The United States in the Supreme War Council: American War Aims and Inter-Allied Strategy, 1917-1918

By David F. Trask | Go to book overview

Preface

IN recent years Americans have become increasingly inter- ested in the history of warfare, a rather grim commentary on the omnipresence of international tensions. Many stud- ies of the Civil War and World War II have appeared, and historians have also explored anew the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. The First World War has assumed a special significance because it was the root of many problems which now engage our interest. It. opened the floodgates to totalitarianism, not only in Ger- many but in Russia and Italy as well. It represented a revival and expansion of coalition warfare on an even larger scale than during the Napoleonic era. It posed the possi- bility of maintaining international peace by collective se- curity rather than by the seemingly obsolete balance of power. It destroyed the confident assumption that democ- racy would inevitably encompass all the nations of the world and thus guarantee universal peace and justice.

Most scholars who have studied American participa- tion in World War I have concentrated either upon the neu- trality which preceded the American declaration of war on 6 April 1917 or upon the peacemaking which followed the Armistice of 11 November 1918. Few have concerned themselves with the warfare which divided the prewar and postwar phases of the American involvement. This neglect is understandable. Disillusionment with the Versailles set- tlement naturally centered interest upon either explana-

-ix-

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