The world was faced with a catastrophic decision entering the 1910’s. War was imminent in Europe and one way or another the United States was going to be invovled. My research has lead to a better understanding of how the political game and weapons build up amongst these European nations why a war had broken out. Countries were creating mass alliances that in the event of an attack, all nations must come to aid. One nation being attacked is all nations being attacked. The weapons portion of my research was no toexolain how they were used but why they crirtcal in the outbreak of mass war. These nations had been steadily stock piling weapons while also creating innovative and revolutionary weapons for warefare, such as tanks, airplanes and biological weapons. The arms race, as it came to be known, was a drving force to allow the tiniest of confrontations to escalate to much larger issues. For the first time new technology was being use that previously was unfathomable. The three keys advancements were the creation of tanks, the use of biological warfare such as mustard gas and the ability to use the air as a new battle field. War in Europe was imminent and countries knew it. Germany became known as the largest stock piler of weapons during this time and also was technologically far more advanced than any other country at the time.
Nations wanted to show their display of military prowess and were waiting for the correct time. Once Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, Europe was dealt a hand that it could not go back on. Countries began to align with one another. There were two pivotal alliances that were involved in the war. England, France and Russia became allies and formed the Triple Entente, while Germany, Austria and Italy made their coalition, what would be called the Triple Alliance. If for any reason one was to be threatened the rest were required to come to the others aid. When war did eventually break out, Russia came to the aid of Serbia, thus France also came to the aid of Serbia. Belgium was invaded by Germany and in conjunction with their pact and England, the British Crown joined the Belgians. Germany aided Austria but Italy decided to remain neutral and were not loyal to the pact. Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire would shortly join Germany and Austria in battle.
The United States played heavy game of staying neutral and having no will to fight in a war 10,000 miles away. But the war provided an econmoical advantage and there was a way that States could be involved without actaully fighting. The United States became an arms supplier while also continuing to trade with the rest of Europe. At the time the nation was split on wether or not the States should get invovled but the majority consensus was that this was not “our” war and it was Europe’s war. The other issue was that if the states were to go to war, which side would they be apart of. For the most part, we would have assumed that the United States would join its long standing allies in France and England but there was secondary stance. I growing portion of the population was German or German American at the time and they were in support of a German Alliance. The United States still refused to have any direct involvment and continued to trade with Europe both the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. Unfortunately this all changed when Britain created a blockade to cut off Germany from access to American supplies. This resulted in German u-boat retaliations by bombing “enemy” support ships.
The sinking of the Lusitania back in 1915 is considered the biggest spark into the American involvement of World War 1. As I stated in my focus being on the politics, the United States for the most part refused to have any direct involvement in the war. It was often characterized as “their war” as in Europe’s war. American public opinion was strongly divided for the most par, with most Americans until early 1917 strongly of the opinion that the United States should stay out of the war. But the United States did not stand on the sidelines when the war erupted in 1914. The states standing as a neutral state, continued to trade with both alliances, specifically France, England and Germany. Great Britain continued to still have a powerful navy and imposed a blockade on Germany. American trade was no longer permitted. The results of the blockade resulted in trade with England and France more than tripled between 1914 and 1916, while trade with Germany was cut by over ninety percent. It was this situation that prompted submarine warfare by the Germans against Americans at sea. Rules were set that only naval vessels were to be targeted and that merchant and passenger ships were free to travel. Germany continued to attack ships and took focus on the Lusitania in 1915. Opinion changed in response to German actions in Belgium and the Lusitania. German-Americans lost influence and America had to play a role to make the world safe for democracy. This article helps explain the point of American politics. The country was too heavily divided between either going to war or not and whether what side to join, mostly an alliance with the Triple Entente. The United States’ hand was forced and the decision to join the Triple Entente in war was made easier after the sinking of the Lusitania.
As war continued to wage on, President Woodrow was faced with tough decision wether or not enter a war that was so far away. He attempted to play the neutral side and was now thrust into a decision that he did not want to make. There was so much push back from the American public after the attack on the Lusitania that he had no choice but to defend his people and enter the war.