The difficulty of threading one's way through the intricacies of the organization of the Peace Conference is due chiefly to the fact that the conference is from one point of view a continuation of various interallied conferences and councils created for the prosecution of the war. In some cases the functions of these bodies have apparently been taken over by the conference, and in other cases the preëxisting councils and commissions have continued in operation as interallied agencies distinct from the organization of the conference. A brief review of the most important of these agencies will be of assistance, therefore, in making clear the origin and special functions of the conference.
The Supreme War Council was created by an agreement between Great Britain, France and Italy at a meeting held at Rapallo, Italy, in the first week of November, 1917. It was composed of the prime ministers and a member of the governments of each of the great powers fighting on the western front. Its purpose was to watch over the general conduct of the war and prepare recommendations for the decision of the governments. It was to be assisted by a permanent central military committee, consisting of Generals Foch, Wilson and Cadorna, but the decisions of these technical advisers were merely to be the basis of recommendations from the War Council to the several governments, leaving the general staffs and military commands of each power responsible to their individual governments. The United States subsequently adhered to the Rapallo agreement, and participated in the meeting of the council at Versailles on December 1, 1917.