America and the Great War
World War I started in 1914 engaging various countries and continents into participation. The world states’ desire to prove their rightness and power led to millions of people falling victim and nations being completely destructed. The lands became divided, so that some countries lost their territories and others struggled to grab huge areas into their possession. Lots of technical tools and soldiers were involved to fight for the victory. However, the war brought only hardships, loss of resources and the need for countries’ full reconstruction. America being a world power was also involved in the war to support the Allies and fight against nationalism of Germanic forces. The current paper examines the causes and consequences of WWI, particularly from the perspective of America.
The reasons for the beginning of World War I were diverse ranging from economic to social. However, WWI was “a waiting to happen occasion”, which was a result of heightened nationalism, imperialism and militarism throughout Europe together with incentives of the countries to get involved in the war. Arguably, nationalism, imperialism and militarism developed because of every nation’s reassurance of its powerfulness and longing to show it to the world. The nationalism also developed in Germany, since nationalist sentiment spiked military spending after Germany swigged the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 (“Militarism,” n.d.). Thus, the nationalism started developing in other German-speaking states. The elements of militarism, imperialism and nationalism became common in Europe leading up to the onset of the war; it became too widespread to blame one country’s actions for the start of fights. Militarism and nationalism in particular assisted in transforming Europe into a hostile and tense environment with millions of troops and modern industrialized warfare, which were ready to get mobilized in the event of war (Godl, 2009).
Pan-Slavism means a belief that the Slavic representatives should form their own nation. The Slavic nationalism appeared to be the strongest in Serbia, where it developed in the late 19th-20th centuries. Pan-Slavism was an opposition to the Austro-Hungarian Empire as well as its influence and control over the region. Vienna annexed of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and young people of Serbia joined radical nationalist groups to protect their nation and confront Austria. These groups aimed at driving Austria-Hungary from the region of Balkans and build a ‘Greater Serbia’ for just Slavic people. This Pan-Slavic nationalism inspired the killing of an Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand (Llewellyn, Southey, & Thompson, 2014). This event caused the sharpening of nationalism due to the offense in Austria. Austria made certain demands on Serbia, so that Serbia, trying to deem its national pride, protested and offended. Russia, being a protector of the national existence of Serbia stepped in. Austria opposed to Russia’s interference on the basis of infringement of its national sovereignty. This led to Russian mobilization while Germany, under the impact of the nationalistic Pan-Germanic mania, grouped together with Austria. The War followed (Berenberg, 2013).
Alliance was one more reason of the War outbreak. Alliance systems were established to support the peace in the world and many countries were the members of the system to sustain the peacefulness. The organization’s rules required full support of every country involved into the Alliance, which made the outbreak of World War possible. Thus, after the killing of Ferdinand, Austria had to revenge for the offense and attacked Serbia. In backing of Serbia, Russia mobilized its troops against Austria-Hungary, which declared war on Serbia. As a result, Germany proclaimed war on Russia. The allies of Russia, the United Kingdom and France, also entered the conflict. Thus, the War broke out and expanded.
Since the initiation of World War I in 1914, the United States, ruled by President Woodrow Wilson, had kept strict neutrality, not to mention providing material support to the Allies. And although the Americans supported the Alliance troops, they did not intend to get engaged in the other countries’ war. The status of neutrality completely satisfied them as the Americans just observed the course of the fights. America’s not entering the war was explained by its ethicality, because the deaths and losses were hard to witness. However, in November 1916, Wilson started a series of initiatives to negotiate a resolution, sending diplomatic offers to the governments of each nation involved. The Germanic Republic responded positively to initiating immediate peace conciliations. But David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister, rejected the initiative of Wilson directly. In the beginning of 1917, Germany claimed that it would lift all prohibitions on submarine warfare beginning on February 1 (Manning, 2014). This announcement meant that commanders of German U-boat were suddenly permitted to sink all the ships, which were supposed to provide any sort of aid to the Allies. Moreover, in February 1917, British surveillance intercepted a telemessage from Germany. In the telegram, which German minister of foreign affairs, Alfred Zimmermann sent to his representative in Mexico, Zimmermann commanded the ambassador to propose Mexico generous financial assistance if it united forces with Germany hostile to the United States. On March 1, 1917, the text of Zimmermann’s telegram emerged on the cover pages of American newspapers, The American public immediately shifted to the decision of entering the war (“The war that launched the American Century,” 2014).
The America started to send its troops and technical convoys to support the Alliance. A huge American army was sent to Europe to fight for the victory. However, it was not only the military contribution that was made by America during the war. America also facilitated the end of the “Great War” as President Wilson declaimed a speech in front of the U.S. Congress in January 1918, defining a total of fourteen discrete requirements, which he saw to be necessary to restore and keep peace in Europe as well as the rest of the world. These requirements became known as Wilson’s “Fourteen Points.” Wilson’s points contained proposals to unify the states, end the war and maintain peace in the whole world. These long-term points also contained a suggestion that treaties and diplomacy must be always conducted in full public view. The President Wilson suggested eliminating all economic barriers and adopting an “equality of trading conditions” for all the nations. Wilson’s proposals laid the basement for the armistice negotiations, which would take place in the future.
In 1918, the Allied Powers appeared to be victorious, and they were eager to make Germany pay. Thus, the Alliance organized the Paris Peace Conference on January 18, 1919, aiming at developing a treaty, which would punish Germany as well as meet the goals of the diverse Allied Powers. Moderating the treaty, which is known as the Treaty of Versailles, appeared to be a complex and long process. At first, the negotiation was handled by the Council of Ten, consisting of ten Allied Powers, but it proved to be too large while its members’ opinions were too conflicting. Furthermore, the treaty negotiation was handled by the Big Four, specifically, the Great Britain, the United States, France, and Italy. However, Italy was excluded from the process as its representative became furious that their demands for larger territory had been rejected.
The contribution of America to the war was immense, and the “Great War” brought power and a feeling of victory to the Americans. The President Wilson was claimed to be a democratic and negotiate leader who could rule the country and the world. Thus, the United States played a crucial role in the victory as well as the end of the war. After the war, during the 20s-30s, America’s policy was directed to making peaceful agreements and ensuring economic stability. All efforts of the President Wilson were directed to stabilizing the world after the war. Thus, Wilson continued promoting “The Fourteen Points” and proceeded with the establishment of the League of Nations, which was aimed at supporting all country-members in the case of war or other hazardous conflicts. The idea of the League was based on the broad, international repulsion against the unprecedented demolition of the First World War and the coexisting understanding of its origins. The League of Nations reflected all of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which were grounded on the theories of common security and international organization approved by jurists, academics and utopians prior and during the war. However, the American nation refused to participate in the League of Nations and give help to other states as well as receive it (“League of Nations,” 2003).
To conclude, World War I was a terrible event that destructed the entire world, and led to numerous human losses and economic hardships. The rise of nationalism, imperialism and militarism was the main cause of the war as well as the main reason for the initiation of the Alliance, which made all its members support each other and unite in case of war. Thus, although the Serbian army killed the Austrian Franz Cardinant, other countries including Russia, Germany and Britain had to intervene to execute the conditions of the Alliance. This marked the beginning of the war. America being a democratic country ruled by the President Wilson firstly supported the Allied Powers and stayed neutral but then had to enter the war as well. The United Stated played a crucial role in the victory of the Alliance and the end of the war as Wilson was first to propose “the Fourteen Points”, which required the countries to negotiate and stay at peace. This document led to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and later the formation of the League of Nations, which aimed at establishing peace all around the world.