalized, focused on their own particular fields. According to a key member of the Inquiry, James T. Shotwell, four days after their arrival, the entire organizational structure of the American delegation was reorganized the Inquiry placed in a leading advisory role even more intimate than that of Wilson’s own secretary of State Robert Lansing:
“the State Department and Military Intelligence have both been obliged to yield recognition to the Inquiry, which in future is to advise the Commissioners directly and not at second hand” pg. 90 APPC
The Inquiry was deeply involved in many important aspects in Paris, assisting the commissioners and plenipotentiaries with data and recommendations, fulfilling important advisory responsibilities within all delegations of all the countries present, even leading diplomatic missions to specific areas in Europe during the peace talks to consult and counsel foreign governments even travelling to Russia to meet with Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
These men of the Inquiry were the best in their fields, many graduating top-of-class. Nearly every single member emerging from a network of the oldest fraternal secret societies in America, with oaths of loyalty to those beyond public interest, sharing unspoken allegiances, these academic connections serving as an initiation into later life memberships, the various esteemed gentleman clubs of New York and Washington high society – the most influential of which they created themselves, the Council on Foreign Relations.
James Thomson Shotwell, Carnegie Endowment. Primary author of the International Labor Organization.