Entente Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 10, 1917

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Entente Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 10, 1917

Entente Reply to President Wilson's Peace Note, January 10, 19171

                Ambassador Sharp to the Secretary of State


                                                            AMERICAN EMBASSY,
                                                            Paris, January 10, 1917.
     The following is the translation of the French note:
     "The Allied Governments have received the note which was de-
livered to them in the name of the Government of the United States
on the nineteenth of December, 1916. They have studied it with the
care imposed upon them both by the exact realization which they have
of the gravity of the hour and by the sincere friendship which attaches
them to the American people.
     "In general way they wish to declare that they pay tribute to the
elevation of the sentiment with which the American note is inspired
and that they associate themselves with all their hopes with the project
for the creation of a league of nations to insure peace and justice
throughout the world. They recognize all the advantages for the cause
of humanity and civilization which the institution of international
agreements, destined to avoid violent conflicts between nations would
prevent; agreements which must imply the sanctions necessary to in-
sure their execution and thus to prevent an apparent security from
only facilitating new aggressions. But a discussion of future arrange-
ments destined to insure an enduring peace presupposes a satisfactory
settlement of the actual conflict; the Allies have as profound a desire
as the Government of the United States to terminate as soon as pos-
sible a war for which the Central Empires are responsible and which
inflicts such cruel sufferings upon humanity. But they believe that it
is impossible at the present moment to attain a peace which will assure
them reparation, restitution and such guarantees to which they are
entitled by the aggression for which the responsibility rests with the
Central Powers and of which the principle itself tended to ruin the
security of Europe; a peace which would on the other hand permit
the establishment of the future of European nations on a solid basis.
The Allied nations are conscious that they are not fighting for selfish
interests, but above all to safeguard the independence of peoples, of
right and of humanity.
     "The Allies are fully aware of the losses and suffering which the
war causes to neutrals as well as to belligerents and they deplore them;
but they do not hold themselves responsible for them, having in no way
either willed or provoked this war, and they strive to reduce these
damages in the measure compatible with the inexorable exigencies of
their defense against the violence and the wiles of the enemy.
"It is with satisfaction therefore that they take note of the declara-
tion that the American communication is in nowise associated in its
origin with that of the Central Powers transmitted on the eighteenth
of December by the Government of the United States. They did not
doubt moreover the resolution of that Government to avoid even the
appearance of a support, even moral, of the authors responsible for
the war.
     "The Allied Governments believe that they must protest in the
most friendly but in the most specific manner against the assimilation
established in the American note between the two groups of bellige-
rents; this assimilation, based upon public declarations by the Central
Powers, is in direct opposition to the evidence, both as regards respon-
sibility for the past and as concerns guarantees for the future;
President Wilson in mentioning it certainly had no intention of asso-
ciating himself with it.
     "If there is an historical fact established at the present date, it is
the willful aggression of Germany and Austria-Hungary to insure
their hegemony over Europe and their economic domination over the
world. Germany proved by her declaration of war, by the immediate-
violation of Belgium and Luxemburg and by her manner of conducting
the war, her simulating contempt for all principles of humanity and all
respect for small States; as the conflict developed the attitude of the
Central Powers and their Allies has been a continual defiance of
humanity and civilization. Is it necessary to recall the horrors which ac-
companied the invasion of Belgium and Servia, the atrocious regime
imposed upon the invaded countries, the massacre of hundreds of
thousands of inoffensive Armenians, the barbarities perpetrated against
the populations of Syria, the raids of Zeppelins on open towns, the
destruction by submarines of passenger steamers and of merchantmen
even under neutral flags, the cruel treatment inflicted upon prisoners
of war, the juridical murders of Miss Cavel, of Captain Fryatt, the
deportation and the reduction to slavery of civil populations, et cetera?
The execution of such a series of crimes perpetrated without any re-
gard for universal reprobation fully explains to President Wilson the
protest of the Allies.
     "They consider that the note which they sent to the United States
in reply to the German note will be a response to the questions put
by the American Government, and according to the exact words of the
latter, constitute 'a. public declaration as to the conditions upon which
the war could be terminated.'
     "President Wilson desires more: he desires that the belligerent
powers openly affirm the objects which they seek by continuing the
war; the Allies experience no difficulty in replying to this request.
Their objects in the war are well known; they have been formulated
on many occasions by the chiefs of their divers Governments. Their
objects in the war will not be made known in detail with all the
equitable compensations and indemnities for damages suffered until
the hour of negotiations. But the civilized world knows that they
imply in all necessity and in the first instance the restoration of
Belgium, of Servia, and of Montenegro and the indemnities which
are due them; the evacuation of the invaded territories of France, of
Russia and of Roumania with just reparation; the reorganization of
Europe guaranteed by a stable regime and founded as much upon
respect of nationalities and full security and liberty economic develop-
ment, which all nations, great or small, possess, as upon territorial
conventions and international agreements suitable to guarantee terri-
torial and maritime frontiers against unjustified attacks; the restitu-
tion of provinces or territories wrested in the past from the Allies by
force or against the will of their populations, the liberation of Italians,
of Slavs, of Roumanians and of Tcheco Slovaques from foreign
domination; the enfranchisement of populations subject to the bloody
tyranny of the Turks; the expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman
Empire decidedly (. . .)2 to western civilization. The intentions
of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia regarding Poland have been
clearly indicated in the proclamation which he has just addressed to
his armies. It goes without saying that if the Allies wish to liberate
Europe from the brutal covetousness of Prussian militarism, it never
has been their design, as has been alleged, to encompass the extermina-
tion of the German peoples and their political disappearance. That
which they desire above all is to insure a peace upon the principles of
liberty and justice, upon the inviolable fidelity to international obliga-
tion with which the Government of the United States has never ceased
to be inspired.
     "United in the pursuits of this supreme object the Allies are deter-
mined, individually and collectively, to act with all their power and
to consent to all sacrifices to bring to a victorious close a conflict upon
which they are convinced not only their own safety and prosperity
depends but also the future of civilization itself."

1Official print of the Department of State.
2Apparent omission