World War I was witnessed in the course of 1914 following the assassination of a renowned global figure, namely, Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria-Este. The available historical evidence indicates that diverse aspects triggered this war, for instance, the emergence of imperialism and nationalism in the 19th century. The increased militarization among countries during this period also played a huge role in influencing the onset of World War I.
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The widening Pan-Slavic principles in regions within Eastern Europe and the emergence of nationalism among German-speaking states are part of nationalist approaches that led to WWI. These mechanisms paved the way for the development of like-minded people who were against philosophies embraced by non-Germans. Although the U.S. had assumed a neutral position for almost three years, the worsening state of global peace influenced its decision to be involved in World War I.
Causes of WWI
Nationalism rose at an alarming rate among German-speaking countries, hence triggering the onset of World War I. For instance, countries such as Britain came up with policies that prohibited foreigners from exercising some rights due to rising naval conflicts between it and Germany. When he became a powerful figure in Germany, Wilhelm II could not tolerate Britain’s occupation of Western European regions (Burgess, 2013). He influenced the political stance taken by German-speaking states, a strategy that led to the concept of Pan-Slavism (Bakhturina, 2018).
Approximately 30 German-speaking countries embraced this principle to influence the establishment of one supreme state, Serbia, on the eastern side of Europe. Such a collaborative political plan implied heightened tension among enemy nations, which, in turn, retaliated, hence resulting in World War I. The goal was to ensure that no countries were involved in secret diplomatic plans that could target enemy nations. Britain requested the support of its allied countries to oppose this strategy using its military prowess. Attacks that followed led to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. His death marked the dawn of WWI, whereby all allied countries joined efforts to fight their rivals.
Before the emergence of World War I, expenditure on artillery was on the rise. For instance, investments in military tools were significant among European countries. This situation was witnessed between Britain and Germany, especially when they started competing with a view to demonstrating their military expertise by acquiring advanced weapons (Bakhturina, 2018). The availability of such lethal armaments made it possible for these two countries to deploy them during the actual combat at a time when the application of diplomacy to settle conflicts was on the rise in the years before 1914. According to Carter (2018), such a strategy was exercised following the emergence of powerful individuals, including Wilhelm II and Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, who could influence countries’ diplomatic agendas.
Another aspect that fuelled the emergence of WWI was imperialism. This concept was characterized by countries’ desire to display their territorial mighty. For instance, countries in Western Europe demonstrated their authority by being in control of many industries located in foreign lands. Moreover, influential nations such as Britain and France engaged in attempts to export products manufactured by local industrial units. Wilhelm II of Germany could not tolerate this exploitation (Carter, 2018). As a result, he decided to manufacture weapons that were meant to fight back these two countries. In response, Britain and France came up with their advanced versions of armaments. The witnessed rising tension culminated in attacks that led to World War I.
The Entry of the U.S. into WWI
In the period between 1914 and 1917, America assumed a neutral position regarding WWI. This position was attributable to its foreign policy guidelines that encouraged the U.S. to stay away from warring countries. American citizens were pleased by President Wilson’s idea of declaring the U.S. a neutral country (Kazin, 2018). This strategy was aimed at safeguarding America’s policies and, consequently, its economic stability.
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He assured all citizens of security during a period when other countries across the world were engaging in war. However, President Wilson was against the issue of minority ethnic groups’ supporting the philosophies of their mother countries because this idea compromised America’s state of neutrality. It was declared illegal to televise news depicting ethnic disparities in the U.S. to avoid creating tensions that could later culminate in conflicts (Kazin, 2018). President Wilson appreciated immigrants’ participation in building the economy of the U.S. Nonetheless, these groups of people embraced customs that favored their motherlands, as opposed to serving the interest of the U.S.
America’s neutral position was short-lived. The observed killing of Belgians by Germans influenced the United States’ decision to take part in the war. The U.S. was discontented by news aired by different media platforms showing the cruel killing of vulnerable civilians and the extent to which other defenseless citizens were exposed to life-threatening conditions (Kazin, 2018). A huge number of Americans residing in Germany reported their need to return to the U.S. with a view to being involved in the war.
America’s business class received funding from J. P. Morgan, an American investor, and a sponsor, to engage in protests to encourage all U.S. citizens staying in other overseas countries to go back to support their country. According to Bowman (2014), these campaigns infuriated Germans who, in turn, took part in attacking a passenger sea vessel, namely, Lusitania, in 1915 with a view to injuring over 1000 people aboard this ship.
America and Germany ended up engaging in conflicts that triggered the former to allocate massive financial resources and military forces with the aim of backing up allied groups in Europe. Germany and Russia were operating collaboratively before they were overpowered after the entry of the U.S. into the war (Bakhturina, 2018). As a result, America’s participation in WWI played a huge role in concluding this global war following its excessive provision of armaments and military personnel. American forces led to the surrendering of Russian and German troops, hence marking the end of WWI in 1918.
Conclusion: The Treaty of Versailles
The overpowering of the Treaty of Versailles was attributable to President Wilson’s incapability of implementing his famous “Fourteen Points” as agreed upon by some selected European forces. This outright injustice informed people’s undisputed decision to reject all proposed agendas. They regarded Wilson’s recommendations as a strategy for destabilizing diplomatic ties (Bowman, 2014).
Other key figures such as Henry Cabot Lodge disagreed with Wilson’s proposal because it did not seek to serve the interest of the wider America. Hence, Wilson’s Treaty of Versailles ended up being defeated at a time when his health was deteriorating to the extent that nobody was willing to campaign for his agendas (Kazin, 2018). However, even after this treaty was defeated, the U.S. still maintained a strategic position between 1920 and 1930.
For instance, America continued to foresee the establishment of the League of Nations as part of President Wilson’s ideas, whose main agenda was to ensure that no related international conflicts happened (Bowman, 2014). To achieve its peacekeeping goal, the League of Nations developed a mechanism that helped countries to deal with conflicts without causing any form of harm to people. Nevertheless, America failed to register its membership with this organization. Overall, the League of Nations significantly helped to prevent any future instances of war among nations.
Bakhturina, A. (2018). Military and civilian governance in the western borderlands of the Russian Empire during the First World War. Russian Social Science Review, 59(3), 268-290.
Bowman, J. (2014). The forgotten honor of World War I.The New Atlantis, 42, 25-33.
Burgess, E. (2013). The First World War. Library Journal, 138(18), 52.
Carter, M. (2018). What happens when a bad-tempered, distractible doofus runs an empire? The New Yorker. Web.
Kazin, M. (2018). Woodrow Wilson achieved a lot. So why is he so scorned? The New York Times. Web.