The Legacy of Woodrow Wilson: American War Aims in World War I

By David M. Esposito | Go to book overview

The idea that American vital interests might have to be protected by entering the war against Germany and sending an American army to fight in Europe was deemed so utterly fatuous in 1916 that it played no part in American defense policies. Congress, press, and armed service leaders were not yet ready to think about the unthinkable. By contrast, Wilson spent most of 1916 thinking about the unthinkable as he savored a mediation scheme drawn up by Colonel House that risked American intervention in the Great War. Yet the three and five-year defense plans that were passed in the summer of 1916 would have been useless had America entered the world war at that time. When America did enter the war in 1917, both military programs had to be superseded by emergency legislation. Although his control over the nation's force posture was limited by a number of factors, he would find presidential dominion over foreign affairs, as he had written so many years earlier, to be nearly absolute.


NOTES
1.
Harvey DeWeerd, President Wilson Fights His War ( New York: Macmillan, 1968), 10-1; Robert Ferrell, Woodrow Wilson and World War 1, 1917-1921 ( New York: Harper & Row, 1985), 15; Lloyd Ambrosius , Wilsonian Statecraft ( Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1991), ix-x; Jack Lane, Armed Progressive: General Leonard Wood ( San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1978), 178; James Abrahamson , America Arms for a New Century ( New York: Free Press, 1981), 176.
2.
Thomas Knock, To End All Wars ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), ix.
3.
For an exceptionally good treatment of America's integration of force and diplomacy during the period before the Great War see Richard Challener, Admirals, Generals and American Foreign Policy, 1898-1914 ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973). For the Japanese crisis of 1913 see 373-8.
4.
Edward Coffman, "American Military and Strategic Policy in World War I", in Barry Hunt and Adrian Preston (eds.), War Aims and Strategic Policy in the Great War, 1914-1918 (Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1977), 68.
5.
Arthur Link and John W. Chambers, "Woodrow Wilson as Commander-in-Chief", in Richard Kohn (ed.), The United StatesMilitary under the Constitution of the United States, 1789-1989

-56-

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The Legacy of Woodrow Wilson: American War Aims in World War I
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Containment 1917 1
  • Notes 10
  • Chapter 2 - Most Terrible of All Wars 13
  • Notes 24
  • Chapter 3 - A Cruel and Unmanly Business 27
  • Notes 36
  • Chapter 4 - Not One Chance in Thousands 39
  • Notes 56
  • Chapter 5 - Toward an American Neutrality 61
  • Notes 80
  • Chapter 6 - These People Have One God -- Force 83
  • Notes 93
  • Chapter 7 - The Sun Rises in the West 97
  • Notes 111
  • Chapter 8 - Force Without Stint or Limit 117
  • Notes 129
  • Chapter 9 - Venomous Victories 133
  • Notes 141
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 155
  • About the Author *
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