Survey of American Military History
How did the U.S. get involved in World War I?
At the outbreak of the Great War, the United States quickly developed an isolationist foreign policy. The Goal of the Wilson administration and the American public was to stay neutral at all costs.
However, as the Great War reached its peak the American Government, as well as public opinion, quickly drifted from neutrality to an ultimate cross Atlantic intervention. The long-term effect of the Great War concerned President Wilson therefore action by the United States was imminent.
The enormity of the Great War transcended any previous war in the history of warfare; in terms of military mobilization, and military resources employed. With that being said, naval rivalries, and militarism gradually put Europe in a state of total war.
In addition, although WWI exploded from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914; imperialism and militarism were the main causes of the Great War. Thus, “the growth of national armies in the nineteenth century and competitive arms race, the Anglo-German naval rivalry … the development of techniques of mobilization which, once started, were difficult to stop…”1.
Numerous alliances made in previous years were called upon which subsequently dragged every capable European contender into the theater. Nevertheless, the United States being thousands of miles to the West tried strongly to stay out of the European conflict.
Aside from the fate of the world in the balance, the economic interest of the nation was at risk. President Wilson had no choice but to intervene and support France and Britain and provide 2,000,000 troops, and vast amounts of military resources against the German Empire their allies.
“The American role in World War I derived its characterless from strategic thinking in the United States than from geopolitical notion that the future of well-being of the United States depended upon the balance of power in Europe and the outcome of the war”. Therefore, the involvement of the United States in WWI resulted in a major economic growth from the export of raw materials, and interests from loans to the Allied war machine.
From WWI to WWII
The United States declared war on Germany and the Central Powers on 16 January 1917. However, the United States provided military resources to the Allies before entering the war something not taken kindly by the Germans. Consequently, the German policy against neutral (Americans) vessels traveling through the Mediterranean and to enemy (Britain, and France) ports was to sink any ship with their Submarines and U-boats. As a result, German and American relations suffered due to the restrictions put in place by the Germans.
Additionally, German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman on 16 January 1917 sent a coded telegram to the German ambassador in Mexico and to the Mexican government which represented the entrance of the United States into the Great War.
The Zimmerman Telegram served as a request to the Mexicans to declare war on the Americans and invaded while the Germans would provide financial support and several American states in the aftermath of the war. However, the British intercepted, decoded and passed it to the Americans. As a result, the U.S Government publicized it which enraged the public catapulting the United States into the Great War shortly after.
President Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress to officially enter the war. The initial goals of the United States war were put in place by President Wilson and mostly involved the German Empire. First, the United States naval effort combined with the Royal Navy targeted the German U-Boats and Submarines to effectively send the American military reinforcement across the sea to France and Britain. Subsequently, American Admiral William S. Sims led a large convoy to Europe.
Hence, “the Convoy escorts-primarily destroyers-could sink or drive off the U-boats”. Additionally, the United States put its efforts into ending the Great War and protecting Democracy; the German Empire, The Ottoman Empire, and Austria all represented threats to Democracy and autonomous governments. Nevertheless, the arrival of the American soldiers in France proved a turning point against the Germans, who were near Paris.
In the end, President Woodrow Wilson accomplished all the American goals resulting in the League of Nations. Additionally, the United States became a global military power.
World War II
The end of World War II sent shockwaves across the future of American military history. From all the parties involved, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, the Soviet Union, and the United States rose from the ashes as a duopoly of global military supremacy. While the United States represent the “free world” the Soviets represented the communist world.
Now, I believe, as president of the United States in the aftermath of all the chaos of WWII the American government had to be modified to counterbalance the peacetime economic situation.
Since the Soviets seemed to be spreading communism across the world changes had to be made to our military to counter-react to the Soviet threat. Nevertheless, I had to act wisely to avoid any missteps resulting in Republican public political attacks.
The successful Chinese revolutionary war at the head of the communist party led by Mao Zedong created tensions between us and the communist and made us very suspicious of the Soviet involvement in the spread of communism. As a result, I developed the policy of Containment to stop the spread of Communism throughout the world.
I argued that communism spread in poor countries therefore we had to provide financial and military aid to undeveloped countries such as Greece and the Philippines to achieve victory against the Communists led by the Soviets. In addition, “it also battled revolutionary insurgents with economic aid, military assistance, and covert action with success in Greece and the Philippines.”1
Now, to face the Russian threat effectively I had to consolidate the numerous military branches and develop new agencies to achieve near military perfection. Thus The National Security Act of 1947 was born; developed between Congress and me to face the imminent Russian threat.
The National Security Act created the National Security Council to aid the Presidents, myself in this case, in military policymaking, it merged the out of date Department of War and the Department of the Navy into National Military Establishment ultimately becoming the Department of Defense headed by the Secretary of Defense; Additionally, I created the Department of the Air Force, and the Army Air forces. All these branches were eventually subordinate to the Secretary of Defense as we know them today.
Thus the American Air Forces were reorganized and consolidated to proper efficiency. I was busy my entire presidential career trying to protect my nation from the Russians and stop the spread of communism throughout the world.
- For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America by Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski Sep 7, 1994 P. 533
- A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society by Richard Arthur Preston, Alex Roland and S. F. Wise Mar 1991 P. 231 for the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America by Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski Sep 7, 1994 P. 346 Ibid P. 236