Events that Led to the Great War
Among the key causes of World War I (WWI), there are such movements as imperialism, nationalism, and militarism.
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The 1910s are characterized by the grew of the class struggle and the national liberation movement. A huge influence on the rise of the struggle of the working masses for their social and national liberation was made by the revolution in Russia. It is especially important to note the Pan-Slavism movement that aimed at the integration of Slavic countries. In Germany, France, and Great Britain, there was a significant increase in the labor movement (Hewitson, 2014). Also, national liberation movements in Alsace, Ireland, and Austria-Hungary can be noted. The imperialists tried to suppress this tendency by causing a war between countries, thus retarding the global revolutionary process.
The imperialists tried to convince people of the idea of the inevitability of armed clashes, promoting militarism. To do this, they used all the means of propaganda, including media, literature, art, and church. Evoking the patriotic feelings of people, the bourgeoisie of all countries justified the arms raise and predatory aims by false arguments about the need to protect the country from external enemies. The preparation of World War I as a means of resolving both internal and external conflicts was carried out by imperialists for many years. The initial step was the creation of the two military-political blocs in Europe. In 1882, the Triple Alliance between Austria, Germany, and Italy was contracted. At the same time, Anglo-Germanic contradictions also rose harshly (Hewitson, 2014). Therefore, the United Kingdom joined the Russian-French alliance, thus creating the Triple Entente block.
The aggravation of the global confrontation between the great powers, especially Britain and Germany, which began the struggle for a re-division of the world, including the redistribution of colonies should also be noted (Hewitson, 2014). The development of these nationalist contradictions in some regions was perceived by world leader countries as the key points in the struggle for spheres of influence. The situation was particularly acute in the Balkans where the confrontation between Russia and Serbia with Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria existed. The situation was aggravated by the fact that Britain, Germany, France, and Italy also pursued their interests in the mentioned region.
Causes that Drew the United States Into World War I
At the beginning of World War I, the United States tried to preserve their neutral attitude. This neutrality was caused, first of all, by the fact that one-third of American citizens were from the European countries or had relatives there. Remaining neutral, they showed respect and a peaceful position towards all of these countries.
However, a range of events made the country enter the war on the side of Entente. The research shows that the subversive activities of German agents in America were one of the causes (Evans, 2014). In 1915, German submarine Lusitania sunk with 128 US citizens on board. The United States demanded that Germany should cease attacks on passenger ships. Germany complied, but in January 1917 renewed the attacks. The Americans suspected that the explosions at military depot Black Tom and a military factory in Kingsland are German agents’ activity (Marshall, 2014).
Meanwhile, the British intercepted and decoded Zimmermann telegram in which Germany offered Mexico to go to war with the United States in case the United States would intervene in the war. Germany also provided some help to Mexico in its border war against the United States (Evans, 2014). Another cause of the entry of the US in WWI is associated with the fact that President Woodrow Wilson wanted to participate in post-war negotiations, offering his idea to establish the League of Nations (Marshall, 2014). As soon as the potential end of the war meant the struggle for a new division of the world, the US joined the war on the side of the Entente. The American public opinion was under the impact of the Committee on Public Information that had a massive propaganda campaign.
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Treaty of Versailles and America’s Role
The main role performed by the US belongs to President Woodrow Wilson who delivered his message that is known as “Wilson’s 14 points”. It was a program of the post-war peace settlement and, at the same time, an attempt to prevent future global conflicts through the creation of an international organization – the League of Nations. The entry of the US into the war in 1917 significantly changed the situation in favor of the Entente. Realizing this, the German command made several desperate attempts to win. Applying incredible forces, German troops managed to break through the French border front near Paris yet failed.
In 1918, a truce was signed to develop conditions of peace, but they were quite rigid. The challenge was complicated by the fact that blocks had no common decision. In particular, France was very weakened by the war, both economically and financially. Therefore, it required the payment of enormous reparations, demanding the partition of Germany, but England was against this. Ultimately, Germany agreed with “Wilson’s 14 points”. In addition to restitution claims, the negotiations were complicated by territorial disagreements and the secret agreements concluded by England, France, and Italy, along with Greece and Romania during the last year of the war. Finally, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I in 1919.
It seems necessary to note that the increasing depletion of material, financial and human resources in Europe, and the accumulation of gold led to the satiety of the US financial market. As for America’s contribution to the war effort, one might note significant financial and industrial input. The business based in military regions became risky in terms of monopolies as the war could suddenly end, and orders remain unpaid (Young & Young, 2014). In addition, the end of the war would have caused a crisis of overproduction. The American businessmen were frightened and approaching the collapse of the European economy. In this connection, the role of the US becomes evident and implies the preservation of the global economy from crisis and contribution to the war ended.
It is possible to note that the US support for the Entente predetermined victory of the latter. After the First World War, the United States entered the galaxy of the winners, playing a meaningful role in world politics. The period between the 1920s and the 1930s is characterized by the fairly stable and steady development of the United States as well as its increasing role in the world (Young & Young, 2014). Thus, one might note the economic recovery, the formation of the middle class, and the growth of trade and industry. People from all over the world were searching for a better life in America, leading by the American dream according to which it was possible to work hard and then to become a rich man.
Evans, M. M. (2014). American voices of World War I: Primary source documents, 1917-1920. London, UK: Fitzroy Dearborn.
Hewitson, M. (2014). Germany and the causes of the First World War (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Bloomsbury.
Marshall, S. L. (2014). American Heritage History of World War I. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Young, W. H., & Young, N. K. (2014). World War II and the postwar years in America: A historical and cultural encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.