America Involvement in WW1
Zieger, R (2001) brings out the American experiences in the Great War describing it as a Mr.Wilson war (p1).When the war broke out in Europe the American people wished for it to remain a European affair.
They wanted to remain a neutral force supporting neither of the warring sides. This was the period in the United States history when the country was deeply embedded in the isolationism principles, when it came to this war they did not want to be dragged in the political affairs of Europe.
Their main focus was economical; they just wanted to expand trade in different parts of the world. They felt that their involvement in the war would jeopardize their expansionist ambitions. They believed that the war would not last for long and the world would be in peace after a short while. In keeping with true neutrality spirit America had in the beginning refused to supply either side or extending any economic assistance to any of the nations involved in the warfare.
The American pacifists thought that the conflict would not extend to the other parts of Europe; it would just remain a German and French affair. They were of the view that though the war was not necessary, America interests were not threatened by the activities that were taking place in Europe. (Zieger, R 2001) The neutrality policy was tested when Germany issued threats that any ship approaching British zone would be sank. President Wilson warned Germany against such a threat, according to him they were to be held responsible for any American ship that would be attacked or sank.
German use of boats which were known as the U boats posed real threat to the United States and perhaps was the reason why the country could not remain neutral anymore; they had to join the war to protect their interests. The announcement by German pertaining targeting all ships approaching Britain zone angered America prompting their reaction. This was heightened when one of the American ships by the name Lusitania was sank by the German forces killing one hundred and eight Americans who were on board.
Though this issue was resolved without attracting much conflict America was forced to adopt a new stand which was to go a long way in taming Germany which was threatening to tear the world apart with its domination ambitions. There are other factors that led to America move from the pacifist view and actively participate in this Great War. They felt that their interests as a country were threatened by Germany threats. The ultimate decision to join the war was reached by the congress when they got some information which indicated that Germany was intending to enter into an agreement with Mexico where the America interest would be attacked.
This made the President to move with swift speed declaring an all out war with the enemy. They could no longer sustain their neutrality and isolationist attitude since this would have meant doom for this great nation. (Coffman,E1998 56) For any nation to rally its people to the course of the war ,there must be some information distributed urging people to support the course. This is what happened in America during the First World War. A body was formed with the purpose of influencing the americans opinion regarding participation in the war.
President Wilson appointed advisers who included Walter Lippmann and Bernays Edward. Propaganda played a key role in getting the American public who intially were jittery about entering into the war. It was a necessary method through which Americans wanted to promote democractic policy around the world. There are various methods that were adopted to advance the propaganda ,movies depicting Germans as an evil lot. They warned the Americans to be wary of Germany spies. Patriotic organizations came up where effrots were made to try and get spies and traitors.
The committee set up used various medium such as posters,cables and radio to convey the message to the people. Propaganda was a very effective tool during this war,American government was able to paint Germany as the biggest enemy of democracy and as the country having the worst human rights record where they killed even innocent babies in the name of the war. Through this methods the government gained the much needed support from the people who intially wanted nothing to do with a European war. (Degler,C 1984 604)
The same tool has been used in many other occassions ,for example during the war in Afghanistan,change of regimes in Panama,Iraq,democratization of Nicaragua,The Philipines,Cuba,Hawaii,Puerto Rico and many other. The American government has used the same method in painting dictators in these countries as the enemies of democtatization process. The information given to the people as Kinzer chronicles highlighted waas meant to paint the leaders of these countries as bad and should be removed so that the natives can be liberated from their bad rules and oppressive systems.
American interest were also in the picture in most of these undertakings. In both cases there are people who felt that the government was overstepping its mandate through its involvement in affairs which had nothing to do with America. These are some of the people who were the targetted by these propaganda machinery and in most casesthey worked right as america was able to intervene and bring some changes in some of the worst regimes in the world. (David,K 1980 24)
Kinzers had expolored some of the examples where the American government has successfully used the similar method to rally its citizen behind it and helped win a war. The American people have been made to believe that the government is doing this as a noble course. It has portrayed itself as a machinery that intervenes to liberate masses without result to bloodshed,where innnocent civilians are killed. Starting with 1893 invasion of Hawaii , in the end there were no serious casualties but political stability was restored in these countries.
This has been called interference with other nations affairs in many occassions but the government has managed to get the support of the citizens who in the real sense fund these activities through the taxes they pay to the government. Though not all of these wars have been successful the American government has succeeded to bring sanity to some of these countries. Fot it to have succeeded ,it required much support from home,if this was not forthcoming it could have meant doom as it has happened in the recent years in Iraq and Afghanstan. (Degler,C 1980 304)
The great war can not be said to have made world safe for democracy but it was a beginning of a long jorney. This is a process that woukld meet all forms of challlenges ranging form the spread of socialism and the emergence of new dicators who were determined to rule by their fists. America began a process where it aimed to bring sanity in the world politics a system where people would be free in their own countries. Through this method of governance peace would prevail in the world avoiding another ugly situation as had happened before in different palces in the world.
(David,K 1980 27) There are some activities that the american governemnt has engaged in which seem to defeat the very cause they have been extending. One of them is the palmer raids conducted in the 1920s. This was a crakdown that aimed at neeting those who harbored different opinions from that of the government. Passing of some legisaltion such as Epsionage act and seditous act have been pointed as killing of democracy since they deny the citizens their right to speak their minds. They are contrary to the constituion which guarantees the American citizens frredom of speech.
They have been criticized for having violated the very rights protected in our constituion. Some have even gone further with comparing American government with the world dictators who have been targeted before as they have used the same method to silence their subjects. (Mac Cormick,2005 45) One can draw some similaries between the war on terror and what was happening at this period. War on terror is fight against force who do not believe in democracy. It is against a group of people whose ideologies aim at extending systems where people are denied fundamental rights.
Various methods have been used to fight the war on terror,laws have been made to net the terror agents,legislation which are similar to the ones made during and after the great war. Some of these laws for example The so called Partiot act have met resistance since they violate the human rights where the government security agents have been given too much power to an extent of interfering with people’s privacy. America involvement in the great war changed the course of its history,it started a process that have brought order in some parts of the world where masses have liberated from oppressive regimes.
This process have meeet opposition within and outside america but the government has in most cases rallied its people behind it through use of propaganda machinery. In most of the cases it has emerged voctorius. Work Cited Zieger, R. America Great War, Rowman and Littlefield (2001) David, K. The First World War and American Society, Oxford University Press (1980) Mac Cormick, C. Hunt for Red Scare Terrorrist Bombers, University Press of America (2005) Gegler, C. Out of Our Past. The Forces That Shaped Modern America, Harper and Row (1984) Coffman, E. The War to End Wars, University Press of Kentucky (1998)