The Great War and America


TheGreat War and America

TheGreat War and America

Thecauses of the First World War were diverse and no one cause can bepointed out with certainty. However, the assassination of ArchdukeFranz Ferdinand is termed and certainly believed as the cause thatsparked off the actual war. However, there were many more factorsthat created and built tensions among the antagonists and drew thelines of war long before the spark to battle(Martel,2003).Ina similar manner, American involvement took longer and was delayedover time, despite signals and tensions building to involve Americainto the war. The discussion on the causes of the war will explorethe causes and the events for American entry. Moreover, thediscussion will explore the role or America in the war and the partplayed after the war.

Oneof the main factors that created tensions for the war and fueled thedrive to engage in the conflict by many nations was the spirit ofnationalism, especially in German-speaking nations. Long before thewar, European countries cultivated a spirit of nationalism amongsttheir citizens and led them to believe that they were powerful interms of economic and political setups(Martel,2003).Thebelief in their power further led to the development of faith intheir military as the power that could make them supreme(Taylor,1998).Theextreme believe in nationalism led to the Gavrilo Princip toassassinate Austrian throne heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand, inSarajevo. The nationalistic spirit by the European countries built abelief to their citizens that other nations had no right to trend onthem, and that they had moral authority to defend their nation by anymeans, including a war.

Imperialismwas one of the strongest causes of the war, and the tensions betweennations that fueled the war for years. European countries were busyconquering colonial territories in parts of the world, includingAfrica(Martel,2003).Asa result of their quest, they frequently engaged in diplomaticclashes among themselves. The most active countries were the greatpowers Germany, Britain, Italy, France, Russia and Austria-Hungary(Willmott, 2003). The diplomatic tensions was had frequently led toarmed conflicts as they competed for territories in Europe and Africaamong other regions. For instance, a significant cause of the war wasthe competition for the division of the Balkans territory betweenAustria-Hungary, Russia and Serbia(Gerard,2001).Thiscompetition was replicated in other countries, which created tensionsbetween nations that drew battle wars and set up the war.

Therise of Pan-Slavism in Eastern Europe during the early twentiethcentury led to the extension of the nationalistic spirits among theSlavic. The main aim of the nationalistic movement was to unite allthe Slavic people, and was significantly seen in the Balkansterritory(Taylor,1998).Thereason for the strength of pan-Slavism in Balkans was the fact thatthe region had been for long ruled by non-Slavic countries likeAustria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, the Venice and the ByzantineEmpire (Willmott, 2003). Just like the pan-Germanism,the rise of the pan-Slavism led to the search for means to securefree Balkan and Slavic nations at all cost, even making allianceswith friendly nations.

Thealliance system was one of the most important factors, not onlycaused the war, but also sustained the battle for a long period oftime that it took. The alliance system among nations created powersamong the countries on both sides of the antagonism, as determined bythe factors that built tensions among them(Martel,2003).Thenations involved in the war formed alliances depending on the wayeach related to the other. Italy was joined by Germany andAustria-Hungary to form the triple alliance(Taylor,1998).Onthe other hand, Russia, Britain and France joined into an alliance toform the Triple Entente. At the center of the immediate cause of thewar was Bulgaria-Serbia, whose conflict sparked the war. Thesealliances grew with more nations in the world joining either of thesides to form the large antagonistic sides the central powers led byGermany and the allies led by Britain. This explains why the WorldWar 1 was a global war, centered in Europe.

TheUnited States entered the war because of a direct threat to itsinternal peace and security as the Germans sought to attack herthrough Mexico. The immediate event was the attempt by the GermanMinisterAlfred Zimmerman to tempt Mexico attack the United States (Ryan2013). As a reward, Germans promised Mexico territories in the UnitedStates such as Texas, Arizona and New Mexico in return (Ryan 2013).Theentry of the United States into the World War 1 was delayed by thepolicy of neutrality that the United States had held as part of itsforeign policy. Because of this policy, Americafirst remained neutral in the World War 1 between its start in 1914and the time of entry in 1917(Willmott, 2003). The principle of neutrality as declared byPresidentWoodrow Wilson during the war was, however broken by the attempt bythe Germans.

TheAmerican entry into the First World War was a factor that led to theend of the war. The entry of America into the war gave the allies thegreat military boost that overpowered the resilient central powers.America provided additional military personnel and war strategy thatoverpowered the central powers (Ryan 2013). Particularly, America hadbeen industrializing and brought war equipment, weapons and suppliesto the allies, which boosted their victory over the central powers(Martel,2003).The defeat of the central powers was cemented by the signing ofthe&nbspTerminationof the Present War Act signed 1918.This was an event that led to the signing of the treaty of Versaillesin 1919.

Thesigning of the treaty of Versailles was a significant failure of theworld because the document placed severe economic consequences onGermany by France, Britain and Russia. Therefore, the treaty ofVersailles was defeated by the German quest to build up aneconomically and militarily stronger nation, years after the end ofthe war. This was the factor that developed to lead to the SecondWorld War(Willmott, 2003). Therole of the United States in the treaty of Versailles wassignificantly neutral as the congress of the United States failed torectify the treaty.

Despitethe congress refusal to rectify the treaty of Versailles, PresidentWoodrow Wilson played a significant role in the establishment of theLeague of Nations. President Woodrow Wilson led the formulation ofthe League of Nations concept and signed the covenant that formed it.However, the United States did not join the League of Nations becausethe United States Congress rejected calls for the country to be partof the League of Nations (Gerard,2001).Championed by President Woodrow Wilson, the League of Nations was anintergovernmental body that was formed to ensure that the nationsresolved conflicts amicably and prevent the outbreak of another warin the future.


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Martel,G. (2003).&nbspTheOrigins of the First World War,New York: Pearson Longman

Taylor,A.J. (1998).&nbspTheFirst World War and its aftermath, 1914–1919,London: Folio Society

RyanF.M. (2013). AbandoningAmerican Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the GreatWar, August 1914-December 1915.New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Willmott,H.P. (2003).&nbspWorldWar I,New York: Dorling Kindersley