Was U.S. participation in WW1 the worst mistake ever? Retweet
This article will show how…
- WW1 would likely have ended in a draw had the U.S. not intervened.
- U.S. politicians favored the more evil side.
- Great Britain committed several acts of aggression against the U.S. that were rewarded rather than opposed.
- U.S. intervention defended neither America nor freedom.
- U.S. intervention made the world profoundly worse, not better.
As you read what follows, please remember this crucial point — I am not blaming America for anything, but I am blaming U.S. politicians for lots of things. With that in mind, let’s look at the first claim…
WW1 would likely have ended in a draw had the U.S. not intervened.
Consider these facts…
- Nearly 1,000 days passed between the start of the war and U.S. entry on April 6, 1917.
- Neither side had gained any advantage. “Breakthroughs” were measured in yards or miles, then quickly reversed.
- Between April 16 and June 1917 nearly half the French army mutinied.
- Similar things began happening on the Russian front in 1917.
These facts suggest that neither side could prevail. The war was a draw. Peace without a victor was the obvious alternative to continued pointless bloodshed. Such an outcome would have been a huge disincentive to future wars. Alas, U.S intervention foreclosed that opportunity. Even worse…
U.S. politicians probably intervened on the more evil side
Let’s be clear: There were no good guys in WW1. Both sides were wrong. But a comparison of the pros and cons doesn’t favor the side U.S. politicians chose to support.
Great Britain was the largest empire in the world. Russia was second. France was third. By comparison, Germany and Austria-Hungary had small empires and meager prospects for expanding them even if they won the war.
Russia was an autocracy when the war began. Germany and Austria-Hungary were both parliamentary monarchies similar to Great Britain. The two Germanic nations also had elements of decentralized federalism similar to the United States.
Both sides were militarist. All the monarchs involved pranced around in silly uniforms (though the Kaiser did have an aggressive-looking spiked helmet). There was little, moral difference between the combatants except for one crucial thing…The countries we sided with had already subjugated the greater part of the globe! Even worse…
Great Britain committed multiple crimes against the American people
- The British spent vast sums in the U.S. to promote false stories of German atrocities.
- They cut the transatlantic cable between the U.S. and Germany — a clear act of war against the U.S.
- Great Britain also blockaded U.S. shipping, forcing Americans to trade only with them and their allies, but not with Germany and her partners.
The British blockade was why Germany started sinking U.S. merchant ships. That was the only way Germany could compensate for the preferential trade the U.S. was giving to Britain and France. U.S. politicians would have done exactly what the Germans did under similar circumstances.
Britain paid no price for these crimes. Instead, she benefitted by having U.S. forces deliver an undeserved victory out of what should have been a draw. Even worse…
Our intervention didn’t defend freedom
The Wilson administration also spent millions on propaganda to radicalize the populace and stifle dissent. The resulting hysteria led to numerous lynchings and false arrests. Some crazed people even attacked German Shepherds and Dachshunds!
Our intervention didn’t defend our security either
U.S. politicians could have ended German submarine warfare without sending armies to Europe. They simply had to stop honoring the British blockade. Germany would have ceased sinking our ships the moment those ships started carrying supplies to Germany, or stopped carrying them to Britain and France. To be truly neutral we needed to trade with both sides or neither. Equally important…
It’s likely we could have ended the entire war much earlier simply by refusing to supply it!
The supply issue was crucial. Germany surrendered in 1918 largely because they were starving. This was due to the British blockade with which the U.S. collaborated. Herbert Hoover became famous enough to run for President partly because he managed a rescue effort to save Germans from famine once the war ended. Meanwhile…
Britain and France were so dependent on U.S. supplies that both countries faced bankruptcy. They had to borrow huge sums from Americans to continue fighting. This means that U.S. politicians could have stopped the war without firing a shot, simply by prohibiting trade with or cutting off loans to the combatants.
Which is worse? Ending trade that was enabling the commission of a crime, or sending innocent young men to die by participating in that crime?
Some have argued that ending the war-trade would have crashed the economy. But that happened anyway, as soon as the war ended. But the resulting depression was brief. Again, which is worse, a short depression or sending young men to murder and maim other young men?
It’s a simple fact — there was no threat to U.S. security other than Germany’s submarine warfare. German armies couldn’t even conquer a few yards of territory between the trenches in Europe. So they had zero chance of reaching and taking American soil, nor did they desire to do so. U.S. politicians could have ended the submarine attacks without firing a shot. They simply had to do one of the following…
- Stop honoring the British blockade
- Trade with both sides equally
- Trade with neither side
Bottomline: U.S. intervention in WW1 did nothing to protect American security. It achieved the exact opposite. It killed young Americans for no purpose and created new enemies that plague us to the present day. Which brings us to the final point…
Our intervention made the world profoundly worse, not better
Our involvement in WW1 helped unleash three great evils in the world…
It also led to World War 2 and then the Cold War. We’ll review these claims as we continue this series on U.S. wars and interventions. The outcomes described above, and in the next few articles, are what make U.S. involvement in WW1 the greatest mistake ever.
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P.S. Previous articles in this series include…
- Were early U.S. wars good or bad? (covering the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, and the conquest of the Philippines)
- Did Teddy Roosevelt co-found the Japanese empire? (Covering TR’s betrayal of Korea)
PPS: Here’s a list of books I’ve consulted in this series.
If you buy these books using the links below, Downsize DC will get credits that we can use to expand our research library. Thank you for your interest and support.
The Mexican War
A Wicked War by Amy S. Greenberg
The Spanish-American War, the conquest of the Philippines, and Teddy Roosevelt’s betrayal of Korea…
World War 1