The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

SECTION III
EUROPE

"Why can't you Europeans all get together?"

--Any GI to any European.

"European history is for Americans to understand and for Europeans to ponder over."


CHAPTER 9: Europe a Conundrum for Americans

THE American people has now become very much mixed up with the politics of the Eastern Hemisphere and particularly with Europe, the region which, from the discovery of gunpowder in the fourteenth century until quite recently, was the center of political power on the planet.

It took a long time and cost them a deep inner struggle before Americans overcame their reluctance to play a part in the affairs of the Old World, upon which so many of them, or of their ancestors, had turned their backs with relief. In the eyes of European statesmen, the United States joined the ranks of the Great Powers at least as early as the Spanish-American War, if not in the days of Grover Cleveland; but it was close on half a century later before the realization of this fact was brought home to the nation as a whole, irrespective of internal differences. The moment of final decision was December 7, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor not only stirred all Americans in a common impulse of self-defense but opened their eyes to the power vacuum which,

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