Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq

By Susan A. Brewer | Go to book overview

2
Crusade for Democracy

Over There in the Great War

We go forth in the same spirit in which the knights of old went forth to do
battle with the Saracens. Notwithstanding the sacrifices, we shall gain from it a
nobler manhood and a deeper sense of America’s mission in the world.… The
young men of America are going out to rescue Civilization. They are going to
fight for one definite thing, to save Democracy from death. They are marching
on to give America’s freedom to the oppressed multitudes of the earth.

Pershing’s Crusaders, 1918

We have come back hating war, disgusted with the prattle about ideals, disil-
lusioned entirely about the struggles between nations. That is why we are quiet,
why we talk little, and why our friends do not understand. But the populace
refuses to be disillusioned; they force us to feed their own delusions. Soon we
will take on the pose of brave crusaders who swept the battlefields with a shout
and a noble charge.

Captain Will Judy, 1919

AS A RESULT OF WORLD WAR 1, President Woodrow Wilson sought nothing less than the creation of a new world order based on American principles and interests and led by the United States. After three years of staying out of the European conflict, the president decided that the United States must take a hand in ending it. Confident of American moral and economic superiority, he believed the United States would save civilization from barbarism. To the war, he brought a plan for peace. It challenged old world imperialism by advocating the principle of self-determination, which allowed people to choose their own governments. He called for open door capitalism and advocated an international collective security system. Wilson’s brand of liberal internationalism projected a world order in which the United States would

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