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A I record the words and the excellent intentions of President Wilson; but they remove the sentiment and the memory . The President of the United States is ignorant of the depths of human nature. The fact of war cannot be forgotten. America has not closely attended this war-for the first three years; we, in that time, have lost a million and a half men. We have no more manpower. Our English friends, who have lost less than we have, but enough to have also suffered much, will understand me.
Our trials have created in this country a deep sense of the reparations due to us. And it is not just reparations that are due to us. And it is not just about material reparations, because the need for moral reparations is no less.
B I hope you will agree in principle with Mr. Lloyd George on the restraint which must be shown towards Germany. We do not want to destroy her, nor could we: our greatest mistake would be to give her powerful reasons for wanting one day to take revenge. Excessive clauses would sow the sure seed of war (...) We must avoid giving our enemies the impression of injustice. I do not fear for the future wars prepared by secret plots of governments, but rather conflicts created by the discontent of populations. If we make ourselves guilty of injustice, that discontent is inevitable.
"In both France and Germany it was expected that the battles would be fought and won within a few weeks. It was thought that peacetime stocks of equipment and ammunition would suffice for the strategic requirements that would lead to victory. The result in France of this remarkable optimism was that by 15 September, after 30 days of operations, stocks were half empty and arsenals had only 120,000 shells for 75 mm guns. If peacetime stocks had not been depleted in October at virtually the same time on both sides, the lack of ammunition would have given one or the other the vainly sought-after decision on the battlefield. For the first two years, the guns of one calibre were supplied only at the expense of those of a different calibre. It was not until 1917 that production was able to meet battlefield demand more or less efficiently. Instead of 50,000 employees, 1,600,000 were taken in the defence factories, and to these workers must be added those in the United States who worked directly or indirectly in support of the Allies. The ministers and their military advisers believed that they were conducting a war "like any other", expecting its outcome to be determined in a few battles of annihilation. In reality, they had delivered the peoples of their nations to a long process of attrition."
Raymond Aron. A Century of Total War.
"We are not against the German people, but against Germany's military despotism. We must fight to safeguard democracy (...). It is terrible to throw this great and peaceful people into a war, the most terrible and disastrous war that has ever existed, for in it the very existence of civilisation itself is at stake. But right is more precious than peace, and we will fight for those things which have always been dearest to our hearts: for the right of the governed to have their voices heard in their own government, for the rights and liberties of small nations, and for an organisation based on right, composed of a cordial alliance of free peoples, which will give peace and security to all nations and finally give freedom to the world (...)".