World War I and the Role of the United States in It

Nationalism, Imperialism, and Militarism

When considering the factors that led to the eruption of WWI, one must mention nationalism, imperialism, and militarism. Due to the increasing influence of Pan-Germanism originating from the Napoleonic wars, the levels of nationalism were on the rise in Germany at the time, causing the state to strive to enhance its influence and engage in a competition with Britain. Consequently, the steep rise in militarism ensued, resulting in the nations starting to view the war as a potential method of proving their power and establishing a strong influence. Imperialism has also had a profound effect on the development of tension between the states. Being viewed as the tool for integrating the available resources and creating a strong army to resist political opponents, imperialism defined the development of military attitudes within Europe.

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Pan-Slavism in Eastern Europe

The phenomenon of Pan-Slavism has also affected the course of WWI development. Pan-Slavism implied the consolidation of Slavic states under the idea of giving assistance to Slavic people. The specified sociopolitical trend compelled the Russian government to provide the support to Serbia after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (Snyder, 2017). Thus, the involvement of Russia and other Slavic states of Eastern Europe into WWI was predetermined by the sociocultural and sociopolitical ideas that pervaded the Eastern European environment. Furthermore, the principles of Pan-Slavism were used widely to encourage Slavic soldiers to participate in the war. The propaganda had a profound impact on the target population, therefore, defining the scale of the war as the global one.

Nationalism in German-Speaking States

However, what made WWI to erupt was the rise in nationalist moods in Germany. Being affected significantly by the previous failures to expand politically, Germany was willing to build a tremendous colonial empire by conquering the neighboring states and, thus becoming competitive compared to Great Britain and France (Snyder, 2017). The specified propensity toward developing nationalist moods could be observed across all German-speaking states due to the emphasis on the national unity. The observed phenomenon was the root cause of the unification of Germany and the active promotion of the pure German state. Thus, the prerequisites for the development of Nationalist ideas, which would, later on, become the Nazi propaganda, were set.

The Alliance System and the War Outbreak

When considering the causes of the WWI, one must mention the emergence of the Alliance System as the essential factor. The Alliance System was represented by two forces known as the Allied Powers and the Central Powers. The former were composed of Russia, France, Great Britain, and the U.S., whereas the latter comprised Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey (Tucker, 2016). Due to the agreements signed between the Allied Powers, the use of military actions by the Central Powers to seize control over one of the states within the Allied Powers would mean war. By assassinating Franz-Ferdinand, thus attacking Austria-Hungary and compelling Russia to take respective measures, Germany unleashed WWI.

America’s Neutrality and the Role of Ethnicity in It

When considering the impact that the U.S. made in the course of WWI, one may notice that the U.S. have been following the principles of neutrality for a significant amount of time. The observed strategy might seem somewhat ethically questionable, yet a closer analysis of the subject matter will show that the U.S. had no other choice. Woodrow Wilson stated that the U.S. would retain its neutrality throughout the conflict. The stance that the U.S. assumed during WWI could also be explained by the policy that the U.S. followed when addressing the needs of immigrants with different ethnic backgrounds. Particularly, the American Army tended to meet the cultural needs of the diverse population respectively. Thus, the U.S. population was consolidated, which did not let the ideas of violence and willingness to destruct the enemy to prevail.

America’s Entrance into the War and Contribution to It

However, the stance that the U.S. decided to take during WWI was changed once Germany expanded its military actions into the sea. The specified decision was followed by an attack on the U.S. ships that transported goods, which finally made the U.S. change its political perspective and become involved in WWI. Wilson’s decision was supported by the Congress nearly unanimously, which marked the point at which America started participating in WWI by fighting on the side of the Allied Forces. In the summer of 1918, the U.S. troops arrived at one of the key battle locations, which was the Western Front (Williams, 2017). The specified decision implied that the U.S. was finally changing its position of a peacekeeper to the one involving direct actions to end the war.

Although the U.S. started participating in WWI at a comparatively late stage of its development, the impact that it produced was rather impressive, as well as its contribution to the ending of the war. America sent approximately 4,000,000 soldiers to Europe to fight against the Central Powers (Williams, 2017). In addition to offering extensive support with numerous supplies and the efforts of its army, the U.S. also made it possible to restrict Germany’s activities in the naval realm. As a result, the Central Powers started losing their strength and willingness to fight. Finally, on November 11, 1918, Germany signed an armistice with Britain and France (Williams, 2017).

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Treaty of Versailles (ToV) and America’s Role (the 20s-30s)

In hindsight, the Treaty of Versailles was quite flawed since it not only failed to resolve the tension between Germany and the Allied Forces but also reinforced them by making the former to accept the blame for WWI (Kelsch, 2016). The harshness of some of its clauses eliminated every trace of goodwill that it managed to build, thus, destroying the possibility of peaceful interactions between the opponents.

The contradictive nature of the ToV affected the development of the U.S. political and economic situation to a considerable extent. While the 20s were termed as the decade of optimism due to the relief that followed the end of WWI, the 30s were marked by the development of the economic recession and the Great Depression (Lanser, 2016). The specified phenomenon sparked the emergence of social democratic ideas in the U.S.

President Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations

Woodrow Wilson made a strong endeavor not to participate in WWI and maintained the identified position until the U.S. faced an imminent threat after the attack of Germany. However, even after America started participating I WWI, Wilson’s opinion on the subject matter did not change since he promoted the resolution of the conflict and the further negotiation (Lanser, 2016). Thus, the role that he played during and after the war was aimed at restoring the political and economic balance. While the U.S. faced a severe economic downfall after WWI, the strategy of Woodrow Wilson revived the American economy.


World War I remains one of the most traumatic events in the global history due to the immense number of victims and the massive losses that each of the participants suffered. Despite the fact that most of the events took place in Europe and Asia, the rest of the states from other continents participated actively in fighting Nazism and the Nazi Germany, the United States being one of the allies. Focusing on the resolution of the conflict and the active support of citizens, the U.S. played an important role in WWI.


Kelsch, K. (2016). The political optimist. New York, NY: Vision Impact Publishing.

Lanser, A. (2016). World War I through the eyes of Woodrow Wilson. North Mankato, MN: ABDO.

Snyder, L. (2017). The new nationalism. New York, NY: Routledge.

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Tucker, S. C. (2016). World War I: The essential reference guide. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Williams, G. H. (2017). The United States merchant marine in World War I: Ships, crews, shipbuilders and operators. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

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