chapter  3
26 Pages

Reparations

The first major policy option pursued by liberal states in the twentieth century

that we will explore is one that might be said to be an example of how not to

propagate liberal ideas. The nature of words changes with historical circum-

stance, but few have had the resonance of reparation. The policy has been

blamed for destroying economies, even for the outbreak of the Second World

War. If the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 that ended the First World War has come

in for general opprobrium the reparations clauses have received far worse. They

provoked anger, dismay and the desire for revenge. Such is the importance of

that debate that this chapter is intended to engage in a consideration of the

imposition of reparations as key policy instruments in the settlement of wars in

the early twentieth century, taking the discussion up to the late 1940s. It will

centrally consider some of the surrounding ideas of the debate on the instrument

and try and suggest what might be the wider lessons of the (liberal) victor’s

attempt to extract reparations from the (generally illiberal) vanquished in the

aftermath of war.