On this day 100 years ago, the world was getting to grips with the concept of mandates, also known as Empire 2.0. Several different opinions existed regarding the concept, but something which was becoming increasingly obvious was that Woodrow Wilson wanted to wait before defining it, until the League of Nations was good and ready, David Lloyd George wanted to get on with things and at least make provisional decisions, and Georges Clemenceau sat awkwardly in the middle.
Everyone wanted on the one hand to give their loud approval of the concept, while at the same time demonstrating why mandates couldn’t possibly apply to them. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, France – everyone had ideas about what a mandate would look like and why direct annexation was better. Lloyd George for his part believed that everyone had best get on with things, but it wasn’t long before the Big Three were in loggerheads, while everyone pretty much ignored poor old Vittorio Orlando. Another day meant another set of meetings, but while the 30th January 1919 was a day where mandates were clarified to their greatest extent yet, it was another classic case of kicking the can down the road. This left everyone free to take what they wanted from this new concept; a mandate, indeed could be anything you wanted it to be – it could be an empire in all but name…
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