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

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

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

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

Synopsis

Contrary to popular belief, Woodrow Wilson coordinated foreign and defense policies. Wilson viewed Imperial Germany as a threat to U.S. national security and acted accordingly. His urgent desire to mediate an end to World War I was driven by geo-political concerns. Forced into the war by tertiary issues, he decided to throw a great deal of weight upon the scale by intervening decisively in the Great War in order to dominate the postwar peace conference. There he intended to dictate "a scientific peace" and to create a League of Nations to insure collective security.

Excerpt

It looks as if at some future time the power of the United States might well be sufficient, when thrown into the balance, to tip the scales in favor of a comparatively pacific settlement of international complications.

-- Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life (1909).

The First World War evokes images of trenches, barbed wire, poison gas, machine guns, and unprecedented, mechanized slaughter. America's participation in the vast holocaust has produced an ambivalent legacy -- or never was a war so popular in its execution more thoroughly, or more quickly repudiated after it was over. ertainly this is an unjust fate for one of the last of America's congressionally declared wars. The historical significance of entering the war for the U.S. was not the martial prowess that its forces displayed in the field but rather the political objectives of President Woodrow Wilson. Without him, America might well have remained neutral -- for better or worse. Wilson entered the war, after years of diplomatic wrangling, to advance his unique international agenda. For the United States, the war effort . . .

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